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Old 06-22-08, 10:12 AM
  #1  
greenfeather
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Health question from newby

I just joined this forum. I would like to try commuting to my job (12 miles on a paved trail). Well I can upgrade bike components & tires, etc., but the biggest problem is upgrading the 57-year old rider (me). I've biked for fun and I'm in decent condition for my age, but I don't know if I have the energy for a longer ride. I sometimes get dizzy & exhausted after maybe 6 miles. I can't sit & rest for 1/2 hour if I'm going to my job.

I thought about buying some of those "muscle milk" type supplements but I wonder if they are a waste of money and whether I would get the same benefit from eating a peanut butter sandwich before I ride.

As a newby to the whole subject of getting in condition and biking nutrition, what advice do folks have?
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Old 06-22-08, 10:20 AM
  #2  
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Originally Posted by greenfeather View Post
I just joined this forum. I would like to try commuting to my job (12 miles on a paved trail). Well I can upgrade bike components & tires, etc., but the biggest problem is upgrading the 57-year old rider (me). I've biked for fun and I'm in decent condition for my age, but I don't know if I have the energy for a longer ride. I sometimes get dizzy & exhausted after maybe 6 miles. I can't sit & rest for 1/2 hour if I'm going to my job.

I thought about buying some of those "muscle milk" type supplements but I wonder if they are a waste of money and whether I would get the same benefit from eating a peanut butter sandwich before I ride.

As a newby to the whole subject of getting in condition and biking nutrition, what advice do folks have?
Looks like first thing would be to see a doctor.
Bicycling is 10% Bike, 90% Motor.
My 66 y/o motor was good for 94 miles June 14th at The Indy 500 Track Ride.
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Old 06-22-08, 11:10 AM
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By week...

Week One... do a ride on the weekend towards work. Just go a way and come back.

Week Two... if you can have someone meet you, ride to work on the weekend and
get a ride home. Alternatively, ride halfway there and back.

Week Three.. do a weekend ride going there and back. If you can get there and then come right back, you are ready to commute. Don't forget to have a safe place for the bike ready, and leave enough time to get cleaned up a bit before work starts. Have an emergency ride ready if something comes up.
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Old 06-22-08, 12:06 PM
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I go along with the "Don't bite off more than you can chew" theory. Start with a distance you can comfortably handle and build it up gradually from there. And yes, at your (our) age, I'd definitely get the go-ahead from a family physician first! Congrats on taking the first step. Just do the rest of them sensibly so you'll be around for a long time.
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Old 06-22-08, 12:14 PM
  #5  
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Looks like others have given you some good advice already. Just start slow and build up a day at a time.
P&J works great as energy food.
FYI: I started bike commuting 14 miles one way when I was 56. I'm now 63 and semi-retired and work in a bike shop (part-time) and bike commute whenever I can. The distance is only 9 miles each way.
Good luck.
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Old 06-22-08, 03:20 PM
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I agree with the other posters. First step is a physical from your physician, you want to ensure there are no problems that might creep up. After that start slow and keep the wheels turning. Age is nothing, a 62 year old gentleman completed the Race Across America last week.
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Old 06-22-08, 08:28 PM
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A bagel with peanut butter works really well as well--it's standard fare at rest stops for organised rides. There's a good reason why it's offered!

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Old 06-22-08, 08:53 PM
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Thanks for your advice

"Week Three.. do a weekend ride going there and back. If you can get there and then come right back, you are ready to commute. "

Yes!!! I DID IT!!

Today (Sunday) I was going to try a partial ride, a bit more than halfway. Well I got that far & decided "might as well do the whole thing now that I got this far!" So I did the entire ride to my workplace, about 12 miles!!! Then I got bored with sitting & resting at my workplace so I turned around & came back.

It wasn't too bad at all. I discovered the secret to not getting lightheaded & wiped out.... drinking lots of water & snacking on grapes!! On the way back I bought some gator aide. That stuff is miraculous. Yep...the secret is Liquid & snacks. I came home & my knees were sore but I didn't really feel exhausted like I had before.

It takes me about 40-45 min. to drive to my work (15 road miles). It took me 1-1/4 hrs to bike along the trail to work (12 miles.) I'm sure that if I replaced my v-tread tires with smooth racing ones I could do even better for time.

But there are still a few problems: I don't know where I can park this bike at work where it isn't at risk of having parts stolen (it is near Philly). And the more serious problem is that a few sections of the trail go through 'bad' areas. I'm not sure how safe they are. So I still don't know if I'm going to do this commute.

But today I feel great that I accomplished this ride -- I never believed I could do it. What an adventure!
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Old 06-22-08, 09:23 PM
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congrats Greenfeather....I bet that feels really good....way to go!
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Old 06-23-08, 06:14 AM
  #10  
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Originally Posted by greenfeather View Post
But today I feel great that I accomplished this ride -- I never believed I could do it. What an adventure!
Congratulations !

