London To Paris For A Older Newbie

Milkfloat

Veteran
Location
Midlands
So far I have managed a ride of 17.3mls in 1hr 38min. I know I have a long way to go to get myself fit for the london to paris. But at the moment I am trying to balance my needs as a diabetic with those of cycling. Also I am trying to work out local rides which keep me of the main roads.

I had a small sucess the other day in that I have a small local route that I do which is 8.4mls, normaly I cant do it in one but I did it in 34mins no stops apart for junctions. I know this will be vsmall stuff to most of you but I am an unfit 107kg
With just a bit of effort you will be able to revisit this post in a years time and smile about how far you have come along.
 

jamieb158

Active Member
Location
Cambridge
good luck to you, got my first road bike a couple of years ago and done my first long ride on Hadrians wall 191 miles over three days with an old friend recently as we both turned 50, its never too late in my book, im sure you will thoroughly enjoy it. my top tip i would have given myself with hindsight and noted for future long rides is double check your kit and bike before leaving, of all the daft things to happen we only took one pump between us on the last day of the ride as we were coming back to newcastle that day and found the pump was faulty when we got a flat so walked a couple of miles to get the tyre sorted. i was partly miffed at not checking the pump beforehand but also the fact i carried it the previous 180 odd miles lol.
 
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With a year to go, you will have no problems in getting fit to ride from London to Paris, by then you should be happily able to do a 75+ Miles in a day. you will have worked out what clothes will suit your style of riding. I think what you need to plan for is which route you intend to use, where will you start in London, will you want to follow the https://avenuevertelondonparis.co.uk/the-cycle-route or other NCN routes . On this side of the channel you want to keep away from the main roads like the A23 and use the back roads likewise on the French side you can be spoilt for choose. Learn to do roadside repairs not only punctures, but cables, dérailleurs and other moving parts have a nasty habit of failing or going out of tune at the most inopportune moment. So what I am saying preparation of a long cycle ride is not only training for the physical, but route planning and cycle maintenance and diet.
 

al-fresco

Growing older but not up...
Location
Shropshire
Don't let a diabetes diagnosis scare you - I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in my mid-fifties but I returned to cycling (after a 30 year absence) shed a few pounds and the diabetes went away. A decade later, it's still not returned. (I think my doctor is secretly a bit miffed - you're not supposed to cure yourself.) When I first started riding again it took me 45 minutes to get my breath back after a 5 mile ride. It wasn't long before I was comfortable doing 100+ mile rides. Good luck with London-Paris, you'll enjoy it. I envy you!
 

Bhitucyclist

Active Member
I am doing the L2P this sept. So far my speed is not getting any better than 8 to 10 miles .... i have done back to back days ...30 miles each day. So really worries that i will be left behind. I have a pendleton bike, the one with the straight handle bars. Any tips to get better will really help.
 

alicat

Legendary Member
Location
Staffs
Welcome to the forum @Bhitucyclist. I did the L2P when I was much older than you, although I did have some cycling fitness to start with.

The only way to get fitter is to get miles in your legs. What helped me was to make a training plan gradually ramping up the distance then easing off a little every fourth week or so. The speed sorted itself out as I got fitter.

I went out most days of the week, cycling as much of the way to work as I could. I went on rides with my local Cycling UK member group for company and did Audaxes (cheap Sportives) for variety. I did sessions on the wattbikes at the gym.

Google 'training for a long-distance cycle ride' and you will get more tips.
 

Bhitucyclist

Active Member
Welcome to the forum @Bhitucyclist. I did the L2P when I was much older than you, although I did have some cycling fitness to start with.

The only way to get fitter is to get miles in your legs. What helped me was to make a training plan gradually ramping up the distance then easing off a little every fourth week or so. The speed sorted itself out as I got fitter.

I went out most days of the week, cycling as much of the way to work as I could. I went on rides with my local Cycling UK member group for company and did Audaxes (cheap Sportives) for variety. I did sessions on the wattbikes at the gym.

Google 'training for a long-distance cycle ride' and you will get more tips.
Thanks a lot for your advice. I made use of the easter weekend...did 36 and 40 miles... i am cycling to work 3 to 4 days .. but that distance is only 5 miles each way
 

YukonBoy

The Monch
Location
Inside my skull
At this stage just ride more. More frequently and for as long as you can. Don't be afraid to stop for a break if taking on a longer ride. Try and ride as fast as you can where safe, effort that gets your heart rate up and breathing up. Then ease back when you need to, then try again in a few minutes etc. Hills are a good place to build fitness. Don't be afraid the stop on them the first time if necessary. Learn to pace them and eventually you will get up in one. Then try and get up in one slightly faster etc.
 

