How do all these cyclists glide around making it look so easy?

(17 Posts)
BigginsforPope Mon 10-Oct-16 13:28:56

When I can't two minutes from my front door without feeling like my lungs are going to jump out of my throat.

I haven't cycled since I was a teenager. Last year I did a refresher course and it really boosted my confidence. Dh takes the car to work I am thinking that if I could manage the two mile cycle to town and back it would give me a bit of cheap freedom and some exercise.

How to I increase my stamina? So far I've ridden two or three times a week around the housing estate/village area where I live. Admittedly it is hilly but I am shocked how hard it is. Does anyone have any tips or encouragement?

moomoo222 Mon 10-Oct-16 13:38:06

I reckon it is to do with the bike - I have an ancient but amazing one that I used to do triathalons on (when I was young and fit!) but recently did a family bike hire thing and rode this hire mountain bike that made it feel like I was cycling through treacle - such hard work and exhausting (I'm presuming here that you aren't whizzing about on some shiny thousand pound racing bike, if you are then ignore me!?).

I was relieved when I got on my trusty old one that it wasn't me and my admittedly poor fitness but just the difference in bike quality that really makes it. If you have any friends with decent bikes have a go and see the difference & look out on ebay for decent second hand ones. Honestly these lycra clad cyclists magically gliding up the hills are riding really good bikes and that is half the battle! That & some spinning classes to up your stamina in the meantime might be an idea.

CryingShame Mon 10-Oct-16 13:42:24

What gear are you in? It sounds like you may be in too high a gear.

ShotsFired Mon 10-Oct-16 13:45:58

moo's point about the weight is spot-on . I have an old relic in the shed I rode an errand of 2 miles on once. You'd have thought I'd just done a stage of the TdF on it, because I was a complete mess, sweaty tomato face!

At least on my proper [much lighter and newer, better tyres etc] bike I only get the tomato face after double-digit miles of using it to exercise, as opposed to pootle! My OH has a super-fancy bike you can pick up with literally just your fingers, whereas mine is about 11kg without me on it. So of course the machinery will have an impact on how it feels to you.

Simple changes like going from knobbly to slick tyres could help you?

Mumoftwoyoungkids Mon 10-Oct-16 13:47:04

Agree with crying. You need a lower gear. And take your time until you are used to it. The word "pootle" should be your aim.

BigginsforPope Mon 10-Oct-16 14:57:17

Hmm - my bike is a Raleigh 15 speed hybrid type (I think) and I am mostly in the easiest gear or certainly in the bottom five.

I definitely pootle. Although I love to whizz down the hills.

lljkk Mon 10-Oct-16 22:40:28

Do you get any other exercise?

intheknickersoftime Mon 10-Oct-16 22:45:06

Keep going op! It takes a while to increase your stamina but you will be doing 10 to 20 miles before you know it. I love cycling. Hills I tackle by going downhill as fast as I can I'm order to belt up the other side, going up my back block as I ascend the hill. Try it and see how you get on but I am constantly changing gear.

intheknickersoftime Mon 10-Oct-16 22:47:13

Make sure you're on the smallest cog on your back block when you descend. Pedal and pick up as much speed as you can, as much as visibility allows.

RhinestoneCowgirl Mon 10-Oct-16 22:52:43

I got back on my bike about 5 yrs ago after not riding since teenage yrs. The first time I went up a hill I thought I was going to collapse blush Pain in my chest, really out of breath, just awful!

I cycle up that same hill pretty much every day now with ease, my legs have got stronger with time. That and I learned to use my gears properly!

Room101isWhereIUsedToLive Mon 10-Oct-16 23:00:54

Been back on a bike for about a year now. I still have days when I just think 'nah, fuck it' and get off and walk instead of riding up a hill. Took me about four months before I could get up the hill that I have to go up if I want to go home.
Last summer I got to use a really light weight road bike and that made going up hills easy peasy.
I never use the lowest gear, only the second lowest. On the lowest gear, there isn't enough resistance, if that makes sense?

BigginsforPope Tue 11-Oct-16 07:17:28

The only other exercise I do at the moment is dog walking, although we often walk through quite hilly areas. Before the summer I was regularly doing exercise dvds like the shred so I felt fairly fit ( certainly the fittest I've been for years). I had about three months off and I am shocked by how much fitness I've lost.

I am trying to use my gears more. I think from what everyone has said I just need to keep going.

annandale Tue 11-Oct-16 07:20:37

Does the bike fit you properly? I had a 'racer' that was too small for me, life was hideous. I have a great bike now that I bought through the Cycle to Work scheme, it's a nice step-through Dawes. I cycle to work and back every day and we quite often do 12-15 mile rides at the weekend, it may not be that much but I'm not that tired by it either.

00100001 Tue 11-Oct-16 07:30:20

Just keep going, it will get easier as you get fitter smile

I have an old Raleigh 6 gear hybrid, and I get over taken all the time by blokes in whizzy bikes. But who cares? Their bike is lighter and all that and i refuiise to buy a new bike when there's nothing wrong with mine!

