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  1. #1
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    Beginner to Commuting training program

    Hi,

    I am returning to biking exercise after having a baby a couple of years ago. At the moment my fitness level is quite low although it has been better in the past. I know the advice is to start off slow, but what does that actually mean in terms of biking?

    I'm also a beginning cyclist so I'm not familiar with training programs. I've just joined this forum and am enjoying reading all the past posts and learning as much as I can.

    I want to raise my fitness level so that I will be able to commute to work. The distance is 3.7km with a slight incline in one part.

    Even just some information from someone more experienced, to say, ride 10 minutes slow on day 1, 15 minutes slow on day 2......something like that?

    Much appreciated

    Thanks

  2. #2
    Galveston County Texas 10 Wheels's Avatar
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    I started with 5 mile rides til my body got adapted to the bike.
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  3. #3
    Senior Member moochems's Avatar
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    3.7 km one way?

    You can do that!


    make it a point to ride everyday for a week or two. Even if it it just for 10 minutes. The biggest hurdle will be adjusting the bike so that you are comfortable on it, and setting it up so it is reliable. 3.7 kilometers can be literally ten minutes of riding, but if you get a flat you could spend twice that long repairing it. If you get some puncture resistant tires, you will be setting yourself up for success.

    A bicycle fit may be beneficial especially as a beginner cyclist. Being comfortable on the bike will help you stay interested in riding it. For a 3.7 km commute, you could definitely go without a professional fit, but doing a little research will help.
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  4. #4
    Senior Member TransitBiker's Avatar
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    Welcome to the forum & the world of commuting by bike!

    Due to the low impact nature of cycling, it should be easier for you to ride that distance vs run or walk. In fact, i would alternate biking with walking, to keep your legs from developing muscle unevenly, which could result in joint and skeletal issues.

    - Andy
    I can't wait for the next pint of good chocolate milk after a long ride.

  5. #5
    Senior Member gregjones's Avatar
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    It shouldn't be a big deal. Less than 2.5 miles with a slight incline. Start out riding and see where you are now, on a bike. Buy a decent pair of athletic shoes. You should be able to walk that far, if not work up to it.

    Don't try to mash on the pedals, use a gear low enough to pedal at a brisk RPM (cadence). It turns a short hop with a slight grade into a cardio exercise rather than a power thing. To make it not a problem at all find a hill close to home and work on riding it to the top. Hills are to bikers what ankle weights are to runners.

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  6. #6
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    Thank you all so much for taking the time to reply to my post. Very helpful answers. I am lucky that the distance between my home and my job is not huge.

    I made another post about choosing a bike. I've got a bike already, but it's time for an upgrade as my old bike is an old mountain bike. Not suitable for road riding.

  7. #7
    High Plains Luddite
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    Try a pair of street tires on your old MTB. You might be suprised at how well it does on the road.

    The difference between street tires and knobby off-road tires is HUGE!

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    One reason bicycles exist is to make surface travel easier than walking. Try to ride at the same level of effort that you would use while walking, and you will travel quite fast -- maybe 16 km/hr. That's about a 15 minute commute -- probably faster than it now takes you to drive and park. More speed will come in time, should you desire it.

  9. #9
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    Just get out and ride, that's not a distance to worry over.

    When it gets easy, do it fast&hard two or three times a week.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lisa464 View Post
    I made another post about choosing a bike. I've got a bike already, but it's time for an upgrade as my old bike is an old mountain bike. Not suitable for road riding.
    Staying within the confines of this thread, you might want to hold off the road bike until your fitness improves a bit. Just a couple months of riding is all. I'm thinking the choices and bike fitting would be more informed - your body and thinking will be so much more confident. Not to mention you might find some really excellent end-of-year deals.

    A mtb with slicks will be just fine going several miles, let alone 3.7 km - you wouldn't believe the difference tires will make. They are tough as heck, and changing out a flat on the bigger, floppy mtb tires is really easy compared to most road bike tires. Also you mentioned an "old mountain bike." Rigid fork maybe? That's even better. I like my '90's rigid mtb. It's a blast to ride, while my road bikes are a whole different animal.

