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Due to a car accident and the extended time insurance has taken to get my car handled, I pulled my fixie out of the garage and started riding it to my university mon-fri; it's about a 15 mile round trip, no hills. I have been doin this ride for 3 weeks now and my legs are still significantly sore from the ride every day. When I am riding, there are no issues with my legs or stamina or anything, but lets say I am standing and I keep my leg straight and try to lift it; at about 45 degrees the top part of my leg where it meets the hip/pelvis there is pain and I cant really lift it any higher. Is there a certain point where after having done this ride 5 days a week for a given number of weeks that I will not have this issue anymore? If anyone knows any stretches for cycling too that they would like to suggest, that would be appreciated too.

For profiling on this issue I am 5'5", 120lbs, and have been significantly inactive for the past year as a university student (literally spend the large majority of my time sitting in a chair).

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Starting with 15 miles a day is difficult. You should ramp it up from lower mileages (maybe start with 5 miles a day or something) and take rest days. You may also want to use a bike with a freewheel and/or multiple speeds. –  Batman Apr 24 at 2:21
    
What Batman said. You're doing a demanding commute for someone who's been inactive, sitting in a chair for a year. And riding a fixed gear just makes it worse. It's no surprise you've injured yourself a bit. You need to step back a bit and find a reasonable training plan. –  Carey Gregory Apr 24 at 5:28
    
If there's no other way to get to university, tough it out. Take the weekends off and you should be fine after a couple of weeks. Also think about smaller chainring/bigger cog for the beginning. If it's one of them hipster fixies, you probably have 50/15 or something which is far too large for a "beginner" –  arne Apr 24 at 6:00
    
@arne I believe the cog on my rear wheel has 15 teeth and I know that one rotation of my pedals is exactly 3 turns of my wheel so I want to assume that the chainring has 45 teeth, but not 100% sure about that count. I was reading a bit online, and it seems like the pain I have is of my hip flexor and a likely cause is strain from pulling up on the clips when slowing down and such. –  Alex Apr 24 at 6:36
    
A ratio of 3 is rather large, especially for longer commutes. I currently ride 50/18, which is 2.63 and it's already quite hard to keep the pedaling frequency in the ideal range. Also: get brakes on your bike and use them, although it may not be as cool. Saves you from all kinds of muscle/joint and car contact problems. –  arne Apr 24 at 6:51

3 Answers 3

up vote 5 down vote accepted

First off, I assume when you say "fixie" it is a pure fixed-gear bike? It's not a flip-flop (where the wheel can accommodate a fixed cog on one side and a freewheel on the other)?

If it is a flip-flop, you'll find it easier to ride single speed rather than fixed.

Second, I agree with much of what @Arne has said in your comments. From these you say you're riding 45x15 - I think one of the beauties of fixies is that they're easy to work on, and you can easily buy cogs with more than 15 teeth. Similarly, but a bit more expensive, you can easily buy a chainring with fewer than 45 teeth. Either of these (or both of them) will make your ride easier (and therefore ease on your muscles).

A site I like is Velosolo, not so much because they have great prices or anything (although I have bought from them and it was a good experience), but they have a good selection of single-speed/fixed-gear parts, so you can evaluate what your options are.

But make sure you keep your current parts as you'll likely want to put them back on the bike in a month or so.

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If you can, try taking a bus or carpooling or something on Wednesday, to give you a midweek recovery day— muscles need a chance to recover to strengthen. If you don't have a transportation alternative, try leaving some extra time and taking it easy on the ride.

Your gear ratio is indeed very high, as well: 45-15 is around 80 gear inches. I'm a daily 13-mile RT commuter on a fixed gear (including a ~150ft climb), and I just moved down from ~80 gear inches to 75 gear inches for comfort, despite being an experienced cyclist and hillclimber.

Presuming you have a flip-flop hub, I would buy a 17T freewheel for an easier ride, at least until you get stronger. That'd give you 70 gear inches, which would be around 15% less effort, and you'd be able to coast.

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Soreness should already have started to fade. Are there any sprints in your ride, or lots of re-starts? The answers focusing on the bicycle are far better than I can come up with, and the suggestions of taking rest days to allow muscle recovery are good. Addressing the body more specifically, do you have breakfast before you ride? At least 200 calories of junk carbohydrates (rolls, sweet cereal), an hour before you ride will help your muscles perform with the least unpleasant recovery pain. Protein soon after the ride will help build the muscle. Light range-of-motion swinging of the legs similar to the test you described that hurt at 45 degrees, on recovery-days will keep circulation developing on days the muscle is rebuilding, reducing the chemical soreness overall. Check with a fitness reference that you trust for more info.

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