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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I know, a strange question! I just started cycling about 3 weeks ago with my typical ride being around my hilly neighborhood for about 7 to 10 miles. My longest ride is 21 miles around the hilly neighborhoods I grew up in as a youngster.

I've been just a little sore in my left hip but that went away quickly.

The only place that seems to stay sore is my lower quadriceps...2 to 3 inches above my knees.

If I'm cycling correctly, where should I be sore after a long ride?

It seems like after a long ride (at least long for me) of 21 miles my calf muscles might be at least slightly sore. When I see cyclist riding it seems like they have huge calf muscles as well so I figured mine would be sore...but I didn't feel any soreness at all except in my lower quads.

Should I be also feeling soreness in my upper quads?

I try to pay attention to how my legs moved as I rode today and it doesn't even feel like my calf muscles are being stretched as I ride...almost like all my pushing is done with my toes and forefoot without much use for the calf. I tried forcing my heels down just a little as I rode (ie: with my calf muscles stretched just a bit) but it felt unnatural.

Thanks for the help.

TripleB
 

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Sore quads are common, but if you are sore 2-3 inches above the knees, it could be quadricep tendonitis. Obviously, a clinical diagnosis can't be made in this type of forum, so if you are super concerned, you will either want to take a break from cycling, or see a medical provider. I mention this because you're getting close to the transition point between acute and chronic phases. Once you have chronic tendonitis, it takes a lot longer to heal.

As an aside, have you been fitted? A proper bike fitting costs money, but could be a worthwhile investment.
 

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I'll keep it simple, since other are sure to come along and make it not so simple. :)

A good bike fit is never a bad thing when starting out. 90% of the time 5 minutes of set up from a good shop will do enough, but the other 10% of the time a full on bike fit by someone who does it for pay will catch things that the standard shop methods won't.

Ignore your lower legs. Focus on keeping your knees from flopping outboard as you pedal, especially as you get a bit tired later in the ride. I see this all the time from casual cyclists, and younger "serious" cyclists. Bad for the knees, for pretty obvious reasons.

Your saddle might be a bit too low. Maybe. You also might have legs of different length. But while those MAY be in play...

You are very likely pushing too hard too soon. My standard advice for new riders is this: ride flat rides, stay out of the big ring, for your first month. Work your way up to a bit faster pace over that month. Then start to work 2 harder rides in each week (big ring fast, or hills).

So... keep to flat rides, no hills, and see if the pain fades. Sit, spin, avoid standing for more than a few seconds. Use lower gears and spin faster cadence. Stay out of your big ring for a month. If you must ride hills, ride the most gentle hills you can in a VERY low gear, and try to spin at 90rpm when you do... that will keep the stresses on your knees to a minimum. If the pain fades, you were over working things. If it does not, you have other causes in play.

Good luck!
 

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...try to spin at 90 rpm...
You see this piece of advice pitched to beginning road riders all the time. But it should be followed by the caveat that spinning at 90 rpm for any length of time doesn't come easy. It takes months (or even years for some) before 90 rpm feels natural. Point being to the beginning road rider who wants get faster: don't get discouraged if 90 rpm feels like a bad joke to you at first.
 

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......or see a medical provider.
If you go this route, make sure you see a doc who specializes in sports medicine. Otherwise, you will most likely be told something like "You're not Lance Armstrong".

A good sports medicine doc will most likely send you to PT who will Rx some exercises to do at home. While biking is excellent exercise, it is very limited as far as the sets of muscles it exercises. This can throw you body off balance. A couple of years ago, I was having some knee pains. Since I was not very flexible, they Rx-ed me some stretching as well as some strengthening exercises to do at home which helped tremendously.

As an aside, have you been fitted? A proper bike fitting costs money, but could be a worthwhile investment.
This x 1,000!!!!!!
 

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I'll keep it simple, since other are sure to come along and make it not so simple. :)

A good bike fit is never a bad thing when starting out. 90% of the time 5 minutes of set up from a good shop will do enough, but the other 10% of the time a full on bike fit by someone who does it for pay will catch things that the standard shop methods won't.

Ignore your lower legs. Focus on keeping your knees from flopping outboard as you pedal, especially as you get a bit tired later in the ride. I see this all the time from casual cyclists, and younger "serious" cyclists. Bad for the knees, for pretty obvious reasons.

Your saddle might be a bit too low. Maybe. You also might have legs of different length. But while those MAY be in play...

