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Singlespeed & Fixed Gear "I still feel that variable gears are only for people over forty-five. Isn't it better to triumph by the strength of your muscles than by the artifice of a derailer? We are getting soft...As for me, give me a fixed gear!"-- Henri Desgrange (31 January 1865 - 16 August 1940)

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Old 06-26-12, 06:19 AM   #1
LessonLearned
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FG newb. Sore legs. Help?

Title says it all.
Obvious answer is "ride more" or "give your legs time to adjust" but I'm wondering what I can do to help strengthen my legs when I'm not riding.
I'm setup for 69.3 gear inches, so I'm not using a real heavy gearing or anything. I guess I'm just getting used to resisting the pedals and constantly pedalling.

*Did a quick search of the forum but mostly only found threads about knee pain. I have no knee pain, just overall stiffness and muscle soreness.

**I'm in pretty good shape. Ran two 50km races last fall, most recent footrace was just a 10 mile last month but yeah, not like I'm going from couch to FG or anything.
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Old 06-26-12, 06:23 AM   #2
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Yep, its just that you're using different muscles or the same muscles in a different way/ratio so:
rule 5
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Old 06-26-12, 06:33 AM   #3
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hahaha alright, fair enough
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Old 06-26-12, 06:41 AM   #4
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...I'm wondering what I can do to help strengthen my legs when I'm not riding.


That's what I do.



Also: stretch
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Roadies can run tempo all year as that's what humans were designed for. If you want to be a cheetah, lay around and lick your paws more.
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Old 06-26-12, 06:42 AM   #5
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Yep, its just that you're using different muscles or the same muscles in a different way/ratio so:
rule 5
These are cycling fanboy rules.
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Roadies can run tempo all year as that's what humans were designed for. If you want to be a cheetah, lay around and lick your paws more.
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Old 06-26-12, 06:43 AM   #6
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I'm not sure that rule 5 doesn't apply to everything though. The rest of them you can take or leave.
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Old 06-26-12, 06:59 AM   #7
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Yeah "toughen up" is the universal answer to all problems. Used quite frequently way back in the day, and not frequently enough nowadays.


@Carleton- thanks. I have no weights to do squats with but I will figure something out, and stretching also seems like a very good idea. I get a lot of stares from around the office while I stretch at my desk but whatever... theys just jealous.
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Old 06-26-12, 07:00 AM   #8
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I run and bike. My muscles get sore differently when I do either or. Maybe someone here with an indepth knowledge of human anatomy can give a more proper answer, but my experience bring me to the following conclusion: you are using your muscles a little bit differently when biking or jogging.
From all of my experience in fitness I must say the following: soreness in muscles is a Good thing. If your muscles are not sore - you are not pushing yourself hard enough. If you want your muscles to recover faster: drink protein. And like Carleton said: always stretch.

Keep riding!
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Old 06-26-12, 07:09 AM   #9
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Thanks broakland. I do have some whey protein at home, and I'm actually downing a clif protein/builder bar as I type this.
Makes sense - different activities, different muscle groups.
And the legs are a "good" sore at this point. A dull, satisfying sore.
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Old 06-26-12, 07:17 AM   #10
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When does everyone stretch, before, middle or after exercising?

I've read conflicting information on the optimal time to stretch. I find myself stretching after hitting the gym, and stretching both before and after hopping on the bike.
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Old 06-26-12, 07:49 AM   #11
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With running, it's far more important to stretch afterwards. Stretching beforehand is actually a good way to injure yourself. Some light stretching beforehand might be okay if you really feel you must, but it's best to use caution as your muscles are not warmed up yet.
But that's just with running. I don't know very much about biking yet, hence this thread.
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Old 06-26-12, 08:04 AM   #12
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I'm not sure that rule 5 doesn't apply to everything though. The rest of them you can take or leave.
Work smarter, not harder.

HTFU isn't the answer to every training problem. This problem in particular could be:
- Overreaching
- Over training
- Inadequate nutrition
- Inadequate hydration
- Inadequate flexibility

It takes about 10-14 days for the body to adjust to a new physical routine. This is why I tell people who start working out or riding to hang tough through the first 2 weeks because it gets easier after that.

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Yeah "toughen up" is the universal answer to all problems. Used quite frequently way back in the day, and not frequently enough nowadays.


@Carleton- thanks. I have no weights to do squats with but I will figure something out, and stretching also seems like a very good idea. I get a lot of stares from around the office while I stretch at my desk but whatever... theys just jealous.
You can do body weight exercises like lunges, step-ups, or plyometrics.

Basic physical strength goes a long way in cycling.

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I run and bike. My muscles get sore differently when I do either or. Maybe someone here with an indepth knowledge of human anatomy can give a more proper answer, but my experience bring me to the following conclusion: you are using your muscles a little bit differently when biking or jogging.
From all of my experience in fitness I must say the following: soreness in muscles is a Good thing. If your muscles are not sore - you are not pushing yourself hard enough. If you want your muscles to recover faster: drink protein. And like Carleton said: always stretch.

