Photo of Starting out

OK I'm going to assume that you actually know how to ride a bike, or at least did at some point in your life, and are looking to restart the hobby...preferably without stabilisers!

It is often said that cycling doesn't get easier with time - you go faster but still suffer just as much. This is especially true of hills. But every rule has an exception.

When you first start cycling (or take the sport up again after many years) the first few rides can be very demotivating, and many potential cyclists will decide at this stage that cycling isn't for them. So what should you expect when you first come back to cycling

You've bought your new bike, you've read about average speeds and typical distances that cyclists ride for, people at work tell you they ride 15 miles to work every morning...

...and then you find that you can only manage three miles at slow speed before you are completely worn out...and if there happens to be a hill in that three miles you might have to push up it.

It's not hard to see why this puts cyclists off, but for many (most?) people it's a completely normal phase in cycling. The first few outings after years without exercise can often be extremely difficult. There is a price to pay for all those years of over-indulging and under-exercising!

The important thing is to recognise that this is quite normal, and that you will make dramatic improvements very quickly if you stick at it. Within a very few weeks your legs and body will be more accustomed to riding the bike and you will look back at those first few rides with amazement at how little you could do.

When I restarted cycling after many years I was pleased that after a couple of weeks I could ride 15km (pretty slowly) and thought I was doing pretty well. Then I happened to be talking to someone at a party, about 50 years old, who said his 'normal' ride was 50 miles in three hours, that he did a couple of times a week.

On asking around it quickly turned out that was pretty normal, and my own riding was not very impressive, and with that new goal I set out to do better. It took perhaps a year until I could do that same distance and speed and a couple of years later I was very pleased when I rode faster in a local event than the person who had got me started

But I still remember very well those first few rides, the need to lie down when I got back from a short ride because my legs hurt so much, the long recovery time...but it didn't last long, and although I still suffer often enough it is 'controlled suffering' now and never that horrible 'I just can't go on' pain of those first trips out. Stick with it for those first difficult weeks and cycling will bring you a lifetime of pleasure.

Did you suffer when you started? Tell us about your first experience in the comments below - it's a big help to new cyclists to hear other people's stories of hardship!