I am feeling really good about training lately.  Ironman March is motivating me to seriously mix up my workouts, so I always look forward to exercise.  My muscles hurt in so many new ways, too!  I took yesterday off (Sunday’s back-to-back run and swim did me in), and today, I went to spin class.

photo (13)

While on the bike, I was thinking of these 4 Burning Bike Questions…


Why does my booty hurt so much?  Your butt hurts when you begin riding for several reasons.  First of all, your body just isn’t used to the sensation of being in a bike seat.  You do have to ‘break in’ your butt.  If the following issues are properly addressed, normal butt soreness should cease after a few days of riding.


Your butt may also hurt because 1) your bike or spin bike is not properly fitted and 2) you are not wearing padded bike shorts.  Here’s a great article on proper bike fit.  To me, the most important part of bike fit is making sure your leg is not hyperextended at the bottom of your stroke.  There should be a slight bend, but not a crunching or straining to keep your foot in the pedal.  Regarding bike shorts – they are key.  Sure, they look kind of doofy, but you have to wear padded shorts to ride a bike.  I cringe when I sit behind people in spin and they are in running shorts – OUCH.


I really love my AeroTech Designs shorts.  They were given to me to review on the blog about four years ago, and they have totally stood the test of time + miles.  Plus, AeroTech is a small American business – yay!


Can I train for a triathlon a spin bike?  Yes and no.  “Yes” in the sense that spin class is a pretty decent replication of riding a real bike.  For a sprint triathlon and maybe an Olympic, regular spin classes may be adequate in terms of endurance, muscle preparation, etc.  The key word is adequate!  “No” in the sense that spin class is not a perfect replication of riding a real bike.  Cycling in a triathlon is a lot different than being on a stationary bike.  You are dodging people and obstacles.  You encounter (real) hills and – most importantly – turns.  A real bike requires you to engage your arms and abs in a way that a spin bike does not.  And especially if you wear clip-in shoes, you won’t be able to really practice clipping in and out on a spin bike (it can’t fall over at stoplights!).


So, can you train entirely via spin classes?  Yes for shorter tris, but it’s not the ideal way to train, just like swimming only in a pool – not open water – and running only on a treadmill (Training Entirely Indoors: Is It Wise?)  is not ideal either. You won’t be as fast, you won’t be as efficient, and you won’t be as prepared.  But it can work for shorter distances, especially if spin class or a stationary bike is your only option due to weather or childcare restraints.

How do I get faster?  Hah!  This is one of those “I know the answer but cannot implement it in my own life.”  I am slow-as-molasses on the bike. The way to get faster, I am told, is speed work, volume, and strength training.  But even when I was putting in 75+ mile weeks on the bike, I never got faster over short distances.  It’s hard to balance speed, distance, and strength training, especially if you’re training for a triathlon and also working on swimming and running!  And doubly difficult if training is your hobby and not your job. Winking smile


Also, I blame my slowness on my shortie legs.  I don’t know if that has any merit, though.


In the space that I can dedicate to training, I am really working on speed, though.  Hopefully sprints in spin class and a concerted effort to do more squats and lunges will pay off.  Of course, as I already said, spin class is not the perfect solution, so we’ll see.  In the past, I really ‘phoned in’ the bike portion of the triathlon (those 75+ mile weeks were when I was training exclusively for long bike rides, not tris), so I’m hoping that any small steps in the right direction will pay off come race day.  Honestly, I have nowhere to go but up!


Do I really need a $1,000 bike?  No, no, no!  Sure, fancy road bikes are awesome (and I would love to own one), but you can get a decent bike for less, especially if you buy used.  Mine was about $350, and I bought it on Craigslist – the seller even tossed in a pair of bike shoes!  Here’s my guide to buying a bike.


Happy Tuesday!



  • Ali March 12, 2013, 10:27 am

    I really don’t think that you need padded bike shorts for a spin class. There are a lot of people who are very comfortable just riding in shorts or capris or whatever they have on hand! I think a lot of it depends on anatomy. Also, I would hate for someone not to go to a group cycling class just because they didn’t have padded bike shorts. To each their own!

    • Caitlin March 12, 2013, 10:29 am

      i would hate that, too, but damn – i can’t believe you can cycle without pain sans bike shorts. your butt is awesome 🙂

      • Ali March 12, 2013, 11:00 am

        I have a big butt and I cannot lie! Haha

        • Caitlin March 12, 2013, 11:01 am

          you other brothers can’t deny…

    • Jen March 12, 2013, 3:33 pm

      I second this! I only wear padded shorts/capris for rides of 30 miles or more, and I’ve never felt butt pain in my 45-minute Spin classes. Maybe I have an awesome butt too?

