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Cycling Thread - pleasure peddlers to serious cyclists sign in here!

(995 Posts)
Thistledew Sat 13-Aug-11 16:41:39

Hi All

I thought I would start a cycling thread. It would be great if we could make it all inclusive, so whether you currently just enjoy bike rides but are interested in taking it further, or already train seriously, please post what you are up to and what your aims are. By sharing knowledge and experiences, hopefully we can spur each other on.

If you want to, please post a quick biog of how long you have been cycling, how much you currently cycle, and what your goals are.

And for those who wish to engage in a bit of bike porn, please feel free to post what sort of bike you ride!

Happy peddling!

Thistledew Sat 13-Aug-11 16:53:08

To start off, I had better do my own biog:

I took up cycling at the beginning of this year, not having sat on a bicycle for about 8 years. I have managed to cycle most weekends and sometimes during the week as well.

A good training ride for me is about 20-35 miles at the moment, but a couple of weeks ago I managed a 65 mile ride!

I have just worked out a good route to commute to work, which is 12 miles each way. I am aiming to keep motivated to cycle at least once, hopefully twice a week.

Things I need to work on-
Hill climbing- whether to get up on the peddles and attack, or drop into a low gear and dig in is something that I am not yet gauging properly.
I also need to practice riding slowly in a straight line without wobbling to make dealing with queues at traffic lights a bit easier!

I am also considering switching to proper road tyres - I ride a Specialised Tri-Cross and am currently using the 35 mm tyres it came with. They are great for when it is raining as they provide more grip than real road tyres, but are otherwise a bit redundant, as I don't go off road.

duende Sun 14-Aug-11 19:49:38

Thistledew, hello smile
A pleasure peddler here smile I only bought my bike a couple of months ago and don't have much time to ride it. i try and go out Saturdays and Sundays, but it's only for about 40-60min at a time, so I only do about 15k. I really enjoy it though. I keep thinking about riding it to work on the days when I'm not taking DS to nursery on my way in. Work is only 7 miles away but I'm dreading the rush hour traffic.
I have a specialized vita, a hybrid. Love it!

Thistledew Sun 14-Aug-11 22:45:23

Hi duende. Thanks for signing in.

Is your work a cycle friendly place? Mine is not particularly but I have now sussed out where the shower is and where I will be able to leave my bike. I just need to take a suit and couple of shirts in to leave at work so that I don't have to cram them in a bag each way, and sort out a basic wash kit, and I will be set. A bit of planning and it suddenly feels much more do-able.

Traffic on a bike is quite daunting, but my theory is the heavier the traffic, the more it becomes feasible to cycle. There is one route I do that takes 30 mins in the car due to traffic and only 40 on the bike.

Commuting on a bike also is great for killing two birds with one stone. That otherwise unproductive time travelling suddenly becomes your weekly exercise, without having to lose any other precious relaxation or family time.

fridayschild Mon 15-Aug-11 22:08:07

Hello, I am a bicycle commuter.

Commuting tips- I go on roads where the traffic is slower, not the route I'd pick in a car, because I think that's safer. Also signalling really helps the car drivers (blush took me a while to work that one out!)

I have two panniers so I can roll my clothes loosely in one bag and all my other Stuff gets crammed in the other. I don't wear cotton shirts any more! Tops and dresses are the way forwards.

Thistledew Mon 15-Aug-11 22:53:46

Hi fridayschild

Thanks for posting.

Do you find that panniers make the bike handle differently, or is not obvious?

upahill Tue 16-Aug-11 12:43:59


I ride a Scott Contessa mountain bike, mainly for pleasure but I have had a bit of pain with it.

I like doing trails such as Gisburn forest, Grizedale and Whinlatter and also a lot of stuff on the moors. I love Mabie forest in Dumfries and Galloway.

I need to work on more regularity eg I get out a lot and then it dies down and then it's like I'm starting again with my fitness.

My work is nearby and I often cycle there but it depends on what I am doing or more to the point who I am picking up from school whether I go in the car or cycle in.

I really want to update and upgrade my bike but keep on going on holiday instead!!!