You are very likely pushing too hard too soon. My standard advice for new riders is this: ride flat rides, stay out of the big ring, for your first month. Work your way up to a bit faster pace over that month. Then start to work 2 harder rides in each week (big ring fast, or hills).

So... keep to flat rides, no hills, and see if the pain fades. Sit, spin, avoid standing for more than a few seconds. Use lower gears and spin faster cadence. Stay out of your big ring for a month. If you must ride hills, ride the most gentle hills you can in a VERY low gear, and try to spin at 90rpm when you do... that will keep the stresses on your knees to a minimum. If the pain fades, you were over working things. If it does not, you have other causes in play.

Good luck!
This is great advice, all of it. OP, didn't you mention getting a new road bike in another thread? If my memory serves me, and it may well not, get a proper fit done on the new ride. Get the saddle height dialed in and the cleat alignment... They will be huge pieces of the hurt puzzle. Until then, keep it light and easy as suggested above.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Ignore your lower legs. Focus on keeping your knees from flopping outboard as you pedal, especially as you get a bit tired later in the ride. I see this all the time from casual cyclists, and younger "serious" cyclists. Bad for the knees, for pretty obvious reasons.

Your saddle might be a bit too low. Maybe. You also might have legs of different length. But while those MAY be in play...

You are very likely pushing too hard too soon. My standard advice for new riders is this: ride flat rides, stay out of the big ring, for your first month. Work your way up to a bit faster pace over that month. Then start to work 2 harder rides in each week (big ring fast, or hills).

Stay out of your big ring for a month. If you must ride hills, ride the most gentle hills you can in a VERY low gear, and try to spin at 90rpm when you do... that will keep the stresses on your knees to a minimum.

Good luck!

THANK YOU!!! INCREDIBLE ADVICE TRIPLEQ...YOU WERE SPOT ON!!!


You were right, my knees did tend to want to 'flail' out to the side when I pedaled. So my matra today was "Knees In Push - Knees In Push - Knees In Push". I did feel like I got more power per pedal but it also felt harder to pedal...I think I was using muscles that I haven't really been using for the last three weeks of riding.

After twenty miles in your second point finally hit me. I raised my seat about an inch and that seemed to make things a bit easier. Still my knees were wanting to flail out a little and I noticed my legs really weren't near being straight at the bottom so I hoped off and raised the seat another 1.5 inches or so....this seems perfect...slight bend at the bottom, more power per pedal, and knees don't seem to want to fly out to the side as much!!!

You're also probably right about pushing too hard too soon. Although most of the area where I ride is pretty hilly I tried to stay on the flatter portions a little more today. I try to keep my weekly rides around my neighborhood between 5 and 10 miles and then one long ride on the weekends...21 miles last weekend and 30 miles today. As far as gearing I've been staying in 2 on my triple then only adjusting the rear from 1 to 7 as needed.

I've got to work on the 90 rpm....when I feel I'm reaching that goal it seems incredibly fast...really need to work on building up so I can sustain that.

Again, I appreciate your advice...it was exactly what I was needing!!!

TripleB
 

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THANK YOU!!! INCREDIBLE ADVICE TRIPLEQ...YOU WERE SPOT ON!!!


You were right, my knees did tend to want to 'flail' out to the side when I pedaled. So my matra today was "Knees In Push - Knees In Push - Knees In Push". I did feel like I got more power per pedal but it also felt harder to pedal...I think I was using muscles that I haven't really been using for the last three weeks of riding.

After twenty miles in your second point finally hit me. I raised my seat about an inch and that seemed to make things a bit easier. Still my knees were wanting to flail out a little and I noticed my legs really weren't near being straight at the bottom so I hoped off and raised the seat another 1.5 inches or so....this seems perfect...slight bend at the bottom, more power per pedal, and knees don't seem to want to fly out to the side as much!!!

You're also probably right about pushing too hard too soon. Although most of the area where I ride is pretty hilly I tried to stay on the flatter portions a little more today. I try to keep my weekly rides around my neighborhood between 5 and 10 miles and then one long ride on the weekends...21 miles last weekend and 30 miles today. As far as gearing I've been staying in 2 on my triple then only adjusting the rear from 1 to 7 as needed.

I've got to work on the 90 rpm....when I feel I'm reaching that goal it seems incredibly fast...really need to work on building up so I can sustain that.

Again, I appreciate your advice...it was exactly what I was needing!!!

TripleB
Careful about raising your saddle too much, though it doesn't sounds like you're there yet. If your saddle is too high, your hips will rock and you may feel pain BEHIND your knees. Ideally, your knee should be bent 20 degrees at the bottom of your pedal stroke.

