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  1. #1
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    How long did it take you to really ride?

    I mean ride longer distances without pain? I've only been riding again this time since last Sunday & I don't know if I'll ever be able actually go anywhere and enjoy it again. By the time I've gone a mile, my thighs are burning and feel so tight it's hard to get off the bike. I don't know how I got so out of shape in just two years of doing nothing when I was fairly active before.

    Also, besides the bike & helmet, what was the next piece of equipment or clothing you needed? And is there any great benefit to wearing bicycle shorts over other knit shorts for distances under 10 miles?

  2. #2
    Small Member maddmaxx's Avatar
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    In the begining, just ride what you can. In just a few weeks those 1 and 2 mile rides will become 4 to 5 mile rides. Have fun, don't expect big milage too early. You should be able to look forward to a ride like a kid, not learn to dread it like a treadmill session.

    Gloves will keep you from getting blisters and pad the hands a little. You will be adjusting to the bike and you will be adjusting the bike to fit you the way it should. For that there will be a ton of advice here............

  3. #3
    Muscle bike design spec robtown's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AuntieM View Post
    I mean ride longer distances without pain? I've only been riding again this time since last Sunday & I don't know if I'll ever be able actually go anywhere and enjoy it again. By the time I've gone a mile, my thighs are burning and feel so tight it's hard to get off the bike. I don't know how I got so out of shape in just two years of doing nothing when I was fairly active before.

    Also, besides the bike & helmet, what was the next piece of equipment or clothing you needed? And is there any great benefit to wearing bicycle shorts over other knit shorts for distances under 10 miles?
    +1 on gloves. Under 5 miles cycling clothing is nice but not crucial.

    When I did not commute year round the first 3-5 mile ride would tear me up. It'd take 2 - 3 weeks of consistent riding to get up to 10 miles. Take it easy and have a day or two rest between rides.
    If you are riding a geared bike you may want to use / shift to the lower gears - new riders often "mash" or push high gears at low RPMs. That's very hard on your body. If you have gear cogs on the back of the bike the lower gears are the largest ones closer to the spokes. For the front cogs, the lowest gear range is the cog/chainring closest to the frame (also the smallest). For hybrid and moutain bikes the lowest front and rear gears are labeled "1" or "I".
    Korval is Ships
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    Thank you robtown, I was wondering about that too. I usually keep the chain on the smaller front cog & move it in back so that I can pedal easily without the feeling of pushing, except on inclines. I would say hills, but I haven't really tackled a real hill yet.

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    AuntieM, madmaxx & Robtown pretty much covered it. Nothing I can add, except to say just keep riding and you'll get there.

  6. #6
    I need more cowbell. Digital Gee's Avatar
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    The first few rides of 5 miles I thought would kill me. I started riding in June, 2005. By October I had ridden my age, on knobby tires, on a mountain bike on paved streets. I was not then, am not now, and never really was "athletic." I was also WAY overweight.

    It comes, almost effortlessly, if you simply ride. No need to push it. Just ride, and you'll soon by amazed (and can amaze your friends) by what you can do.
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  7. #7
    Grumpy Old Bugga europa's Avatar
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    Gloves are a very good idea - not just for on bike comfort but if you happen to fall off, at any speed, you are more likely to put your hands out than anything else and they stop you messing up the palms of your hands.

    Just ride what you can and keep it easy and stress free. Looking back in my log, my first ride back in the game was July last year - I went 3.2 km and my comment was that I was 'totally stuffed' and if I remember rightly, I only barely made it home. I've come a long way since then (covered over 3,500 km since then). The distances just build as your muscles get used to the effort and your cardio system learns to cope again.

    And remember, if you're too tired to ride, don't. Recovery is as important as the ride.

    Richard
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  8. #8
    His Brain is Gone! Tom Bombadil's Avatar
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    Ah, something I can relate to. I just started riding one year ago, last September. My first ride was about 3 miles and I really suffered. My legs, hands and butt were killing me. I kept at it a bit on that bike and was able to get up to about 8-10 miles over a few weeks, only possible because I put one of those Bell Gel Pads on my saddle. Still wasn't comfortable but it was endurable.

    This Spring I started out at 6 miles, with a different bike that fit me better, and a new saddle (was able to get away from the gel pad). I kept my rides modest for a few weeks, maximum ride was 10 miles. And I kept tweaking the bike, for example replacing my handlebars which had a 1.5" rise with ones with a 3" rise, for a more upright riding position. Also started using padded cycling gloves, which really helped my hands.

    In the first week of May, I did 18 miles. My legs were getting in better shape, my butt was getting in better shape. The bike and saddle were now pretty good and it was a matter of me riding more to get in better condition.

