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Road Cycling “It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle.” -- Ernest Hemingway

New to biking and fitness

Old 08-22-11, 01:38 PM
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46Biker
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New to biking and fitness

So I am a 46 y/o male and have never enjoyed fitness. Biking is the only thing I have found that I somewhat enjoy becuase the senery is always changing.

Here is my question. I purchased a GT road bike about two weeks ago. I'm sad to say my first trip out my legs were worn out in about 15 minutes. I have tried to ride everyother day since then and have managed to double my time in a 1.5 weeks, so I make it about 35 minutes now. My leggs is what gets tired, not my breathing or core.

I guess I am looking for advice on how to continue and a little encouragement to stay with it. This morning was tough to get out of bed and get on the bike and go, but I know if I give up that easy I will have a $800 paper weight in my garage and will not improve my health at all. Currently it is about 3pm CST and my leggs are still a little tired from the morning ride.

Advice please???

Thanks
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Old 08-22-11, 01:40 PM
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I do not have much advice, but I kind of live for the pain my legs. It gets me going. If I don't feel pain I am not going hard enough. Just keep trying and you will get hooked.
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Old 08-22-11, 01:48 PM
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I'm 46 also. There's no real "secret" to getting fit on a bike. You'll just need to keep at it, stay motivated and focused, don't be overambitious on your riding goals - too much mileage/too fast/too soon.

For starters, your legs/body/muscles/joints need a rest day, so don't try to ride everyday if your body is telling you otherwise. General rule of thumb is to try and increase your distance 10% every week. Your fitness level will quickly improve, especially in the beginning; and it'll be evident that you'll be riding faster/quicker/further.

Just keep at it....the saying around here is HTFU.
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Old 08-22-11, 01:52 PM
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Originally Posted by 46Biker View Post
So I am a 46 y/o male and have never enjoyed fitness. Biking is the only thing I have found that I somewhat enjoy becuase the senery is always changing.

Here is my question. I purchased a GT road bike about two weeks ago. I'm sad to say my first trip out my legs were worn out in about 15 minutes. I have tried to ride everyother day since then and have managed to double my time in a 1.5 weeks, so I make it about 35 minutes now. My leggs is what gets tired, not my breathing or core.

I guess I am looking for advice on how to continue and a little encouragement to stay with it. This morning was tough to get out of bed and get on the bike and go, but I know if I give up that easy I will have a $800 paper weight in my garage and will not improve my health at all. Currently it is about 3pm CST and my leggs are still a little tired from the morning ride.

Advice please???

Thanks
It will get easier. Just look at this way, in a short time you already have increased your time on the bike by over 100%.

When I first got started about 12 years ago, I kept a log book of all my rides and from time to time I compare how I am doing. To this day I still log in all my rides. Just to gage progress and personal best type thing.
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Old 08-22-11, 02:03 PM
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It takes lots of practice. As with anything else, you'll get better with experience.

But if your legs are killing you and your lungs are fine, you may be pushing too big a gear.
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Old 08-22-11, 02:07 PM
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If you don't have clipless pedals, they will help with your leg soreness because they increase your power transfer, so your quads get some rest.
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Old 08-22-11, 02:29 PM
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When I first got into biking about 4 years ago at age 34, I could hardly pedal a few miles. Slowly add on a little bit to your rides and take a rest day here and there when you feel you need it. Did you have a fitting done with your bike at the shop you bought it at? If you keep at it, you will be riding distances and at speeds you did not think were possible.
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Old 08-22-11, 02:30 PM
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Change your eating habits too. I feel real sluggish if I intake some greasy food the night before.

Also go get fitted, it could be causing you to lose efficiency.
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Old 08-22-11, 02:42 PM
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I would start with every-other day if you're really out of shape or have never been in shape. Eat balanced meals and stay hydrated-- minimize soda and coffee, and increase water. I know a LOT of people who don't drink any water at all during the day and that will kick your ass.

Don't skip a riding day. If you can't ride due to rain and this happens a lot, get a trainer or stationary bike. (I am very pro-trainer, but stationary bikes do work well.)

