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  1. #1
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    Be Nice To The Newb

    Hey all,

    For my first post on BF I am about to ask a question that is totally newb. I know that most forums are pretty hard on the new guys and stupid questions are mostly answered with sarcasm. So I'll introduce myself first to let you know I'm serious.

    I am a runner by choice, and have run numerous marathons and ultramarathons, and too many half marathons to keep track of. But I am starting to wear some of my running parts out and am looking to get into long distance biking as an alternative. I know a thing or two about endurance and nutrition, body chemistry, and sports injuries. But when it comes to getting on a bike I know nothing more than my young son. I can get on a bike and crank out about 20 or 30 miles no problem, but long to go much further. So here's my question:

    How does a person learn to bike long distance? Being a runner, I like training plans; I can't seem to find any for biking though. How far? How often? What mistakes to avoid? How much do I really need to spend for a bike that I won't grow out of within a year? Is there a book that has all this info? I have the desire, the fitness, and probably the money that's needed to go long, but no idea how to do it.

    FTR, I live in a small isolated community without a bike shop, bike club, or even any friends who do this sort of thing. So I have no references and no support. I'll be a lone ranger! But that's the way I like it.

    Thanks in advance for helping me out.

  2. #2
    Seņor Member USAZorro's Avatar
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    Since you're posting here, I presume you are not aspiring to racing. It certainly is possible to get a bike that you won't outgrow in a year. How much you spend on it depends on which path you wish to follow. A new, "modern" bicycle (brifters/STI) will likely be the most expensive option, a used "modern" bike will be less expensive (or you could get a nicer bike for a comparable price to new "modern" one), and the least expensive option is to get a used "non-modern" bicycle.

    There are trade-offs involved, but if you are somewhat handy, exercise a bit of discipline and patience, and go after something that fits you, and your needs, a respectable bike in good working order can be had for under $300.00.

    The training plan that I've heard is to increase mileage from what you're comfortable with from the start by about 10% per week. My experience is that it's not a good idea to train hard at the start. Make sure you can be comfortable on the bike for 2-3 hours before you worry about how fast you're traveling. Then you'll want to mix longer, gentler paced rides, with shorter, harder intervals.

    Riding through discomfort helps to build character. Riding through pain helps to ruin cycling careers.

    There are many here with much more experience, and better credentials than me, so I expect you'll hear some things that don't entirely agree with my philosophy. People are different, so at best, anything I suggest could be viewed as guidelines - not gospel.

    One thought - with being sort of isolated, I suggest learning maintenance basics, and consider your comfort level for doing things yourself as you mull over the question of what to buy.
    The search for inner peace continues...

  3. #3
    Recovering mentalist Randochap's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tallnlanky View Post

    How does a person learn to bike long distance?
    As in running, ultimately by riding long distance. However, VeloWeb is dedicated in large part to distance cycling -- randonneuring in particular. Hope you can find some practical advice there. See link below.
    VeloWeb | VeloWebLog

    "The bicycle is the noblest invention of mankind." ~William Saroyan

  4. #4
    Administrator CbadRider's Avatar
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    I am also a marathoner and distance addict. What kind of distances are you looking at riding? I have found that I can increase mileage a lot faster on the bike than I did on my feet. I also discovered that I need to eat differently on the bike than when I do a marathon.

    I have been cycling for 8 years but just started distance cycling in the last year and finished my first double century in June. I have found my best source of information has been other long distance riders, as opposed to a book. Is there a randonneuring group in area? Check out the following link: http://www.rusa.org/.
    Quote Originally Posted by RPK79 View Post
    Does the ignore feature just replace all of the poster's text with "Said something stupid" because that would be awesome.
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  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by tallnlanky View Post
    Hey all,

    ...How much do I really need to spend for a bike that I won't grow out of within a year? Is there a book that has all this info? I have the desire, the fitness, and probably the money that's needed to go long, but no idea how to do it....
    Welcome to the sport.

    Please let me address just this part of your post: My advice is to not buy the "ultimate Bike" as your first (unless you can easily afford it and the inevitable ones that will follow). You won't recognize it, and no one else will be able to tell you what the right one is for you either. People use many types of bikes for long distance (LD) riding. Only you will know what the right one for you is and you will only know that through experience.

