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Questions about breaks while riding, quad soreness, gloves, etc.

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Questions about breaks while riding, quad soreness, gloves, etc.

Old 06-19-13, 08:23 PM
  #1  
mrkm
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Questions about breaks while riding, quad soreness, gloves, etc.

Hey everyone,

I just came back from a 15km ride with a friend (I know it's *nothing* compared to what folks on here do, but it's just my second week on the bike and I could hardly do a couple blocks when I started earlier this month) and have a few questions.

First off, is it considered "cheating" to take breaks while doing relatively short distance rides? I took about 5-6 1-2 min. breaks today in a 70 minute ride. There were some points where I went way too hard and some of the climbs really killed me. I attribute the frequent stops to my quad soreness- they absolutely kill me just about all the time while biking.

The first question kind of ties into this one: I've had, since starting, extremely sore quads to the point where when I bike the next day (I've been going daily, taking just one day off a week) they just get to a point where they can't keep going and I have to stop. I find I'm averaging about 3km of almost constant pedalling before the pain/soreness kicks in; then the rest of the ride ends up being hellish, but I go on.

My other question is about gloves. I'm currently riding a Norco Wolverine mtb (in a small frame size; darn the guy that sold it to me when I had no idea what to look for!) until my Surly DT comes in and the stock flat bars are absolutely massacring my hands. I constantly am getting cramps in them and while I re-adjust slightly every couple of minutes it still is a pain.

I'm really new to this so don't really have the "proper" gear that'd work in favour of my overall comfort/wellbeing when riding and I was hoping you guys could tell me what would help. I'm planning on ordering a bib this week and getting a *good* comfy saddle (probably Brooks B17) for the Surly, but is there anything else? Are gloves a must on touring bikes/drop bars?

I don't mean to come off as a winer or anything, but just am getting fed up with things that I think are easily fixable as I plan to ride hard and far, I just don't know the fix.

A bit of extra info: I'm 6'3, just north of 350lbs. Every time I head out, I go with a 500ml water bottle and I suspect part of my exhaustion might come from dehydration. I'm sure I'll get a lot of that here, but could that really be the reason behind sore quads/muscles? I don't really stretch before going out, but should start.

Any feedback/advice at all would be great appreciated!

Thanks in advance!

P.S. I should add... I absolutely love riding and feel AWESOME after the rides, it's just *during* that I'm having a hard time. Really wish I could pedal through the pain and go for longer, but it's quite debilitating when it's bad.
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Old 06-19-13, 08:34 PM
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My husband has a bike that is a bit too small. We put a longer and taller stem on it which helped a lot. I also put handlebars with a bit of rise to them on the bike as well as Ergon grips . His hands feel a lot better.

Are you mashing your pedals? Can you gear it down some or have you run out of gears?
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Old 06-19-13, 08:42 PM
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Yeah, I just recently got a longer stem and it's just about near the max. I actually have no idea if I'm at the right ride height or anything. I think I'll take it into my lbs Friday so they can fit me to it (8 years after I bought it haha) and also to get two spokes repaired.
I will check out those grips though, thanks for the suggestion!
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Old 06-19-13, 08:49 PM
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you're 6'3" and you're riding a small bike? I'm sure half your problems are fit related and the other half are fitness related. Is your Surly on the way already? I'd reserve judgement until it gets to you.

Anyway, as for water - drink a lot. I go through 1 to 1 and a half bottles an hour in hot weather. Dehydration is no joke. Another tip is to hydrate well the day before and morning of any riding you do - in other words, stay hydrated all the time. I drink a ton of water every day. Well, probably really only about 64 oz a day or so, but I do like the stuff.

Some people stretch before they ride... I don't. take it easy for the first 10 min. and stretch when you're done.
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Old 06-19-13, 08:49 PM
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First off, is it considered "cheating" to take breaks while doing relatively short distance rides? No, nothing wrong with that, but the ideal solution is to adjust your pace, including on hills, where you don't need to stop.