    Last week of May I bumped this to 26 miles, and was in reasonably good comfort across the ride.

    I then had the chance to try another saddle, that seemed like it had some promise for me. It was wonderful. That alone enabled me to stay on the bike longer.

    With bike now in the right configuration for me, it became a matter of conditioning. I was able to complete a 33 mile ride in early June, a 40 mile ride in late June, and on one magical day in early July, I did 64 miles. Haven't duplicated that since but have done three more 40-45 mile rides. A 25 mile ride is now an enjoyable, lightly-taxing experience.

    All of these rides have been rather slow. I'm not too concerned about performance, just exercise, better fitness, enjoying the outdoors, and losing some weight.

    As to equipment, I'm riding a hybrid bike using platform pedals and hiking shoes. No cycling clothing, just some athletic gear from Target, except for cycling underliners with padding, which again help with saddle comfort a bit.
    "Too often I would hear men boast of the miles covered that day, rarely of what they had seen." Louis L'Amour

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  9. #9
    Pedaled too far. Artkansas's Avatar
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    Don't worry about having all the right stuff immediately. We all have different ideas about what is necessary. As you progress, the problem that needs to be answered most is probably right in front of you. One answer will lead to another. Don't be afraid to ask any question. But also use the search feature to see what has been said previously. People like DG have asked almost all the questions that can be asked. The answers you need, may already be there.

  10. #10
    Violin guitar mandolin
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    I'm not sure about the "really riding" thing. Endurance isn't too hard. Train for strength (jumping - pylometrics?). Intervals. Then longer is easier. A couple of years and metric centuries will be a fun Sat AM ride and a 100 mile Century will challenging. 35 miles - that should be a fun stroll in 6 months. Three years and a 100 mile Century won't be any trouble when the time exists. Bike handling, road sense, skills in tight group riding. Well, that depends on how you work at training.

    As an example, my wife rode a bit casually off and on for about 10 years with me. Three years ago we really started "training" more. This year she rode a Century and found she had lots of reserve - she just hadn't tried before. She can captain a tandem, climb mountains, thinks of 50 miles as fun. More important: she can corner. She is safe to draft and have drafting. She's completely predictable. I can ride along side her a foot away and chat. She takes crisp, professional, polite, efficient cycling for granted. She figured out that this isn't typical when she started doing various sponsored rides - noticed how sloppy most riding was!

    At the beginning, just putting in miles and developing road skills. When 25 miles is fun, you might start structured training. The bicycling mag site and many others have suggestions. Lots comes down to what you want to do with cycling.

  11. #11
    Senior Member Wildwood's Avatar
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    it's not supposed to get easier, you just get faster and go farther as your fitness levels go higher than you ever thought possible
    '81 Austro Daimler Olympian, '87 DeRosa Professional, '91 Gary Fisher SuperCaliber, 1999 Calfee TetraPro, '03(?) Macalu Cirrus, '04 Tallerico, '97 Co-Motion Tandem

  12. #12
    just keep riding BluesDawg's Avatar
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    It's about time you got a new bike.
    The more you ride your bike, the less your ass will hurt.

  13. #13
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    I had to stop and rest halfway home on the 0.67 mile journey from the LBS when I bought my first bike 18 months ago.

    It was a couple of weeks before I could ride all the way to work (3.5 miles) without stopping to rest.

    I pushed myself real hard for the first two months and can't remember being pain-free during that period. By the third month I was satisfied enough with my riding that I began to dial it back a bit and enjoy the ride and be relatively pain-free afterwards.

    I rode my first 50-miler five months after buying the bike and my first metric century two months after that.
    My two favorite things in life are libraries and bicycles. They both move people forward without wasting anything.
    The perfect day: Riding a bike to the library.—Peter Golkin


    Lucky for me, I work at a library and bike to work.

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    Dirt Bomb sknhgy's Avatar
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    When I started semi-serious riding 2 years ago (I have ALWAYS owned a working bike) 6 miles was a good ride. I was doing that on a second-hand-store clunker mtb. Pretty soon I was doing 20 milers on that junker. Then I bought a Trek mtb, then a Raleigh hybrid. Now I do 14 miles per day - half road, half gravel - and 30 to 50 mile rides on the weekends. I never imagined I would be doing this kind of riding.
    more cops have been killed by donuts than guns in chicago it is a medical fact ask any doctor.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by AuntieM View Post
    And is there any great benefit to wearing bicycle shorts over other knit shorts for distances under 10 miles?
    None that I can see.

    Matter of fact - bicycle shorts with sewn in padding are meant to worn with nothing under them.

    Regular shorts, including underwear, have seams in places that can cause discomfort after only a few miles. It's best to keep these items of clothing away from any part of you that touches the saddle.