    Whatever one you get first, make sure it fits well. Pay extra for a professional fit from someone who knows about LD. I went through a couple of LD bikes before I found the one that suited my style...A Gunnar Sport. The common element of the bikes preceding it was professional fitting that produced comfortable bikes--a revelation to me at the time--allowing me to extend my training and range beyond what I had done before.

  6. #6
    Senior Member Homeyba's Avatar
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    I was a runner before I started cycling. I think you'll find that your fitness will not translate directly. I was running 18-24 miles/week (nothing like what you do) and when I went on my first bike ride I made it about 10 miles before I thought I was going to puke! I was with some racer boys and probably went too fast but I was really surprised! Don't be too discouraged if you're performance level isn't where you'd like it to be right off the start. Because you're fitness level is so high the performance will come fast, just don't expect it to be right there. You are using different muscles. I am just starting to train in a new stoker for my tandem for RAAM next year. She is an ultra runner like you. She doesn't even own a bike right now!

    Start out easy with the miles and speed. Then listen to your body and ramp it up accordingly. Just like you would if you were training to run for the first time. One thing that is important to know is that to ride/race long distances on the bike you don't have to train doing long distances. When you get to 30-40 mile training rides 3-4 days a week you should be ready to crank out a century pretty easy. Once you are doing Solo centuries in the 6-7hr range you can bump up to double centuries and beyond if you want. That's kind of a broad brush view of it. If you have a more specific question, ask.
    It doesn't get harder, you just go slower.

  7. #7
    rhm
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    multimodal commuter rhm's Avatar
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    This post reminds me of a question I've had for some time.

    I ride a bike a lot, long distances when I have time (not as much as I'd like). I pedal with a fast cadence, ca 100 rpm, and favor shorter crank arms (I usually use 155 mm).

    I don't run much, and when I do, I have a very strange feeling that I don't remember how it's done. The slow cadence of long strides is so different from bicycling that it's disorienting. So my question is, does the same thing happen to runners who try riding a bike? Do they automatically favor long crank arms and low cadences? Based on nothing more than a few anecdotes I've heard, it seems to me that they do just that, in which case bicycling isn't going to be any easier on the knees (for example) than running was. But what do I know? Do any ex-runners have experience with this?

    Running and bicycling have both similarities and differences, that make

  8. #8
    Senior Member lonesomesteve's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Smokester View Post
    Welcome to the sport.

    Please let me address just this part of your post: My advice is to not buy the "ultimate Bike" as your first (unless you can easily afford it and the inevitable ones that will follow). You won't recognize it, and no one else will be able to tell you what the right one is for you either. People use many types of bikes for long distance (LD) riding. Only you will know what the right one for you is and you will only know that through experience.

    Whatever one you get first, make sure it fits well. Pay extra for a professional fit from someone who knows about LD. I went through a couple of LD bikes before I found the one that suited my style...A Gunnar Sport. The common element of the bikes preceding it was professional fitting that produced comfortable bikes--a revelation to me at the time--allowing me to extend my training and range beyond what I had done before.
    This is good advice. It's really hard to know what you'll want for a bike untill you've been riding for a while. I started riding more seriously about a year and a half ago. Since then I've been through four different bikes trying to find "the one." With each new bike I've learned a lot more about what I like, what I don't like, and about bikes in general. So don't spend a lot on your first bike, just go to a bike shop, tell them what kind of riding you plan to do, and get something that fits. Then ride it for a while. Soon enough you'll have your own opinions about what your ultimate bike will be.

    As for a training plan, here's a plan for a double century that I started out with. This is for a specific event with specific dates, but you can obviously substitute your own dates. I thought this did a good job of ramping up to long rides without too much stress or risk of injury. It doesn't get into much detail about the kind of riding you should be doing (intervals, hills, long steady distance, recovery, etc.) but I think that's less important at first. First you just need to get in some base miles to get your body used to sitting on a bike and turning the cranks.

