Thinking of commuting by bike

Beating the system - the cycling commuting section

Re: Thinking of commuting by bike

Postby casual_cyclist » Mon May 04, 2009 3:35 pm

Kowai wrote:It really seems at the moment the biggest thing holding me back is strength/fitness!

If you ride regularly you will be surprised how quickly your fitness will improve. I only started 2 1/2 months ago but can already complete a 100km bike ride in 4 hours! My first couple of rides were pretty bad too. Ok on the flat, but as soon as it came to "hills" I huffed and puffed to the top and thought I was going to pass out. I now fly up those same "hills" in third and at the top think "what hill?". I really do enjoy riding much more than the bus or train and its much cheaper too.
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by BNA » Mon May 04, 2009 4:58 pm

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Re: Thinking of commuting by bike

Postby wombatK » Mon May 04, 2009 4:58 pm

Kowai wrote:I'm having a bit of trouble with the gears still.. They work a little differently to my old bike (which I had when I was a kid). I know how to make it "easier" to get up the hills but I just found my legs were way too tired. Either to stand up and power up the hill, or to sit down and peddle doggedly away on a lighter gear.
It really seems at the moment the biggest thing holding me back is strength/fitness!

The trick with the gears is to shift down before you start straining muscles - which usually means before you hit the hill, and also when coasting to a stop. Most beginners tend to ride in too high (hard!) a gear, and it's not real intuitive understanding that high cadence is easier.

Sore butt could be due to seat being too narrow. It could be worth looking for one which is a broader "ladies" fit.

You've done quite well making it on your first ride. You've averaged about 10 kph - and that's about all I could manage when starting out. As others are saying, it only gets easier from here, and you will get quicker. Your plan for 2 to 3 rides a week will give your body some recovery time and is a great strategy. Keep up the excellent work.
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Re: Thinking of commuting by bike

Postby Kalgrm » Mon May 04, 2009 7:55 pm

Well done kowai. It really does get easier from here on.

Cheers,
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Re: Thinking of commuting by bike

Postby Mulger bill » Mon May 04, 2009 8:39 pm

First cycling milestone Kowai, 'grats 8)

Wednesday's a good idea for the next effort. Shoot for 79":D

Cheers
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Re: Thinking of commuting by bike

Postby Kowai » Tue May 05, 2009 1:21 pm

Hey guys thanks heaps for your replies :)

Riding home took me an hour and a half as well which sucked because it got dark on me! I don't have lights for my bike either.. Sooo I ended up riding on the footpath cause I was worried cars wouldn't be able to see me.

So I'm going to try and buy some lights today or tomorrow on my lunch break :)

Right now I feel sooo demotivated but have to keep with it. It was just such a difficult ride.. I guess though I DID make it and it can only get easier from here! My whole body is worn out today but luckily I'm not sore :) Except for my butt.. Ouch.. Will look into getting another seat but I suspect its just sore from not being used to this?

Will attempt again tomorrow!
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Re: Thinking of commuting by bike

Postby casual_cyclist » Tue May 05, 2009 1:49 pm

Kowai wrote:Except for my butt.. Ouch.. Will look into getting another seat but I suspect its just sore from not being used to this?


unfortunately a sore butt is normal for people not used to riding. Mine was sore for about a week and a half when I climbed back on the saddle. I rode the same bike with the same seat for over 5 hours on Sunday with no soreness at all, so that seat is fine for me. Give it a chance but if it is not better after a couple of weeks and if it does not improve look at a new seat. That is assuming it is adjusted correctly though. If not, it may not improve.

Good luck with your ride tomorrow. I didn't ride in today and watching cyclists from the train I really regretted it.
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Re: Thinking of commuting by bike

Postby Kalgrm » Tue May 05, 2009 1:54 pm

Kowai wrote:Right now I feel sooo demotivated but have to keep with it. It was just such a difficult ride.. I guess though I DID make it and it can only get easier from here! My whole body is worn out today but luckily I'm not sore :) Except for my butt.. Ouch.. Will look into getting another seat but I suspect its just sore from not being used to this?

Will attempt again tomorrow!

Don't persevere just out of shear stubbornness: if your body needs a break, give it one. Don't be ashamed to put the bike aside tomorrow while you recover some motivation and build resistance to the pain - it will help you keep at it in the long term.