I've had, since starting, extremely sore quads... Not sure what to say about this. For one thing, try to spin more, mash less, it shouldn't be like doing leg-press exercises. If you live some place really hilly, you may need lower gears than what you have. If the leg pain is a problem, take a little more time off the bike, ride every other day or something like that so you have some recovery time in there. As you get better at it, that shouldn't be an issue.

and the stock flat bars are absolutely massacring my hands. I normally ride with gloves, but they don't make "completely uncomfortable" into "completely comfortable", so I doubt they're the entire solution in your case. One possibility is fit adjustments, moving the handlebars up higher and/or back towards you, which takes some of the weight off of them. Adjusting your saddle forward would do that some, too, come to think of it. My stoker uses pipe insulation over her stoker bars, and that might be worth a try. It's really cushy, but does crush down under weight, so it has to be replaced periodically.

I suspect part of my exhaustion might come from dehydration... to be honest, I suspect most your exhaustion comes from being overweight and out of shape- that's why I started cycling in the first place, and likely why you did. If you're getting thirsty or start having muscle cramps, then you need to look into the hydration more (consider a Camelbak if you can't carry enough in bottles). But I can go do my 20 mile route in the evenings, not take any water, come back soaked in sweat, and still not be feeling weak from that- thirsty, maybe, but not weak. So stay hydrated, but don't expect that to fix everything, either.
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Old 06-19-13, 08:52 PM
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Quad soreness is likely a fit issue, gearing/mashing pedals issue, fitness issue, or most likely some combination of those 3. Bike is too small, so your pedal stroke is too short, and you're likely pushing big gears instead of "spinning" (common new rider mistake). At your weight, you're obviously out of shape (you're certainly not alone in that. Bike fit will be fixed with the new bike. Spinning just takes practice and time on the bike, which will help fix the fitness issue.
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Old 06-19-13, 08:53 PM
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Originally Posted by mrkm View Post
Hey everyone,

I just came back from a 15km ride with a friend (I know it's *nothing* compared to what folks on here do, but it's just my second week on the bike and I could hardly do a couple blocks when I started earlier this month) and have a few questions.

First off, is it considered "cheating" to take breaks while doing relatively short distance rides? I took about 5-6 1-2 min. breaks today in a 70 minute ride. There were some points where I went way too hard and some of the climbs really killed me. I attribute the frequent stops to my quad soreness- they absolutely kill me just about all the time while biking.

The first question kind of ties into this one: I've had, since starting, extremely sore quads to the point where when I bike the next day (I've been going daily, taking just one day off a week) they just get to a point where they can't keep going and I have to stop. I find I'm averaging about 3km of almost constant pedalling before the pain/soreness kicks in; then the rest of the ride ends up being hellish, but I go on.

My other question is about gloves. I'm currently riding a Norco Wolverine mtb (in a small frame size; darn the guy that sold it to me when I had no idea what to look for!) until my Surly DT comes in and the stock flat bars are absolutely massacring my hands. I constantly am getting cramps in them and while I re-adjust slightly every couple of minutes it still is a pain.

I'm really new to this so don't really have the "proper" gear that'd work in favour of my overall comfort/wellbeing when riding and I was hoping you guys could tell me what would help. I'm planning on ordering a bib this week and getting a *good* comfy saddle (probably Brooks B17) for the Surly, but is there anything else? Are gloves a must on touring bikes/drop bars?

I don't mean to come off as a winer or anything, but just am getting fed up with things that I think are easily fixable as I plan to ride hard and far, I just don't know the fix.

A bit of extra info: I'm 6'3, just north of 350lbs. Every time I head out, I go with a 500ml water bottle and I suspect part of my exhaustion might come from dehydration. I'm sure I'll get a lot of that here, but could that really be the reason behind sore quads/muscles? I don't really stretch before going out, but should start.

Any feedback/advice at all would be great appreciated!

Thanks in advance!