After you start feeling better switch to two on, one off. Then go from there.. but I suggest at least one day of rest per week.
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Old 08-22-11, 02:47 PM
  #10  
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Originally Posted by Seattle Forrest View Post
But if your legs are killing you and your lungs are fine, you may be pushing too big a gear.
This.

And conversely - if your lungs / heart are taking a beating but your legs are fine, then you're spinning a gear that's too small.

Using non-technical terms: Your performance improvement will be optimal if you get just the right cadence (i.e. RPMs in your pedals), and a balance between cardio (spinning the pedals) and power (pushing the pedals).
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Old 08-22-11, 03:41 PM
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I am 46 and was an athlete in college but over the years put on weight and forgot what it was like to be fit. Started running and slowly....very slowly built up to a point where I have run a marathon. Started cycling to take some of the pounding off the legs and found I really enjoy it. Now I am doing both. My advice 1) Read books on endurance training. I read Hal Higdon's Marathon book. Gives you an understanding of how to train and the effect. 2) Start SLOWLY and build up. 10% a week is a good guide but pay attention to resting, it is as important as training. 3) Have 1 workout a week that is designed to build endurance. Slow down and cover lots of miles. 4) Do not make excuses. If you dont feel like riding, admit to yourself you are being lazy (Unless of course you injured or really tired). After sometime, I think you will find that you feel lousy if you miss a workout. 5) Pay attention to what you eat. Your body will demand more of the good stuff and will treat you very bad if you have too much of the bad. Good luck.
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Old 08-22-11, 06:38 PM
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46Biker
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Thanks for the replies, I appreciate it. I think the advice of progress slowly and increase by 10% per week is a good idea for me. My goal is to ride MWF and one of the weekend day's as well. I think that is good for right now.

Any other advice is much appreciated..
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Old 08-22-11, 06:41 PM
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Everybody sucks when they start. I used to do laps of the block I was on.

I know it's been said, but start slow. Don't beat up your body. Go on little rides that don't hurt, increase your mileage gradually.
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Old 08-22-11, 07:05 PM
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on the off chance you don't understand the "pushing too big a gear" suggestions, I'll chime in simply...

What gearing are you using on your rides? If you are locked in the big chain ring (up front) and are using lots of muscle to power the pedals around then you are likely in too high a gear. Shift to a lower gear so it is easier to spin the pedals around even if that means using the smaller chain ring up front and/or the bigger cogs in the back. It may seem "too easy" but the the easier (and faster - "cadence") you spin the pedals around the more you will use your heart and lungs for aerobic training rather than muscling through anaerobically. Doing the latter will leave your muscles zapped but do little for you aerobically which is really not what you want. Keep it easy to spin and give yourself the aerobic workout you want and need.

G'luck and welcome to cycling!
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Old 08-22-11, 08:19 PM
  #15  
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Keep at it, you will get better.

I first started riding at age 25, when I was a very fit runner. My first ride was all of 6 miles, shorter than most of my runs, and it completely kicked my ass.
I was doing 50 mile rides a few months later, and I ended up racing for four years, then quitting to do motorcycle racing and chase women.

When I came back to cycling at age 41 after being sedentary I could do a bit more than the 6 miles but I was a lot slower. It took longer to get into shape because I had to get my cycling muscles in shape and get my cardiovascular fitness back. But it happened, and at 50 I'm as fit as I've ever been.
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Old 08-23-11, 06:05 AM
  #16  
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Until you get stronger, think more about cadence than power or speed. Spin in easier gears. Build up gradually. Very enjoyable but addictive hobby.
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Old 08-23-11, 06:13 AM
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1. Use a lower gear to pedal faster, but with less force.

2. If you can only go for 30 min, you are riding too fast. Slow down, and ride longer. You will get faster as you ride more.
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Old 08-23-11, 06:27 AM
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Originally Posted by laserfj View Post
1. Use a lower gear to pedal faster, but with less force.