Cheers,
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Re: Thinking of commuting by bike

Postby hartleymartin » Tue May 05, 2009 2:04 pm

If your body is feeling in a real bad way, it's okay to give it a rest for a day. Even atheletes need to have rest days, and there is such a thing as over-doing it! Otherwise, you can alternate between full commute days and days where you go on a short recreational ride. Yet another simple option is to take days where you do "fast" commutes and "slow" commutes. I did a "slow" commute today in about 40 minutes, just wearing normal clothes and not pushing myself hard. I got to classes on time and I didn't need a shower either (didn't pack a change of clothes anyway). This is the sort of thing you can only do in cooler weather anyway.
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Re: Thinking of commuting by bike

Postby gavinr » Tue May 05, 2009 6:32 pm

Kowai wrote:luckily I'm not sore :) Except for my butt.. Ouch.. Will look into getting another seat but I suspect its just sore from not being used to this?


Don't underestimate the benefit of some proper cycling shorts if you're not already wearing them. My butt wishes I hadn't been such a tightar$e and bought a pair of them weeks before I actually did. After spending three months commuting in ordinary shorts the difference is amazing.
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Re: Thinking of commuting by bike

Postby wombatK » Tue May 05, 2009 9:11 pm

casual_cyclist wrote:
Kowai wrote:Except for my butt.. Ouch.. Will look into getting another seat but I suspect its just sore from not being used to this?


unfortunately a sore butt is normal for people not used to riding. Mine was sore for about a week and a half when I climbed back on the saddle.

Depends where your butt is sore as to whether it's just a matter of toughening up. If its your perineum rather than your butt cheeks, it's likely to be a problem with your saddle width and/or adjustment of seat height.

It's not too hard to work out seat width you need using a home made rice ass-o-meter. Get a plastic bag (typical supermarket fruit size bag) and fill it with about 1 kg or so of rice, spread it out on low seat (see angle shown in image below) so that the rice is a layer about 1 cm thick and 20 cm wide by 10 cm long. Sit your butt into, and carefully lift it out. Measure the width of the deepest part of the dimples in the rice - that's your sit bones making that impression. Now check if your saddle is at least that wide (+1 cm on each side to be comfortable).

Image

If your sit bones aren't supported by the saddle because it's too narrow, then all your weight goes on your perineum rather than your hip. Your perineum is soft tissue not meant to be taking your weight and it sure will get sore.

Padded knicks definitely help for comfort on longer rides like your commute - but they won't resolve the problem if the seat is too narrow.

As others have suggested, having a day or two recovery between your rides is a good plan. Another option might be to just half-commute - ride in one day, public transport home, then public transport to work and bike home another day.

Just set yourself a target that is realistic and achievable, then extend it gradually when you can comfortably achieve it.
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Re: Thinking of commuting by bike

Postby Kowai » Thu May 07, 2009 10:17 am

Thanks so much for the advice guys! Especially WombatK for all that information about finding the right sized seat. I will definately have to do that.
I'm planning my next ride for tomorrow (Friday) as I've been way too tired in general this week from lack of sleep to get my butt out of bed in time to ride.

Just wanted to say though I was given a pair of new knicks and two proper bike shirts last night for free! Yay! My boyfriend's Dad owns a company and also is involved in Triathlons so he has all this gear made up with his company's logo on it. My boyfriend's Mum had some gear that she'd never used and so gave it to me! Sweet! (Its also in my favourite colour - blue haha)

I think its a sign I have to do this! :lol: Still have to get my lights though..
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Re: Thinking of commuting by bike

Postby wombatK » Thu May 07, 2009 3:39 pm

Kowai wrote:Just wanted to say though I was given a pair of new knicks and two proper bike shirts last night for free! Yay! My boyfriend's Dad owns a company and also is involved in Triathlons so he has all this gear made up with his company's logo on it. My boyfriend's Mum had some gear that she'd never used and so gave it to me! Sweet! (Its also in my favourite colour - blue haha)

I think its a sign I have to do this! :lol: Still have to get my lights though..

Has this boyfriend got any brothers ? I've got a couple of very single daughters that could do with a boyfriend like yours. :lol:

For the lights, you might want to get something cheap now that's faster than Dealextreme. Anaconda have their homebrand Fluid cycling lights at half price for club members until 10th May (you can join at the door and get the discount) - the catalog says from $12.