P.S. I should add... I absolutely love riding and feel AWESOME after the rides, it's just *during* that I'm having a hard time. Really wish I could pedal through the pain and go for longer, but it's quite debilitating when it's bad.
First off, 15km is not "nothing". We all started somewhere. Just four years ago I took my first 5 mi ride through quiet flat residential streets and had to hobble to the couch where I lay for some time afterward. At that time, to me, that 5 mi was definitely something.

Second, it's hard to cheat when there are no rules. It's your ride, take breaks whenever you want them. Bike fit issues can be a major factor in quad pain. You are 6'3" and mentioned you were riding a small frame which I can't imagine wouldn't cause you a lot of discomfort. You should be riding a large to XL frame. If you ordered the Surly in the proper frame size I would expect big improvements in comfort and better, longer, more enjoyable rides.

Hand pain is also affected by bike fit. Another factor is core fitness. Once your core strengthens up and you get the bike fit down, you should be lightly resting your hands on the bar, not leaning on it. Good gloves, different grips/tape/bars can help but they won't make up for a poor fit. Be aware that there are some stupidly expensive gloves out there that are no better than the $15-$25 gloves from your LBS.

Good luck and let us know how the new Surly turns out.

Good bibs/shorts +10
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Old 06-19-13, 08:58 PM
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Gloves: Don't leave home without them.
Quad pain: When you look at the work done while riding it's twofold. You have aerobic and anaerobic loads on your body. Let's say you riding along at 10 mph. You can choose a gear that has you spinning like a mad man.(aerobic) or Mashing on the pedals in a high gear.(anaerobic) Almost every beginner tends to find a gear that has them pedaling at 60 rpm. That is not really the best cadence to pedal at. Pedaling a a higher cadence works your lungs and heart harder where a lower cadence works your legs harder. Most people can gain fitness faster in the aerobic area than anaerobic.

Higher cadence (spinning) takes time to develop. If you just switch to spinning like a mad man more than likely your hips will start rocking and it'll feel spastic. What you want is that feeling that your feet are light on the pedals. Save the mashing for when you're climbing a hill and are in the lowest gear you have.
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Old 06-19-13, 09:06 PM
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Originally Posted by mrkm View Post
First off, is it considered "cheating" to take breaks while doing relatively short distance rides?
Absolutely not! Ride within your own limits. Stop as often as you feel you need to.

The first question kind of ties into this one: I've had, since starting, extremely sore quads to the point where when I bike the next day...
My gut feeling says that your are pushing yourself too much. You need to "build up to it".

My other question is about gloves...Are gloves a must on touring bikes/drop bars?
No, gloves are not a must. However, most cycling gloves do offer a bit of extra padding on the palms. In addition, most have leather palms. If you think about it, when one falls off a bike, the instinctive reaction is to throw out ones arm/hand to "brace the fall". That means that the palm of your hand is one of the first things that scrapes across the asphalt. Gloves help protect your hands from getting chewed up. Finally, the thumb part of most gloves have a terrycloth type material which is extremely handy for wiping against your forehead to wipe away sweat.

Brooks saddles are good. It will take awhile to break in, but once that is accomplished, there are few as comfortable.

I don't mean to come off as a whiner or anything, but just am getting fed up with things that I think are easily fixable as I plan to ride hard and far, I just don't know the fix.
You're not a whiner. It's good to push yourself, but make sure to ride within your abilities and limits.

Every time I head out, I go with a 500ml water bottle and I suspect part of my exhaustion might come from dehydration. I'm sure I'll get a lot of that here, but could that really be the reason behind sore quads/muscles? I don't really stretch before going out, but should start.
500ml is fine for rides up to about one to two hours. Of course, depends on how hot it is. The hotter it is, the more you should drink. And, the less humid it is, the more you should drink. If you have room for an additional bottle cage, get one and carry another half liter.

