Commuting and Fitness level

Beating the system - the cycling commuting section

Re: Commuting and Fitness level

Postby mikesbytes » Thu Aug 02, 2012 9:35 pm

I'm guessing some focus on building power. You could go and do some specific training, but if you don't have the time for that, then another option is to add some sprints in your commute, varied between 15 seconds and 4 minutes. Find some safe sections on your ride and go as fast as you can in that section. Generally you looking for short sections with maximum effort.
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by BNA » Mon Aug 06, 2012 1:03 pm

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Re: Commuting and Fitness level

Postby oxonabike » Mon Aug 06, 2012 1:03 pm

Just want to add my thanks for the info in this thread. Been commuting solidly over the past few weeks, and noted that my average speeds were dropping and my sore legs were staying sore. Treated my self to three days off the bike and got stuck back into it this morning, getting back to > 30 kph for the 16 km commute. Will now learn to alter my riding patterns during the weekly runs to and from work.
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Re: Commuting and Fitness level

Postby kb » Sat Aug 11, 2012 11:28 am

Good thread. I was trying for the Strava "Every Second Counts" challenge this month and it really brought home how important recovery is. Not just for improvement but motivation and general health (my immune system crashed halfway through). I'll be better prepared next time though ;)
Apart from not taking easy days easy enough, I've learnt the importance of good sleep and increasing load gradually (in retrospect jumping from 180kpw to 400+ was a little ambitious...)
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Re: Commuting and Fitness level

Postby Sydguy » Sat Aug 11, 2012 3:37 pm

Glad to see this thread - my legs live in a constant state of pain and I've dropped away on weekeend rides and races.

I struggle to go slow on commutes, and take it easy. There is always someone to overtake and it does not help that I'm running and doing pump classes.

I feel the worst when climbing or trying to sprint. My solution has been to go down a grade on social rides, and not worry about placing in races. It would be nice to take a couple of days off a week from cycling but it is an addiction that needs to be fed.

My current course of action is to increase the workload on my legs, more gym with running and see how it goes. It would be great to race on fresh legs but even 1 or 2 days off the bike I still have sore legs lol.

Massage and time in the pool helps, but I think this is the lot of a cyclist. It is not all bad news I get a pair of jeans every couple of years, and the waist band went from 34 inch tight to 33 inch with at least an inch to spare. So if the price of keeping in shape is sore legs I'll happily pay it.

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Re: Commuting and Fitness level

Postby queequeg » Sat Aug 11, 2012 5:04 pm

kb wrote:Good thread. I was trying for the Strava "Every Second Counts" challenge this month and it really brought home how important recovery is. Not just for improvement but motivation and general health (my immune system crashed halfway through). I'll be better prepared next time though ;)
Apart from not taking easy days easy enough, I've learnt the importance of good sleep and increasing load gradually (in retrospect jumping from 180kpw to 400+ was a little ambitious...)


I am also doing the ESC Challenge. In a typical month I do around 1000-1200km just in commuting (52km per day round trip). I don't push too hard, and with a young family I usually get the whole weekend to recover. Last weekend the whole family got hit with Gastro, so I got knocked for six on Sunday. I was off work on Mon/Tue, and Wed was the first day of my holidays but I was still not quite 100%. I went for a ride on Thursday, but kept to a flat course (Cooks River then out to Kurnell). I ended up doing 146km, and I made up all the distance I would have clocked up on the Mon/Tue/Wed. I skipped riding on Friday but went out today and did another 105km, this time on a hilly course.
If I want to make the 1788km then I need to do a little over 76km a day. I'll probably aim to some early morning rides this week, but just do some flat courses and keep the legs fresh, then on the weekend I'll do something different. Hopefully I'll make the distance!
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Re: Commuting and Fitness level

Postby Mugglechops » Sun Aug 12, 2012 2:09 pm

5 days a week knocks me around too. I find that I don't feel like riding on the weekends after that.

Thinking about going to commuting just 2 days a week and riding more on the weekend. It should still allow me to get 200+kms a week and factor in more time recovery.

