Reflection On The Past Before Starting This Year’s Biking Season.

Marc’s Trek Navigator 400 allows a comfortable, upright riding position. A fat seat helps.

With gyms closed to Covid, way back in August 2020, I started riding my bicycle five days a week as a way to get ready for the ski season. I live in North Texas where the terrain is relatively flat. We don’t have hills or mountains, we have rises. I also decided to ride on neighborhood streets because there are crazy people driving while reading and sending texts and emails.

Arbitrarily, my initial goal was to ride 15-20 miles a day, four to five times a week at a steady speed of around 10 miles an hour. My Trek Navigator 400 has three ranges and eight speeds within each range.

My road cycling career began back in the fifties on a Raleigh bike with three speeds which we upgraded to six. Back then, I was a 13-year-old member of an Air Explorer troop in Germany. We-our scout masters, parents and us scouts- decided to take a long-distance bike trip during the summer.

Several conditioning/trial trips later, we took the train from Frankfurt to Calais, the ferry to Dover and another train to London. Four days later, we took the Tube to Watford and headed out to the youth hostel in Stratford-on-Avon. Six weeks later, we were back in London after having visited more castles and churches than I can remember.

There were other bike trips in the following two summers, and, from them, I learned three important facts about biking. One, the youth hostel or inn where we were staying was always upwind at the top of the highest hill in the area.

Two, one can ride farther than one thinks. Back then as an Air Explorer, we tried to do 50-75 miles a day, depending on the terrain. Where it was relatively flat, 75 miles in a day was a no brainer. Hills and rises, well, that’s different

Three, bike seats are uncomfortable.

Fast forward six plus decades and after seven months of biking, the lessons learned have not changed. My house/destination is at the highest point in the neighborhood and on the last mile or two, whatever wind is blowing, it is in my face.

When I started, I could barely ride eight miles.  I’d ride remembering some of the tougher legs on those three trips. When this post was sent, weather permitting, 12 miles per day, four to five days a week is the norm. Going father is more about time available than fatigue. At an average of roughly 10.6 mph, 12 miles takes an hour and 10 minutes. Twenty miles would take close to two hours which is more time than I want to spend pedaling since I have other things to do, like write books and magazine articles.

And guess what, even with a wider, padded seat on my bike, after 12 miles, my butt still hurts!

The latest from Marc’s bike app: Map My Ride.

7 Comments

  1. Avatar Bruce Boeder says:

    Do you wear padded bike shorts?
    I learned long ago that a pair of good bike shorts works wonders for avoiding the dread sore butt. To avoid looking like a bike geek I wear a regular pair of shorts or even pants over them

  2. There’s a joke among cyclists about ‘hardening your ass.’ It’s actually somewhat true. But even saddle time can’t make up for a bad seat fit. And that is REALLY individual. I stumbled on a Trek saddle which, for reasons that make no anatomical sense, are wider in the men’s model than the women’s. So I got the men’s and it’s perfect. Also, well, women have more padding. Men do seem to have more problems finding the right fit. Anyway Marc, do try a couple of different saddles. Most reputable bike shops (at least in Before Times) would let you do a trial run.

  3. Oh, an addition…wineries, like youth hostels, are ALWAYS on top of a hill, a rise, a mountain. Apparently it turns out that’s on purpose…something about water flow for the vineyard.

    • yeah, yeah, yeah. But after riding 50 – 70 miles with saddle bags and a back pack that have 25# of clothes, when it is into the wind, it still makes for a tiring end to a great day!

  4. Avatar Peter Doucette says:

    Marc, unclear what you went to the gym to do Pre-Covid but now that everything in Texas seems to back open, I suggest you take a spin class at the gym led by someone who can properly instruct you on how to properly position yourself on a bike and can instruct you on proper bike riding technique. As a certified ski instructor I am sure you have met people who say they know how to ski but either have the wrong equipment relative to their real abilities or whose skiing technique leaves much to be desired relative to their actually enjoying the sport. The same applies to bicycling. Just because you can ride a bike doesn’t automatically mean you know how to bicycle properly which may be a large part of why your backside hurts. I would second the comments made by other commentators to get a pair of padded bicycle shorts/pants. They do help and come in so many different styles that you don’t need to worry about looking like a geek. Finally, if your finances allow and exercise time is truly limited, consider getting one of these stationary bikes with a video screen (Peleton is the known name but their are others). The rides on this equipment will be a lot more interesting than a boring tour of your subdivision.

  5. Peter,
    Thanx for the suggestion… I wouldn’t go into a gym for all the money in the world at the current time. Too many people I don’t know who are may or not be carrying covid or some other bug. I don’t know where their hands have been and my wife is a diabetic who takes insulin. If she gets covid, the morbidity rate is really ugly so I am extra careful. We’re not going to let up until we are sure the risk has come down. Many stores in Texas, or at least in our area are still requiring masks.

    And yes, I had a bike shop properly adjust my seat and handle bars. I do wear a pair of padded shorts which help, but I have a bony butt without much natural padding. We don’t have the space in the house for a Peleton or one of their competitors. My exercise time is limited by choice and/or speaking commitments and/or volunteer commitments. I find that 1.5 hours on a bike after walking about an hour with my dog is more than enough for me. I’d much rather be outside and I ride in the neighborhood primarily for safety. Not many cars and they are for the most part, going slow looking for kids, except the moms who have to get on the cell phone as soon as they pull out of the garage.

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