    There are a few folks who ride with underwear under bike shorts but they are in the minority, and I have a feeling we'll be hearing from a few of them before this is over. YMMV

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by AuntieM View Post
    I mean ride longer distances without pain? I've only been riding again this time since last Sunday & I don't know if I'll ever be able actually go anywhere and enjoy it again. By the time I've gone a mile, my thighs are burning and feel so tight it's hard to get off the bike. I don't know how I got so out of shape in just two years of doing nothing when I was fairly active before.

    Also, besides the bike & helmet, what was the next piece of equipment or clothing you needed? And is there any great benefit to wearing bicycle shorts over other knit shorts for distances under 10 miles?
    I am curious why you get so worn out so quickly. Perhaps I am in the minority, but, after 20 years of not riding, I just got onto my bike and started going places. Mentally, I thought 10 miles was a great distance. Even in my youth, I never really used the bike to go any great distance. Now, a casual ride for me is 50 - 60 miles.

    You may respond to the following questions or not - I'm not trying to be nosy, just curious why riding should prove so stressful for you, even if you are just getting back into it:

    Would you consider yourself frail?
    Overweight?
    Smoker?
    Other illness that might impede you during exercise?
    Are you just over 50 or really over 50 (you know what I mean!!)?
    Is your bike in good shape?
    Does it fit you?
    Is the terrain where you ride super hilly?

    I'm thinking that, unless one or more of the above are true, cycling should not be so painful or stressful. I'm no expert on how to increase your distance so that you can actually go some place on the bike since I have never experienced the problem. But, I would imagine that riding in easy gears on flat terrain on a bike that has been properly adjusted for fit and road-worthiness should do it for you.

    I think, also, if you can find someone with whom to ride, the company might help to take your mind off the riding and focus your attention elsewhere, like concentrating on where it is that you want to go. Obviously, this companion needs to be someone you trust who won't be pressuring you or making fun of any difficulties you might encounter.

    You are already aware that riding should be fun, and, while you can use the bike to push yourself physically, riding should not really stress you out so soon or so thoroughly as you describe.

    I read an article in the biking mag to which I subscribe that went something like "a good part of fatigue experienced while riding on a bike is mentally caused." They weren't trying to make the point that a shrink could help you (or that you needed one). The article actually discussed that, as certain parameters, measured involuntarily by the brain, start to reach levels considered critical by our system, the brain starts to impose limits on our performance so that an effort that would otherwise feel normal to us begins to feel like hard work.

    That's why I suggest you look for someone with whom to ride who has a little more experience to you. From experience, that companion already "knows," for example, that ten miles is not great challenge to the body, nor is it a great distance on the bike.

    If a true friend, that companion will, just by being with you, change your brain's focus away from the process to the more enjoyable aspects of riding.

    I may be getting a little long-winded here, but I am sincere in my thoughts and wish you only the best as you delve into cycling once again.

    There is just so much to discover, so many beautiful scenes, so much pleasure for you to derive. It would be a shame to have all of that good stuff muted by getting yourself worked up over your perceived riding ability/endurance or lack of same.

    Participating in this forum is an excellent initial move. Keep in touch and let us know how things develop for you. I believe I can safely speak for many here that we wish you only the best as you discover (or re-discover) the joy of riding that we all share.

    Good luck!

    Caruso
    Last edited by Carusoswi; 09-23-07 at 05:43 AM.

  17. #17
    Senior Member cyclezealot's Avatar
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    Take it easy, you won't have bike legs for one/two months. Ride regularily and increase your mileage gradually. My introduction was first, don't do hill work for awhile. Slowly increased your speed / cadence as you legs grow stronger, then when they gain muscle mass start out with hill work. Eat/sleep right. maybe do some light weight work with your legs like a couple leg lifts. In a couple months you will be fine. And , to get stronger, of course you must experience some pain. Just don't over do it until they are stronger.

  18. #18
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    I'm wondering whether you have a bike fit issue or are riding in much to high a gear. Riding a bike for a mile should be easier than walking a mile -- that's the whole point of bikes. It's not supposed to hurt at all, unless you are pushing really hard.

    Paul

  19. #19
    Me and the cat... Pamestique's Avatar
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    When starting out, set yourself up a goal - around the block - and then you gradually work towards that goal. Once the goal is met, it is then increased (then 2 times around or add another block). Keep your goals realistic.

    The hardest thing about starting out is not knowing what your body can do. After experience riding, you will know your body can push through pain or when to slow down and speed up, or when to take little breaks etc. Be patient, don't be hard on yourself. The fact you are trying is awesome. Eventually you will work up to 10 miles.