Plus my missus wont be thinking I spend all my spare time on the bike :D
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Re: Commuting and Fitness level

Postby rdp_au » Tue Aug 14, 2012 9:07 am

I too find it very hard to take it easy on recovery days, and Strava has just made it worse... One thing that has helped me is getting a heart rate monitor. On recovery days I nominate a max heart rate that keeps me in the low intensity zone and really work to stay below it. It does take some discipline but it works. I've surprised that it doesn't affect my commuting times as much as I thought it would - 1.5kph slower over 27km.
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Re: Commuting and Fitness level

Postby Daus » Thu Aug 16, 2012 4:44 am

Good thread with a lot of advice similar to my experience. Based on my experience I have arrived at a system that works for me- I cruise and relax on my commute and rarely push myself I am not the least bit competitive now and an extra 5 or 10 mins is not going to make much difference either way. I don't ride for fitness although it is a positive, I ride for convenience. I do a light whole body maintenance work out at a local gym close to work on the way home every second day and use my ride home as a cool down- you would be surprised how much stronger you can feel after a workout. On weekends I have some beach time as I have a paddle board and ski. I have changed my attitude over the last few years to a more relaxed approach to my activities its about fun and not needing to approach things with a full on approach. I have also paid a lot of attention to my diet with a focus to maintaining energy levels and have reached a point where I am feeling good with my routine due to the positive gains I have made.
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Re: Commuting and Fitness level

Postby Rhubarb » Thu Aug 16, 2012 9:17 am

This thread (and the importance of recovery) is making sense to me too.

How to apply it is my problem and I seek your advice please.

I commute via bike 5 days a week. Not real far (13kms each way) but hilly. I was fine on my road bike but I have recently bought a velomobile. I had never ridden a recumbent before, let alone a 30kg one, so my legs are still adjusting. The first few weeks were deadly due to the inability to have a rest day. There are only so many ways you can ride easy in a 30kg recumbent up 18% slopes.

Now my real predicament is that I've gone and entered myself in the Brisbane to Gold Coast ride in 7 weeks time. Its nominally a 100km ride but as the velo won't fit on the train home, I have to ride it home as well so its going to be a 230km day for me. Its 7 weeks away and I'm currently getting very tired doing my 10 x 13km commutes every week. the flats aren't the problem, its the hills. BTW- I plan to ride hard down, then crawl home, so its not a hard 230kms all the way.

What do you suggest is the training plan for me?

I was thinking I should do nearly all my commutes (Mon-Thurs) as relatively easy rides, bearing in mind I have a couple of killer hills that still require almost max effort in lowest gear. Most days I can't do it without stopping. The exception will be Friday mornings when I plan to do a longer ride, gradually working up from an easy 50kms to a solid 80kms. On the week of the big ride, I would not ride at all for the 3 days preceeding.

I have sufficient base fitness as I have been commuting on my DF bike for 3 years and have probably ridden about 18-20,000kms over that time, all at a reasonable pace (relative to other commuters :) ). I'm not yet as strong in my velo as I was on my DF bike and just wanting to fast-track my transition ASAP as well as building for the B2GC ride.

Any advice for me please ?
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Re: Commuting and Fitness level

Postby Daus » Fri Aug 17, 2012 5:02 am

Thats a big ask 230Km why not take the road bike if you still have it and leave the recumbent for next year.
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Re: Commuting and Fitness level

Postby trailgumby » Fri Aug 17, 2012 10:16 am

Is your bike/trike your only means of transport to and from work? No public transport or car option for some days?

You still need to mix it up, or you won't improve.

* To trigger adaptation, a couple of harder mornings mid-week where you ride for a couple of hours continuously while eating and drinking on the ride to maintain fuel levels.
* Hardest ride after having the weekend off (eg low cadence hill repeats on the Monday)
* recovery drink immediately post ride (low fat choccy milk) - important for recovery for the ride home, not to mention maintaining quality performance at work
* Easy days in between and on the way home where you either don't ride (preferable), or take it very easy (eg, stick to granny ring and bottom half of the cassette the whole way, on either the velomobile or your DF roadie).
* depending on age, a "recovery week" every fourth or third week where every day is very easy (no ride some days, granny ring etc on others)
* taper week before the event
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Re: Commuting and Fitness level

Postby Rhubarb » Sat Aug 18, 2012 9:10 pm

Daus wrote:Thats a big ask 230Km why not take the road bike if you still have it and leave the recumbent for next year.


Fair question. I still have the road bike but I haven't ridden it since I got the velo 4 weeks ago and probably won't for a while yet. The velo is just so awesome !!!

