Getting back into shape using a bike, need advice
I used to ride my bike to high school, then from school to work my part-time job at the grocery store before coming home. This meant I carried a backpack with my books and a change of clothes. Using the bike didn't bother me.
That was about half my lifetime ago. I was just laid off from work at the start of summer and decided to take my bike (same bike since 6th grade) to the library to get a single book which was 1.3 miles from home and was badly winded. It was over 3 miles to high school back in the mid '90s.
I've been riding all summer when it's not too hot (a problem in the Chicago suburbs) and managed to get so I can go at least two and a half miles before needing a rest.
When trying to get back in shape, is it better to go a certain distance to a park and rest before I get too tired, then go a bit farther, taking several rests along the way, or should I do as much as I can in one go, then go home and take it easy for the rest of the day?
Also, Today I just went about a mile (I forgot if it's just under or just over a mile) to the Jewel to buy a gallon of milk and some shake 'en bake. I took my backpack, and found that when I got home from the 2 mile round-trip I was breathing hard and my legs felt the strain. That extra weight made a bigger difference than I remember. Before that I haven't carried anything heavier than a paperback book, DVD, or small hardcover that fits in a 6" pouch in a long time.
Should I try using the backpack and carrying weight regularly so that if I need to do so again I won't be so winded? I'd gotten up to going much farther than the Jewel without feeling the burn in my legs as I did today, but that was with only the weight of my water bottles.
I'm looking for advice on what I should be doing to get back into shape. It bothers me that journeys that I once found trivial on the bike now leave me winded at best. I'm only in my early 30's.
I'm using an old Schwinn 12-speed bike. Well, it's old now, it was brand new when I got it when back in 1990.