New commuter

rastikal Posts: 5
edited May 2018 in Road beginners
I say new commuter because it’s been 6 years since my last work commute, i used to do just over 14 miles each way into London from Barnehurst, looking back now this is a pretty flat route but I had no idea at the time. I now live in Frant (Kent) and cycle to East Malling (also Kent) each day for a commute which is 17 miles each way and a fair bit more slopey, my last Strava rides show 896ft climb into work and 1,189ft climb home.

I got ‘fit’ for the commute by buying an exercise bike which I did 3 x 40 minute cycles over about 3 weeks when I decided in my head I wasn’t going to get fit on the bike at home as I didn’t have the willpower and I just needed to get out and do the ride.

So far I’d cycled in about 5 times and had lifts over halfway home a few times from a colleague. Last Friday I did the whole way back as my colleague that lives near me is being made redundant so won’t be in much now until she leaves in a month. After the Friday in and out ride I’ve woken up today (Monday) and my legs are quite sore so I’m going to drive in today.

Question is, what’s the best way to get fit for this cycle, how long before my legs becoming conditioned for this ride and also is 17 miles each way with a few tough (for me) climbs. Should I push through the pain or wait until the aches subside.

I’m 32, 5’7 and about 13st 6lbs (about 2 stone heavier than I’d like to be, maybe more).



  • rastikal
    rastikal Posts: 5
    Definitely eating better since I've started doing this, lots more water (didn't drink any really other than the water in my coffee) and lots of fruit. Just feel exhausted although I've already seen improvement in my times to work. I assume you've been doing this for a while, do your rides still wipe you out? Feel pretty wiped out after a ride.
  • shirley_basso
    shirley_basso Posts: 6,195
    It gets much easier.

    That said, you have a fairly lumpy route so it may be worth getting easier gearing so you don't need to rinse yourself getting over it, particularly with Friday legs. Otherwise, losing some weight will make life much easier.
  • rastikal
    rastikal Posts: 5
    Thanks Shirley, cant wait for it to get easier, love the fresh air and feel better in myself (albeit tired) already, plus I save about £5 a day in petrol which is an added bonus for me and the environment. I've been using what I've seen are called the 'granny gears' on the climbs and I do try and push as hard as I can, maybe I just need to ease off for a few weeks until my body is ready for it, although it's hard not to push sometimes when the adrenaline kicks in.
  • imafatman
    imafatman Posts: 351
    rastikal wrote:
    do your rides still wipe you out? Feel pretty wiped out after a ride.

    Take it easier and don't push yourself so hard until you find a pace that doesn't wipe you out until you get fit enough that you can attack it and not feel totally fucked.

    As a once very fat man and now still 40kg heavier than you, starting exercise after a long time off is difficult. Your body hates you and reminds you constantly. Your legs ache and you can't walk up the stairs, your lungs hurt, you are tired and just want to have a lay down.

    Your body very quickly gets used to the exertion and the same efforts become much easier. The only way it gets easier is by putting in the efforts. Get some carbs and caffeine in and ride. Give yourself enough time that you can take it easy.

    Also make sure you are eating and sleeping enough. A lumpy 17mile ride for me would be in the region of 1000 calories. Twice a day that's 2000 calories. I would want to be replacing at _least_ 1500 of those calories. (You might be half as many calories but this is just an example)

    Don't cycle to lose weight, cycle to get fitter, eat less to lose weight. If you are cycling more you have to eat more.
  • ricky_h-2
    ricky_h-2 Posts: 119
    Lots of good advice already and a lumpy 34 miles a day is quite a significant commute. All I'd add is that it might be worth getting a heart rate monitor strap to pair with a phone/GPS so that you can try and keep your efforts "down as opposed to up' ! If you are trying to smash it every day, you'll be in your red zone alot and fatigue will rapidly set in, necessarily requiring longer recovery periods to deal with the lactic acid you will build up. Ideally for longer rides, you want to keep as much of it at "threshold", or zone 2 so you're destroying yourself every time
  • keef66
    keef66 Posts: 13,123
    Agree with the above; 17 miles each way is a decent commute.

    Cycling for fitness, diet for weight loss. You can clearly do both at the same time. I struggled to lose weight and keep it off despite a lot of cycling till I really looked at what I was eating.

    Take it easy at first; you want to be able to do the distance comfortably without feeling wrecked for hours / days afterwards. On yesterday's ride as an experiment I chose to go at a pace I know I can sustain all day. It maybe added 5 minutes onto my time, but I got home as fresh as when I set off, and today there's not a hint of the muscle soreness I often feel on a Monday.

    If necessary build up the number of days a week gradually. Try Tuesdays and Fridays first, then Mon / Wed / Friday and so on.

    When / if you make it to 5 days a week, then start thinking about upping the effort if you want.
  • rastikal
    rastikal Posts: 5
    Thank you for your responses, I can see there is a good community here, i'm sure i'll be back for some more help along the way and in a few years i'll be passing on my wisdom to others. I think as you've all said above the key is not pushing too hard and taking it easy until i'm ready to go a bit harder, as you say slowing down to a more comfortable speed doesn't add a huge amount of time on. My first target was getting up the climbs without stopping which I did on my 3rd go which I was very happy with, I guess I should just set myself small targets like doing 2 days a week, then 3 days etc etc and then start trying to beat my times. Strava is great but annoyingly shows you how far behind other people you are and being competitive i'm desperate to climb up the tables...all in good time eh, this time next year and all that but not for the next few weeks.

    Rambling a bit now, but thanks for your comments they've been helpful, now to put it into practice over summer.
  • Tashman
    Tashman Posts: 3,436
    I tend to do my 34 mile round trip over lumpy ground (1,069ft) just once per week at present. I've learned to not try to chase people dowwn as I then have nothing for the last push home which is the lumpiest 5 miles of the route. I've got a good 3 stone on you so I'm hauling a lot of timber too.
    I like Strava as I can see I'm improving over time. i just ignore my rankings on the uphills as I know I have zero pace.