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  1. #1
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    Am I overdoing the commute?

    My one-way commute is a total distance of about 2.8 mi according to Google Maps. The last 0.5 mi is a 300 climb and there isn't a way to avoid it or stretch it out. The return trip is about 0.5 mi longer and involves about 100 ft climb over about 3/4 mi in the middle. Since the ride is 100% urban, I'm stopping/slowing every 500 ft or so; there is one section with four 4-way stop signs over 0.3 mi in the middle.

    I'm starting to notice that my quads are really sore on the way to work today. Yesterday I did not ride so I did get one day of rest this week.

    I started riding around the middle of Feb but really only rode about once a week to work if that until the end of March because of weather. Since the end of March I've been riding 4 or 5 times a week to work and back.

    Prior to this, I was not very active but not overweight, 5'7" 155 lbs. However, given that my commute is so short, it seems like this should be a non-issue aside from maybe the climb. I'm at the point where I no longer need to stop halfway up the hill if that means anything.

    My bike is a 2010 Marin Point Reyes 29er as I bought it from the store aside from a couple lights. Tires are 700x42 (29x1.6 as Marin calls it) inflated to about 55 PSI.
    Last edited by jseko; 04-15-2011 at 06:30 PM.

  2. #2
    local trails rider
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    If it feels a little hard to you, then it probably is a little hard to you and taking a day off sometimes, for now, might be a good idea.

    Sounds like your body is adjusting to the climbs. That is a good sign.

    For soreness, light exercise and stretching seems to be the best cure. If you take a day off from bike commuting, do an easy ride or take a walk to get your fluids flowing, That should help with getting the nasty, soreness causing, stuff out of your muscles.

    Do you have lower gears left in your bike so that you could take the climbs easier?

    "it IS possible that you are faster or slower than anybody else who is having at least as much if not more or less fun"

  3. #3
    Squeaky Wheel
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    A little soreness is normal, just keep at it and it will get easier.

  4. #4
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    It can make you more prone to soreness to end a ride on a hard effort like a hill, especially if you just stop cold afterwards and sit at a desk. If you can, walk or stretch a bit , or easy-ride around the parking lot or something when you get to work, it may help. But mostly the soreness is telling you that you are getting stronger, though a well-timed recovery day will let your muscles grow too.

  5. #5
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    Are you still enjoying the ride? If not, then yeah you're overdoing it.
    Jason
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  6. #6
    I Ride for Donuts
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    I hereby declare that you are not overdoing it.
    You have no excuse for driving to work
    (unless you don't have studded tires)
    (no excuse for that either)

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by jseko
    My commute is a total distance of about 2.8 mi according to Google Maps. The last 0.5 mi is a 300 climb and there isn't a way to avoid it or stretch it out. The return trip is about 0.5 mi longer and involves about 100 ft climb over about 3/4 mi in the middle. Since the ride is 100% urban, I'm stopping/slowing every 500 ft or so; there is one section with four 4-way stop signs over 0.3 mi in the middle.

    I'm starting to notice that my quads are really sore on the way to work today. Yesterday I did not ride so I did get one day of rest this week.

    I started riding around the middle of Feb but really only rode about once a week to work if that until the end of March because of weather. Since the end of March I've been riding 4 or 5 times a week to work and back.

    Prior to this, I was not very active but not overweight, 5'7" 155 lbs. However, given that my commute is so short, it seems like this should be a non-issue aside from maybe the climb. I'm at the point where I no longer need to stop halfway up the hill if that means anything.

    My bike is a 2010 Marin Point Reyes 29er as I bought it from the store aside from a couple lights. Tires are 700x42 (29x1.6 as Marin calls it) inflated to about 55 PSI.
    Try so different styles when climbing...sit and spin stand and hammer, sit up take it easy...

    Use some different msucles.

  8. #8
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    I'm riding up the hill with 26-32 ring-cog combination so I can't go any lower up the hill. I'm also using the flattest route; any other route would have me ascend the hill in a shorter distance.