    If I lived that close to work, I would use my mtb with a rear bag or panniers 'cause it's so easy to ride.
    Last edited by RoadTire; 08-26-14 at 05:16 AM.
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  11. #11
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    What kind of bike do you currently have and what are the weather conditions where you live?

    I commute on an old 30yr old rigid Peugeot MTB with fenders for when it rains and use Marathon + tires which give me great flat protection. (they are a bit expensive but the piece of mind they give me not having to change flats during the rain, cold and middle of the night commute is worth it to me).

    Your old MTB should be fine for such a short commute even with knobby tires, you need to 1st buy yourself a small seat bag or frame bag with basic tools, small pump and a spare tube.
    You should know how (or learn) to change a flat tire and basic road side repairs, there is a lot of info on this, just search google, or ask questions here.


    Just start out at a comfortable pace and your total commute would be about 5 miles which is very short.
    My advice is to just ride back and forth to work and if you want to get stronger increase your daily riding distance 10% each week.

    Once you get used to commuting you will love it.
    I find it relaxing to cycle before my long 12hr days.

    Welcome to the wonderful world of commuting and to BF...

  12. #12
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    Thank you everyone :-) you've all been such a help in getting me started.

  13. #13
    7-speed doomsday prepper ThermionicScott's Avatar
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    I'll add: I commuted on a cheap MTB at first, too. That first bike can teach you a lot about what to look for in the next bike.

    Also: try out commuting routes on the weekend, when you're not under pressure to arrive at a certain time.
    Quote Originally Posted by chandltp View Post
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  14. #14
    Senior Member linnefaulk's Avatar
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    Take your time and enjoy it. Don't try to race. Just go east until you get used to it.
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  15. #15
    Keepin it Wheel RubeRad's Avatar
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    Lots of good advice already, don't know that I'll say anything new or different, but I'll toss my 2c in anyways.

    1st off, congrats on the baby, and on deciding to improve your fitness by riding to work! 3.7km mostly flat is quite doable. That's a little more than 2 miles, and at what many people would consider a "casual" pace, that could take from 10-20 minutes. If you can walk briskly for 20 minutes, I think your fitness is probably good already, and you should try a practice ride to work on a weekend or something. Maybe try to ride halfway to work on Saturday (plus halfway to get home again), and all the way on Sunday (rest nearby for coffee or water or something), just to get a feel for it, especially when there's less traffic. If that sounds like too much, maybe test 1/4 of the way out, and then back, or just see how many times you can ride around the block. Use your test rides to evaluate alternative routes, and choose one that has hills you can handle, quiet traffic (look for parallel residential streets instead of main arteries), and hopefully even nice scenery!

    Changing knobby tires to slick is good advice. My constant recommendation in that department is Nashbar Slick City Tire. Bald but grippy, cheap, and it rolls fast. It would be good if you could manage to install them yourself, because taking tires off and putting them back on again is an essential skill for fixing flats. Get a set of Pedro's tire levers, they're the best, and not all that expensive ($5-6 dollars or so for a pair, most bike shops carry them).

    I would also recommend a cheap, wired cyclocomputer. You can get a Bell brand one from walmart for probably about $10. But if you can get a low-end wired Cateye (MITY- or Velo-), it will be much more durable (I've used the same MITY-8 for years, but my son dropped/crashed his bike a few times and his Bell stopped working). With a cyclocomputer you can track speed and distance, and that will help you measure your improved fitness, because if you just go by how your legs feel, you'll be feeling the same all the time, and you won't realize that you're improving all the time.

    Also look into safety equipment. I assume you have a helmet. #1 easiest after that is a red blinky light for the rear. No reason to spend a lot here, cheap ($15 or less) is quite effective. Front lighting gets more expensive if you want to see well in the dark, but if you will only be riding during the day you can probably do without.

  16. #16
    Senior Member scoatw's Avatar
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    here is some good reading for beginners. Bicycling Street Smarts - Table of Contents

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