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Commuting Bicycle commuting is easier than you think, before you know it, you'll be hooked. Learn the tips, hints, equipment, safety requirements for safely riding your bike to work.

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Old 04-16-08, 08:35 PM   #1
wolfanddeer
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Started commuting again - why is the first 5 mins torture?

Hello. I'm new to this forum but have been reading the posts and thought I would post this question. I started commuting to work again, partly due to gas prices, mostly due to my need for exercise. I used to ride every day but stopped about a year ago. So, I'm back to it...starting slow and commuting every other day at this point. I have to say, the first 5 minutes for me is torture. I get winded, my legs burn, I HATE this part of the ride. Then I get past that feeling, I'm "pumped up," get my breath back down to a reasonable cadence, have that euphoric feeling, and I'm ready to ride the rest of the way to work. I only have to commute a hair over 5 miles one way. Eventually, I would like to start riding every day again. However, I remember feeling this way when I was riding daily before. It makes it hard for me to want to hop on the bike because I just know I'm going to be in agony for that first 5 minutes…Any suggestions how to make the first 5 minutes not so torturous?? I'm open to ANY suggestion.
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Old 04-16-08, 08:39 PM   #2
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Take it easy the first few miles. Your body needs to warm up.
That would be my guess.
I know when I go flat out right after getting on the bike I am miserable.
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Old 04-16-08, 08:58 PM   #3
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Yeah, it takes a little while to warm up. Take it a bit easier at the start, and gradually wind it up. Try a few stretches before starting off, too.
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Old 04-16-08, 09:02 PM   #4
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In addition to the previous two responses...I bet your seat's too low. Whenever I start feeling like that - excessively out of breath and burning in the quads - it's usually because my seat's low and I'm riding with only my lower quads.

Unless there's a big ass hill right at the beginning, there's no reason to go all out immediately. Use the first mile to get warmed up, then gradually up the pace.
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Old 04-16-08, 09:06 PM   #5
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I stretch for about 5 minutes before I leave in the morning. It makes a really big difference. I imagine if you stretched longer it would be even better.
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Old 04-16-08, 09:11 PM   #6
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I just had all of my bike components fitted to me, including the proper seat height (that took a little getting used to). I do have a big hill that I have to conquer just outside my neighborhood also. So, I am trying to scout out alternative ways to/from work that 1) changes scenary a bit and 2) doesn't put me on that hill right away. Essentially, I have a half mile through my neighborhood and then a nice, long hill that is a pain in the (insert expletive here). I have not been starting off slow. I generally start in my cruising speed and maintain. So, I'll try that on Friday!
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Old 04-16-08, 09:27 PM   #7
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And what are you putting in your stomach before taking off?
Gotta eat something, but don't eat too much either.

But i agree with the others... ya gotta warm up before going balls to wall, especially first thing in the morning. How do you feel at the beginning of the ride home? Same thing?
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Old 04-16-08, 09:33 PM   #8
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Yet another agreement with what's being said. IMO you must be in too much of a hurry. Take ten minutes to ride that first five minutes and it'll likely be all better


Seriously, even on longer rides of several hours or more if I take a break which is longer than about 5 minutes or so I have to start up again afterwards and ride slower for a while, until I warm up again. And it doesn't really matter what the sport or activity might be, going hard from the get-go simply isn't sensible. It's asking for injuries.
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Old 04-16-08, 09:44 PM   #9
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Actually, I learned the hard way that I needed to eat before leaving. I generally have a piece of toast with a tablespoon of peanut butter on it. Drink coffee and water before going too. Now that I hear people telling me to start slow....I go DUH!!! I'll have to try warming up more before hitting it hard.
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Old 04-16-08, 10:01 PM   #10
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Actually, I learned the hard way that I needed to eat before leaving. I generally have a piece of toast with a tablespoon of peanut butter on it. Drink coffee and water before going too. Now that I hear people telling me to start slow....I go DUH!!! I'll have to try warming up more before hitting it hard.
Ok, yeah... food sounds good. I think you'll be fine by just slowly warming up.
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Old 04-17-08, 08:06 AM   #11
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If I eat before leaving I am a slug the whole way to work. I never eat or drink anything before leaving anymore.
The first 5 minutes are a warmup anyway. I tried stretching but it just replaces taking it easy on the bike. I'd rather just ride easy the first 5 minutes and be a mile down the road that waste 5 minutes stretching.
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Old 04-17-08, 08:13 AM   #12
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Riding a bike should be easier than walking or running. Either you are pushing too hard or the bike needs to be better fitted. On the hill, climb in your lowest gear.