    My commute is pretty short and I'm indifferent as to whether or not I enjoy the ride. I dislike driving to work because of the short distance, but aside from riding and driving, there isn't another viable option even though I live and work in San Francisco.

    Public transit is a joke. There is a bus line about 1/5 mi from home that would take me to within 3/4 mi and let me walk the rest of the way but that would end up taking close to 50 minutes including walk time; unless I want to wait and transfer to a bus going in the reverse commute direction that drops me off about 1/8 mi away. Heck at these speeds, I think my walk to work would be about the same.

  9. #9
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    Keep on biking, you've only been commuting for about a month. It's normal for your quads to be hurting if you haven't been biking for that long. Keep on spinning on the lower gears for the climbs, no sense in busting your knees; maybe even consider a smaller granny gear too like 22 teeth.

    Practice climbing the smaller steeper hills too... it will help build up stamina.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by jeffscott
    Try so different styles when climbing...sit and spin stand and hammer, sit up take it easy...

    Use some different msucles.
    Great advice!

    How old are you?
    '96 San Andreas
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  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mountain Cycle Shawn
    Great advice!

    How old are you?
    Twenty-seven

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by jseko
    Twenty-seven
    @ that age, I could see having some soreness for maybe the first three weeks. It's a very short commute. Get some Muscle Milk protien powder from Costco and drink 2 servings a day and make sure you are getting 8 hours of sleep. Also, don't ride if your legs are sore, they need to heal and when they do heal, they will be stronger. I just recently started riding again after a long lay off. On my first ride, I thought I was going to die, I thought this is BS and I wanted to just quit riding. Each ride, I had a lot of improvement. Now I'm riding to work, 10 miles round trip and riding as hard as I can both ways, with hills And I'm 45. The worst thing you can do to your body is to over do it.
    '96 San Andreas
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  13. #13
    dirtbag
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    A 3 mile one-way commute is short. Maybe increase your commute so that you get a relatively flat commute. If I recall correctly, SFBC had an online bike route planner that had "flatest route" option available. Some of those SF hills can be brutal.
    Amolan

  14. #14
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    Duct tape iz like teh Force. It has a Lite side and a Dark side and it holdz the Universe together.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mountain Cycle Shawn
    @ that age, I could see having some soreness for maybe the first three weeks. It's a very short commute. Get some Muscle Milk protien powder from Costco and drink 2 servings a day and make sure you are getting 8 hours of sleep. Also, don't ride if your legs are sore, they need to heal and when they do heal, they will be stronger. I just recently started riding again after a long lay off. On my first ride, I thought I was going to die, I thought this is BS and I wanted to just quit riding. Each ride, I had a lot of improvement. Now I'm riding to work, 10 miles round trip and riding as hard as I can both ways, with hills And I'm 45. The worst thing you can do to your body is to over do it.
    I have no intention of quitting...just wondering if I need to seek different commute options. A large portion of parking at work has been closed for construction and it was bad before it started.

    I was going to go on a 13 mi day hike this weekend, but I think I'm going to put that off for a few weeks.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by ranier
    A 3 mile one-way commute is short. Maybe increase your commute so that you get a relatively flat commute. If I recall correctly, SFBC had an online bike route planner that had "flatest route" option available. Some of those SF hills can be brutal.
    One of the universities here has one too and 0.5 mi is about as long as I can stretch the climb. There are more direct routes to work, but they are steeper with some flat sections.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by jseko
    I have no intention of quitting...just wondering if I need to seek different commute options. A large portion of parking at work has been closed for construction and it was bad before it started.