Really wish I could pedal through the pain and go for longer, but it's quite debilitating when it's bad.
This is one reason I feel that your are pushing yourself too hard. As I said, you need to built up to it. Don't rush it. Better to ride more often at less intensity than a fewer times at an intense pace.

Good luck. Let us know how you progress.
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Old 06-19-13, 09:18 PM
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Take all the rest breaks you need. Keep it fun.
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Old 06-20-13, 12:03 AM
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Bike is obviously far too small. The hand pain will be related to that, it will be impossible to get the handlebars adjusted so you're in the right position. Gloves are good, but they won't fix that problem.

As far as quads are concerned, as others have said it is best to pedal faster and exert less force through each individual pedal stroke. To guage whether you are at the right saddle height, remove shoes, sit on the bike and put your heel on the pedal at its lowest position. You should be able to just touch the pedal with your leg straight. That will mean that with shoes on and the ball of your foot on the pedal, your knee should be bent slightly - about 15% - with the pedal at 6 o'clock.
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Old 06-20-13, 01:00 AM
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Originally Posted by volosong View Post
If you think about it, when one falls off a bike, the instinctive reaction is to throw out ones arm/hand to "brace the fall". That means that the palm of your hand is one of the first things that scrapes across the asphalt..
As an aside, the correct reaction is to shove the handlebars down into the ground under you so that all that pavement shreddy impact goes toward grinding on the metal handlebar and the cheap grips instead of your skin and bones.
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Old 06-20-13, 10:54 PM
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All amazingly great advice, thanks so much to each and every one of you!

FYI, the bike I'm riding is an 18".

Got some gloves today and they made a big difference for me thanks to the padding, though definitely ride hight/position is an issue as I'm putting most of the weight on the bars. Will look into a fix for this, but will probably just sell this bike and call it a loss, as much as I would of liked to of kept an mtb along with the Surly (touring). New bike is here end of month, can't wait!

Thanks again for all the advice!
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Old 06-21-13, 02:57 AM
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(I've been going daily, taking just one day off a week)
You may also need an additional day(s) per week rest. Six days per week for someone new seems to be a lot.

Also make sure your food intake and recovery food is beneficial to riding. Check the threads for more info on this. Finally, it is important to make sure you are hydrated before the ride even starts. Make sure you are getting plenty of water through out the day, prior to the ride.

keep up the good work and enjoy!!
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Old 06-21-13, 03:51 AM
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Originally Posted by mrkm View Post
All amazingly great advice, thanks so much to each and every one of you!

FYI, the bike I'm riding is an 18".

Got some gloves today and they made a big difference for me thanks to the padding, though definitely ride hight/position is an issue as I'm putting most of the weight on the bars. Will look into a fix for this, but will probably just sell this bike and call it a loss, as much as I would of liked to of kept an mtb along with the Surly (touring). New bike is here end of month, can't wait!

Thanks again for all the advice!
Get someone who knows what they are doing to help you set up the Surly. Your position on the bike is going to be dramatically different and you may not have the experience to get it right on your own. Even with expert help you'll probably need to tweak it a bit over time, but an experienced eye will at least get you in the right ballpark from the start.
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Old 06-21-13, 04:39 AM
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If you are trying to hammer up hills, weigh 350lbs, and have just started cycling - then, yes, you will get sore calves! Your muscles are having to do much work than those of the average cyclist. You should always start an exercise program gradually, but in your case the need is much greater.

Wait for the Surly to arrive, get the bike to fit, and then let your body gently acclimatise to this new activity. BUT it's very possible that you have the saddle too low. Be wary of trying to get the saddle up high enough on a too small frame however - if you leave too little seatpost in the tube then the post or frame could snap.

