How to get Fit on a Bicycle?

General cycling advice ( NOT technical ! )

How to get Fit on a Bicycle?

Postby bikely-challenged » Sun Sep 14, 2008 6:06 pm

Hello, hope you can help!

Had my bike for a month now and it's really shown up my lack of fitness. I live in quite a hilly area and I'm having to get off and walk numerous times each ride. So far I've only had one or two rides a week as I'm not really enjoying it as much as I thought I would.

My lungs and legs are both giving up on me on these hills. I'm not even cycling long enough to get a sore derrière.

I know this sounds really lame, but I have no idea whether I should just carry on and hope to improve or should I be following a plan or programme of some kind?

Also, I don't have much confidence in my ability to control the bike, which doesn't help. They say you never forget how to ride a bike, but I was never this feartie as a kid!
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DISCLAIMER: The above constitutes my personal opinion only on any given subject. Other opinions are available.
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Postby Manx Cat » Sun Sep 14, 2008 6:11 pm

Personally, I wouldnt let it bother you. Just carry on as you are.

I only started cycling last September and I had a 5 mile commute to do each way to work. It meant cycling down and up a huge hill as I cycle into town. Then I had the huge hill again on the way home.

Each day, I had to get off and push the bike. Hubby said you will go faster if you cycle the hill, but my heart and lungs said no way.


I just persevered. I didnt try to hard and then 6 months later I managed to cycle the entire route into work. A further 3 months saw me cycling the entire journey home.

Now I dont even have to be in total granny gear to get up the hills.


Just keep going and dont think too hard.


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Postby kwackers » Sun Sep 14, 2008 6:16 pm

You need to cycle often, at least 3 or 4 times a week. You need to push yourself and you need to spend a decent amount of time each go. If you can commute this is an excellent way to get the miles in.

If possible just drop down a gear rather than dismounting, if you're running out of gears consider lowering the gearing. There's no shame in cycling at walking pace.

Recording your journey time/distance on a calendar can give you a useful mental push.

Remember, fitness doesn't just happen it takes months of hard work. It's such a gradual process you might even doubt it's happening - keeping a record will help by letting you look back and comparing.

Initially you may even find yourself getting worse as your body fights back - ignore it and press on.

And when you're really struggling - remember that most of the gains are in the last 10% of effort - give up as soon as it starts to get hard and you'll have wasted a decent proportion of the initial effort and not gain that much.

Keep at it though, like most things in this life once you get good at it, it becomes a lot more fun. :wink:
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Postby Mick F » Sun Sep 14, 2008 6:19 pm

Manx Cat wrote:Just keep going and dont think too hard.


Great quote!

Utterly agree! Keep at it, and don't get disheartened, it will all work out in the end.

People round here are amazed at the distances and hills I achieve, I don't think about it much, I just ride! I'm not super-fit or even super-strong, I just am able to do it through practice.

So get out and ride, take it easy and gently. Don't rush. Set yourself goals.
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Postby Dee Jay » Sun Sep 14, 2008 6:38 pm

All good advice here.

In the past I've suggested cycling with a group, and I do realise that this is either your bag or it's not. I love cycling with a group and although I'm now beginning to enjoy going out on my own ... I still prefer cycling with someone. (This is nothing to do with how feel about my own company, btw.)

Post your major and minor achievements here - and don't feel that everyone here is an ace cyclist and only those doing LEJoG in 3 days are allowed to 'boast post'! Cyclists are always delighted with other cyclists' progress.

My own 'journey'? In January I bought a bicycle - hadn't been on one in over 30 years - and I did 3 miles a few times with my family .... which was the plan.

We were invited to join our local junior cycling club in February and I did slightly longer rides .... 8 miles, 9 miles, 12 miles, 13 miles. To my astonishment, my improvement was measurable - in the same way as ManxCat has described! I was thrilled. Then I did '5 miles to Fabulous' in early June. We ended up doing 8 miles, and I thought to myself, "Where's the rest of the ride??"

Then hospitilisation and convalescence followed and I thought I'd never cycle even 1 mile ever again. I got back on my bike 2 weeks ago (tomorrow), and I've done: 5 miles, 9 miles, 12 miles, 12 miles and then yesterday .... 19 miles!!

Keep at it, BC, and keep us posted about your progress! We're all rootin' for ya!
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Postby jan19 » Sun Sep 14, 2008 6:52 pm

Lots of good advice here - I'd just add don't minimize your own achievements. When I started cycling to work (February) I couldn't do consecutive days - now I do four a week. Its only five miles each way but to me it could be to the moon and back! I still walk over the difficult junctions, and I still go up the steep hill on the way home in my lowest gear.

I think the more times you can go out each week - even for a couple of miles will make a big difference to you. I used to ride because it was good for me - now my 10 mile ride on each day at the weekend its something I look forward to as one of the best bits of the day. :lol:

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Postby Edwards » Sun Sep 14, 2008 7:13 pm

Do not get down hearted just do a little and often. It is important not to over do things, if your lungs and legs give out you might be trying to go to fast. Take your time try to enjoy. Control will come with time.
On the hills if you remember where you get of it will not be long before you go higher up the hill.
It does inspire people (even those who like I have riden for years) to hear of others who start cycling. Then keep going then start to enjoy. Fitness will come. Keep us informed we do want to know.
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Re: How to get Fit on a Bicycle?