Keep riding!
I'm not an expert on physiology, but basically when running, the body's leg muscles spend a lot -- maybe most -- of it's energy fighting gravity (supporting the body) and amplified gravity (falling on to your foot on each stride). The upper-body also has to keep itself upright as well as hold the arms up.

On the bike, the weight of only the upper-body is carried on the pelvic area plus the legs only support themselves by pressing or resting on the pedals. So, their energy is used for propulsion via making circles.

You get a good core workout when running. I think very few active runners have bellies or weak backs. This is possible in active cyclists. Of course the knees take a beating in running, even at the highest levels. A high-level road cyclist is only limited by his/her energy system when it comes to back-to-back long training days, whereas a distance runner may have the energy but risks injuring his/her knees.

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When does everyone stretch, before, middle or after exercising?

I've read conflicting information on the optimal time to stretch. I find myself stretching after hitting the gym, and stretching both before and after hopping on the bike.
Stretch after exercise so that the muscles will recover in the elongated shape.
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Roadies can run tempo all year as that's what humans were designed for. If you want to be a cheetah, lay around and lick your paws more.
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Old 06-26-12, 08:18 AM   #13
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Active or dynamic stretching before, static stretching after.

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Stretch after exercise so that the muscles will recover in the elongated shape.
I've never heard of this before, explain?
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Old 06-26-12, 08:41 AM   #14
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recover faster: drink protein.


Also, are you using brakes, or trying to do all your braking via back pressure? Until you get used to the back pressure, don't be afraid to use your hand bakes. Spend some time on the FG and eventually you will get muscle memory that will make the back pressure feel more natural. (You don't have to do it all at once, unless, of course, you didn't put brakes on the bike.)
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Originally Posted by bragi "However, it's never a good idea to overgeneralize."
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Old 06-26-12, 08:56 AM   #15
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Also, are you using brakes, or trying to do all your braking via back pressure? Until you get used to the back pressure, don't be afraid to use your hand bakes. Spend some time on the FG and eventually you will get muscle memory that will make the back pressure feel more natural. (You don't have to do it all at once, unless, of course, you didn't put brakes on the bike.)
Well the bike came with front and rear brakes and was setup for SS but has flipflop hub. Bought 3 years ago, was always too scared/nervous to try FG. Faced my fears/curiousity this weekend and slapped a cog on there and ditched the freewheel. LOVING IT.

But to answer your Q more directly, yeah I have been doing a lot of back pressure braking because it's new and exciting and because I'm trying to get used to that feeling. Rode all weekend and I commute everyday too, so I'm mostly used to that sensation now and I enjoy it.
Also I started out with 73.6" (44/16) which made me feel weak/unsafe since I couldn't "command" the bike very well. Switched to 69.3" (44/17) and now I feel much safer and more in control of the bike. I can now skid stop and hop around a bit while track standing, but it probably looks very sloppy/unnatural when I do those things. I gots no style yet.
Thanks for the solid advice though. I should maybe lay off on the back pressure and use the brake more often.
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Old 06-26-12, 09:09 AM   #16
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Active or dynamic stretching before, static stretching after.
Yes, active stretch is basically the warmup, which is very important. But the range of motion isn't past the normal range of motion of cycling.

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I've never heard of this before, explain?
As I'm sure you know, muscle fibers are arranged in strands. When we exercise, we contract the strands over and over "teaching" them that we want them to be shorter. This is why lots of muscle head dudes who lift a lot and are very fit, are not flexible if they don't stretch after each session.

If at the end of exercise (constant shortening) we then stretch the fibers out to the length that they were before...or even further, then they will recover in the position in which we left them.

Further, we slightly tear muscle fibers when we exercise (hence the slight soreness). If we stretch them before the recovery process starts, new fibers will be built to accommodate the longer position. This is why it takes weeks or months to lengthen muscles. Basically, we increase the length of the muscles a few mm at a time each time we stretch, recover, stretch, recover. If we stretch too much at one time, we will tear it. Baby steps.

Plus, stretching after exercise is best because the fibers are very warm and there is much less risk of injury from stretching which is very possible when stretching cold. It is no uncommon for people to pull or tear a muscle when stretching when the muscles aren't warmed up.

That's a basic way of explaining what I understand is happening.
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Old 06-26-12, 09:13 AM   #17
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... I should maybe lay off on the back pressure and use the brake more often.
The back pressure on a FG bike makes and Eccentric Contraction of some of the muscles in the inner thigh. These muscles are sort of hard to train in the first place, plus adding the eccentric contraction will destroy them...till you get stronger.

