Week 4 – from couch to commuter cyclist in 6 weeks

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March 7, 2013 2

Congratulations on making it to week 4! I am super proud of you and hope you are starting to feel a bit more relaxed on your bike.

Bit by bit, you will feel more comfortable and more relaxed. It just takes a little time and spending that time in the saddle.

This week’s entire objective is to get comfortable riding out of the saddle.


Now no one is asking you to scream up hills like those boofheads do in the Tour de France!

Last week I asked you to just try getting up from the saddle and trying a few pedals and sitting down again.

This week we are going to take it a step further.

Find a small hill and as you start up the hill, make sure you are in a bigger gear. Get up out of the saddle, lean your weight forward on your handlebars and notice how it’s different going up the hill out of the saddle. It’s also hard work!

In fact, cycling up a hill sitting in the saddle is actually the more efficient way to get up the hill but as you get stronger and more confident, you will notice you are more capable of riding up a hill out of the saddle.

Try going up and down a gentle hill several times.

Notice how as you move up the hill out of the saddle, you start to get a bit of a rhythm as you are working your legs and your body naturally starts to move a bit left and right as you go.

If at any time this feels scary, just go back to the flat and just try standing up again for a few seconds while riding on the flat.

It took me quite a while to feel comfortable getting out of the saddle and riding up a hill. And lots of the time, even now, I still stay seated going up hills and there is nothing wrong with that.

Getting up a hill also means being in the right gear. As you get to know a hill that your ride repeatedly, you will get to know the best gear to be in. Sometimes you will be in too high a gear and it will be too hard, and other times you will be in too small a gear and you will find it hard to get out of the saddle – as you won’t have the right tension on the bike to do it (does that make sense!!).

I remember one day riding up a steep hill around the back of Rozelle, and half way up the hill I realised it was getting steeper, but I didn’t have the dexterity to shift down a gear! So I literally just stopped, got off and walked up the hill. I felt a bit silly, but hey who cares. It’s all a learning experience.

Next week we will look at cornering, making eye contact with drivers and considering your commuting route. And in the last week we will have a recap on everything.

I will also give you a special week further down the track about how to ride in cleats.

But for this week – just try getting out of the saddle and going up a hill out of the saddle. If you only make it up half the hill or a quarter of the hill, that’s totally cool.

If you get the wobbles on the way up, sit back down. Just start to get the feel of it.

Share your stories!

How is the program going for you? I would love to hear your stories. You can email me info@bikegal.com or find BikeGal.com on facebook and tell me about it.

Using your drink bottle while cycling?

One new cyclist Vera got in touch via email – she’s having trouble being able to eat and drink while cycling. Vera – this is certainly a skill!

Initially try just touching the top of your drink bottle. Whatever you do though, don’t look down. Look ahead and just feel for it – you will get the hang of it. If you cycle somewhere where it’s safe (like a park), you can also try getting the bottle out and drinking, and if you can’t get it back in, throw it to the side and come back for it next lap.

This happened to me once – because I couldn’t get it back in and couldn’t un clip without putting both hands on the handlebars. So I had no choice.

Drinking while cycling is great once you get the hang of it. I generally try to do it on a flat bit of road that I know, so I can keep one hand on the handlebars and drink with the other.

Probably wait until you feel really comfy taking your hands off the handlebars though before attempting to drink.

Got suggestions for how to ride up a hill or drink from your drink bottle while cycling? Please share in the comments below or email me.

Good luck!

Happy cycling,
BikeGal.com x

  • March 08, 2013 at 11:58 pm, Vera said:

    Hi Rachel,
    Guess what?! I decided to do some laps at Centennial Park this morning to practice some of your suggestions. The main thing I want to master first is the drink from my bottle while I’m still pedalling (no stopping) and then I also want to try standing up while riding.

    I’m pleased to say that I managed to pick up my bottle, take a sip and put it back to the cage while I’m still pedalling. I did that at least 4-5 times within the 1 hr of riding. I try to do it with my left and right hand but somehow, I felt more stable when using my left hand. I can take my hands off the handle bar (one at a time not both the same time) fine but somehow it’s more difficult to pick it up from my right hand. I also find it easier to do it when I’m on a higher gear – more stable I guess.

    On the standing up while riding, I still have need more practice! I tried lifting my bump off my seat while coasting first (not pedalling) to get a feel of it and it was ok but as soon as I want to pedal, it got difficult ;-( I lost my confidence and didn’t trust myself to do it. I think it’s a matter of keep trying and practicing and getting more confident on the bike.

    Thanks again for the advice. Looking forward for you next tips =)



    • March 09, 2013 at 12:34 am, Rachael said:

      No way! You must have been cycling while I was cycling there too! I took my Mum out for a ride – she hasn’t ridden in 50 years and she did so well. I’m going to blog about it.

      Yep getting out of the saddle is a bit tricky. Try doing it up a slight hill. I actually found that easier than doing it on the flat – because then you are leaning into the hill if that makes sense. And yep you want to be in a higher gear.

      Well done on getting the bottle out! I can only get mine in and out with my left hand too. I never bothered trying with the other hand.

      Great work, keep it up!
      Rachael x



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