    I used to think 10 miles was a long way and now I won't even get on the bike for less than 20. Once you routinely start doing 20's, 30, 40 amd 50 will seem like nothing and then you'll start working towards a century. After you do a century you realize it's all a big to do about nothing and you become fearless on the bike. Everything is relative.

    For equipment, even short rides I would always wear a helmet. Gloves are optional but the purpose is really to protect your hands in a fall. I know many people who ride without gloves even long distances. And always carry water. Always. Just get in the habit even if you are going to be out only 10 minutes.

    Ansd bike shorts - yes - get shorts with a chamois (ps don't wear underwear - shorts go on by themselves). It will make sitting on the saddle much more comfortable. Cycling shorts also don't have seams that can rub sensitive areas. I would also recommend that you also carry a spare tube for your tire. Even if you don't know how to fix a flat maybe someone else will.

    If your thighs are burning, learn how to "spin" using lower gearing. Remember cycling is an aerobic not anaerobic sport. You should not have to push hard on the pedals to make the bike go (unless you are climbing). The gearing should be low enough you aren't bouncing around on the saddle and you feel like you can ride that way all day.

    Lastly if you can, take your bike someplace very pretty to ride. Beautiful scenary is always a motivator to ride.

  20. #20
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    I agree that biking for a given distance should be easier than walking. If not, something is not right. (Bike does not fit, wrong gear, hilly terrain, bad road, etc.)
    I alternate a 3 hour bike ride with a 3 hour hike. The bike ride is easier.

    OTOH it is a problem if the bike doesn't fit. I will give you a short story as a reference.
    My wife and I started biking again after not biking for 20 years. We will never forget that day.
    We see a bike path in South Central WI. There is a bike rental place. It is noon. We go and rent 2 bikes. We hear the bike path is 46 miles round trip. Somehow we thought we could do 15 MPH.
    The path is not paved. The bikes do not move unless you pedal it. We did not get back to the bike shop until 9:00 PM. We had to walk the bike at times. Everything was a pain.

    Yesterday we did the same trip in under 3 hours on our Tandem and we congratulated each other for our well being at age 66.
    Tomorrow we will do 100 miles and return 100 miles the next day.

  21. #21
    Muscle bike design spec robtown's Avatar
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    AuntieM

    Don't let us scare you off with our enthusiasm. Riding 30,40, 50+ miles is not a requirement. Even riding around the block is riding. With that said, I won't be surprised if I read accounts of your first century (100 mile) ride sometime next year.
    I don't often have the hours to ride long mileage so I commute to get a chance to ride. The nine miles one way is enough to get my fix most days - and some days (in winter) it seems plenty long.

    Robert
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  22. #22
    My other car is a bike TruF's Avatar
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    Hi AuntieM,
    I'm with the others who have mentioned that something might be wrong somewhere between you and your bike. What kind of bike do you have? My husband and I bought hybrids a couple of months ago, and just had some minor aches and pains that were solved with a bit of tweaking. I am so out of shape that riding up a short hill makes me huff and puff something fierce, but we could pretty much ride for hours on the flat right out of the gate. Are you perhaps in a gear that is making you work harder than you need to be? You're in the right place for questions. Best of luck and keep letting us know how it goes.

  23. #23
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    I don't know if my bike fits or not. It's an '88 Schwinn Sprint, 10 spd. The seat is now at a height that is comfortable for my legs, but I think the handle bars need to be raised. It feels like I'm climbing down a ladder hands first to use the brakes.

    The saddle is definitely a problem but I will look for a gel cover and see if that helps.

    Another problem I have is that I have limited mobility with one hip and I'm trying to let that leg ride the pedal until it gets to the point I can put pressure on it, and then I let the other leg ride the pedal so I don't wear the good leg out. I'm hoping that riding will loosen up the hip enough that I can put pressure on it during the complete pedal rotation. Does that make sense?

  24. #24
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    Oh & I tried riding my dd's Specialized Hardrock, but it is definitely not a fit for me.

  25. #25
    My other car is a bike TruF's Avatar
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    Hi AuntieM,

    If I were you, I'd first get an OK from my doc to ride a bike with the hip mobility issue. Next, I'd go to my LBS and make sure I had a bike that fits my body and the type of riding I do. Good luck with this; the pain you describe might be related to your hip rather than simply being out of shape.

    Accessories? Soon after I bought the requisite helmet and locks, I bought some nice baggy and heavily padded bike shorts (from the Shebeast line). They really improved my comfort with the saddle. Next, I bought some gloves with gel padding. Those improved my comfort with my hands. For longer rides, I find that some sort of chamois butter helps a lot down there. I got a little sample from the LBS the other day for $.99 and really like it. Once I started riding for hours at a time in the heat, I found I needed clothing that breathed. Bought myself a sports bra and a couple of jerseys.

    Let us know how it goes.

    Trudie

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