cycling farther - build up to it, or go for it?

Discussion in 'Beginners' started by tia maria, 14 May 2010.

  1. Hi folks

    I am in my 4th week of cycling to work - a 14 mile round trip (hilly-ish). The first 2 weeks I cycled 3 day, then 4, from next week I should be cycling in, 5 days a week

    I would like to go further at weekends and school holidays (I work in a school) but am unsure of how far is feasable or sensible.

    Should i just set out and see how far I can get, or set myself goals?

    I am a 46 year old woman, who over the last year has lost 3 stone through going to the gym and sensible eating. I still am a couple of stone overweight - I am hoping that cycling may change me into a lean cyclist (the kind that usually over take me easily going uphill, with a cheery "morning" and then they're gone) :smile:

    Ideas please?
  2. Rob3rt

    Rob3rt Man or Moose!

    Keep at it, keep commuting, you will get stronger, fitter and leaner. Then when you actually have a goal, as in "I want to cycle 100 mile by .... insert date...." or something then work towards that.

    I'd build up and not just go out seeing how far you get. If at present you cycle 7 mile each way, you dont want to cycle 35 mile out of the way then realise your too tired to cycle the 35 mile back home!

    100+ miles is not out of the question at all.
  3. toekneep

    toekneep Senior Member

    If you are cycling 14 miles in a day commuting you should be able to manage a twenty mile ride. I would plan something of that distance and see how you get on. If you feel comfortable at the end of it plan a 25 mile ride the following weekend. Once you can see you are making progress set a target as Rob suggested but make sure it's feasible. Two or three months should give you plenty of time to build up your stamina.
  4. Norm

    Norm Guest

    I'm the same age as you, TM, and a lot more overweight. Although I wouldn't recommend it for anyone else, last September, after I'd only been back in the saddle for about 3 months, I jumped on a train to Great Bedwyn in Wiltshire. I chose there partly because my family has roots there and partly because it's about 60 miles from home.

    The journey back was along the Kennet & Avon canal to Reading then 15 miles on the road. I took a relaxed pace, stopping frequently for pix and drinks and the canal path was almost all gravel or mud/grass, so the 45 miles to Reading took about 5 hours (including a puncture). Once in Reading, I had the incentive, as I got closer to home, of getting back into places I knew well adding impetus to my legs.

    Because my chosen route also followed the railway, I don't think I was more than a few miles from a station at any point so I always had the option of hopping on a train if I wanted to bail for any reason.

    It was gloriously warm and one of the most memorable days I've had in years.

    The main thing when going for a longer ride is to pace yourself. I can knacker myself, and my knees, in 100m of climbing if I know there's a car / cake stop at the end of it, I can get myself to the edge of vomitting cycling 3 miles to Windsor but, if I'm out for a day, just take it a lot easier to start with, knocking plenty off my pace until I'm into the regular rhythm and then just enjoying the view.
  5. OP
    tia maria

    tia maria New Member

    Brilliant, thanks

    I think this weekend I'll plan a 20 mile (round trip?) ride - from home to Frome is approx 11 miles, I can do that

    Then next weekend I could try Salisbury (24 miles away) - if once there it seems too far to cycle home i could catch the train home (well the train station is 5 miles from home, so almost home)

    Then over half term maybe a couple of similar rides (20 miles or so)

    By the summer holidays I should be (fingers crossed) be able to class myself as a proper cyclist?

    Mind you the hills are still killing me at the moment :biggrin:
  6. Rob3rt

    Rob3rt Man or Moose!

    Yes always plan either round trips which challenge you but dont bankrupt you physically, either that or trips with escape routes i.e. train stations or bus stops along the way to get yourself back home if you feel to tired or weak to get home.

    You can class youself as a proper cyclist now, you ride a bike, this is the only requirement!
  7. Spinney

    Spinney Bimbleur extraordinaire

    Under the Edge
    You can increase your mileage a bit further if you have a proper rest in the middle. I quite like looking round other folks' gardens, so in the summer I often plan to visit two open gardens (tea and cakes can almost always be bought!) that together would give me a 50 mile ride (I'm well above that now, it does't take as long as you might think once you get stuck into it!).

    If you can arrange a kind of triangular route, if you think it might be too far by the time you get to the first one you can always just return home from there rather than go on to the 2nd one.

    Doesn't have to be gardens - pick any place you've been meaning to visit for a while, even if it's only a local beauty spot...

