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What are some ways I can use to minimize fatigue while riding?

Old 12-28-09, 10:44 AM
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What are some ways I can use to minimize fatigue while riding?

I ride my bike once or twice per week to attend choir practice about 3KM away from my home. My bicycle is a Peugeot demi-course about 40 years old. I have fitted it with a 6-speed gear. But still I become tired with some steep uphill paths on my way back.

What are some ways I can use to prevent getting so tired (short of increasing the gears of my bike)? I would welcome all types of suggestions and tips (i.e. whether having to do with the bike, my body, bike-body fit, etc).

I also sweat a lot. I am interested in whether there are any special sports jackets that let the sweat evaporate while keeping my body warm.

Last edited by luderart; 12-28-09 at 10:48 AM.
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Old 12-28-09, 11:23 AM
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Ride more.

"the more you ride the more you can ride"
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Old 12-28-09, 11:25 AM
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You've got to raise your mileage for starters. Increase your 'base mileage' until riding 3 km becomes easy. Improve your cardio fitness whether by 'race walking', swimming, running, aerobics, etc. Committing to fitness as a lifestyle takes a mental approach more than anything else. I swim and weight train while maintaining a fairly high mileage base. In other words you need to get in better shape.

There are many jackets that will do the job you're requiring. Personally, I use a Pearl Izumi Barrier jacket that's cycling specific. It has elongated arms and back panel w/vents to allow better evaporation. It's made of 'wind resistant' material. I got mine on an 'old stock' discount for 70% off list price. You'll still need some sort of base layer...silk is VERY good and relatively inexpensive. Also, a balaclava under one's helmet works wonders for heat retention. Not to mention a helmet cover. Nashbar makes a good one and it doesn't cost much. There've been many threads where people list what they wear according to temp, weather conditions, etc. Do a general search and go to the 'Winter Cycling' and 'Touring' sub forums. There is a ton of info there, also.
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Old 12-28-09, 11:40 AM
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Originally Posted by luderart View Post
I ride my bike once or twice per week to attend choir practice about 3KM away from my home. My bicycle is a Peugeot demi-course about 40 years old. I have fitted it with a 6-speed gear. But still I become tired with some steep uphill paths on my way back.

What are some ways I can use to prevent getting so tired (short of increasing the gears of my bike)? I would welcome all types of suggestions and tips (i.e. whether having to do with the bike, my body, bike-body fit, etc).

I also sweat a lot. I am interested in whether there are any special sports jackets that let the sweat evaporate while keeping my body warm.
Welcome to the forums! If you are relatively new at riding, it may just be a matter of building up your endurance. By increasing the frequency and distance that you ride, you will build up your aerobic capacity and fatigue won't be as much of an issue. Also, make sure that you drink plenty of water when riding and have a snack before riding so that your body has fuel to burn.

I'm not an expert at bike fitting, but the bike should be comfortable for you to ride. The seat should be high enough for you to get almost full extension of your leg on the downstroke of each pedal revolution. Suggest going to a local bike shop (LBS in forum-speak), for them to look at you astride your Peugeot and fit it to your height and riding style.

Not sure of where you are located at, but December can be pretty darn cold in most parts of the country. Your body being cold and uncomfortable can greatly increase the amount of fatigue you experience while riding. I generally ride with a base layer of a long sleeve polypropylene shirt, covered with a short sleeve poly jersey and a fleece jacket. I stay relatively warm down to the low 40's (F), which is about as cold as it gets in my part of southern California. Silk long underwear, (tops and bottoms), are also lightweight, excellent insulators, and wick the sweat away from your body. Hope this helps and I'm sure you will get lots of other posts with great advice that you can use.

Good luck and Happy trails!
Paul
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Old 12-28-09, 11:47 AM
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Agree with what everyone else has said. Push your seat up higher and higher, eventually you'll find the sweet spot where pedaling is most efficient. Also, for the difficult climbs, if there are any longer but not-so-steep routes you can take, try those. You'll get more miles in to add to your base miles and build up your endurance.

