Forum home Commuter cycling forum Commuting chat

Advice on commuting fitness

nafescortnafescort Posts: 11
edited May 2010 in Commuting chat
Hello all, I am trying to get myself to start commuting to work on my bike due to wanting to get fit and for saving the pennies. Unfortunately I only have a full suspension 1999 Marin Shoreline Trail not a road bike but I have fitted some slick tyres on it as recommended by several people and also set the suspension to rock hard to reduce the wasted energy into the shocks. This has helped in riding on the roads but is obviously not as good as a road bike.

My commute is from North Hull to Elsham industrial estate, which means crossing the Humber Bridge and works out at about 16.8miles via back roads that are safer than the main A15 dual carriage way to work.

I have been going on my bike in the evenings to try build my muscles up a bit but I am only doing around 14 miles and when I get in I am absolutely wrecked and sweating like a pig, although this could be down to me giving it everything I have because I am addicted to speed. I have built myself up to an average of 15mph over this distance.

Because I have only been doing 14 mile rides, at the weekend I thought I would go out for a bit longer although not by much. I covered 22 miles and again averaged 15mph and like all my previous rides I was wrecked. What I did find though was that on the flat I was able to cruise along at speeds of between 16-22mph with ease but as soon as there was any kind of up hill my speed would drop down to as low as 8mph for not a huge hill and I would really struggle until I got to the top and I was able to get back to my average.

So my question is, what can I do to help improve my uphill riding and also stop me being so knackered and sweaty after my ride? I can’t really be arriving at work sweating like a pig, especially with no shower facilities there.

I am not overweight or anything either, I am 6ft 1 and weigh 165lbs so I don’t know why I am so unfit. I never used to be like this before I found my 4 wheeled love

Thank you all, sorry for the long post.

Posts

  • jonny_trousersjonny_trousers Posts: 3,588
    The simple answer is to get a more suitable bike. I suspect you could cruise along at the speeds you quote above without breaking a sweat on a better bike.
  • MonkeyMonsterMonkeyMonster Posts: 4,628
    Lots of things will make a difference. Do you have a track pump for your tyres to make em rock hard?
    Its a heavyish bike but most of it will be you haven't been *that* active for quite a while. Cycle fitness takes time. Stick with it :)
    Le Cannon [98 Cannondale M400] [FCN: 8]
    The Mad Monkey [2013 Hoy 003] [FCN: 4]
  • Rich158Rich158 Posts: 2,348
    I'd suggest looking at your technique on the hills. If I'm pushing a big gear then my speed will drop off very quickly. I've found the best technique is to get into a suitable gear early and spin up the hill, dropping down through the gears as often as you need to keep you cadence high. This requires considerably greater CV fitness than just riding along on the flat though so it will take some time for your body to adapt. As your fitness increases try using a slighter harder gear and still spinning. You'll get there, it just takes time and patience.
    pain is temporary, the glory of beating your mates to the top of the hill lasts forever.....................

    Revised FCN - 2
  • SalsamanderSalsamander Posts: 53
    Do you have shower facilities at work? if so then it doesn't matter what you look like when you roll in, a quick shower later and you'll look no different than if you had arrived by car
  • nafescortnafescort Posts: 11
    wow, lots of replies already thanks.

    unfortunatly there are no shower facilities at work just the sinks in the loo's.

    and monkeymaster i dont have a track pump unfortunaly i just use a foot pump with the gause on it. my tyres are only rated to 45psi.

    i am very impatient tho i must admit, especially knowing that when i was 16 i was going to choose cycling as a career so i was fairly fit at that time
  • Agent57Agent57 Posts: 2,300
    nafescort wrote:
    what can I do to help improve my uphill riding

    Ride up hills. :lol:

    It may seem trite, but I don't think there's much better for improving your ability to get up hills. You don't need to get a different bike in order to get faster up hills, although obviously a lightweight rigid bike will make things easier than a bouncy FS fat bike.

    Technique can make a difference, too. Spinning the low gears rather than mashing the big ones. Embrace the granny. :D (It probably won't make you faster, but may make you less out of breath at the top)
    MTB commuter / 531c commuter / CR1 Team 2009 / RockHopper Pro Disc / 10 mile PB: 25:52 (Jun 2014)
  • MonkeyMonsterMonkeyMonster Posts: 4,628
    slicks that can only handle 45 psi...
    If you want to stick with same inners then I suggest sepcialised fatboys - rated over 80 at least and invest in a track pump too. Saggy tyres on top of a bouncey frame will not be helping.

    Keep at it. I'm still well behind the boys on here for fitness but ramping up the miles steadily makes the difference.
    Le Cannon [98 Cannondale M400] [FCN: 8]
    The Mad Monkey [2013 Hoy 003] [FCN: 4]
  • SalsamanderSalsamander Posts: 53
    nafescort wrote:
    wow, lots of replies already thanks.

    unfortunatly there are no shower facilities at work just the sinks in the loo's.

    and monkeymaster i dont have a track pump unfortunaly i just use a foot pump with the gause on it. my tyres are only rated to 45psi.

    i am very impatient tho i must admit, especially knowing that when i was 16 i was going to choose cycling as a career so i was fairly fit at that time

    In that case I would try and take it easy on the actual commute, but keep working hard at the weekends to build the fitness up.
  • Wait. 14 hilly miles on a full-sus, 31 lbs mountain bike with soft tyres and you're tired?

    You want to take a long hard look at yourself. :lol:
  • SimonLyonsSimonLyons Posts: 203
    Is that 17 miles round trip or 34?