Caged Tue 16-Aug-11 12:56:26

Hi I got my first ever bike in May, I didn't have one as a child and have been very nervous of cycling if we've hired them on holidays etc. I'm now doing one ride a week for about 2.5 hours and was doing a few shorter rides to supermarket/dr's before school broke up. I have to say I'm very proud of myself, I'm not a sporty person and generally a bit scared. I started because I need to lose about two stone, and generally introduce some exercise into my life.

I have a hybrid bike and recently bought new tyres that have less tread, so not road tyres but slightly faster. The bike is great, but is very heavy so I can lift it to get on our cycle carrier, which is a shame as I'd like to do a few rides further away. Luckily we live in an area that is twenty minutes into town in one direction, but countryside only five minutes in the other and am really enjoying finding new places and routes.

Dh cycles too, but we rarely get to go together as our dcs aren't old enough to be left yet. My aim is to get faster I probably average about 10 mph and to crack hills without having a heart attack.

EssieW Tue 16-Aug-11 14:50:31


I've a hybrid bike which used to be my commuting bike when lived in London. Now we're not in London, I'm able to cycle in evenings and weekends round country lanes which is great. Have got so much fitter since I started about 18 months ago. Also sometimes have DD on the back of it in a child seat (improves fitness no end!).

Really want a road bike though!

Thistledew - used to cycle with panniers all the time. Didn't really seem to make a difference to how the bike handled.

Thistledew Tue 16-Aug-11 16:58:14

Hello to upahill Caged and EssieW!

Caged - Hills are my bete noir too. I have received two good tips that make it a bit easier:

1) Make sure that you are in the right gear. You should aim to keep your cadence - the rate at which you pedal - as high as possible when you are going up hill. DP bought me a bike computer this weekend, and it was quite amazing to see, when I was going up a long, slow hill, how I could actually speed up by changing down a gear and increasing my cadence.

2) Switch the intensity at which you are pedaling in sets of either three or five - so do three hard pushes, followed by three light ones. It helps you build up some momentum without causing your thigh muscles to scream at you too much.

Maybe upahill has some more tips- you are very aptly named for a mountain biker!

EssieW - I am in London, but recently took my bike with me when I went to stay with my parents in a very rural area. It was bliss riding on quiet roads, and for DP and I to be able to cycle side by side.

Thistledew Tue 16-Aug-11 17:02:15

I just wanted to say as well, that I don't necessarily want to be the one to lead this thread, I am trying to respond to everyone who posts at the moment so that we can keep this on the Active list so that the maximum number of people get to see it - but please feel free to talk amongst yourselves! grin

Also, I want to get it to 1000 posts as soon as possible, so that we can start a new thread without the glaring typo in the title blush !! Thanks for not pointing it out to me - the curse of dyslexia strikes again. Can we just pretend that it was a deliberate play on words? blush

EssieW Tue 16-Aug-11 17:08:42

Also neglected to mention that I do borrow DH bike - which is a better hybrid than mine. Also because he didn't batter it on London's potholes.

No tips for hills here. Deep breath and go for it tactic seems to work here although most hills are short and steep rather than the long prolonged ones.

Can anyone recommend any good cycling clothes? Or gadgets even? I'd like to get cycling stuff for Christmas but need to have a good think about what I actually want!

PS only just noticed typo!

Thistledew Tue 16-Aug-11 17:18:50

Aventura seem to be a good brand. I recently bought some more padded 3/4 leggings from them and was surprised how much better the padding is to the cheaper ones I had before. I will let you know about durability once I have had them a bit longer!

It was good fun to ride with the bike computer at the weekend. Being able to see my speed as I was going along was a good incentive to push a bit harder.

BikeRunSki Tue 16-Aug-11 17:40:54

Hi, I can't remember ever not having a bike and I am 40. I saved up and bought my first grown up bike when I was 16, and for the end of school, uni and single living in a city I rode everywhere and rode for pleasure and leisure. It was a pretty basic touring bike, but it got me London-Brighton a few times and round the the Irish Coast from Rosslare to Clare loaded with loaded panniers.