Bottom line, though, is just ride!
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Old 12-28-09, 12:21 PM
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I've learned the hard way. I was increasing my seat to the point where the warning mark told me to stop, but I was still having issue with going over simple incline such as freeway overpass. It was then I realised the bike frame was too small for me. I've found a larger frame with the right fit allow my knee to be in a much bettter position relative to the crank and at the same time allowing proper height adjustment. After that, toe clip was another helpful method to maximize my effort.
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Old 12-28-09, 12:41 PM
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fitting the bike made a big difference on my commute, first time i did 60 miles my behind was in pain, now i can ride 60 miles in confort.

Ride more....
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Old 12-28-09, 12:48 PM
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Originally Posted by luderart View Post
I ride my bike once or twice per week to attend choir practice about 3KM away from my home. My bicycle is a Peugeot demi-course about 40 years old. I have fitted it with a 6-speed gear. But still I become tired with some steep uphill paths on my way back.

What are some ways I can use to prevent getting so tired (short of increasing the gears of my bike)? I would welcome all types of suggestions and tips (i.e. whether having to do with the bike, my body, bike-body fit, etc).

I also sweat a lot. I am interested in whether there are any special sports jackets that let the sweat evaporate while keeping my body warm.
As others have said -- RIDE MORE.
Cycling clothes will help with the sweating problem. Is it that warm in the Middle East this time of year?
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Old 12-28-09, 12:52 PM
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You asked about special sports jackets. Personally I've found that the best outer garment for cycling is wool. I just received a wool jersey for Xmas and it is wonderful.

But you don't have to have a fancy jersey, a sweater will do perfectly. Merino and cashmere v-necks work really well. They breathe well, keep warm even if wet, and don't stink like synthetics. You can find them cheap at big-box stores or the local charity shop.

And keep riding!
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Old 12-28-09, 12:58 PM
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Originally Posted by RonH View Post
As others have said -- RIDE MORE.
Cycling clothes will help with the sweating problem. Is it that warm in the Middle East this time of year?
No. Actually it's quite cold. But while riding with my usual jacket to keep warm, I sweat due to the effort involved. And so the sweat gets trapped in the jacket. And anyway, maybe I can ride with a lighter jacket. But I don't want to catch a cold.

By the way, how did you know I am from the Middle East?
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Old 12-28-09, 01:18 PM
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Originally Posted by El Gigante View Post
Welcome to the forums! If you are relatively new at riding, it may just be a matter of building up your endurance. By increasing the frequency and distance that you ride, you will build up your aerobic capacity and fatigue won't be as much of an issue. Also, make sure that you drink plenty of water when riding and have a snack before riding so that your body has fuel to burn.

I'm not an expert at bike fitting, but the bike should be comfortable for you to ride. The seat should be high enough for you to get almost full extension of your leg on the downstroke of each pedal revolution. Suggest going to a local bike shop (LBS in forum-speak), for them to look at you astride your Peugeot and fit it to your height and riding style.

Not sure of where you are located at, but December can be pretty darn cold in most parts of the country. Your body being cold and uncomfortable can greatly increase the amount of fatigue you experience while riding. I generally ride with a base layer of a long sleeve polypropylene shirt, covered with a short sleeve poly jersey and a fleece jacket. I stay relatively warm down to the low 40's (F), which is about as cold as it gets in my part of southern California. Silk long underwear, (tops and bottoms), are also lightweight, excellent insulators, and wick the sweat away from your body. Hope this helps and I'm sure you will get lots of other posts with great advice that you can use.

Good luck and Happy trails!
Paul
Thank you for welcoming me. Actually I have ridden bicycles all my life. But as a child I used to ride shorter distances and on level ground. It is only recently that I have been using my bike for commuting with any regularity.

