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Does anyone have advice for someone who is returning to bicycling after a multi month hiatus.

This is my followup question to Bicycle Storage. Before the pandemic, I was biking 20 miles per day every day.

When the pandemic hit, I just stopped. At first, I was doing a few pushups every day. But soon, I just stopped exercising. I did not even leave my house for months. For the last six months, I have been doing basically no exercise (Despite this I have dropped weight because my appetite has gone way down.) I suspect I am just weaker and in poorer shape than I was when all this started.

I would like to resume biking soon. I am planning on starting with a shorter ride and working my way back to 20 mile rides. Are there any other tips or tricks to consider?

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    After a six-months stop I'd worry more about the rust on the bike and the state of tyres and drive-train.
    – Carel
    Sep 26 '20 at 7:27
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Age is a big factor - if you are 20, you probably can get away with going straight into it, if your over 50 (like me), the body is less willing than the mind, much better to take it easy. Some people bounce back fast, others take a bit longer, so there is no way to say what you should do.

Main risk is going too hard, too soon and suffering an injury. Start with short and slow rides, listen to your body, and build up to your 20 miles. Over doing it and injuring yourself means you time to get back to normal capability is significantly increased and inconvenient.

Keeping in mind the age thing, what I would do is something like 5 miles slow, adding 10%-20 per week until your up to 20miles. Mix it up with some short faster rides, increasing speed by 10%-20% effort (not actual speed) per week.

You get do not get fit exercising, you get fit recovering from exercise.

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    I am in my 40s. I just got back from my first pandemic ride. I kept it both slower and shorter; but I am in better shape than I realized. I think I could have gone farther and faster; but easy does it. I can do that tomorrow!
    – emory
    Sep 26 '20 at 14:45
  • The hardest parts were (1) riding with a mask on; and (2) I live in a high rise. Previously I used the elevator but now I carry the bike up and down the stairs - more workout.
    – emory
    Sep 26 '20 at 14:46
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    @emory Skip the mask. Put one on if you need to stop around people, but it isn't necessary out on the road where no one is around. Sep 26 '20 at 17:18
  • @emory yeah... unless it's actually illegal in your country to be outside sans mask, don't do that, it makes no sense – you're orders of magnitude more likely to contribute to spreading by unavoidable indoor activities even with a mask, than by being alone on your bike without a mask. (Case in point, here in Norway, which is doing pretty well compared with most other countries, the authorities recommend masks only in public transport or other situations where keeping 2m physical distance – which is generally more effective than a mask – is impossible.) Sep 26 '20 at 23:28
  • @leftaroundabout I am not sure I understand. I am only indoors when I am at my house. There is no one but family here. None of us goes anywhere indoors except our house. I assume that is one place that is 100% safe. For better or worse, I live in a crowded American city. I do not know if the mask is legally mandated but I can not guarantee the 2m physical distance when outside.
    – emory
    Sep 26 '20 at 23:54
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I had a ~6 week complete lockdown, no exercise other than short dog walks and housework. Before then I'd been commuting 25 km twice a day.

On return to riding, the first day was extra hard and I was very slow. Second day was better but still hard work. After a week I was much improved, though the endurance had dropped off and that has taken months to rebuild.

I'm in my mid-40s, your results may vary.

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When I first read the title I was thinking that you were someone who hadn't biked since they were a kid and wanted to get back into it, but since it's only been since earlier this year I wouldn't worry too much and just jump in. Obviously go easy at first. If you can, raise your handlebars a bit to ease yourself back into your former posture. I've always found that I regain my fitness much quicker than it took to build the first time around.

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Does anyone have advice for someone who is returning to bicycling after a multi month hiatus.

I have advice for someone who is returning to bicycling after a multi year hiatus.

It's easy! I used to ride a road bike 50 kilometers nearly every day. Then I just for some reason stopped bicycling for 7 years. I was already somewhat overweight before the break, and far more overweight after the break. I barely did any exercise during the break. I didn't get rid of my bike, though. The bike was stored outside for some of the years so sunlight degraded its brake lever hoods.

When returning to cycling, the only thing I had to do was to inflate the tires. Initially I couldn't find spare lever hoods so I bought gloves to make the sticky hoods less irritating. Then I managed to find spare levers, and extract the hoods from these spare levers and install them to my existing levers.

On the first day, I rode 2 km.

On the second day, I rode 15 km.

On the third day, I rode 22 km.

Two weeks after starting cycling, I already rode 45 km. I think this qualifies to be your "20 mile long ride".

The only thing you'll notice is that the saddle is uncomfortable. It's not due to the saddle. It's due to the break from cycling. Start gradually. My second and third day indeed hurt quite a lot but after two weeks the saddle pain had went away, using the exact same saddle that was on my bike before the 7-year long break.

Even the old chain oil that was already in the chain lasted 400 km after the break. This is because I use a thick wet thixotropic chain lube. After riding those 400 km and finding the chain a bit noisy due to marginal lubrication, I measured the chain and after finding about 0.5% elongation, decided to change the chain instead of relubricating it.

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My old exercise book from the Canadian Air Force says to start slow and build up. Depending on age they had charts for how long you should take and the levels of effort each week as you regained you full fitness.

Personally I switch to an indoors bike when I cannot ride outside. Also use an indoors treadmill too. And I would have kept riding outside if the weather were good as this covid is an irrational scare for people who are biking every day like you were.

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