Will I get anywhere?

Since I got my second-hand bike nine months ago I've been using it mostly for shopping, pootling around the fairly flat centre of Barrow and Walney Island and for carrying my bowling woods to and from the less remote greens in the local league. My fellow bowlers consider me eccentric but then at 58 I'm the baby of the team and given a lot of leeway.

Yesterday afternoon being a rare warmish afternoon I decided to go for a ride and see how far along the W2W/NCN 70 route, which I can pick up 500 metres away, I could get. Sustrans says the first stretch isn't very strenuous. I say Sustrans is telling porkies. I sailed comfortably along the Channelside taking the chicane by the fish dock in my stride; was pleased to make it up the long slog of Abbey Road without stopping to push or pause for breath, enjoyed the down hill run to Furness Abbey. And then I was confronted by Mont Tourmalet. Well, I exaggerate slightly but it's a stretch of 11% coming up from the valley in which the abbey sits. I'm afraid I had to get off and push before I was halfway up. Even after the hill eased up it seemed to be uphill all the way to Newton, where my aching thighs and gasping lungs called it a day and made me turn back. Funnily enough there seemed a lot of uphill on the way back to the abbey. Anyway, I make that 8km out and climbing from sea level to 83m above sea level at Newton, which doesn't feel very impressive to me especially as not many years ago I ran 10km in the time it took me to bike it yesterday. Just to make my trip perfect I had a flat back tyre when I got back to Channelside.

My short term ambition is to get to Ulverston but I don't feel as though I'm going to make it any time soon. Have other bikers any tips for how to approach this goal positively?
 

lavoisier

Winter is Coming!
Location
Kendal Cumbria
I know the roads you are talking about well. Around the Abbey it is very hilly. If you feel up to it you could try Ulverston via the coast road which has a couple of hillls but not as strenuous as the abbey roads. I think it was just over 20 miles, 22 or so if you come back on the A590. I did it a couple of times on a mtb with chunky tyres. I'm sure you'll improve in time. Just keep at it and good luck.

Paul
 

compo

Veteran
Location
Harlow
It can't have been Mont Tourmalet because that is just up the road from me in Essex!

You have made a start bu doing the ride you did, and that is the way to improve. Get out and ride. You don't have to try and break any records, and if you have to push the bike up a hill, who cares, it doesn't matter. You will see big improvements very quickly and what seems impossible now will be just part of a pleasurable ride out. Going out for a ride will pay more dividends than pootling around town.
 

Rickshaw Phil

Overconfidentii Vulgaris
Moderator
As already mentioned above the best thing is just to gently keep at the cycling as you will improve.

Just out of interest what is your bike? It could be that tweaking the set up would help you, for example; many new cyclists set their saddle height too low which makes pedalling harder than necessary and can hurt the knees.

Looking at things like the tyres can help too; knobbly or cheap tyres are often quite a bit slower than something a bit more road oriented.
 
I did another out-and-back run today, to Roanhead. A tad further than yesterday and no real hills until the return although I note it's a steady gentle climb for much of the way out. I felt a lot better about it already. The idea was to go through to Askam over the sand but I'd forgotten about today's spring tide so settled for sitting in the sun at the top of the beach looking out at clear blue sky to the north-west, and the stunning view of southern Lakeland to the north and north east. Unfortunately the big black cloud crept up on my blindside.
Recorded here: http://tinyurl.com/c2umpk2
And yesterday's for comparison: http://tinyurl.com/buryyay
 
Just out of interest what is your bike?
Oh, it's not a road bike nor anything fancy. It's a commuter bike, I suppose, a Saxon New Yorker if that means anything. I bought it for £50 last October via an ad in my local Morrisons.
It could be that tweaking the set up would help you, for example; many new cyclists set their saddle height too low which makes pedalling harder than necessary and can hurt the knees.
Good thinking. I raised the saddle quite a bit this afternoon and pedalling definitely feels more comfortable. I've only been as far as the bowls club though (I put my head down and pedalled furiously, pretending to be Vicky Pendleton, and an elderly lady called after me "that's the way!"
Looking at things like the tyres can help too; knobbly or cheap tyres are often quite a bit slower than something a bit more road oriented.
No idea how much the tyres cost. Stay there, don't go away ... Samura. 700 x 38C Does that mean anything? They don't have much in the way of tread, quite flat in fact on the running service.
 

Rickshaw Phil

Overconfidentii Vulgaris
Moderator
Right, I've done a search and can't find anything about the Saxon New Yorker. In the absence of any information I suspect it is probably a bike from the low end of the market and it is likely to be a basic steel frame fitted with cheap components. (Cheap bikes can be fine to ride but will need more looking after).

