Can’t even cycle around the block, am I doing something wrong?

Hey! So I bought a bicycle in the fall and I’m from Canada so I haven’t been able to cycle with it yet because I didn’t think starting in the snow would be ideal haha. So anyway, snow is gone (until Saturday anyway) so I pulled out my bike to give it a go! I adjusted the seat and handlebars by watching a million YouTube videos, then set out. I set it to the easiest resistance/gear or whatever and decided to zip around the block to see how it went. I got about half a block from my house and my legs were just killing me, behind the knees, like tendon or muscle pain I think I had to stop and walk it home! It wasn’t a hilly area or anything. Just flat. I’m not super fit but I mean, I’m 5’3” female 165lbs and I workout for an hour and a half six days a week, including 5k runs, so surely, I should be able to make it around my block which is only about half a kilometer or if you’re American, about a third of a mile. What do you guys think? Do I just need to keep practicing or does it sound like I might have something set wrong?

Replies

  • moonangel12
    moonangel12 Posts: 971 Member
    How fast were you pedaling as you went? I would look at your cadence, how quickly the pedals are going around. I have seen people in town pedaling like mad on flat ground when shifting a few gears would make it easier... learning how and when to shift gears has a slight learning curve but will help tremendously.
  • puffbrat
    puffbrat Posts: 2,806 Member
    How fast were you pedaling as you went? I would look at your cadence, how quickly the pedals are going around. I have seen people in town pedaling like mad on flat ground when shifting a few gears would make it easier... learning how and when to shift gears has a slight learning curve but will help tremendously.

    This. I wonder if you actually had the gears set for so little resistance that you were doing way too much work for little progress.
  • deannalfisher
    deannalfisher Posts: 5,601 Member
    Behind knee for me also might be seat too low
  • moonangel12
    moonangel12 Posts: 971 Member
    Behind knee for me also might be seat too low
    That was my other thinking... a lot of people adjust based on being stable while stopped and still seated when really you are supposed to start out unseated and hop up as you get moving (takes a little coordination, but soon second nature... my kiddos have a problem with forgetting to hop down when they stop and falling over when they try to put their feet down :D ).

  • Machka9
    Machka9 Posts: 21,108 Member
    edited March 2020
    tarisa01 wrote: »
    Hey! So I bought a bicycle in the fall and I’m from Canada so I haven’t been able to cycle with it yet because I didn’t think starting in the snow would be ideal haha. So anyway, snow is gone (until Saturday anyway) so I pulled out my bike to give it a go! I adjusted the seat and handlebars by watching a million YouTube videos, then set out. I set it to the easiest resistance/gear or whatever and decided to zip around the block to see how it went. I got about half a block from my house and my legs were just killing me, behind the knees, like tendon or muscle pain I think I had to stop and walk it home! It wasn’t a hilly area or anything. Just flat. I’m not super fit but I mean, I’m 5’3” female 165lbs and I workout for an hour and a half six days a week, including 5k runs, so surely, I should be able to make it around my block which is only about half a kilometer or if you’re American, about a third of a mile. What do you guys think? Do I just need to keep practicing or does it sound like I might have something set wrong?

    Can you post a photo of you standing next to your bicycle?

    Also, the easiest gear probably isn't the best choice.
  • NorthCascades
    NorthCascades Posts: 10,903 Member
    Saddle height is wrong, check for and aft too. It shouldn't give you tendon kind of pain. If it really is a tendon hurting, it will get much worse if you try to push through.
  • mjbnj0001
    mjbnj0001 Posts: 994 Member
    edited March 2020
    puffbrat wrote: »
    How fast were you pedaling as you went? I would look at your cadence, how quickly the pedals are going around. I have seen people in town pedaling like mad on flat ground when shifting a few gears would make it easier... learning how and when to shift gears has a slight learning curve but will help tremendously.

    This. I wonder if you actually had the gears set for so little resistance that you were doing way too much work for little progress.

    my first thought also. might be pedaling like mad. better to set to a more medium gear and try from there - shift if too hard or too easy.

    seat adjustment: have someone hold the bike for you while you are on it and test your leg extension and confirm your positioning.

    check your foot positioning and alignment. you'll find pics online/youtube/etc.

    i don't know where you are in canada (i'm in nj usa), but i'm heading to ottawa this weekend to see my daughter (no bike this trip). ottawa and gatineau area have a lot of bike support (shops, clubs [for instance ottawa bicycle club on facebook]), you might need only a simple setup and beginner's orientation session. frankly there's too little information in your post to have any serious response on advice beyond generalities. if you think it is a bike issue, you might have a local velofix service (that's a canadian franchise) that can come to you if needed or preferred. as my docs have said, "pain isn't normal," so, better check with yours to be sure you don't have an underlying skeletomuscular issue you might not be noticing otherwise. even though you have baseline fitness in one or several modes of activity, this is new to you, ease into it. soon, with the warmer weather, you could be flying down the path/trail/road. good luck and hoping a quick fix will do it for you.


