Too much, too soon? Leg pain on ride

CarpetFitter Posts: 23
edited August 2010 in Road beginners
Hi all,
I've had my bike for a few weeks now and have probably been out half-a-dozen times.
I'm gradually upping my mileage as I'm doing the 50-mile Circuit of Kent on September 12. Yesterday I planned a 35-mile route from Beckenham which all took in a couple of hills in NW Kent - Toy's Hill and Star Hill.
I made the mistake of going out having not had enough to eat before hand (porridge for breakfast a couple of hours before the start of the ride) and with about five miles to go I had the most incredible pain in both quads. It wouldn't subside and I doubted whether I was going to get home - it was really cycling while screaming stuff. II put myself through some fairly serious training as a rower for three years at uni (but have sat on my ass for the three years since graduating) but have felt nothing like this before.

Did I:
a) Just not eat enough (had a flapjack at the top of Toy's Hill).
b) Push myself too hard, too soon. I know Star Hill is a bit of a toughy - anyone know how long and the gradient? I was quite pleased not to stop on either.
c) Or should I just man up?

Answers on a postcard please.


  • Monty Dog
    Monty Dog Posts: 20,614
    Being used to strenuous exercise you'll know the difference between muscle pain and chronic pain i.e straining tendons / deep tissue damage tissue. It takes a while for your muscles to adapt to cycling - you've probably taken them past the point of comfort. Suggest you rest up for a few days to allow the damage to recover and then ease yourself back in with some gentle pedalling. Go too hard too soon and you could cause longer-term decision.
    Make mine an Italian, with Campagnolo on the side..
  • I'm new to road cycling so no expert at all but on my first longish ride (50 miles) I really, really screwed my knees. I'm 99% certain that my issue was due to bike set up; predominantly incorrect saddle height. However, my pain kicked in about 10 hours after finishing my ride, so quite different to your issue. Are you confident that your bike is set up suitably for you?
    Giant Rapid 3
  • Thanks for your replies.

    Monty Dog, It probably only took 20 minutes after the ride for the pain to ease and today my legs are feeling fairly fresh so I'm confident it wasn't a chronic problem. Like you say, I think it was a case of going past the point of no return. Saying that (as Suffolkwheels says), I'm not 100 per cent the bike is setup correctly. Is this something my LBS will be able to look into or is it best to look for a specialist?
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  • lef
    lef Posts: 728
    Regarding bike set up, take a look at the link below. Its a good starting point though don't expect it to give you the perfect fit but for the inexperienced (that includes me) it helps with the main adjustments - saddle set back, seat height, top tube length (guidance on correct frame size). I set up my bike using it and later had a professional bike fit. The two weren't that dissimilar, though the bike fitting did still improve power and comfort. ... ATOR_INTRO

    You mentioned quad pain , I recently read having your knee slightly behind the pedal axle (when at 3 o'clock) helps bring in other muscles and reduces exhaustion of the quads. I moved mine back by 1cm and noticed that I wasn't getting that tired quads feeling whenever I walked up stairs. See some of the stuff written by Steve Hogg at and the link below touches on the quads thing. ... g_2004.pdf

    Take it easy after making any changes though. I've had first hand experience of pain when not heading this advice.
  • Chirg
    Chirg Posts: 141
    Agree with Monty Dog and if you are reasonably you might have pushed specific muscles too far. Every time I play five a side football I have better endurance than the other players, but specific muscles that aren't used for cycling hurt like hell whilst the rest are fine!

    Suffolkwheels - what cadence do you ride at up the hills and along the flats? Too slow cadence will put too much pressure though the knees.
  • Pretre
    Pretre Posts: 355
    35 miles, up Star Hill & Toy's Hill, you've been out only a few times on a new bike & you're wondering why your legs hurt? Mmm - lets think about this... :roll:

    Star Hill is about 1.7km at 7% with bits of 14%, accoridng to my GPS.
    Toys Hill is longer & steeper IIRC

    Sounds like you're trying to do too much too quickly IMO
  • To be fair it was the 'easy' side of Toy's Hill, up Chart Lane from Brasted to the pub and back down but I get what you're saying. It's a shame that to the nice riding past the M25 you've got to come back over that ridge. Are there any routes which make it a little easier?
  • Hrun
    Hrun Posts: 116
    Time and regular runs will make it easier.

    I have a favourite route and the first time I walked 4 hills. Today a walked two but road further up them than last time. :)
    A biking runner :)
  • Pretre
    Pretre Posts: 355
    To be fair it was the 'easy' side of Toy's Hill, up Chart Lane from Brasted to the pub and back down but I get what you're saying. It's a shame that to the nice riding past the M25 you've got to come back over that ridge. Are there any routes which make it a little easier?[/quote

    I wish there were!
    Ho do you get out that way from 'Nam? If you go via Layham's Road there are plenty of quiet roads & some nice also not so nice hills. Try Hog Trough (off the Pilgirm's Way leading back up towards Biggin Hill) if you're feeling sucidal - it's not very long but seriously steep & very narrow so if you meet a car coming down as you're going up you will have serious problems!
  • Pretre
    Pretre Posts: 355
    Should have mentioned - Hosey Common is okay but still damn steep in place.