Postby UrbanManc » Sun Sep 14, 2008 7:40 pm

bikely-challenged wrote:
I know this sounds really lame, but I have no idea whether I should just carry on and hope to improve or should I be following a plan or programme of some kind?



Most people give up in the first 2 weeks , this isn't the best time of year to start either .

I've said it before , but I'll say it again. If you have a gym near you it would be worth going for a month or two in order to get your overall fitness level up .

The more you do , the easier it will become , you just need the will power to stay the course.
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Postby ferrit worrier » Sun Sep 14, 2008 8:15 pm

Hi bikely-challenged

Firstly Do NOT despair, On my first trip to work at the begining of May a distance of 5 miles I staggerd through the door and gasped to one of my colleagues "Put the kettle on" my legs were like jelly, my lungs ached, and I thought what am I doing! I was using an old MTB. I got better and better over the weeks and the old MTB got worse and worse, so I bit the bullit and bought a new Giant SCR , my first trip to work took me 28min. last week I took it down to 15min 59sec. It will seem really hard but persevere and it'll get easier, take it in your own pace and take it steady. build yourself up slowly, have a good breakfast and take a drink. bear in mind we've all been there, so your not on your own :)

Good luck

Malc :)
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Postby robwa10 » Sun Sep 14, 2008 8:18 pm

Yeah just keep plugging away. From my own experience I really do believe a huge part of cycling is mental. Started cycling late spring after about 2 years off and have seen some great increases by just going out about three times a week. Was only doing about 4 or 5 miles to start at about 8 mph average speed and now and can do about 25 miles at around 13 to 15 mph taking in some hills.
Always went just that little bit further though. I think cycling gives some great mental toughness and can make you a more determined person.
Keep it up mate!!!
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Postby mick skinner » Sun Sep 14, 2008 8:44 pm

what sort of bike do you have? if it's a mountain bike; the smaller gears should be small enough to get up any hill, just slower. if it's a road bike (drop handle bars) and doesn't have really low gears; take it to the local bike shop or the shop where you got it and ask them if they can put a triple ring chainset on (instead of the double ring, which doean't have a very small chain ring, for the lower gears), this won't be cheap; it will involve changing the front and rear deraieurs aswell, but well worth it.

equiped with low enough gears; no excuses. as for bike handling skill, practice makes perfect, the more riding you do the more skill you'll aquire. personally; i've been doing cycling on and off all my life and i'm just returning to it from a long off period, a lot of fitness lost, so i know how you feel. keep persevereing and you'll be ok. one of the things i love about cycling is that you can make it as hard or as easy as you like....
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Postby UrbanManc » Sun Sep 14, 2008 8:50 pm

mick skinner wrote:. one of the things i love about cycling is that you can make it as hard or as easy as you like....


But if you're basic fitness levels are poor or non existent you can have a chain ring as small as a 5p and you will still be cream crackered.

If you've done little or no activity then you will struggle and probably give up.

It's better getting a decent level of fitness in a controlled environment ( and in the warm ) before setting out on a life of cycling.
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Postby Mark Clegg » Sun Sep 14, 2008 9:36 pm

Instead of getting off and pushing, when the hill's just get too much, get off and have a rest for a few minutes. When you're ready, set off again. Repeat as often as it takes to get to the top.

Count how many times you have to stop, and compare that to last time.

If you stop 5 times today, - see of you can do it with only 4 next time / next week. You'll soon see that you're improving, and after not too long won't be stopping at all.

I remember when I started cycling again, one of my first reactions was

"Hills! - Arghh! Forgot about them...."

Nice things about hills though... The scenery changes every time you get over the top, and.... The ride down the other side... Wheeeee!
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Postby kwackers » Sun Sep 14, 2008 9:38 pm

UrbanManc wrote:
mick skinner wrote:. one of the things i love about cycling is that you can make it as hard or as easy as you like....


But if you're basic fitness levels are poor or non existent you can have a chain ring as small as a 5p and you will still be cream crackered.

If you've done little or no activity then you will struggle and probably give up.

It's better getting a decent level of fitness in a controlled environment ( and in the warm ) before setting out on a life of cycling.


I go to a gym - and hate it. Some people may get on with gyms but it's worth noting some won't.

In a gym you're concious of every few meters you've moved, outside there are a myriad of distractions that can make the whole thing easier.

Might be worth giving the gym a go - but I wouldn't get too hung up on it if it's going nowhere.
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Postby UrbanManc » Sun Sep 14, 2008 10:40 pm

kwackers wrote:
UrbanManc wrote:
mick skinner wrote:. one of the things i love about cycling is that you can make it as hard or as easy as you like....


But if you're basic fitness levels are poor or non existent you can have a chain ring as small as a 5p and you will still be cream crackered.

If you've done little or no activity then you will struggle and probably give up.

It's better getting a decent level of fitness in a controlled environment ( and in the warm ) before setting out on a life of cycling.


I go to a gym - and hate it. Some people may get on with gyms but it's worth noting some won't.

In a gym you're concious of every few meters you've moved, outside there are a myriad of distractions that can make the whole thing easier.

Might be worth giving the gym a go - but I wouldn't get too hung up on it if it's going nowhere.


I went to the gym for 2 yrs , I liked it for most of the time , the endorphin buzz kept me going but in the end I got bored , mainly due to the antiquated equipment.

But it got me fit and toned and if you are motivated enough those negative issues concerning gyms wont matter.

Over this winter I intended going back , once or twice a week , another plus side with the sky high fuel prices I can use their showers :)
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