The eccentric contraction is when the muscle elongates while under tension. It's awful on untrained muscles.
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Roadies can run tempo all year as that's what humans were designed for. If you want to be a cheetah, lay around and lick your paws more.
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Old 06-26-12, 09:21 AM   #18
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htfu for days.

jk, i rode too much my first couple weeks in seattle and had to force myself to take a week off.

but now we're back to htfu.
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Old 06-26-12, 09:24 AM   #19
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Are you sure your legs are sore from riding? It could be from putting your foot in your mouth so much when you first joined the forum.

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Old 06-26-12, 09:31 AM   #20
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The back pressure on a FG bike makes and Eccentric Contraction of some of the muscles in the inner thigh. These muscles are sort of hard to train in the first place, plus adding the eccentric contraction will destroy them...till you get stronger.

The eccentric contraction is when the muscle elongates while under tension. It's awful on untrained muscles.

Science hurts.
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Old 06-26-12, 09:31 AM   #21
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Are you sure your legs are sore from riding? It could be from putting your foot in your mouth so much when you first joined the forum.

LOL! nice burn Scrod
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Old 06-26-12, 10:33 AM   #22
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Yes, active stretch is basically the warmup, which is very important. But the range of motion isn't past the normal range of motion of cycling.


If at the end of exercise (constant shortening) we then stretch the fibers out to the length that they were before...or even further, then they will recover in the position in which we left them.

...Further, we slightly tear muscle fibers when we exercise (hence the slight soreness). If we stretch them before the recovery process starts, new fibers will be built to accommodate the longer position. This is why it takes weeks or months to lengthen muscles. Basically, we increase the length of the muscles a few mm at a time each time we stretch, recover, stretch, recover...

Plus, stretching after exercise is best because the fibers are very warm and there is much less risk of injury from stretching which is very possible when stretching cold. It is no uncommon for people to pull or tear a muscle when stretching when the muscles aren't warmed up.

That's a basic way of explaining what I understand is happening.

Well put, although check out some videos on walking dynamic glute and hamstring stretches. This movement will go well beyond the typical range of motion while cycling. Otherwise you might as well hop on the bike and pace your self for ten or fifteen minutes.

I think you're overestimating the effects of not stretching after an exercise and why a muscle "shortens". A lot of that shortening is caused by scarring and that pain, that deep soreness, can be caused by the byproduct of that muscle contracting not necessarily the micro-tears themselves. You can lengthen a muscle while by breaking down scar tissue and allowing oxygen to reach that area just as effectively if not more than holding static stretches.
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Old 06-26-12, 10:42 AM   #23
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Heh. I'm running almost the same ratio and I still haven't managed a skid yet. Part of it, I think, comes from being an engineer and understanding the dynamics of the situation (and what can go wrong), and part from being old and not wanting to end up in a cast.

The backpedal motion will get very natural soon, though. Then if you go back to freewheel it will feel awful, like something's broken. The backpedal pressure becomes part of your balance, and when you can't lean against the rising pedal it will feel like you're falling off the bike. I try to switch back and forth regularly to keep both FG and freewheel muscle memory.
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Originally Posted by bragi "However, it's never a good idea to overgeneralize."
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Old 06-26-12, 11:11 AM   #24
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Heh. I'm running almost the same ratio and I still haven't managed a skid yet. Part of it, I think, comes from being an engineer and understanding the dynamics of the situation (and what can go wrong), and part from being old and not wanting to end up in a cast.

The backpedal motion will get very natural soon, though. Then if you go back to freewheel it will feel awful, like something's broken. The backpedal pressure becomes part of your balance, and when you can't lean against the rising pedal it will feel like you're falling off the bike. I try to switch back and forth regularly to keep both FG and freewheel muscle memory.
After just a few days of riding fixed, it already feels 10 times more normal than it did when I first tried it. The only time it doesn't is when I get caught off guard and have to react quickly, sometimes I have an instinct to stop pedalling so as to brake more efficiently (as one would with a bike that can coast). Just need to train my mind to know that those pedals are always going to be turning - no matter, just brake the bike as normal and go with it. (or brake the bike as normal and go with it, WHILE also using my legs to help slow things down).

As far as skids, mine hop a bit usually. I can't skid very far in a straight line but that's likely because I'm scared to get up a lot of speed first. They say speed is your friend if you're trying to do skids. I'm not entirely convinced yet, lol
Also, I'm only comfortable skid whipping to the right side.
Do you have foot retention of some kind? Without it, skids and things would be harder to do. I have straps.
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Old 06-26-12, 11:26 AM   #25
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I have toe clips, no straps. I don't really feel the need to skid though.

When I've been riding a freewheel bike and come back to the FG, the time when I kind of mess up is when I sprint to make a green light before it turns red. Upon getting through the intersection, sometimes I relax and start to coast, forgetting that, well, you just can't do that. It hasn't happened in a while though.
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Originally Posted by bragi "However, it's never a good idea to overgeneralize."
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