On the plus side it has 700c wheels (this is the larger size as used by racing and touring bikes) which is good because they roll better on the road compared to the 26" (mountain bike size) wheels fitted to most cheap bikes.

The 700x38c off the tyre means it fits 700c (622mm diameter rim) wheels and is 38mm wide. Samura is not a brand I'm familiar with and again I suspect they probably won't be especially high spec.
As it's not a knobbly mountain bike tyre I'd suggest sticking with those tyres for the time being, then when they wear out change to a smaller width (700x35c or even 700x32c which should roll faster but still be comfortable) and go for a big name manufacturer like Continental, Michelin or Schwalbe. (Couple of links as examples there.)

Expect to pay about £10 to £15 per tyre upwards from the mainstream manufacturers.

I'm glad to read that you've raised the saddle:thumbsup: - this will probably make a big difference in the long run, and once you get used to it you may find you want it raised further still. The ideal is for the knee to be just bent at the bottom of the pedal stroke but many people find having the saddle this high daunting.

I hope all this helps.
 

Tiberius Baltar

Active Member
Location
Liverpool
Phil has pretty much covered all your bases there and I would agree that your ride height will produce the easiest and quickest improvement to your cycling.

The only other thing to add really is that you should worry less about distance and speed and just listen to your body for a while. You may find one day you really struggle then the following day its all a breeze. We are not all athletes and sometimes its easy to get bogged down with stuff that doesn't really matter. As long as you have a nice relaxing ride and the scenery is good then just go with the flow.

It will get easier! ^_^
 
Samura is not a brand I'm familiar with and again I suspect they probably won't be especially high spec.
For reference, I found this <http://www.amazon.co.uk/700x38c-Puncture-Resistant-Hybrid-Bicycle/dp/B003LKY9PS>
The only other thing to add really is that you should worry less about distance and speed and just listen to your body for a while.
Just like running then. Not so long ago I was flabby and unfit and decided to try jogging. In May of that year I jogged to the end of my road and it nearly killed me. In November of the same year I ran 10 km up and down Brighton seafront in under an hour. So yes, something for me to bear in mind.
the scenery is good
And how!
Thank you, both of you.
 

Rickshaw Phil

Overconfidentii Vulgaris
Moderator
It's impossible to tell quality from the pictures but they aren't the cheapo tyres I anticipated - Those'll probably be okay for the time being.:thumbsup:

My own experience is that when I replaced the Duro branded tyres on my main bike with Schwalbe Marathon, not only were the Marathons faster rolling but they were quite a bit more comfortable to ride on. Because of that I do tend to steer towards the big name brands for new tyres now.
 

Rickshaw Phil

Overconfidentii Vulgaris
Moderator
My Google-fu is obviously lacking today.:laugh:

That looks alright. It's from the low end of the market as I suspected but it looks better than many I've seen at that price.:thumbsup:

Does yours have the mega-range gears as listed in that spec (biggest gear at the rear is massive compared to the rest)? If so, that is useful as selecting first and first (smallest gear at the front and largest at rear) will give you a properly low climbing gear.
 

Rickshaw Phil

Overconfidentii Vulgaris
Moderator
Yes, that's my gears.
That is good and is something you more usually see on bikes at around the £300 to £350 price mark. The bike is probably a better one than I have given it credit for.^_^

Used well, those gears should make it possible to get up any hill you care to try.:thumbsup: (Perhaps wait a bit before trying Hardknott:whistle:).
When you said "more looking after", what kind of looking after is it likely to need? I give it a good oiling every week or so.
The cheaper parts fitted to bikes at this end of the market tend to wear out or go out of adjustment quicker than on more expensive bikes.

For example; the description of the bike online is slightly vague, but it is likely the bottom bracket assembly (crank shaft & bearings) will be the older cup & cone type, which will need periodic cleaning, regreasing and adjustment plus occasional replacement of the ball bearings. The gears will tend to need more frequent adjustment to keep them running sweetly and so will the brakes.

Written down, this sounds worse than it is really. If you are mechanically minded these are all things which are easy to do at home or a good local bike shop will be able to do it for you fairly inexpensively.

There is nothing to stop you fitting better parts to the bike as they wear out, and this is what I've done with my current cheap knockabout bike.

I hope I'm not making it sound off-putting. The main thing is just to get out and enjoy the rides.:thumbsup:
 
I know the roads you are talking about well. Around the Abbey it is very hilly. If you feel up to it you could try Ulverston via the coast road which has a couple of hillls but not as strenuous as the abbey roads. I think it was just over 20 miles, 22 or so if you come back on the A590. I did it a couple of times on a mtb with chunky tyres. I'm sure you'll improve in time. Just keep at it and good luck.

Paul
With all due respect to the op she is 58. What kind of improvements are you expecting?
 
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