  • sijomial
    sijomial Posts: 19,620 Member
    The lowest gear is clearly wrong as that's for steep hills.
    Use the correct gears so that you are neither whizzing your legs round or grinding away at very low cadence.

    You mention "resistance" which suggests to me you might have used an exercise bike in the gym.
    As you can run 5k it's not a fitness issue - I presume you can also use an exercise bike for 30 minutes at similar intensity to your runs?
  • Onedaywriter
    Onedaywriter Posts: 313 Member
    Several things might be happening.
    - as mentioned already - with gears set too low, you have to pedal too quickly to keep moving. This can wear you out fast.
    - Setup is likely wrong. There should be a very slight bend in your knee at the bottom of the pedal stroke.
    - Even with the adjustments of handlebars and seat way off, this shouldn’t happen so quickly. BUT if you’re using the wrong part of your foot that’s another issue. Be sure the ball of your foor contacts the pedal. A lot of times in the gym I see people trying to use stationary bikes with the heel or mid-foot. Above adjustments should be made in this position.
    - air in the tires. I literally fill my tires before every ride. My road bike can lose like 20psi or pressure over a few days. Maybe it’s as simple as tire pressure which makes a huge difference. Be sure to fill to near the upper limit in the tire. I usually go even a little above that as I’m big and don’t like tire resistance.
    - Try to take weight off the back foot during pedal stroke. If you’re pushing down with both feet they are fighting each other.

    I love cycling and it’s a great way to get exercise and fun at the same time!!
    Good luck!!
  • lorrpb
    lorrpb Posts: 11,465 Member
    Something is set wrong. Do you have it set to the easiest gear or the hardest gear? Best to start out in the middle. Go to your local BIKE shop (not big box store) and have them check the fit and components. The brakes could be dragging, deraullier malfunctioning, stuck cable somewhere, lots of things. I'd be pretty sure the problem is with the bike, not you!
  • NorthCascades
    NorthCascades Posts: 10,903 Member
    Using the easiest gear when you're not supposed to won't cause the kind of pain that makes you think something isn't right. It'll be more tiring than necessary, but it won't make you feel like you're injuring yourself.
  • bglasthal
    bglasthal Posts: 3 Member
    I recently got back into biking as my main form of fitness in much the same place as you. When I first got my bike I was like "I got this, I'll go out a couple miles and come back to warm up" and immediately hit a wall at like a quarter of that. The big things I can say from my experience since then (been a few months) are this:
    1. Don't let it get you down. I know that's hard sometimes, but the thing is its a really different muscle group from what your body normally does. I could walk a couple miles and be tired but not hurting as much, and its because you use those groups every day even if not going far every day
    2. Stretch, even more than you think. Stretching is good before any workout or physical activity at any time, but its super critical for biking, especially when you're not as experienced with it. As time progresses you'll be able to do more, like around the block, without stretching, but when starting back up doing some squats, lunges, etc. will also put some strain on you but also loosen those muscle groups a lot to prep for the ride
    3. Understand that you're going to need to push yourself a little. Its a hard thing to get past because your brain will be concerned you're over doing it because you're not used to it, and that will be partially true. Your brain shouldn't be over-ignored, but the other day I did my longest ride to date because I got a little bit out, and my brain was trying to tell me this is far and I should stop, but I made myself go further and honestly I wasn't any extra sore from. Even though there were more and steeper inclines on that path. Your brain means well, but sometimes it is the part that wants you to stay on the couch talking and its hard to tell.
    4. Try and find a large mostly flat area. I tried to ride up a bridge that is a steep incline near me that first ride. That was super dumb. To get there I went through some trails that were varied elevation. Also dumb. You could/should be able to handle inclines with a good bike with a good gear range in concept. But if you are just trying to get going the flatter the better for the aforementioned muscle groups you need to start stretching.
  • awinner_au
    awinner_au Posts: 249 Member
    Here is a good article about adjusting seat height.

    https://www.bicycling.com/training/a20020906/why-do-my-knees-hurt/