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Old 06-23-08, 06:52 AM
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If you get dizzy, first you should check this out with your doctor, and secondly, you should probably put off the commuting for now and just ride your bike recreationally to gradually become more fit. It probably won't take much riding to get to the point where you can ride 12 miles easily if you're otherwise healthy. There is no supplement that will do this for you, and you will just be wasting your money. There's no such thing as bicycling nutrition unless you start talking some pretty serious racing, and maybe touring. But even serious tourists really only need to eat enough, that's all. A heart-healthy diet is probably a good idea for people our age (or any age for that matter).
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Old 06-23-08, 07:01 AM
  #12  
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Good for you.

There are better sports drinks than Gatorade (too sweet, not enough electrolytes).
Around here you can get Powerade anywhere you can get Gatorade.

One thing you can do is dilute Gatorade by about half and add a pinch of lite salt.
You can also find pretzels that are fat free or nearly fat free and they make a good snack. They'll even keep on the bike for a while.

Have you got the 'basics'? Helmet,lock, portable pump, flat kit? A good pump is the Morph. I have the Road Morph, I think there is a Mtb version if you have a hybrid.

Oh, I carry my work clothes in panniers.

I also carry a cellphone.
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Old 06-23-08, 07:15 AM
  #13  
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Originally Posted by greenfeather View Post
I just joined this forum. I would like to try commuting to my job (12 miles on a paved trail). Well I can upgrade bike components & tires, etc., but the biggest problem is upgrading the 57-year old rider (me). I've biked for fun and I'm in decent condition for my age, but I don't know if I have the energy for a longer ride. I sometimes get dizzy & exhausted after maybe 6 miles. I can't sit & rest for 1/2 hour if I'm going to my job.

I thought about buying some of those "muscle milk" type supplements but I wonder if they are a waste of money and whether I would get the same benefit from eating a peanut butter sandwich before I ride.

As a newby to the whole subject of getting in condition and biking nutrition, what advice do folks have?
First things first. Make sure you are properly hydrated. Many people jump into an exercise routine and get seriously lightheaded because A. they aren't used to it and B. they normally don't drink much water. I'd be willing to bet it's the water which caused your dizziness and exhaustion.

As for supplements, I wouldn't waste your money with Muscle Milk. If you're interested in taking a protein supplement, I would use something less expensive, but highly regarded called OPTIMUM NUTRITION 100% WHEY. A 5 lb jug costs around $40 and will last you a month or 2, depending on how often you take it.

Other than that, slowly work your way into that saddle and make sure you're eating correctly.
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Old 06-23-08, 07:33 AM
  #14  
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If it's warm, taking in enough fluids is most important. If you have eaten before a ride, you don't need extra food during rides of an hour or less. The same applies with sports drinks.

The important thing is build up your distance slowly and gradually. Don't increase your weekly milage in huge increments or do a really big bump in your long rides.
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Old 06-23-08, 08:12 AM
  #15  
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Originally Posted by greenfeather View Post
It wasn't too bad at all. I discovered the secret to not getting lightheaded & wiped out.... drinking lots of water & snacking on grapes!!
Some of the most important rules of cycling are:
1. Drink before you're thirsty.
2. Eat before you're hungry.
3. Rest before you're tired. This doesn't mean take a nap. Just take a 5-10 minute break.
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Old 07-01-08, 04:57 AM
  #16  
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The 12-mile commute

I rode my bike to work for the first time... 12 miles on the Schuylkill River trail. Well the ride there wasn't too bad... from 6 am to 7:15. (I saw lots of bunnies & other critters!) Then another 10 min. to lock up the bike, wash up & change etc.

Sitting at work I was feeling kind of flaky & spaced out. Maybe too tired to work? worrying all day about what if the bike was stolen (I had 2 locks on it.) I was kind of on a high about how "I did it!!" and how it was OK to 'pig out' because I burned 400 calories.

When it was time to leave I started seriously worrying about rain. I have backpacked in the rain and I know I won't melt, but I was worried about road safety. And what if there was a thunderstorm!

The rain held off...but there was a strong headwind which just took the "wind" out of my sails!

Then a rider showed up who kind of creeped me out and I slowed down to make sure I stayed a fair distance behind him. Then at a certain point I sped way up so I could pass him & leave him in the dust.

By my last 5 miles, every pedal was a chore!

I got home and I was just wiped out for the rest of the evening.

I concluded that "this was a great adventure, but to do it on a regular basis would quickly become a real chore... even more than commuting by car."
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Old 07-01-08, 06:02 AM
  #17  
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Ok, I think you're ready to start reading and posting in the Commuting forum. Tons of info and support there.
Good luck and stay safe.
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Old 07-01-08, 05:58 PM
  #18  
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You'll be fine. You just have to get into the groove...

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Old 07-01-08, 08:45 PM
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Well done! I am 66 and my ride is 17 miles to work, but I dont do it 2 days in succession. When you ride your bike, instead of wasting 90 mins in traffic, you gain 2 1/2 hrs quality recreation. I keep lock, work pants, towel and shoes at work to minimise the load that I carry in a trunk bag on the back of the bike.
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Old 07-02-08, 06:08 AM
  #20  
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Holy crap Andrew. I didn't realize you were older than me.
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The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. - Psalm 103:8

I am a cyclist. I am not the fastest or the fittest. But I will get to where I'm going with a smile on my face.
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