If you're thinking of taking up cycling (I've had a few people e-mail me and tell me that I've inspired them to start!!), I have a tip for you.
I've been taking my bike ride every single day like usual and in the past week or two I've felt like I'm just getting worse at it. Especially this past week I've just felt slow and out of breath after a few minutes and trying to get the full five miles in has been torture. I've actually had to gear back down this week to the old gear that I was riding in when I started because my legs were getting so tired and I've also been struggling to maintain a decent speed.
That has been really discouraging for me because I had been getting so much better and suddenly it's gotten really hard again and has almost stopped being fun.
Then I realized yesterday when I was riding to the park with the kids that my bike seat seemed low. My knees were having to go up a lot higher than they should. I remembered a few weeks ago when I rode with my friend who is a cyclist that she mentioned that my seat was a little low and I'd been meaning to raise it but I never think of it until i'm starting my ride and then I don't want to take the time to do it. I adjusted my seat to the perfect height when I started riding last month and I didn't think it was really that far off.
Shawn has been riding with me this week so this morning I asked him if he would raise my seat up a bit before we left. I expected it to just need to be bumped up slightly, but when I stood next to it and showed him how it needed to hit me about mid hip he had to raise it WAY up! I think as I've been riding over the past two months it has inched slightly down a tiny bit at a time and I haven't noticed it until finally it was way too low. My knees have had to come up so much when I ride that it was tiring me out in the first mile. No wonder the rides have been so hard lately!
So Shawn raised my seat way up to where it's supposed to be and it was a GIGANTIC difference! It was like night and day. I went from tiring out in the first mile to flying through the park. I even hit 14mph for a short burst, which I've never done. It was still a great workout and my heart was pumping, but it was pumping because I was going fast and working efficiently, not because I was overriding my legs and burning myself out. I was able to gear back up to where I was before and I finished the five miles feeling invigorated instead of exhausted like I have been all week.
What a relief! I have been discouraged this week feeling like I was never going to improve and it was all because my bike seat was too low. Now that it's back up to where it's supposed to be I'm doing better than ever.
So if you're just starting out riding your bike, make sure your bike seat is adjusted to the correct height. It should hit you about mid hip when you're standing next to it, and when you sit down your knee should have just a slight bend in it when your foot is on the lower pedal. If you're having to work your legs really hard and your knees are going way up when you ride, your seat is probably too low and not only is that bad for your knees, you'll wear yourself out really fast.
So now that I'm sitting like I should, I'm back to loving my bike. What a relief!