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Old 04-17-08, 08:13 AM   #13
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I can hardly remember the flatlands, but yeah, I would think start out just spinning. I like my time on the bike to be my meditative quiet time so going slow , while easy spinnin' , is perfect.

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Old 04-17-08, 08:14 AM   #14
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If I eat before leaving I am a slug the whole way to work. I never eat or drink anything before leaving anymore.
The first 5 minutes are a warmup anyway. I tried stretching but it just replaces taking it easy on the bike. I'd rather just ride easy the first 5 minutes and be a mile down the road that waste 5 minutes stretching.
+1 on both accounts. I can eat or not, but it's really not necisary for me. That said my commute is only 9 miles each way.
I also never stretch but I will go a bit slower for the first few miles. I'm usually fully warmed up and hitting my top speeds after about 5 or 6 miles of flat riding.
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Old 04-17-08, 09:53 AM   #15
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Weird, I do the opposite to the suggestion of "starting slow". I hop into a low gear and spin like crazy for the first 5 minutes, to try and warm up. I ride in shorts and tshirts, so it's pretty chilly in the mornings. Worst thing is starting a commute with a downhill. Bleh.

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Old 04-17-08, 10:00 AM   #16
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I used to do the same thing - jump on the bike and GO, and 3 blocks later I was always gasping and wondering why the heck I do this to myself. This happened especially on cool mornings. I started doing some stretches and warmups inside, before I hit the cold air, and that seemed to help a lot. (Not much warmup - seriously, just a few jumping jaclks or whatever seems to be enough).
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Old 04-17-08, 10:57 AM   #17
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As said before - just go slower for a bit, it takes me a good 20 minutes to warm up properly - if on my geared bike, I'll just spin in a lower gear to warm my legs/joints up (I don't do a pre-ride stretch, though).

Once you're feeling a bit more into it, then you can push. It might also be just that you're a little bit out of conditioning - just keep doing it and you'll get right back into the swing of things.

Welcome back into the fold
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Old 04-17-08, 11:12 AM   #18
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Worst thing is starting a commute with a downhill. Bleh.

Steve
I disagree. A long steep uphill is worse. Your knees are strained before they are warmed up. That can cause problems.
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Old 04-17-08, 11:36 AM   #19
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Are you getting up early enough? You need to have time to eat, get dressed, have body wake up a bit and then ride. I'd ride the first part at low cadence and low power, just getting the joints working. Don't push it up the hill, spin, spin, spin, but take your time. Another alternative is to add an extra mile to your route before you hit the hill, by then everything should be flowing and the hill should be a tad easier. Remember it takes time to get the muscles back in work shape.
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Old 04-17-08, 11:48 AM   #20
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I have a hill the first block of my commute home. I've started taking the longer way (and more difficult climb) to avoid climbing without a warm up, and I end up feeling a lot better.

I second the stretching suggestion, I usually stretch throughout the day but really take my time with it right before I leave.

Good luck, until you get a routine down to make it better then remember those five minutes are temporary and the pain will subside!
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Old 04-17-08, 12:22 PM   #21
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I disagree. A long steep uphill is worse. Your knees are strained before they are warmed up. That can cause problems.
Agreed. My commute has a large hill at the very start, and then is mostly flat the rest of the way. It's great to start off flying down that thing in the morning. At the end of the day it makes a miserable climb though.
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Old 04-17-08, 12:45 PM   #22
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LOL, back on some tours I was doing, it was the first 20 miles that were a pain every day... I was doing about 80-100 miles each day, but come morning, the body still needed time to get into the groove...

Yup, we gotta warm up.
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Old 04-17-08, 12:53 PM   #23
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I kinda got to where I liked that feeling for some reason. Kinda helps to wake me up in the morning and makes me feel alive, especially when it stops. Hard to appreciate how good you feel until you feel bad first. Also provides some sort of cathotic relief for some reason.
I guess the reason this came about is that I ride a low geared single speed roadie and can't afford a Cross Check yet so instead of adapting equipment, I had to adapt psychologically. Call me a masochist.
Good for strength training though.
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Old 04-17-08, 01:01 PM   #24
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Yeah. The first couple of miles for me is torture when it's a little bit chilly. I have to tackle a big hill as soon as I leave my gate and then a couple of smaller hills right after. I have learned to eat some carbohydrates, stretch a little and use less resistance when I tackle those hills. It's usually worse at the end of the week when my legs are tired, but by then I am happy to make it to the weekend.
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Old 04-17-08, 01:53 PM   #25
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Stretch a bit first, then ease into it the first few minutes.It is always a bit difficult at first especially when you go from sweet repose to riding a bike.
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