    What width are your tyres? I used to use 26x 1.125 Continental gator skin (~100psi) on my hybrid before I got a roadbike. --they also take a smaller inner tube so less rubber to get and keep turning.

    How old are you?
    Don't expect so much of your body so quickly.
  • inceince Posts: 289
    Is there anyone else you can go out riding with? Having the motivation/competition of another can be a great help in stepping up performance. You may also find that you become a little less fixated on the average speed.

    I find when I ride with another or a small group I spend less time thinking about how tired I am how far I have gone etc. The result is more often than not longer and faster rides.

    You say you cruse along at 16 to 22 mph with ease on the flat. Knock this back a bit, you may be using up more strength and energy than you think so when you get to the hills you have little left to give. Try to pace your self, it may help.

    Nothing wrong with riding up a hill at 8mph so long as you keep pushing, as has already been mentioned. The best way to get better at hills is to ride up them.
  • Rich158Rich158 Posts: 2,348
    Ok so were incredibly fit at 16, the abilities obviously there you just need some time. the rule of thumb in my club is that CV fitness takes about 4 times as long to get back as your lay off. This seems to be true, I was off the bike for nearly 3 months last summer and only now feel like I'm getting close to where I was. If you've been off the bike for years it'll take time.

    Don't fall into the trap of over training, recovery is just as important as riding hard. I've cut my mileage down by 20-30% recently and feel far stronger for it
    pain is temporary, the glory of beating your mates to the top of the hill lasts forever.....................

    Revised FCN - 2
  • nafescortnafescort Posts: 11
    thanks people for the replies. there are lots of good points mentioned. i liked the coment about pacingmyself . i think this could b a huge factor. i am 226 by the way so had alot of years out the saddle. my commute is 34miles round trip and my tyres are 226x1.95 so could get some thinner ones. i am trying to build a road bie over time as funds permit
  • meanredspidermeanredspider Posts: 12,550
    Your start is pretty similar to mine in Feb (I'm 45 though - not 226 :wink: ). I started my 31 mile, very hilly, round trip on a 10 year old MTB fitted with Schwalbe Ice Spiker tyres. I did my first 400 miles that way which, whilst hard and slow, was a great way to get fitter. I've done the next 1000 miles on a road bike which is much easier but I'm still just as sweaty (sweatier, now that it's +9C rather than -9C). I don't think you can get fitter and not get sweaty. Is there a gym or pool near your work where you could shower?
    ROAD < Scott Foil HMX Di2, Volagi Liscio Di2, Jamis Renegade Elite Di2, Cube Reaction Race > ROUGH
  • pastryboypastryboy Posts: 1,385
    Food and rest is what makes you stronger. Eat lots and make sure you have at least one day of doing nothing whatsoever - the fitness and stamina will come in their own time.
  • nafescortnafescort Posts: 11
    woops meant to put 26 lol. made myself well old. unfortunately my place of work is in the middle of nowhere so cant get showered anywhere. i might just start by driving to the bridge and ride the rest which is only 8 miles each way and take it easy
  • thistle_thistle_ Posts: 4,907
    Some general commuting tips:

    Lack of shower isn't a massive problem. Take a change of clothes and baby wipes are your friend. If it's wet make sure everything is in a waterproof bag (i.e. binbag) and take a small towel to work to dry off. There was a thread recently with a load of general tips for commuting.

    Driving or getting the train part way is allowed :wink:

    You could also try riding Tues and Thurs only taking all your spare clothes in by car on Monday. This gives you some rest days in between.
    Then try Tues/Wed/Thurs or Mon/Wed/Fri and build up to 5 days a week over time.

    Regarding your setup:
    45 PSI seems low for slicks like MM suggests. I got a pair of slicks for £20 a few years ago but they were on offer at the time. They could go up to 120psi which makes a massive difference (they gradually went down over a few months to about 50 and I really noticed the difference when I pumped them back up!)

    Full suspension isn't ideal for commuting like you say but it's not impossible and it cushions the potholes for you to an extent! Just keep riding and you'll get there eventually.

    If you've got a bit of spare cash, keep an eye out for a second hand roadie or hybrid which will be a bit easier and faster to ride. Doesn't need to be anything flash as it will be getting hammered to and from work - then you can save your Marin for the weekend.
  • Agent57Agent57 Posts: 2,300
    I'm still just as sweaty (sweatier, now that it's +9C rather than -9C). I don't think you can get fitter and not get sweaty.

    The fitter you are, the more likely you are to sweat, as I recall. That is, the body that's used to physical exertion is more adapted to trying to cool itself down efficiently, so it'll start sweating more readily, earlier in the workout and at a lower body temperature.

    Luckily, however, eccrine sweat (the one which cools us down) is mostly water and really doesn't contribute much to "BO" (that's primarily caused by apocrine sweat that's rich in fatty acids that bacteria love to nosh on).
    MTB commuter / 531c commuter / CR1 Team 2009 / RockHopper Pro Disc / 10 mile PB: 25:52 (Jun 2014)
  • meanredspidermeanredspider Posts: 12,550
    I heard (from an F1 trainer) that sweating is a "learned response" and is a very poor indication of exertion. I sweat readily and profusely - Merino wool is a godsend - I wish they made a summer version.
    ROAD < Scott Foil HMX Di2, Volagi Liscio Di2, Jamis Renegade Elite Di2, Cube Reaction Race > ROUGH
Sign In or Register to comment.