      • Stephanie @ Food Fit 4 Real March 12, 2013, 5:15 pm

        I have never taken a spin class because it hurst so much for me to sit on the bike for the 10-15 minutes that I have tried it (for cardio). Maybe I need to get some padded bike shorts and get my butt to spin class!

    • Nikki March 12, 2013, 5:41 pm

      Ditto. Never worn bike shorts and never had a problem. Although I recommend reading some articles on bikes + women’s health .. yikes!



    • Lesley March 12, 2013, 8:30 pm

      I second/third the no need for padded shorts for spin! I’ve been spinning for over five years and my butt has fared well. For longer rides on an outdoor bike, getting a wider seat can help with comfort as well.

  • Caity @ caityworksout March 12, 2013, 10:28 am

    Love your tips for the spin bike. It’s so important to tailor the adjustments on the bike to your own body, and luckily teachers or other students in the class are usually pretty good about helping newbies get set up. I got my cycling shorts from MEC, but I ordered a couple of pairs of AeroTech shorts two years ago for my mom, who spins regularly, and she loves them! They have such a great selection of bright, fun colours 🙂

  • Bari March 12, 2013, 10:34 am

    Thanks for this post. I have been so frustrated with my indoor biking lately. I can’t seem to find any speed whatsoever and my lady bits have been DYING – even though I’m on the bike at least 2-3 times a week. Right now, even with my bike shorts or tri shorts, I can’t really tolerate more than about 45 minutes. It’s bad enough that I’m seriously doubting my ability to do an early season tri (for us here in MI, that would be June in a wet suit).

    Which shorts are you wearing for triathlon? I have some pearl izumis that are ok, but like I said, my lady bits are not happy right now. Wondering if I should look at the company you mentioned.

  • Sarah @ Yogi in Action March 12, 2013, 10:39 am

    Great tips! I definitely want to get bike shorts- but I don’t bike often enough to make the investment (or at least that’s what I keep telling myself).

    During the warmer months of the year, I bike to work. I often find the first couple minutes really hurts my butt (especially if I’m biking several days in a row) but then the muscles get warmed up and the pain goes away.

  • Emily March 12, 2013, 10:41 am

    My hubby is talking about getting an indoor bike training for his bike and I’m really excited!! Would you say it compares to a stationary bike/spin bike? I love spinning, but can’t find a good class in the area.

    • Caitlin March 12, 2013, 10:41 am

      Definitely. I really like the Bell Motivator and it’s cheap!

      • Stacey March 12, 2013, 3:15 pm

        I read some reviews on the Bell Motivator as I’d like to get my husband one and found lots of comments about it being noisy. What’s your opinion?

        • Caitlin March 12, 2013, 3:22 pm

          It’s equivalent to a vacuum. Doesn’t bother me!

  • Claire @ Live and Love to Eat March 12, 2013, 10:47 am

    I love spin class but don’t even own a “real” bike. Definitely getting one this spring!

  • Katie @ Peace Love & Oats March 12, 2013, 10:57 am

    Okay, my butt always hurts so much after biking! Granted I do it like twice a year when I’m in Colorado Springs where my family keeps our mountain bikes…

  • Jill March 12, 2013, 12:23 pm
  • Axel March 12, 2013, 12:31 pm

    One point I wanted to add about the benefits of getting on a real bike outside… gear shifting. Not only do you need to get used to balancing, turning, steering when you’re on a real bike, but knowing how to change gears and which gears are best for how steep the hill (up or down) is can be a real difference-maker on race day.

  • Alyssa March 12, 2013, 12:45 pm

    A big butt certainly helps with the pain so load up on ice cream for several weeks prior to beginning spin classes. I would have to majorly disagree that spin can help you prepare for a tri! I took spin for years and I don’t think it made even the slightest difference in my skills when I bought a bike and signed up for my first tri. Having to balance and steer outside is SO different, plus the fake hills in spin are nothing like real hills. Riding a bike outside can be dangerous and requires super focus that you don’t get at the gym!

  • Carolina John March 12, 2013, 12:50 pm

    fwiw, I’m doing the majority of my ironman training on a stationary bike using the “hill climb” routine. I’ll still get a couple of century rides on the roads, and 6 other triathlons on the year including 2 half ironmans will get me ready. But the safety and weather stuff keeps me inside as much as possible.