Re. fiit, there are different styles and you will definitely want a French or Rivendale fit:

https://www.competitivecyclist.com/ht...ad_riding.html

https://www.peterwhitecycles.com/fitting.htm
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Old 06-21-13, 05:49 AM
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Before getting a new saddle, I'd get some decent cycling shorts or liners and ride enough to get the fit tweeked on your new bike. After the bike fits properly and your backside has toughened up a bit, then you can more accurately find a saddle that will work for you long term. Brooks makes some great saddles, but saddle fit is a very individual thing and you can't base your selection on the reputation or popularity of a brand or model. For me, the Specialized Avatar has become my long distance saddle of choice but again, an Avatar won't work for everyone.
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Old 06-21-13, 09:43 AM
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I have to run my seat very high out of the frame. How high is too high at 350lbs?
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Old 06-21-13, 12:10 PM
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This is my bike now, with the seat post as far up as it can go without being damaging to the frame:

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Old 06-21-13, 12:49 PM
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Learn to recover on the bike. It is not cheating to stop to catch your breath but if you practice recovery on the bike, you won't need to stop.

If you hit a rise in the road and use a load of energy to get over it, don't stop. Just ease your pace after and use this section to recover.

A big mistake many riders (especially clydes) make is to bomb on the downhills. After a hill, they feel the need to push hard as possible on the next down hill section. That is when you should ease off the pedals and conserve energy for the next rise.

Practice this and you will not need to stop on a 70 minute ride, although there is nothing wrong with it.
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Old 06-21-13, 01:37 PM
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I started with a 18" frame because i did not know what i was doing at the time. Then i got a 23" frame and a pair of bibs, good gloves, man what difference that made. I am about the same size as you are and had the quad pain and fatigue too but it will decrease soon with a few more rides.
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Old 06-21-13, 01:51 PM
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OP is your saddle height correct? are you on a comfort bike? MTB? some bike setups while they look like they will be easy to ride actually make it harder to ride because of their geometry. also if you can't extend your leg you'll be burning more than necessary. it's hard to explain.
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Old 06-21-13, 02:25 PM
  #23  
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rumrunn6, that's a photo of my bike above. it's a mountainbike. i've got the saddle as high up as possible and still can't quite fully extend my legs. it's probably not correct, but the best i can do on that bike.

the surly i've got coming at the end of the month is a 60cm frame and should make a good amount of difference- they'll fit me at the shop and everything. also have got a bib on order which i'm really looking forward to utilizing.

picked up a brooks b17 yesterday and while it's *very* stiff, the shape is much more comfortable to me- will wait to see how it is after a couple hundred km's.
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Old 06-21-13, 02:35 PM
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Some of this may already have been said, but to address a few of your issues from my experience:

Extra sore quads could have a bit to do with your bike being too small. Your seat may not be high enough. With a seat that's too low, you're basically doing squats which is not the proper efficient pedaling motion. And, as others have said, concentrate a bit more on spinning than mashing.

There's nothing wrong with stopping, but the lactic acid will clear out of your muscles more quickly if you continue pedaling. After a hill, don't be tempted to stop or coast. Ride in a high gear for a few minutes with minimal resistance, but keep your legs moving. They'll recover quicker than you expect. Also, don't be afraid to stand up out of the seat to pedal up hills. You'll work slightly different muscles and might not be as winded as you'd think.

Gloves do help. I personally don't feel comfortable riding without gloves. Outside of some extra padding, you get a more positive grip on the bike. Even on flat bars though, don't be afraid to experiment with lots of different hand positions. Just moving your hands and inch inward, or out, or putting pressure on a different part of your hand for a few minutes gives some good relief.
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Old 06-21-13, 02:48 PM
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Keith99
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Nothing wrong with taking a break when you need it, or even when you just feel like it.

It is wrong to think it is the same as doing the ride without the break. Judging from the OP I do not think that self deception is an issue here.

Oh and for now more breaks and more total distance (while still enjoying yourself) is probably a good thing. But if the breaks start coming more and more often as the ride gets longer then it might be wise to cut back on the distance until you do not need so many, you could be close to your limits. Really bonking is not fun.

On that if you do hit that kind of wall don't try to keep going and keep taking short breaks. Take a longer break, get food and water into yourself and if it is how find good shade and get cooled off.
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