2. If you can only go for 30 min, you are riding too fast. Slow down, and ride longer. You will get faster as you ride more.
This is good advice. I'm 46, been riding a while, but it's important to start slow. Don't worry about how fast you go until you really want to get faster. It's far better to build up your endurance with easy miles before you start with any hard workouts.
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Old 08-23-11, 10:52 AM
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45 yr old here. Work from home and haven't moved much in the past 5 yrs. 200lbs. Started riding again six weeks ago and just finished a fun weekend ride of 45 mi with http://www.circlethesummit.com/. It was my third ride of that length and I felt a whole lot better than my first one, where I a) didn't bring enough water, b) had 100 calories of snacks, c) wasn't prepared for 100 degree weather..all due to ignorance which was NOT bliss. Live in Denver and surrounded by hills so my first attempts at breaking a few miles were rough. But it definitely got easier and it became more fun, and now I get upset if I don't have a chance to ride at least a few miles every day because it's just a great stress reliever.

Here's what helped me get into it fwiw - subscribed to a few bicycling mags, started reading this forum, started signing up for bike events, used a bike log for motivation (I like the one on Bicycling Mag's site), hooked my wife on it as well. Now if I can just find a place to dump the kids I'd be all set...

Anyway, that's my 2 cents from one newb to another...it really is great fun once you get ur bike legs on. Take a longer break if necessary to let the legs rest up but otherwise just keep pushing and it will only take a few weeks for them to want you to get on the bike! Good luck.

Forgot to mention that I also found this one when I was on vacation, http://www.ridethecharx.org/, and just shipped the bike to do it while visiting family. Use the events!!! They are alot of fun, non-competitive and you learn a ton by chatting with others who are also just starting out. One thing I did notice that was really interesting, and maybe it was because I wasn't on a full century ride, but I swear over 60% of the crowd was in the retirement age bracket. So it's fairly humbling yet encouraging to see some couple blow by you heading up to Vail pass, who are 30 yrs your senior. I.e., there's no rush and you have plenty of time to work up to your goals!

Last edited by cleon; 08-23-11 at 10:57 AM.
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Old 08-23-11, 11:36 AM
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I rode a mountain bike on the road for two years before buying a proper road bike. I'm 35, and when I first started with the mountain bike (6 years ago), I found that ~20-25km felt pretty rough and my legs were constantly sore. With my first road bike, I worked my way up to 50-60km (at a much quicker pace too) and found that my legs recovered a lot more quickly due to the training. I picked up a new road bike this year and finally reached my goal of doing 80-90km rides comfortably and I'm now shooting for 100-110kms; remarkably I now consider 20-40kms "quick" rides, which I still find unbelievable in my mind. Just goes to show that you need to keep at it and have set goals in mind and the results will come.

The biggest thing I've noticed over the years is how critical seat position is - it sounds obvious but it can't be stressed enough. It affects your pedal stroke, which muscles are used more heavily (quads vs glutes/hams, etc) and how much energy you expend (i.e. efficiency.) If your quads are burning on a really short ride and you don't feel you're that out of shape, I'd say make sure your seat isn't too low and that you're not trying to push too large a gear on the inclines. Don't stretch before your rides either.

Another thing is proper eating to assist recovery and restocking the muscles before the next ride.

The worst thing you can do is to over do it in the first year. You'll get discouraged and likely not see the improvements you're seeking. Definitely set realistic goals for yourself - nothing gives you a more positive mental boost than achieving something you set out to do.
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Old 08-23-11, 01:29 PM
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Btw to the OP. Fwiw, I found picking up a daily stretching routine to be a huge benefit, next to daily Ibuprofen that is...(semi-j/k), but if you've been sedentary for a long time then chances are that you have lost a lot of flexibility. I didn't see that mentioned above so thought I would add it. Simplest test is to try to touch your toes from a standing position. The further you are from doing that the worse flexible shape you are in and should really consider doing something about it. Just google 'bicycling stretches' or w/e and you'll find plenty of good info. Hope that helps!

edit: I just had a pro bike fit and the guy said that my inflexibility will be a major drain on my endurance for a while until I loosen up with more stretching, yoga, w/e. Make sense that if you are fighting your own body to complete the pedal stroke it will cost you mileage.

Last edited by cleon; 08-26-11 at 08:18 AM.
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