12boy

Über Member
Location
Casper WY USA
Before I retired I lived 3.5 miles from work but found routes that allowed me to get in 20 roundtrip. Daily riding for longer distances will speed up your ability to do longer distances. On your longer rides over Easter, what became tired or sore? Legs, hands, neck and shoulders? Perhaps sitbones. There are many ways to sort out ergonomic issues and hopefully you can get those dialed in to the point where you aren't thinking about anything but riding when on your bike.
 

Bhitucyclist

Active Member
Before I retired I lived 3.5 miles from work but found routes that allowed me to get in 20 roundtrip. Daily riding for longer distances will speed up your ability to do longer distances. On your longer rides over Easter, what became tired or sore? Legs, hands, neck and shoulders? Perhaps sitbones. There are many ways to sort out ergonomic issues and hopefully you can get those dialed in to the point where you aren't thinking about anything but riding when on your bike.
Thanks ... my wrists were sore and knees :.. i do have back problems. But otherwise i was fine. But what i find most tiring is the concentration due to the heavy traffic depending on the route
 

12boy

Über Member
Location
Casper WY USA
Wrists/hands can be dealt with by using bar ends, ergon grips, moving the saddle forward so more weight is on your tush and less on your hands, tilting the saddle nose up a tad for the same effect or perhaps going with bars that allow your hands to be in the "shaking hand position instead of palms down as with flat bars. I would make those saddle changes, if you do that, in small increments and ride a bit to see how you like them. Traffic is scary, but an upright position can make you more visible and allow you to see more ahead than bent over. Developing muscle memory that allows you to find your hands instantly on the brakes in a pinch is also useful as is increased confidence and dexterity in bike handling in general.
 

Bhitucyclist

Active Member
Wrists/hands can be dealt with by using bar ends, ergon grips, moving the saddle forward so more weight is on your tush and less on your hands, tilting the saddle nose up a tad for the same effect or perhaps going with bars that allow your hands to be in the "shaking hand position instead of palms down as with flat bars. I would make those saddle changes, if you do that, in small increments and ride a bit to see how you like them. Traffic is scary, but an upright position can make you more visible and allow you to see more ahead than bent over. Developing muscle memory that allows you to find your hands instantly on the brakes in a pinch is also useful as is increased confidence and dexterity in bike handling in general.
Thanks ... do you think moving the handle bars slightly up helps? I have a straight handle bar.
 

alicat

Legendary Member
Location
Staffs
Thanks ... do you think moving the handle bars slightly up helps? I have a straight handle bar.
It might, no harm in trying and you can always put them back if you don't find it helps.

My no 1 tip for you based on what you have said here and in another post would be to find a local cycling group for beginners/improvers. They can help you find quiet, pleasant routes and look at your bike set up to see if it can be tweaked to improve comfort. They will also organise rides to give you confidence.
 

12boy

Über Member
Location
Casper WY USA
Always good to learn from others, be it in person, from lessons at a bike coop if there is one locally, from books or online. I've been commuting for over 50 years and I have learned some good stuff on this very forum. The Sheldon Brown website has lots of good info too. As far as knees go, I have found that having your saddle high enough to have your heels barely reach the pedal on the max downstroke. This allows you to apply force with your leg less bent in the same way as walking erect is easier than duckwalking. As you raise or lower handlebars and seat you also move your saddle and bars forward and backward, since the seat tube and handle bar stem are at an angle. Get your saddle height right first, and then adjust saddle angle and fore and aft position, and your handle bar height. For those new to riding, or perhaps older, a more erect position is easier on the back . A lower end bike that fits the rider, is, in my opinion, far more enjoyable than one that doesn't, no matter how high end it is. I don't wear lycra type clothes but I avoid riding on seams in my underclothes or shorts/pants. Those seams can rub you raw in very little time.
 

Bhitucyclist

Active Member
Always good to learn from others, be it in person, from lessons at a bike coop if there is one locally, from books or online. I've been commuting for over 50 years and I have learned some good stuff on this very forum. The Sheldon Brown website has lots of good info too. As far as knees go, I have found that having your saddle high enough to have your heels barely reach the pedal on the max downstroke. This allows you to apply force with your leg less bent in the same way as walking erect is easier than duckwalking. As you raise or lower handlebars and seat you also move your saddle and bars forward and backward, since the seat tube and handle bar stem are at an angle. Get your saddle height right first, and then adjust saddle angle and fore and aft position, and your handle bar height. For those new to riding, or perhaps older, a more erect position is easier on the back . A lower end bike that fits the rider, is, in my opinion, far more enjoyable than one that doesn't, no matter how high end it is. I don't wear lycra type clothes but I avoid riding on seams in my underclothes or shorts/pants. Those seams can rub you raw in very little time.
I have always wondered whether i should raise my saddle by an inch ... however not being able to touch the ground while sitting on the saddle makes me a bit nervous specially while ridding during busy traffic times. I feel i will have less balance ! Any tips on that ?
 
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