"The seat should be high enough for you to get almost full extension of your leg on the downstroke of each pedal revolution"

I have some problems with the interpretation of this "almost full". I once tried to raise the seat a little, but it became rather uncomfortable to ride. And anyway, the distance to the pedal varies with the shoe one wears. Maybe we can operationalize this "almost full extension" by talking about the angle between the lower leg and upper leg that should be present with the almost full extension when the pedal is in the six o'clock position. Mine - just measured it - is about 160 degrees (full extension being 180 degrees). Would that be considered "almost full extension"? or should I still raise the seat a bit? If so, by how much? 0.5 cm, 1cm, 2cm? By what increment should I proceed when raising the seat?

Last edited by luderart; 12-28-09 at 01:21 PM.
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Old 12-28-09, 01:19 PM
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Make sure you're eating right and getting enough sleep. Riding more will help. You might just have to slow down going up the the hills and take it a little easier.

Make sure your tires are properly inflated, that your brakes aren't rubbing, etc.
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Old 12-28-09, 01:21 PM
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I agree that riding more is the best thing you can do to get used to it.

However, you might also want to check your tire pressure. Soft tires are a huge drag and cause you to waste energy unnecessarily. Inflate them to the maximum pressure recommended on the tire and see how that feels. If the bumps feel too harsh then you can let a little air out to soften the tires up again.
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Old 12-28-09, 01:52 PM
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Originally Posted by hairyman View Post
I agree that riding more is the best thing you can do to get used to it.

However, you might also want to check your tire pressure. Soft tires are a huge drag and cause you to waste energy unnecessarily. Inflate them to the maximum pressure recommended on the tire and see how that feels. If the bumps feel too harsh then you can let a little air out to soften the tires up again.
+1

Well thanks for the great tip. Indeed for the last week or two I have been riding with pretty soft tires. I will inflate them to the maximum and see how that feels. Hopefully I will tire less. And come to think of it, it's obvious isn't it? More tire pressure = tire less! Perhaps it's because there's less contact with and therefore less friction with the road.

Last edited by luderart; 12-28-09 at 01:55 PM.
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Old 12-28-09, 01:53 PM
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An easy starting point for saddle height is to have your leg fully extended with your heel on the pedal (unless you're riding in high heels). From there, you can experiment a bit up or down till it feels good.

And, as noted above, make sure your tires are inflated to the max pressure and ride, ride, ride.
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Old 12-28-09, 03:15 PM
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Originally Posted by luderart View Post
No. Actually it's quite cold. But while riding with my usual jacket to keep warm, I sweat due to the effort involved. And so the sweat gets trapped in the jacket. And anyway, maybe I can ride with a lighter jacket. But I don't want to catch a cold.

By the way, how did you know I am from the Middle East?
Depending on how cold the conditions you're riding in, you might try the winter biking forum as well. This is a common dilemma for winter cyclists - you want something that will block the wind, but you want something "breathable" - ie, let's the water vapor from sweating out through the jacket. Unfortunately, all my suggestions are for expensive jackets meant for well below freezing riding.

What's temperatures are you riding at?

Certain materials are not "breathable" at all - cheaper waterproof material, whether it's a rain jacket or a winter jacket, is almost never breathable whatsoever. Only the rather high end waterproof jackets are, and sometimes they still aren't breathable enough, depending on which one you're looking at. Fleece is usually breathable, there's also more specialized fabric.

One thing to keep in mind is that while biking, you're body is generating heat, so you don't need quite as much insulation. However, if you're only biking 3 km and you're having trouble and sweating a lot, but you do the ride regularly, my first thought is that there must be something wrong with your bike. The first thing, as other people have mentioned, is the seat height. After that, try picking up the front of the bike and spinning the wheel - it should rotate freely at least 10 times. Do the same with the back wheel. If it comes to a stop on it's own before 10 rotations, there may simply be something wrong with the wheel - perhaps the brake is rubbing against it? That can kill your ability to get anywhere without a lot of work...
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Old 12-28-09, 03:25 PM
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Originally Posted by luderart View Post
I ride my bike once or twice per week to attend choir practice about 3KM away from my home....I also sweat a lot. I am interested in whether there are any special sports jackets that let the sweat evaporate while keeping my body warm.
3km is a tricky distance in the cold. In my experience it takes about 1.5 km to get warmed up while riding in cold weather. So if you dress warm enough for the first 1.5 km you'll be too hot for the last half. For my commute, I dress much lighter so that I'm pretty cold for the first 1.5 km, but my commute is 15 km.