DH is a serious cyclist. When we met (I was a PhD student, he was one of "my" MSc students) I overheard him on the phone to his mate saying "I've met this girl, she's got a bike....". He does a time trial or cyclocross race every week. Lots of MTBing at weekends, sometimes with a 2 year old on board. He is a site based civil engineer, so doesn't get much opportunity to commute by bike, but is in the office this week, so he is taking advantage of that. I used to commute by bike occassionally, but 17 extremely hilly miles, ending in 4 miles of dual carriage way never really did it for me. And it takes 1.4 hours each way, which is a big commitment with childcare, even taking flexi time into account. I've done a season of cyclocross (2003/04) and got quite into track racing at the Manchester Velodrome at one point, but I am just not that competitive. Give me a nice run out - on or off road - through the Peak District any day.

I can't remember the last time we went on holiday without bikes, unless it was skis. Actually, I am not sure this situation has ever happened.

8 years ago we moved house to get a garage to house all the bikes. Excluding children's bikes, his number around 5, mine 3.

At the moment I am 30 wks pg, so havn't been on a bike for a while. But my bikes are:

1 Bob Jackson hand built to measure audax/touring bike in beautiful royal blue. Not as expensive as you think it might be and gorgeous. Fits like a dream.

2 The predecessor to theSpecialised Myka FSR (Is called the Epic Comp Designs for Women). I t is certainly worth trying women specific bikes if you get serious. It's not just about pink handlebars, the centre of gravity is tweaked, the stretches are better for women's arm:back:leg ratios and many other subtle differences. I believe only 5 were imported from the US.

3 A manky old ex-hire Dawes hardtail for dragging DS around forests and playgroups and leaving at the station.

As for clothes - you get what you pay for! I have found this out the wet, sore, hard way, Good brands are Assos, Gore and Pearl Izumi but you'll have to take a deep breath, swallow hard and consider your purchase an investment. You'll still be wearing it 5 years later and it'll still be performing well though. And again, worth trying women specific gear - narrow shoulders on jackets do they don't fill up with wind, wider cut at hips, shorter arms, better placed liners in shorts, straps in discrete boob-avoiding positions. You can't really go wrong with anything from Minx Girl. Despite big thighs, I prefer lycra bottoms to baggies, everything just glides more soothly and am a big advocate of merino wool tops. As a baselayer in winter, on their own in summer. Comfy, work well, and don't stink.

BikeRunSki Tue 16-Aug-11 17:43:07

Hills - spin smoothly rather than push. If you need to push hard, change down a gear.

upahill Tue 16-Aug-11 17:52:21

For those that are new to cycling or want to ride in a group locally to where you live have a look at the sky rides.

British cycling also do women only rides.

There are loads of good mountain bike and cycling websites such as This is the website of Mountain bike uk and they have a beginners and family section.

For those that are new to doing mountain biking using either a mountain bike or hybrid I'm sure you know that you are allowed to cycle on Bridle paths.
Just get an O.S. 1:25000 of your local area (get an Aqua map if you want it to last!!) and you will probably be suprised about how many routes you can make.

Often your local tourist information will have suggested routes for Bridle paths/ mountain bikes.

Make sure your bike is set up for you correctly eg not too low or to high Here's some tips

Several reasons for good set up - safety, comfort and efficency.

Have the tyres at the correct pressure for the type of riding you are doing. There is a difference between road and trail riding.

Probably my best tip would be make sure you take a spare inner tube and pump out with you and you know how to replace a tube. You never know when you can get a punture, You can do a repair when you get home!

upahill Tue 16-Aug-11 18:03:34

Nice bikes BRS!

I'm saving up for an Orange but it may be some time yet!!

I agree with you on good clothes.
I'm a lycra and baggies at the same time!!

Another thought for those that want to do trails wear glasses and gloves.
Tree branches can get in your eyes!

Maybe carry a small 1st aid kit in your pocket or bag. Keep it simple, a few wipes, plasters and the like you don't need a full Life System Mountain Leaders Pack!!!