    Good luck with it all!

    (You can do a century by the end of the summer if you really want to - and if you can find a flat route!!)

    BTW, I'm 49 (only for another week or so :biggrin:) and although I wasn't particularly overweight before I took up cycling properly, I definitely have thinner hips and thighs now!
  8. Norm

    Norm Guest

    +1 :bravo:

    Enjoy yourself, TM, and don't think too much about the miles you are doing. They pass under the wheels faster when you stop thinking about them. :biggrin:
  9. Spinney

    Spinney Bimbleur extraordinaire

    Under the Edge
    Another afterthought - take heed of the advice about nutrition you'll find here - mainly to drink before you feel thirsty, and eat snacks etc before you feel hungy.

    Then you wont' 'bonk' !
  10. MLC

    MLC New Member


    Firstly well done if you are up to 14 miles a day 5 days a week then you are putting in 70 miles a week that is pretty good mileage

    My suggestion would be hook up with a local cycle club (provided they cater for novices most should and should welcome you with open arms) or your local CTC then you will have people to ride with who will support you and help you along the way.
    I think you may surprise yourself at how much distance you could cover

    At this stage always do slow steady rides (CTC) you need that nice base first
  11. OP
    tia maria

    tia maria New Member

    Thank you - for the advice and the motivation

    I will report back after the weekend but i am hopeful that without the time pressure of the daily trip to work that I will just enjoy the cycling and be pleasantly surprised how far I can go without too much strain

    I will take fluids and a snack - though I could head for a lovely deli/coffee shop that i know of that is about 10 miles from home :biggrin:
  12. Spinney

    Spinney Bimbleur extraordinaire

    Under the Edge
    Do both! :biggrin:
  13. CrinklyLion

    CrinklyLion Guest

    I've been building up the miles with my eldest (who is 8) in preparation for a grand adventure in the summer holidays. He was comfortably, if slowly, managing the 3 or 4 miles each way to the swimming pool with a big swim in between, but had never tried further than that. We did a couple of 10 miles rides, and then attempted a 'big one' - 18 miles to Granny's house. I did have an alternate (slightly shorter) route as a contingency plan, and the emergency option of call Granny to come and pick him up! He found it tough, but managed. That was on the Easter weekend - and over the following 2 weeks of school holidays he built it up to 30 miles, including a couple of minor hills. He sees 20-25 miles as completely non-scary now, and as an added bonus so do I - hence me doing my first 50 last week!

    My top tips are to have somewhere to aim for - much nicer than just riding round clocking up miles. Nice food places are always good destinations! Allow plenty of time the first time you try a new distance so you don't feel pressured. Pack emergency rations and a spare layer in case it's really cold. Plan routes with choices - so you can decide when you get there if you want the hilly/flat/short/especially picturesque route depending on how you feel it's going. We did a great circular route that clocked up 25 or so miles (including a pub, a cafe, and some pond dipping) but were always within about 6 miles of home so could have bailed out early if we needed to, and this was a great confidence builder. Riding with friends can be fun - riding with more experienced cyclists can help you make the jump to going a bit further.

    I also try to make sure that every ride includes an opportunity for either paddling or Pooh Sticks, but that might not be a priority for you :biggrin:

    And if you have a choice between a short but dull (or intimidating) road or a long and more interesting road, I'd always say take the latter. It's much easier to do 25 miles on a nice road than it is to 5 on a nasty one, I reckon!
  14. Banjo

    Banjo Fuelled with Jelly Babies

    South Wales

    I know you are trying to lose weight but when pushing the boundaries to do longer distances forget about dieting that day. Have a big breakfast and eat regullarilly on the ride. Running out of fuel far from home isnt pleasant .

    Personally I think that if you are doing a 14 mile commute you would easilly do 30 miles at a sensible pace.

    Good Luck
  15. StuartG

    StuartG slower but further

    SE London
    Go for it!

    You will have days when the body doesn't want to function. The trick is to take the occasional setback, have a rest, and come back stronger 2/3 days later. Never go out the day after being knackered, that will just make things worse.

    Do that and you will surprise yourself how much further you can go. Be careful with speed if you want distance. Also riding in a group doubles your mileage for the same effort. Chatting makes those miles disappear. Try find a local club that has lots of women and concentrates on the tea stops and doesn't do lycra. Their websites are usually a giveaway.
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