My 3.5mile ride with a killer hill at the end gets done!

Ifailed Tue 11-Oct-16 08:06:25

Of course a lighter bike will be a bit easier, but don't get too carried away, it's the weight of rider and bike your legs have to get up a hill. I've worked in a bike shop and had plenty of customers (usually men) come in buying lightweight saddles, handlebars, seatposts etc, all in the expectation it would make them faster, but in all honesty the 500g saved was nothing to what they were carrying around their waist.
Keep at cycling round your estate, try and get out everyday until it becomes easier, then tackle the ride into town.
As others have said, choose a lower gear than might feel 'right'; the aim is to keep your legs spinning around with low effort, rather than pressing down on each pedal - it's far more efficient.
When you come to a longer hill, change down into the lowest gear that feels ok (might not be achievable!), and slowly make your way up - you don't want to run out of puff 1/2 way up because you over did it, thats just demoralising. Slow and steady will get you up, after a while it will get easier.
Make sure the bike is mechanically sound, no rubbing brakes, noisy gears etc. Try putting the saddle up a little, even a few mm can make a difference, you don't need to be able to touch the ground with both feet, so long as you can reach it with one, with the other on the pedal ready to push off.
Good luck!

ivykaty44 Thu 10-Nov-16 20:40:10

I went out with my friend, who often cycles in the wrong gear ( not clothing) and tries to push big gears, think trying to drive at 10mph in fourth gear.

I swapped bikes with my friend and she suddenly realised why I could glide round

Bike was correct size frame ( hers to small) seat right height
Light bike
Serviced so gears move easily

Suddenly she was gliding along enjoying the ride

TheBicycleChain Mon 21-Nov-16 13:37:26

To the original poster: Here are a few things you can do that will help

1. As has already been mentioned the right bike can make a big difference to how easy it is to cycle. For the type of cycling you mentioned I would recommend a quality, lightweight, 'hybrid' bike.

Things to look out for are an alloy frame ( to keep it lightweight, steel is heavy ), 700 c wheels ( increases rolling resistance for easier riding ), trigger shifters ( will give you smoother cycling experience than grip shifts ), quality branded components ( e.g crank, cassette and derailleurs. Shimano is a good start ) and finally look for something with at least 21 gears.

Here are 3 bikes at different budgets that would be perfect for the job:
£324.99 - bicyclechain.co.uk/product/38393/liv-alight-3-womans-hybrid-2017-t/
£424.99 - bicyclechain.co.uk/product/38496/liv-alight-2-womans-hybrid-2017/
£549.00 - bicyclechain.co.uk/product/38729/liv-alight-1-womans-hybrid-2017/

What you get for the price increase tends to be two things, more gears ( 21, 24 and 27 respectively ) and secondly when you go up in gears you tend to get better quality gearing components.

2. If you already have a bike sorted then there are some simple things you can do to that bike to make your riding as easy as possible.
- Pump up your tyres to the correct pressure ( you can find this on the side of your tyres )
- Make sure your brakes are not rubbing against your wheels
- Regular servicing is essential to keep your bike running as smoothly as possible. If your out riding 3 times a week then at i'd look at booking in to your local bike shop every 6 months for a basic service.
- There are some things you can do yourself e.g keep your bike clean ( a clean bike runs better ) and lube your chain ( clean off old oil, put on new oil, wipe off excess ).

3. Bike fit is also worth looking at and will help you with efficiency on the bike. Your local bike shop can advise you on this or there are loads of articles out there. One of the most common mistakes is setting the seat height too low which makes peddling take a lot more effort ( at a basic level your leg should be almost straight at the bottom of the pedal stroke ). If your new to cycling its a good idea to start with a lower saddle height that you feel safe riding with, but remember to keep raising the saddle height as you become more confident.

4. How you ride makes a big difference, so learning how to use your gears will really help. 'Spin to win' is the philosophy you want to follow, you should aim to pedal at a high but comfortable cadence and stick to that cadence as much as possible ( as you get fitter this will increase). To do this you need to use your gears to control your peddling speed e.g Start at your chosen cadence, if you notice that your peddling is slowing down and your working harder then shift into an easier gear until your cadence goes back up, conversely if peddling becomes easier and you start peddling faster then shift into a harder gear so you can maintain your chosen cadence. I hope that concept makes sense, you should never be pushing hard in any gear as its not good for your knees and it won't help as much with your fitness.

5. As far as fitness goes its just a matter of putting in the miles to some extent. Take it easy at first and slowly build up the miles and the speed. Try not to go too hard, going into the red can put your progress back while you have to spend time recovering. If your fitness levels are quite low then taking up swimming can be a great way to build up a good all round base level of fitness. It really helps with the burning lungs.

Keep yourself hydrated when you know you will be riding and eat well to keep your energy levels up.

6. Find other people to cycle with and you will progress much faster. Some people love the solitary challenge of cycling alone, but cycling is a very fun and social sport, so get out there and meet some other cyclists.

Anyway I hope this has been of some help to you, enjoy your cycling.

The Bicycle Chain
bicyclechain.co.uk

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now