The velo is actually very comfortable for long rides as your sitting in a very comfy reclined seat so no neck, back or wrist issues like you may get on a road bike. Its just my skinny underdeveloped legs :)
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Re: Commuting and Fitness level

Postby Rhubarb » Sat Aug 18, 2012 9:24 pm

trailgumby wrote:Is your bike/trike your only means of transport to and from work? No public transport or car option for some days?

You still need to mix it up, or you won't improve.

* To trigger adaptation, a couple of harder mornings mid-week where you ride for a couple of hours continuously while eating and drinking on the ride to maintain fuel levels.
* Hardest ride after having the weekend off (eg low cadence hill repeats on the Monday)
* recovery drink immediately post ride (low fat choccy milk) - important for recovery for the ride home, not to mention maintaining quality performance at work
* Easy days in between and on the way home where you either don't ride (preferable), or take it very easy (eg, stick to granny ring and bottom half of the cassette the whole way, on either the velomobile or your DF roadie).
* depending on age, a "recovery week" every fourth or third week where every day is very easy (no ride some days, granny ring etc on others)
* taper week before the event


I could always take the bus but that isn't anywhere near as much fun.

Thanks for the other tips. I have rethought my approach based on your feedback.

I will commute every day but will make an increased effort to take it easy on every trip, except Mon and Friday mornings where I will push hard up my short sharp hills, as well as adding distance. I will continue to rest over the weekends.

I have swapped out my 11-28 cassette for an 11-32 today to make it more possible to take my 18% hills "easily" in a 30kgs velo.

I will definitely look to have a recovery week in about week 4 or 5 too (I am 44), and taper the last week by riding the Mon/Tues/Wed all very easy, and not riding at all on the Thurs/Fri/Sat before the big Sunday ride.

I will also look into some morning recovery nutrition.

Thanks for your feedback - much appreciated. :wink:
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Re: Commuting and Fitness level

Postby Marto » Mon Aug 20, 2012 4:53 pm

I don't have my garmin in front of me here at work :roll: , but can you set alarms for heart rate levels?

It's hard to back off sometimes when intending to do a recovery ride, so an audible alarm might be a good idea.

Or should I just listen to this for inspiration?

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Re: Commuting and Fitness level

Postby Comedian » Mon Aug 20, 2012 5:07 pm

The garmin can do alarms on hr but they are pretty pathetic! A soft beep and an on screen warning.
Once you can climb hills on a bike it's all downhill. :mrgreen:

Hopefully I'll know what that's like..... one day. :shock: :lol:

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Re: Commuting and Fitness level

Postby trailgumby » Sat Feb 15, 2014 4:50 pm

Agreed. I had a cheap HRM watch (no GPS) that was more useful in that regard.

However as long as I am in the ballpark I'm not too worried.

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Re: Commuting and Fitness level

Postby Krellon » Wed Mar 05, 2014 10:00 am

This happens too me when I ride a constant high pace every day during the commute.
I know do two high pace and three low pace and it's improved the leg fatigue and recovery rate.

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Re: Commuting and Fitness level

Postby kb » Thu Mar 06, 2014 12:14 pm

I have one field set to average cadence and one to average hr and just try to keep the former up and the latter down. Easier than instantaneous figures. My difficulty is letting go of the ego when there are over-enthusiastic CCR challengers...
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Re: Commuting and Fitness level

Postby Krellon » Sun Mar 09, 2014 10:55 pm

kb wrote:I have one field set to average cadence and one to average hr and just try to keep the former up and the latter down. Easier than instantaneous figures. My difficulty is letting go of the ego when there are over-enthusiastic CCR challengers...


Yea, If I see another cyclist I have too pass it :P must pass it.... must.. meh so much for the recovery ride lol.

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Re: Commuting and Fitness level

Postby FiveDaysAWeek » Wed Mar 26, 2014 9:30 pm

Guess I shouldn't be surprised to find that my issues aren't unique... but I am! I Strava every commute and sure enough I've been in a plateau for around four or five weeks now with no improvements. As my weight is dropping (a good thing), I kind of figured that my energy budget must be in deficit and the performance will come back once I start eating whenever I feel like it i.e. in about -2kg's time.

Having read this thread, I guess that if the energy levels don't come back up when I start snacking again it will be time to start backing off a day or two per week. If I can.
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