  • Becca March 12, 2013, 1:12 pm

    I think one of the main reasons why peoples butts hurt after spin class because they try to go too fast with no resistance on the fly wheel. That’s a) unsafe and b) really hard on your butt because of all the bouncing. I always encourage people to NEVER have no resistance on the fly wheel unless its warm up or cool down. That way you have something pushing back when you’re trying to sprint.

    • Caitlin March 12, 2013, 1:29 pm


  • Sara @ fitcupcaker March 12, 2013, 1:59 pm

    I love biking, I cant wait until the weather warms up a bit and you look so cute on yours 🙂 I got my bike for about 300 and love it! No need to spend 1000!

  • Jen March 12, 2013, 2:03 pm

    Maybe you already know this but you should prop up the front wheel of your bike when it on the trainer … unless you are trying to simulate pedaling downhill for an hour?

    • Jen March 12, 2013, 2:04 pm

      When it IS on the trainer. Gah. Can’t type.

    • Caitlin March 12, 2013, 2:12 pm

      normally i keep some books on the front wheel, cant remember why i didnt that time!

  • rebeccaw March 12, 2013, 2:05 pm

    I always check out this website before buying cycling shoes – http://www.cheapcycleshoes.com – My personal favourites are the Sidi Ergo 3 because i’ve used them for just over a year and they have virtually NO signs of wear

  • Erin @ The Elliptical Chronicles March 12, 2013, 2:32 pm

    I’m impressed you were able to think of 4 clear-headed questions AND 4 well-thought-out, well-explained answers while exercising in a spin class!

    I always like to think I’ll “clear my head” while running on the treadmill or exercising on the elliptical, but my head’s always a muddled mess while I’m sweating and huffin’ and puffin’. Taking a walk is pretty much the only form of exercise during which I can think clearly and sort through things in my head…

  • Maria March 12, 2013, 2:51 pm

    Great post. I was curious to read it since I’m Danish, and although Denmark is a tiny country, we consider ourselves the biking nation of the world. :-). I have biked all my life and I bike to work every day.
    I was glad to read this – it’s key:
    “To me, the most important part of bike fit is making sure your leg is not hyperextended at the bottom of your stroke. There should be a slight bend, but not a crunching or straining to keep your foot in the pedal.”
    Also be really careful with your gears. If you bike uphill with too high a gear, you can really hurt your knees. I still have problems with one knee because I was lazy years ago and couldn’t bother to change gears when I should. Do that every day and there will be a price to pay.
    Apart from that biking is great. Booty pain is for newbies, don’t push yourself too hard and it will go away once your body gets used to biking.
    PS. I found an article online about biking in Denmark that might interest you: http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/the_efficient_planet/2012/11/green_wave_can_the_u_s_embrace_biking_like_denmark_has.html

  • Lisa March 12, 2013, 4:55 pm

    Spin class is ok but not the same as going outside — just like you COULD train for a marathon on a treadmill but it’s gonna hurt A LOT and be a lot harder when you run outside!

    I bought my bike for $500. It’s a decent middle of the road road bike. I bought it in February and it was last year’s model so it was discounted from $800. I’ve had it for years and it still works great for me!

  • Anna {Herbivore Triathlete} March 12, 2013, 8:25 pm

    I don’t always wear padded bike shorts to spin class and I don’t get “saddle sore”, however, I’m also at class 2-3 times per week. I can’t wait to get back outside on the bike!

    Those shorts you linked to are a really decent price for bike shorts. Looks like that site has tri shorts and swim suits too, I’m going to have to explore it some more. Thanks for sharing!

  • Amy March 13, 2013, 7:55 am

    Hi Caitlin! Enjoined this post, but I have Fifth Burning Bike Question for you—Where can you ride for endurance in the Charlotte area? My husband and I are training for RAGBRAI (check it out if you haven’t heard of it—basically a rolling beer party with biking in between) and need to start doing 50-80 mile rides on the weekend. We live in Myers Park and it’s easy to hop on the greenway but that is only good for 5-10 miles. We just bought a bike rack and can drive to ride spots. Also, I’m a bit accident prone and we would love exclusive bike paths where there are no cars. Any advice would be appreciated! Thx!

    • Caitlin March 13, 2013, 9:03 am

      i dont have a great answer for this because i am still searching! honestly, i would drove out to fort mill or something. charlotte is horrendous for cyclists.

  • Ali March 31, 2013, 7:55 pm

    The best bike shorts I’ve ever found were at Mountain Equipment Coop (it’s Canadian, but they have online shopping), and are basically thin liners with adequate padding and grip in the leg holes (super-important, so they don’t ride up), and fit wonderfully under just about everything!

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