  9. #9
    just another gosling Carbonfiberboy's Avatar
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    + on buying a used bike, unless of course money doesn't matter. You'll have to travel to a large city to find a good used bike shop with several mounts in your size from which to choose.
    My priorities, as I learned to ride LD:
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    2. Clothing, including shoes and pedals
    3. On-bike nutrition and hydration
    4. Bike

    Friel: Cyclist's Training Bible
    Burke and Pavelka: Long Distance Cycling

  10. #10
    Have bike, will travel Barrettscv's Avatar
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    If you are buying a new bike, focus on a few key features. You will want a drop-bar touring or "sport" road bike. Avoid flat-bar hybrid bikes for longer distances. Be sure it has eyelets for fenders and racks. Look for a "compact double" or triple crank-set. Avoid a chain-ring larger than 50t. A 50 & 34t is a good "compact double" crank-set. A triple is also good. These crank-sets will help you climb hills.

    Find a bike shop that understands how to fit a bike. If you would like to do some research on-line, the bike fit calculator at Competitive Cyclist is good for understanding the basics. See: http://www.competitivecyclist.com/za...LCULATOR_INTRO

    Thier discussion on styles of fit is excellent;

    "The Traditions of Road Riding and Our Three Styles of Fit
    When we look at the bikes we sell we recognize that most of them descend from the traditions of road racing and long distance riding. There are also bikes for time trialing, cyclocross, and other cycling "disciplines" and each of these has its own traditions and optimal fit options. Very few of us actually race and many of us don't ride as long as we might like, but the bikes we sell can all be fit to suit your preferred riding.

    We see three basic styles of road riding fit, each designed to meet clear goals and expectations. We believe that a bicycle that fits your riding style is the one that creates the best experience. We need first to determine what style of fit (or combination of styles) matches you best before we go about achieving a precise, personal fit for you.

    The three styles of fit work with the sometimes complementary and sometimes competing objectives of comfort, speed, efficiency, and power. Creating a great fit involves creating priorities among these objectives and knowing yourself. All bikes should fit comfortably, but this priority can be weighed against other objectives. Every choice we make about fit and the bike we choose (frame, fork, model, material, size, parts, etc.) has consequences for our cycling experience. We can explain either by e-mail or telephone how different choices will change your experience and what the advantages and relative compromises will likely be.

    For example, the more aerodynamic and "aggressive" Competitive Fit emphasizes speed and efficiency but favors those who can adjust to positions that others will find difficult to maintain over long days in the saddle. In other words, the Competitive Fit may for some become uncomfortable over longer distances or it may not suit those for whom the priority of greater comfort actually increases speed. The slightly more relaxed Eddy Fit adds comfort but compromises some aerodynamic and power efficiency in order to gain endurance and ease. The exceptionally comfortable French Fit understands speed as a feature of comfort and puts power and efficiency in terms of longer endurance goals.

    Each of the three styles of fit can be achieved on the same model bicycle, though perhaps not the same size or parts set up. Knowing how you want to ride will help determine what you want to ride.

    1.The Competitive Fit.
    It's called the Competitive Fit because it's our signature fit. We've found that this is the look and the feel that most of our customers expect out of their new bike. This is the most "aggressive" fit and suits those with an interest in racing, fast club riding, as well as those with a greater measure of body flexibility to work within the racer's comfort zones. Most modern road bikes, like the majority we offer at Competitive Cyclist, are usually pictured in sales catalogues with the Competitive Fit. But this doesn't mean that you should ride a bike that looks or fits like this.
    Wanna look like a pro? This is the fit. It features a low, aerodynamic bar position that places slightly more weight on the hands than on the pedals and saddle, a close knee to pedal spindle ratio that emphasizes power and efficiency, and it puts the rider low in the handlebar drops. Typically the frame chosen will be the smallest that is appropriate. In fact, since the heyday of mountain bikes in the 1990s and more recent studies of professionals looking for an aerodynamic advantage, the Competitive Fit has become most bike shop's conventional wisdom.

    After all, who doesn't want to look and ride like a pro? This fit is easy to sell but may not work for you since it actually best suits those who are willing to accept its clear emphasis on speed over comfort. For most of us, the pure Competitive Fit is too extreme even if it is still viable for young riders and racers, for those who love shorter, faster rides, and for those who just find this comfortable. Expect to be rather low even on the tops of the bars where you will spend the majority of your cruising time on the brake hoods, expect too to be lifting your neck slightly to see ahead of you with a rather "short and deep" reach into the bars as you push back on the saddle to stretch out.