Of course you can't back out of it now. Too much loss of face for someone with a japanese nick.
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Re: Thinking of commuting by bike

Postby Kowai » Thu May 07, 2009 7:58 pm

Hahaha just one brother ;) 6'something tall, really nice guy! ;)

I followed your advice and dropped by Anaconda on my way home from work and got some cheap lights :) I also picked up a new drink holder with bottle woo! Was very tempted to buy a raincoat but got to restrain myself :)

After driving that way home... I'm thinking of trying to ride that way :) Its called Dandenong Road, its busy, but much flatter than High St where I rode on Monday! Its about 1km longer that way but hopefully I'll save time by it being flat most the way? ;)

Getting proud of my little set up going haha :)
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Re: Thinking of commuting by bike

Postby wombatK » Thu May 07, 2009 9:33 pm

Kowai wrote:Hahaha just one brother ;) 6'something tall, really nice guy! ;)

I followed your advice and dropped by Anaconda on my way home from work and got some cheap lights :) I also picked up a new drink holder with bottle woo! Was very tempted to buy a raincoat but got to restrain myself :)

Gee, the boyfriend's family picture just keeps getting prettier. Damn pity they're in Melbourne.

Did I not mention that the $99 transitions cycling jacket on special is a good buy for a weatherproof breathable jacket ? Well, I was trying to save you from yourself, but it seems you didn't need my help.
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Re: Thinking of commuting by bike

Postby the dang » Sat May 09, 2009 8:17 pm

Hi Kowai

Like the other guys here, I just want to encourage you too keep at it (although it sounds like you're motivated to anyway!!)

You'll have good days and bad days and even though it might seem so hard now, it will get easier. Or it might not feel easier but you'll go faster!! Even if it did take you 1.5 hours, 30 min drive + 1 hour gym session is the same thing.

Anyway I am fairly new to commuting myself and for similar reasons to you, it seemed like a great alternative to sitting in traffic. The guys flying past you have probably been cycling a fair bit longer than you so don't let that de-motivate you. But instead of sitting in traffic for 30-50 mins you are saving money on fuel, getting great exercise and improving your health and fitness and also it can be enjoyable and a good way to forget about the stressful things in life!!

Keep it up, youre doing great. But also give your body a rest when it needs to.

Good luck

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Re: Thinking of commuting by bike

Postby waynohh » Wed Jun 03, 2009 5:58 pm

I do 13km each way and couldn't imagine not doing it in knicks. I'd be so sore!

Make sure your saddle is high enough. I find if my seatpost is even 1cm too low it takes a lot more effort to pedal and efficiency goes out the window. If I sat on my saddle with my heel on the pedal, my leg would be completely straight. basicially as high as I can go without any rocking of hips to reach the pedals.

Check out the existing threads on lights when you're ready to upgrade. Superflash for the rear and an LED/li-ion front from dealextreme are good value. Or some kind of superflash/1 watt front combo are good value.

I've been passed by monsters who look like they weigh 150kg on mountain bikes, but at other times passed lycra road bike guys. It's perplexing sometimes but unimportant.

Hills I try do in a gear so that it feels like i'm doing the same amount of work as if I was on a flat. You'll get to a stage on flats where it feels like you can do it all day - that's what you want to feel on hills also, no matter how slow you have to go.
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Re: Thinking of commuting by bike

Postby gavinr » Thu Jun 04, 2009 10:20 pm

waynohh wrote:You'll get to a stage on flats where it feels like you can do it all day - that's what you want to feel on hills also, no matter how slow you have to go.


Unlesss, of course, your commute has virtually no flat in it - as mine does :(
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Re: Thinking of commuting by bike

Postby Missy24 » Fri Jun 05, 2009 9:25 pm

The strength in your legs will come gradually... stick with it!

I love my daily commute, nothing better than fresh mornings and barely lit evenings... I wouldn't sit in car/train/tram day in day out for quids!

I've been commuting on my bike for six months and its a great life!
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Re: Thinking of commuting by bike

Postby hartleymartin » Fri Jun 05, 2009 10:02 pm

Kowai,

Give it a bit of time. I used to struggle up hills and worry about having a heart attack. Now I find it much easier, and often don't bother down shifting when a hill starts.

Regards,

Martin
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Re: Thinking of commuting by bike

Postby Big Jonny » Thu Jun 11, 2009 11:55 pm

I was wondering if you guys think its a good idea? I live in St Kilda in Melbourne and I want to ride to Burwood. Google maps tells me its about 13 - 14km and the road is mostly flat except for some not so steep hills at one end.


Hey kowai Not sure where in burwood you are going to but check out if there is a bike path /less congested route, Dandenong road is a 70kmph road and the drivers chop lanes all the time and dont take much care for bike riders, check out the trails if you can if you can, I ride from Thornbury to Kooyong and use the yarra river most of the way then on to Gardiners creek which heads out to burwood I think. keep going with the commute it is great and you get a great sense of being and achievement. Dont worry about the hills they do get easier, it took me a couple of months to get over the johnson st hill between kew and collingwood heading down to the skipping girl. Remember rain is only water and get kitted out, it certainly helps on a 14km ride. Cheers Big Jonny
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