Always Always kknow where a good cafe that sells great cake is!! Important part of the trip that!!!

saggarmakersbottomknocker Tue 16-Aug-11 18:15:20

Ooo hello smile

I'm mostly a pleasure peddler; sometimes have to do my commute by bike but generally dh does his by bike and I have the car. Luckily it's flat and totally off road so I don't have traffic worries or hills to contend with.

I have a men's retro/vintage Marin Bear Valley - it was rescued from my neighbour's skip. dh spotted the Mavic rims and nearly had a coronary. I love it (apart from the seat which needs replacing) it's just so easy to ride.

We did the newly opened Monsal Trailin the Peak District last week. Great family friendly route.

Thistledew Tue 16-Aug-11 18:16:17

Very nice BRS.

My bike is last year's model of this ,but with a 9 speed rear cassette and these shifters

I have to confess that I haven't really done any off roading on it, and although it is designed for path/gravel riding, I have my doubts as to how comfortable it would be. However, it is comforting to have something that is designed to go off road just to cope with London potholes!

DP has a Pinarello road bike, which I have had a few goes on, and it is quite hair raising how nippy it is.

Thistledew Tue 16-Aug-11 18:21:21

For people interested in doing organised bike rides, the British Heart Foundation organises loads each year. I am doing the 37 mile route for the Richmond to Windsor ride on 4 September 2011.

azazello Tue 16-Aug-11 18:29:09

I try to cycle to work once or twice several times a week and DH and I cycle quite a bit with the DCs at the weekend. I have a Dawes mummy bike with a Weehoo tagalong for DD and DS has a Kangaroo seat on DH's bike.

DH cycles a lot and does a few races. He has a Specialized for those and got me a road bike for my birthday last year so we can train and do some racing. I found it absolutely terrifying. I'm really trying to pluck up the courage to go out on it again.

Is anyone going to the Bike Blenheim weekend this weekend?

Thistledew Wed 17-Aug-11 07:49:24

Right. I am cycling to work for the first time today. I have my suit and shirt and wash kit there waiting for me.

Wish me luck for navigating Trafalgar Square!

upahill Wed 17-Aug-11 07:53:29

Blimey Good luck with Trafalgar
I'm going out on my bike later today.
Probably get up on the moors for a couple of hours.

MorganMindy Wed 17-Aug-11 08:11:59

Hi all,

I'm a sometimes bike commuter (but it's 20 miles each way so have to be in the right mood!), road cyclist and mountain biker. Always riden a bike but only got into it seriously about 5 years ago when I met my DP - he's a serious cyclist! Mainly road stuff such as Time Trialling, Triathlons and Sportives. Longest ride I've done is the Dragon Ride in Wales, amazing scenery but the hills were soooo hard! Last year I got a mountain bike and I'm really getting into that now, it's great fun and fantastic training.

I ride a Specialized Dolce Elite road bike, my mountain bike is also Specialized - Myka hardtail, it's lovely.

If anyone is interested in Sportives (non-competitive road events) then check out the Diva100 in May. Female only event and something I've already pencilled in for next year.

As for gear, I wear Gore, Pearl Izumi, Specialized do some good stuff and now getting into Scott too. You do get what you pay for and paying an extra few £ is worth it to stop chafing in delicate places grin

Chocamochalatte Wed 17-Aug-11 08:27:21

I'm a fair weather cyclist, always had a mountain bike, when DTs were younger we had a trailer and then tag a longs, however this year I've not been out really, maybe a dozen times in March / April, I suddenly need motivation to go out sad DTs 10 love cycling and did their first race at the BBB last year. They would think nothing of cycling 20 miles on off road cycle tracks...

DH used to race mountain bike and was semi professional at one point however over the last 4 years I'd say, he's suddenly lost interest and will rarely go out which demotivates me...
Never thought I'd want tips to encourage DH to go cycling, I was always a cycling widow!

I could cycle to work, lots do and it would only take 10 mins but I really can't be doing with helmet hair it gets frizzy enough as it is!

I guess I just need to get out at the weekends... Anyone have any motivation they could lend me??

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