    The Competitive Fit creates a more compact body position with the chest low and the back as flat as is necessary to get down into the drops. The saddle to handlebar drop is sometimes as much 10cm or more.

    2.The Eddy Fit.
    Lots of folks find the Competitive Fit to be ideal. But for those who find its aerodynamic emphasis to be overly aggressive and uncomfortable, the Eddy Fit is almost certain to be ideal for you. It's a position that reminds us of the way Eddy Merckx looked on his bike in the early 1970s, and it dates from well before Eddy's time and continued in the pro peloton well into the 1980s.
    There is nothing "dated" about this style of riding. We all know that Eddy, Bernard, and Guiseppe were all very, very fast riders! Bike design has not, in fact, changed that radically since their time---only the look, the fashion, and the style of riding. The Eddy Fit is simply no longer the "fashion" among pros who keep pressing the envelope of comfort to create more efficiency and power.

    The Eddy Fit emphasizes less saddle to bar drop. You will notice less exposed seat post on traditional frames and a lower saddle to bar ratio on all fits, including compact designs. Typically it requires a size up of about 2-3cm in frame size from what is today usually offered by in current aero professional look of today. But make no mistake about it, this fit will get you down the road with speed, efficiency, and power.

    A few differences from the Competitive Fit in addition to a taller front end and less saddle/bar drop is a less craned neck and easier forward-looking position, slightly less weight on the hands and more on the saddle and pedals, and a knee position that usually moves a bit behind the spindle (rather than a knee-over-the-spindle position, thus adding a bit of power). Bikes set up for the Eddy Fit change their look only subtly in comparison to the Competitive Fit though the results are dramatic in terms of greater comfort. This fit is easier on the neck and shoulders but no less suited for racing or fast solo or club riding.

    We adjust this fit by "sizing up" the frame and adjusting the stem lengths to create proper balance, proportion, and to maximize the frame's potential. This position lets you into the drops with less stress on the neck and back and so encourages you to go low into the bars for longer periods. The Eddy Fit typically features a saddle/bar drop of only a few centimeters.

    3.The French Fit.
    This fit is so named because of its legacy in the traditions of endurance road riding such as brevet rides and randonneuring. However, the French Fit isn't merely about touring, riding long, or even sitting more upright. It is about getting the most out of a bike that fits larger and provides much more comfort to the neck, back, and saddle position.
    While the Competitive Fit generally puts you on the smallest appropriate frame and the Eddy Fit sizes up a bit or raises the bars, the French Fit puts you on the largest appropriate frame. While this bucks some current conventional wisdom - and is, in fact, the least commonly used position of the three we espouse - it is still the position advocated by some of cycling's wisest and most experienced designers, who also happened to be riders who like to go fast and far with an ideal amount of comfort.

    This fit features a taller front end (with a larger frame and/or head tube extension and stem), handlebar to saddle drops that are much closer to level, and favors riders who are looking to ease stress on the neck and back, ride as long and as far as they like, and are not concerned with the looking like an aggressive professional. In comparison to the Eddy Fit, the rider has even more weight rearward and a slightly more upright position such that "hands in the drops position" is close to the Competitive Fit's "hands on the hoods position." Some may say that this was not how modern race bikes were "meant" to fit but we have learned that the French Fit's size up tradition works great on the most modern bikes.

    By increasing the frame size we raise the bars without radical riser stems and still create balance and proportion with respect to the important knee-to-pedal dynamic. It is important to remember that as frames get larger the top tube effectively shortens. This means that the longer top tube on a larger frame is appropriate because as the bars come "up" and the ratio of saddle to bar drop lessens, the rider achieves a "reach" from the saddle to the handlebars that is just right!


    We recommend this fit for riders who really want to be comfortable and fast over longer distances. Please note that the French Fit disregards all emphasis on stand over height (standing with the bike between your legs and your shoes flat on the ground) because the French Fit school believes that this measurement has little actual value regarding fit. An ideal compromise for those who can't shed their concern regarding stand over height is the choice of a "sized up" compact design to achieve a higher relative handlebar position.

