Always struggling...


Just call me Chris...
I know this should probably be in the health & fitness bit, but seems more appropriate here.
I've been doing this commute every day now for nearly 6 months, and always seem to be struggling.
It's only a short run, 5.5 miles in and I extend it to 9 miles on the way home so not exactly a demanding distance and only a very gentle climb on the way in.
This morning, for example, my quads were on fire, my knee was hurting and I wasn't even sure I was going to make it in and I'm only riding slowly! Anyone else get this, or any ideas to alleviate it?
My bike is a lightweight MTB , the saddle's at the right height and I'm running M+ city tyres. The front brake binds a little bit, i.e the wheel won't spin more than a couple of revolutions when off the ground although the bike freewheels quite happily and I really can't imagine it's down to that.

I'm really getting a bit fed up with it tbh, I want the exercise so don't mind working on the bike but it just seems to be constant misery!


Legendary Member
Somewhere flat
Don't want to teach you to suck eggs Panter but are you pushing too large a gear you think? Might also be worth trying to shift back in the saddle a little bit and see if that helps?

Just my initial thoughts... but if it's hurting when you're riding fairly gently then I reackon the setup probably needs to be looked at (if the gearing suggestion is a red herring).
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Just call me Chris...
Thanks all, to answer a few points, I am in slightly too large a gear as the front deraileur is knackered so always in the big ring on the front (In know, I know, should fix it!)
But, to counter that, by choosing the lowest gear I can get away with on the back, it is pretty low geared, The option to drop it a bit lower would be nice but as I'm probably only doing around 6 or 8mph, I just feel I really should be able to spin a bit faster than that!

The brake is a bloody nuisance, I did try and free up the piston a couple of weeks ago, but it seems to be sticking again. Like I say though, it freewheels perfectly well so I can't imagine it's causing enough resistance to cause this much discomfort? The bike overall is smoother now as I stripped and regreased both wheels a couple of weeks back.

I think this is more of a problem with me, rather than the bike, but looking to you experienced folk for ideas in case I'm missing something.
Apart from the slight issues with the bike, it's a fast XC bike on (almost) slicks so shouldn't be too much of a drama really I wouldn't have thought?

I can swap the brakes over with the full susser, but in the short term, I'll try the road bike tomorrow and see how I get on and will report back.
Thanks for the help all, much appreciated :smile:
Could be quite a few things.....

If you are concerned try to time yourself to get empirical evidence. Knees hurting usually means the saddle isn't at the right height -maybe double check that -e.g. what's your definition of the right height? As other people have said, maybe you are trying to push too big of a gear, and of course, doing the same on a different bike such as a road bike may be an eye opener. Obviously get that front brake sorted out.... check those tyre pressures as well.

Oh, and one other thing -are you usually cycling against the wind on your commute? That would definitely make it feel like being twice as much effort!

The other thing is if you regularly exercise, your performance should improve (See empirical evidence thing above). It may be you are just perceiving yourself as not doing so.
First things first -get the gears and brake sorted out! And no, it doesn't sound like the problem is with you, it sounds more like the bike!

....the front deraileur is knackered so always in the big ring on the front
.....The brake is a bloody nuisance, I did try and free up......

I think this is more of a problem with me, rather than the bike....
Effectively then you are trying to cycle with the brakes on, sorting out this issue should make a big difference
I agree - I did my first ride of the year with Mr Hop - 4 miles to the PO and it was such hard work. I was absolutely knackered. Whilst waiting for him to buy whatever I discovered my back brake was binding. He sorted it, and the 7 mile leg home was a million times easier :smile:


Moortown, Leeds
Spin to win... When I changed from a cadence of between 70-85 to 85-100 not only could I cycle for longer periods without feeling it my fitness shot through the rough.


Just call me Chris...
are you usually cycling against the wind on your commute?
I'm always cycling against the wind!!

Thanks very much all for the extra advice, I'll try and answer a couple of points.
My saddle is at the right height, as in ball of the foot flat on the pedal, leg nearly straight. But, it always feels as if it's a bit too low. Difficult to quantitate that, but I'm forever double checking as it doesn't quite feel right. I can't really pull the seatpost out any more as it's on the limits as it is but technically, it should be fine.
I have got faster over the 6 Months. Again, only rough figures, but I use the Endo app to log everything (it's just a bit of extra motivation) They're not strict times as I fire up the app, stuff it in my bag, then drag the bike out of the shed etc, may have forgotten something... you get the idea. But, on average, the journey in was taking me around 36 minutes, now it's 31 minutes although to start with, I'd been off the bike for a Year and was running on knobbly tyres.
Still, they're pretty slow times, when I was commuting the 18 miles way a couple of time a week my average speed was closer to 18mph whereas it's barely double figures now and it's a small percentage increase considering that I've been cycle commuting every day for the last 6 Months.

The bike issues can be easily checked, I'll use the road bike tomorrow and report back. I'm expecting it to be faster, and easier, but will be interesting to see how I feel on the journey.


Sorting the front brake out will make a huge difference. In january, my rear brake was binding a small amount, if you are used to a properly spinning wheel you notice it immediately, it's like riding up a big ass hill constantly. Adjusting them should be reasonably straightforward, it just depends on the type of brakes you have. Do you know what they are by any chance?
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