Unless you're willing to stop halfway and take off a layer or two, you'll have to choose between being too cold for the first half or too hot for the second half. My personal prejudice is being too cold for the first half (since I hate to get to work sweaty!) Best of luck either way!

A good windbreaker will help immensely. Get one with pit-zips, they really make a difference. Don't get anything waterproof. My 2 cents.
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Old 12-29-09, 01:23 PM
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Originally Posted by tjspiel View Post
Make sure you're eating right and getting enough sleep. Riding more will help. You might just have to slow down going up the the hills and take it a little easier.

Make sure your tires are properly inflated, that your brakes aren't rubbing, etc.
How should my diet be to meet my needs of bicycling regularly?

The brakes aren't rubbing, but I use dynamo powered front and back lights. The dynamo causes significant friction while rubbing against wheel. It could be that this is what caused my relatively much greater exhaustion on the way back. It was night and I had to turn on the lights. Could it be that the old dynamo needs to be oiled or something in order to run more smoothly? And are there any other bicycle light systems that do not rely on a dynamo?
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Old 12-29-09, 01:26 PM
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Originally Posted by luderart View Post
How should my diet be to meet my needs of bicycling regularly?

The brakes aren't rubbing, but I use dynamo powered front and back lights. The dynamo causes significant friction while rubbing against wheel. It could be that this is what caused my relatively much greater exhaustion on the way back. It was night and I had to turn on the lights. Could it be that the old dynamo needs to be oiled or something in order to run more smoothly? And are there any other bicycle light systems that do not rely on a dynamo?
There are some excellent rechargeable lights on the market these days.
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Old 12-29-09, 03:30 PM
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As everyone else has said, more riding to build up more endurance. Also, as someone here has suggested make sure you have enough tire pressure. Of course, having the right seat height position is important. Finally, I would like to ask what kind of tires you have on your bicycle? It is common practice these days to sell so-called commuter bikes, with wide, knobby tires that almost look like off road mountain bike tires. There is no reason to use wide, knobby tires if you are riding primarily city streets. These wide knobby tires just slow you down and make you "tire" easy.
 
Old 12-29-09, 03:44 PM
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Originally Posted by dwilbur3 View Post
There are some excellent rechargeable lights on the market these days.
fyi, there are also some significantly more efficient dynamo wheels as well where the dynamo hub is entirely inside the hub of the wheel. For $150 US I got a front wheel with a Shimano DH-3N72 hub built into it. Of course - go with whatever's easiest for you, just wanted to mention it.
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Old 12-29-09, 06:14 PM
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Something that hasn't been mentioned, in response to the initial question, is that being tired and sweating are a natural part of exercise. Cycling is, after all, exercise. Adding to your base miles and building that physical foundation coupled with proper bike fit will make the distances easier. As to nutrition, cutting back on sweets and excessive fat will help. I don't too much about lighting as I rarely ride after dark. I do know, however, that the old bottle dynamos are relatively inefficient as far as dynamos go.
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Old 12-29-09, 07:30 PM
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For cold weather riding, I can't say enough good things about wearing wool as the first layer, next to your skin. I wear a wool undershirt, and for everything else regular street clothes. When it's cooler out (35F to 55F), I wear wool socks, and wool gloves. When it's very cold (far below freezing) I have wool knee-warmers and a jacket or sweater. Wearing wool so vastly changed the comfort-level for me when I started doing it that I haven't used anything else since.