Another thing you should check is your saddle fore/aft position. If your saddle is too far forward, this can cause knee issues. A good place to start is when your pedal is at 3 o'clock, the front of your knee (patella) should be slightly behind the pedal spindle. This can be checked with a level or a plumb line. Of course, moving your saddle back will make you further away from the handlebars. If this is a problem, you will need a shorter stem.

The 90rpm cadence is a good guideline for climbing or power flats. Soft pedaling can be a slower cadence. Think of your car's transmission. When you put the pedal down to the floor, it downshifts, when you let up on the accelerator, it shifts up again since the load is lighter. You should be doing the same thing on the bike.

Staying in the 2nd ring while on the flats is fine, but don't be afraid to downshift to that 1st ring on your triple to keep your hill climbing cadence up. You want to downshift to the 1st ring when you see that hill, not once your lugging up it. And you want to downshift to the 1st ring before you're in the 1st cog in the rear. In my experience, triples have a tendency to drop the chain if you downshift from 2 to 1 in front while in 1 in the rear.
 

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I'll keep it simple, since other are sure to come along and make it not so simple. :)

A good bike fit is never a bad thing when starting out. 90% of the time 5 minutes of set up from a good shop will do enough, but the other 10% of the time a full on bike fit by someone who does it for pay will catch things that the standard shop methods won't.

Ignore your lower legs. Focus on keeping your knees from flopping outboard as you pedal, especially as you get a bit tired later in the ride. I see this all the time from casual cyclists, and younger "serious" cyclists. Bad for the knees, for pretty obvious reasons.

Your saddle might be a bit too low. Maybe. You also might have legs of different length. But while those MAY be in play...

You are very likely pushing too hard too soon. My standard advice for new riders is this: ride flat rides, stay out of the big ring, for your first month. Work your way up to a bit faster pace over that month. Then start to work 2 harder rides in each week (big ring fast, or hills).

So... keep to flat rides, no hills, and see if the pain fades. Sit, spin, avoid standing for more than a few seconds. Use lower gears and spin faster cadence. Stay out of your big ring for a month. If you must ride hills, ride the most gentle hills you can in a VERY low gear, and try to spin at 90rpm when you do... that will keep the stresses on your knees to a minimum. If the pain fades, you were over working things. If it does not, you have other causes in play.

Good luck!
I agree with wim on the cadence issue (I'd think more 'range' than a fixed number), but other than that, this post touches on all the important points. I suggest the OP pay heed, especially on the fitting.

Odds are, 'winging it' won't get you dialed in like a reputable fitter will.
 

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THANK YOU!!! INCREDIBLE ADVICE TRIPLEQ...YOU WERE SPOT ON!!!

You're welcome. I'm glad you tried some things and they seemed to work.

Keep in mind feeling better on one ride does not mean you are right yet, or that you are not wrong in a different way than you were. Cycling involves a lot of repetition, so even very small issues can build over time, as you have learned already.

But better is better than worse! :thumbsup:
 

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Odds are, 'winging it' won't get you dialed in like a reputable fitter will.
Well, "winging it" isn't what it used to be. First hit on google for bike fit guide is this: BikeFit - Road Bikes

(tl;dr, but quick skim and it looks pretty comprehensive)

Still, I don't think newbies are always well served by giving them every bit of knowledge and advice right off the bat. Usually a few rules of thumb are enough, and less intimidating. YMMV, but keep in mind the path of the learner is not the path of the knower. So, if I were to suggest that above link for a pain complaint, I would probably tell a new rider to scroll down almost to the bottom and look at table 1.

Then I would let them "discover" the rest of the page from that, if they were so inclined.

Or, you know, I might wait until they had tried some rules of thumb, and then drop a link into a reply to someone else. Were I tricksy like that, which of course I am not.
 

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It's been said much already, and +1,000,000 to agreement: GET A FIT! A good fit will fix those knees going out and in with proper inserts, saddle and cleat position. You'll immediately ride faster, and more comfortably.
The $300 I spent on my professional fit was the best performance upgrade I've done on my road bike.
 

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The $300 I spent on my professional fit was the best performance upgrade I've done on my road bike.
It can be, in some cases.

But this is a beginner's forum. When people are spending 300 or 500 on a bike, such a comprehensive professional fit is a big ask. Even with a grand on a bike, 300 is a significant chunk of change, percentage wise.

I am quite sure that a professional fit would be money wasted for me, btw.
 
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