Foreword: Sorry if this seems a bit long-winded.
TL;DR: I can't figure out if there's something wrong with my bike or if I'm just out of shape. What's your opinion?
I got the bright idea to commute to work by bicycle when google maps showed me a 4.1 mile path and said it should only take about 25 minutes by bicycle vs. the 1+ or almost 2 hours it can take by taking public transportation. I live in Brooklyn, NY for reference, commuting between East Flatbush and East New York.
So after considering a bunch of options (electric skateboard, electric scooter, e-bike, e-unicycle, etc), I ultimately settled on a bicycle.
I hadn't ridden a bicycle in years. The last time I rode one was when I was 11. I'm 39 years old now and figured it wouldn't be too hard and I would eventually build up my stamina and leg muscles.
Anyway, I bought the bicycle (plus all the safety gear and lights), a Cinelli Tipo Pista. I would of gotten a Wabi, but there's a bicycle shortage or something like that going on because I guess everyone got the bright idea to use one to avoid public transpo during the pandemic.
I assembled the bike and took it to the park a few times to relearn how to ride. It felt nice and zippy and nothing seemed wrong with it.
After the three times I took the bike to the park, it just sat in a corner in my apartment for a month and a half because I still needed practice before I could start riding in the street next to cars and it's really been too cold here in NYC for cycling. All of the cycling I did in my youth was on the sidewalk.
Eventually, yesterday, there was a brown out at my home while I was sleeping and I woke up late. I had to get to work on time and for some reason, no matter how much I refreshed Uber, they wanted an arm and a leg, which I didn't want to pay. So I took one look at the bicycle sitting in the corner, said "Damnn it all to heck!", grabbed my helmet, and hit the street telling myself "Ain't nothing to it but to do it!".
Long story short, things did NOT go as planned.
I rode to and from work. It took about an hour each way because I got turned around several times after google sent me down sketchy streets I didn't feel comfortable riding on and I just got off my bike and walked it to alternative streets that had less traffic. It was colder coming home than going and despite having thick gloves, I had to stop to put my hands in my pockets to get them to warm up (my toes were really cold and stinging inside my Chuck Taylors by the time I got home).
But what really messed me up is that I found myself, not really out of breath, but unable to continue at times. I would pedal maybe 4 or 5 streets and then my thighs would just start burning and the pedals seemed ridiculously hard to push. It felt like I was "fighting" with the bike. It wasn't at all like when I was in the park where the bike seemed fast and "zippy".
I don't know if it's just that I'm out of shape (my job can be very physical at times so I would like to believe I am at least somewhat fit) or if there's something wrong with my bike.
Here's a list of things I checked:
Tire pressure. I put air in the tires recently, but when I'm on the bike, the back wheel flattens a bit. I read this is normal for road bikes.
Brake pads. The pads are close to the wheels, but I didn't notice them touching while still or in motion.
Chain tension. I did a "spin test" on both the back and front wheel. The front wheel spins for what seems like forever. However, the back wheel only spins for 1 minute and 3 seconds before coming to a stop. I'm not sure if the chain is too tight. I included a photo of the chain in a neutral position compared to when I pull up or down on it against the background of a ruler. Maybe you can judge.
Saddle position and height? I don't know if these would have anything to do with it, but when I said I had to go to the park to "relearn" how to ride a bike, I meant I had to learn riding with a raised saddle. The bike I rode when I was younger was a BMX and the saddle was much lower than the handlebars. I read your saddle height should be such that where your feet don't touch the ground? I have mine raised to just where my toes can reach ground. The saddle is positioned right in the middle. The bike felt comfortable while riding, with the exception of a sore butt. It's the next day, my knees don't hurt, my thighs have only mild soreness that's felt when doing squats, but my butt is still somewhat sore. For reference, I'm 5'6" and 148lbs. and I had a messenger bag on back with all of my work gear/tools which weighed probably about 8lbs. I purchased the smallest size, XS.
5. Gear ratio? I don't know anything about gear ratios except they can determine how hard it is to pedal up hills and how fast you can move on a flat surface? I think my bike's gear ratio is 48/19. It was on the fixed cog when it originally came, but they included a freewheel which I installed because I wanted to be able to coast. It has 19 spokes if I counted correctly. Might this ratio be too "aggressive" for a beginner?
That's about all I can think of.