    I was going to go on a 13 mi day hike this weekend, but I think I'm going to put that off for a few weeks.
    I didn't say quit, just need to make some adjustments.
    '96 San Andreas
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  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by ranier
    A 3 mile one-way commute is short. Maybe increase your commute so that you get a relatively flat commute. If I recall correctly, SFBC had an online bike route planner that had "flatest route" option available. Some of those SF hills can be brutal.
    He said, "The last 0.5 mi is a 300 climb and there isn't a way to avoid it or stretch it out".
    '96 San Andreas
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    Incoming: 2008 Lotus Exige S 240
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  19. #19
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    Sounds like an easy commute once you get used to it. Just do what you can it's tough at first, especially climbing. If you feel you need a day or 2 to recover then do it.

  20. #20
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    Stretching when you finish the ride will be a great help. Wait about 2 minutes after you stop then stretch the affected muscles in in 3 sets of 15 to seconds each. Stretching before bed each night, if you don't have time at the end of the ride, will also help but not as much or as quickly as soon after the ride.

  21. #21
    local trails rider
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    Quote Originally Posted by dundundata
    Sounds like an easy commute once you get used to it. Just do what you can it's tough at first, especially climbing. If you feel you need a day or 2 to recover then do it.
    If a short climb is too tough for you now, you could sacrifice a few minutes and walk up the hard part.

    "it IS possible that you are faster or slower than anybody else who is having at least as much if not more or less fun"

  22. #22
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    I think part of my problem is that I'm riding in my work boots resulting in a mal-adjusted saddle. When I bought the bike, the shop helped me adjust the saddle with my sneakers on. I ride to work in work boots which have a thicker sole. I did not notice the difference until I was riding around the neighborhood today in sneakers.

    The reason I wear boots on bike is because I don't have changing or storage facility at work; I have to commute in my work clothes.

  23. #23
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    Walking up the last half mile would give you a bit of a cool down for your muscles, and make the climb a bit easier.

  24. #24
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    You have not indicated how long the trip takes. For me it takes about 15 minutes for my legs to warm up and if I do not take it easy until then I will get the burns too. And with all the stops, it is hard to get a good rythm going, so it might take longer to warm up.
    My commute is 10miles each way, and it is nearly flat as a pancake, so a bit different situation. But I do mountain bike for fun on the side and had the same problem on steeps until I went through the below steps.

    There are a few things you can work on apart from just letting the days build up your stamina. Because if you brute-force it you will end up hating the trip and eventually make excuses for finding other means of transportation.

    1) Do some longer rides on weekends. Preferably a route where you can cruise along without any hills and with little stops. Something in the 20mile-range. This will not only give you some stamina, it will also give you a "bike-fit-test" as you will hurt in all sorts of ways if your bike is not fit properly and you do this every weekend for a month. The first time you will be sore, the next it will be better, and so on. But if you get strange pains, get the fit checked. It will also help you work on #2...

    2) Work on your pedal-strokes. If your pedal strokes are uneven it does not matter if you are in the granny-gear or not, you will get sore legs. And your trip is just short enough that you will not really feel the penalties of "doing it wrong". If you get a nice smooth spin going with near constant speed the full circle you will lower the stress on the legs and transfer more power to the wheels... which in turn makes you go faster, or use less energy to go your current speed.
    If you mash the pedals your bike generally slows down a bit in the point just before you put a foot down. This deceleration gives you nothing, and you have to work harder to get the rotating parts of the bike accelerated again in the following pedal stroke.
    It is easier to do when clipped in, but since you write you have to do your trip in work boots I would consider toe-straps if I were in your place. Just keep one foot a bit loose so you can put it down when you stop. This will allow you to utilize horizontal movement when your feet are at 12+6 positions as well as help start the downward stroke by pulling up with the foot that is coming up from 6.
    It takes some time getting worked into the muscle memory, but once you get it... it is like learning how to ride a bike all over again.

  25. #25
    Fat-tired Roadie
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    I notice the difference in leg extension from different shoes too - pretty significant in work boots instead of sneakers.

    Raise the saddle a bit. You might get a quick release seat clamp, if you don't already have one and it won't lose you your seat post and saddle.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

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