    Nevertheless, a French Fit can work with traditional, non-sloping frames as well. As an example, a person who might ride a 55cm or 56cm frame to achieve the Competitive Fit, might ride as much as a 59cm or 60cm in the French Fit. While bikes in the French Fit are not the racer's fashion they tend to look elegant, well proportioned, and ride like a dream.

    Our Three Styles of Fit are dynamic and flexible programs that are molded to suit your needs and expectations. Elements of one style can be worked into another precisely because there is more than one perfect fit for everyone.

    Our promise is to listen carefully to you, work closely with you to provide the confidence and expertise you should expect from a professional bicycle shop, and create an outcome that exceeds your expectations---we want you to have a bike that rides even better than you had dreamt it would. We are happy to discuss our fit philosophy and work out the specifics and details with you".



    Beyond that, it becomes a matter of personal preference. I am happy with a bike that accepts 700 x 28 tires and fenders, this eliminates many popular road bikes. I also like a steel frame with a more upright "french" fit, my handlebars are about 2.5 inches below my seat. I use a Cyclocross bike, these are capable of on-road and light off-road travel depending on tires used. However, you will see a wide rage of bikes used for long distance riding, see: Your century bicycle(s)
    Last edited by Barrettscv; 08-20-09 at 10:43 AM.
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    2010 Origin 8 CX 700: "Servizio Grave" Monstercross/29er bike for severe duty
    1997 Simoncini Special Cyclocross: "Little Simon" lugged Columbus steel CX bike
    1987 Serotta Nova Special X: "Azzurri" The retro Columbus SPX steel road racing bike

  11. #11
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    I don't think anyone else has said it yet, so I will.

    Buy this book:

    http://www.amazon.com/Complete-Book-.../dp/1579541992



    There are a lot of riders here who have boatloads of knowledge and experience, you'll get good answers. And nice ones, too, for the most part. The LD folks are a very civil bunch.

    // D'oh! Sorry, Carbonfiberboy! Beat me to the book reference! //
    Last edited by maxine; 08-20-09 at 10:58 AM. Reason: (Beat me to the book reference!)
    -------------------------------------------------------------------
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  12. #12
    Senior Member Richard Cranium's Avatar
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    Is there a book that has all this info? I have the desire, the fitness, and probably the money that's needed to go long, but no idea how to do it.
    Gee whiz - the simplest thing to do is to hire me as your cycling consultant and coach. Then all your equipment needs and training questions will be answered.

    It's surprising that so many forum members will go into details about any given subject without asking enough or knowing enough about a person to give even "ballpark" advice. But hey, that's what the Internet's all about - good advice - given without context or concern for appropriateness or accuracy.

    "Former runners" who turn to bicycling after injuring themselves often end up re-injuring themselves by aggressively training on bicycles. I can't say that advice applies to you, just that it applies to former runners.

  13. #13
    cycles per second Gonzo Bob's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Homeyba View Post
    I think you'll find that your fitness will not translate directly.
    +1 I also have a running background. I got into cycling to get into triathlon and I was pretty disapointed with my cycling splits in the first few years. But my cycling improved every year until it became my strongest leg after about 5 years. Now I'm disappointed in my run splits (not that I'm running slower, just that my run rank is usu lower than my bike rank).

    I think I used Simon Doughty's book, "The Long Distance Cyclists' Handbook" when i was getting started.
    Last edited by Gonzo Bob; 08-20-09 at 05:27 PM.

  14. #14
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tallnlanky View Post
    I can get on a bike and crank out about 20 or 30 miles no problem, but long to go much further. So here's my question:

    How does a person learn to bike long distance?
    Pick one or two days a week, and start increasing your distance. Some recommend increasing it by 10% per week. If you can do 30 miles this week, next week do 33.


    I've got some additional suggestions here for "training" for a century:
    http://www.machka.net/century.htm

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    Thanks much for the boatload of advice everyone! I think I need to read through the entire thread a couple of times to process all the information and will probably have more questions afterward.

    To answer a couple of your questions: I don't really have any plans for racing right now. Maybe some charity races in the future, but that is about it. I just want to be able to cover these kind of distances on bikes for personal satisfaction. And because, lets admit it, chicks dig it!