Also, do you have a basket or rack on your bike? If so, you might try stowing your jacket on the bike somewhere out-of-the-way while you are riding, so that any perspiration you generate will be able to evaporate freely. I have found that wearing a hat, a simple wool undershirt and a flannel or wool outer-shirt is good for riding down to 30 degrees F. Adding a sweater over top, and wool socks, makes riding comfortable down to 15 degrees Farenheit for 20 mile stretches at a time.

As for seat-height, I agree (with a previous poster): adjust your seat-height so that the heel of your foot (with shoe on) barely touches the pedal when at 6:00, sitting with your hips level above the seat. Having the right seat height definitely improves pedal power.
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Old 12-29-09, 07:39 PM
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Ludeart, I mean no offense but you may be simply out of shape. 3km isn't a lot so your best bet is to keep riding and getting stronger. As mentioned above: getting tired and sweating is normal. Some people sweat more, some sweat less. I can ride 20km without stopping but I'll sweat a lot. I always sweated a lot and I always will, that's normal.

Now, you may consider how that excessive sweating affects your ride and if there is a way to lower the sweating. Perhaps you sweat more than you should? If you're overdressed you will sweat too much, overheat and get fatigued. The idea is that you should dress in way that you feel a little cold when you start riding and you should warm up within 15 minutes or so. If you walk out with your bike and you feel nice and warm before even starting to ride that means you are overdressed. Overdressing leads to overheating and increased fatigue.

Next thing is comfort: you can be sweating and be comfortable. But if your sweating makes you uncomfortable that will lower your enjoyment and possibly lead to mentally induced fatigue. Rethink the way you dress. Invest in wicking base layer, avoid cotton, etc. Yes! Wool is the best for winter riding!

Does the sweating lead to physical discomfort, skin rash, etc? Again, that will cause fatigue.

Other things to consider: as others mentioned already, keep your tires pumped up hard and keep your bike in a good shape so it rolls easier, make sure you have proper riding position. Get rid of the dynamo and get battery powered lights.

Get regular, good sleep. Yeah, I know that's not always easy these days, but do your best.

Keep in mind that most people find it more difficult and harder to ride in very cold weather, that's also normal. Your body needs extra energy to keep warm, breathing cold air is hard and unpleasant too.

Pace yourself. Start slow and easy, let your body warm up, let your hart and breathing rate increase gradually and start pumping extra oxygen to your muscles. If you start pushing yourself too quickly you will "crash and burn" and won't be able to recover without extended rest period.

Don't eat right before riding. Give yourself at least 30 minutes after your meal before riding, the more the better. Your body uses extra energy and resources to digest your recent meal and is not ready for heavy physical activity.

Drink water regularly, not just before and during the ride but make it a point to drink water at least once an hour during the day, never let yourself be thirsty. If you're thirsty it's already too late: you're dehydrated. Thirst is a warning signal that your body needs something. Same with hunger: eat before you're really hungry and eat nutritious. You need to pee at least every two hours during your awake period. If it's less then you're not getting enough water. You may not feel any severe dehydration but it may be enough to make you weaker than you should be.

Make sure that biking isn't your only physical activity: do some walking, light running, stretching, weight lifting, maybe a hike or two a month, ride more, ride more, ride more.

Edit: About winter jackets. Ideally you'd get a jacket that is windproof on the front of the body and sleeves but provides some breathability through the sides, back and underarms. If your jacket is completely sealed off without ventilation you will overheat. Of course, the colder it gets the less ventilation you may need. But generally speaking typical winter jackets designed for walking don't work very well for serious cycling.

I hope this helps!

Adam

Last edited by AdamDZ; 12-29-09 at 07:53 PM.
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Old 12-29-09, 07:51 PM
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no1mad 
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Can't help with the fashion, but here's a couple of things to check out:

-Go to the Electronics forum here on BF...Good for answering your lighting questions- dynamo or battery powered.
-Have you thought about converting your bike into an e-bike? Bionx is reputable, but search/ask in the E-bike forum here in BF for more knowledgeable info.

Other than that, I've got nothing.
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