    Honestly, I am an injured runner. I have blown out my Achilles Tendon and am scheduled for surgery in October. It hurts to walk, let alone run. But I am able to bike basically pain free. I am not, however, biking more than a couple of days a week. So who knows how that will go.

    Thanks again for the warm welcome. Keep the ideas coming.

  16. #16
    Senior Member The Octopus's Avatar
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    Check out the UMCA -- the Ultra Marathon Cycling Association -- which has a lot of good cycling-specific information on training and nutrition and various articles and resources on training programs. Their quarterly magazine usually has several good articles on training as well. Well worth checking out and the nominal fee to join, even if you don't fancy yourself a racer or ever plan on competitive long-distance cycling.

    You'll find that there's a lot of cross-over in the sport from ultra-distance running for the same reason you're here -- guys get beat up and are looking for something that's low/no-impact but that still stokes their adventure gene.... It's pretty common to run into folks at ultra-cycling events who have Western States 100 or other ultra-running paraphenelia.... Hope that you connect with some of these folks here or elsewhere; they'd be a good resource for you.

    Oh, and welcome to the sport!

  17. #17
    Wookie Fred chewybrian's Avatar
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    +1 on The Complete Book of Long Distance Cycling. It's nothing revolutionary, or even terribly exciting. But, it covers the basics very well. Bike fit is important and takes a little effort. You may already have the nutrition part down, but it's big, too.

    If you travel a bit, surely you can find some century rides, or, hopefully, RUSA brevets, where you could learn a lot from talking with the other riders. good luck.
    Campione Del Mondo Immaginario

  18. #18
    Reeks of aged cotton duck Hydrated's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rhm View Post
    I don't run much, and when I do, I have a very strange feeling that I don't remember how it's done. The slow cadence of long strides is so different from bicycling that it's disorienting.
    I've had the same thing happen to me. I ride much more than I run these days. Last year I had my company sponsor a local road race... a marathon/half marathon. We had nobody from the company sign up to run in the event and it was kind of embarrasing for our managers. So what did they do?

    They signed me up to run the half marathon... and didn't tell me until the Friday before the Saturday morning race!

    I hadn't run a single step in almost two months... I had spent all of my time on the bike. And when I went out on race day it was the strangest damn feeling in the world. It felt as if my legs had forgotten how to run! It's hard to describe... but I felt like I was spastic and uncoordinated... like my legs didn't know what to do.

    Glad I'm not the only one who's had this feeling.
    "We sleep safe in our beds because rough men stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who would do us harm." George Orwell

  19. #19
    rhm
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hydrated View Post
    I've had the same thing happen to me. I ride much more than I run these days. Last year I had my company sponsor a local road race... a marathon/half marathon. We had nobody from the company sign up to run in the event and it was kind of embarrasing for our managers. So what did they do?

    They signed me up to run the half marathon... and didn't tell me until the Friday before the Saturday morning race!

    I hadn't run a single step in almost two months... I had spent all of my time on the bike. And when I went out on race day it was the strangest damn feeling in the world. It felt as if my legs had forgotten how to run! It's hard to describe... but I felt like I was spastic and uncoordinated... like my legs didn't know what to do.

    Glad I'm not the only one who's had this feeling.
    Oh, man, that's my idea of a nightmare!


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    I ran for two years, then got into biking and I've been trying to do them both, and it's been hard/weird, but heh, I'm finally getting into the groove. Sometimes when I'm doing one more than the other, I find myself wanting to start biking on the runner's side of the road... then I have to regroup... and same for running. Luckily it only takes a minute to regroup but it's a strange feeling.

    I love biking because it's a more relaxed sport than running... you can stop and drink water and not feel bad about it... you get to coast, etc. and all that mileage and sight seeing. I've always just biked until I was tired and tried to increase my mileage as much as I could per week. My motto is, if it doesn't feel good, then it's time to go home.

    A friend of mine is trying out the Barefoot running shoes. Supposedly they keep your injuries down. So far he loves the shoes so as soon as I can, I'm going to try them out.

  21. #21
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    my simple advice would be to find a nice 20 mile loop that starts and ends at your driveway. try a couple routes until you get one you really like.

    grow your stamina in 20 mile increments. some days, try hitting the 20 hard and stop there. other times, take it easy and do it twice for 40 miles. feeling good? go for 60 and so on.

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