View Full Version : Getting started

08-10-2003, 08:59 AM
I need help getting started! I am 37 yrs old and recently have lost 40#, started running and walking to get into shape and would like to learn to ride and..........(gulp!) RACE bikes by next Spring! I have a guy friend that is 11 yrs older and LOVES racing! He has inspired me to try it. I am VERY competitive and athletic, so the training & dieting discipline is not hard for me to adhere to.

SO: I have been fitted for a bike (50 or 51cm TREK 2000 or 2200 has been recommended). I am looking at $1300+ for a new bike. Should I look for a used one to train on, and buy the new one when I am ready to race or go for broke (literally, haha!) and get the new one?

What diet regimine is optimal for training? I have recently done the Atkins diet to shed the 40# and am very afraid of the carbs in my regular diet. Can I only eat them during the ride or do I need to add them back in to my regular meal plan?

Until I get the bike, I am continuing to run/walk 3-5 miles a day at least 5 days a week. I am PUMPED!!!!!!!!!!! I would love to be riding right now!

Any advice, is MUUUUUUCH appreciated!

Kim in TN

08-12-2003, 02:40 PM
Welcome KSBell. :)

You've come to the right place to start. There's loads of cool stuff on this website, so why not settle down for a good browse and see what you can find. If you got any questions there's always some one out there who can help so don't be afraid to ask.:)

08-12-2003, 05:31 PM
Thank you for answering my post!

Just FYI: I got the TREK 1500 (2004 model) with the Shimano 105 and Ultegra components. It is supposed to be ready Thursday or Friday of this week. I am so excited. I questioned the size, I am not really short (5'5") so I had him recalculate and he came up with 52cm and I can ride a men's bike. The price dropped significantly to around $1000. So, I am happy all the way around!

08-12-2003, 06:57 PM
Sounds about right. I bought my first bike a couple of months ago, I'm 5'3.5" and it's a Bianchi, 51cm. I love it! :D

08-14-2003, 11:10 PM
What you got is a really nice bike, and after you ride this one and learn things you may want to swap out anyway. I think you did well.
Go get the latest book by Covert Bailey- he's the biochemist who did the actual work that all the current nutitional wisdom is based on. Yeah, you'll need more carbs, the issue is what kind. Eat your spinach, it's all long chain carbs. Eat red meat, you'll need the protein to recover and make new muscle. You'll also find that good quality beer is an excellent training food of champions. I'm totally serious, all those Olympic athletes can't be wrong :D And it's medium chain carbs. Even gummi bears have a place as short chain carbs- also called Gatorade. You need to do enough calories if you go to high mileage training. A severely restricted diet will screw with bone density and muscle develpoment. And you'll poop out and get dropped.
Atkins has a place, but endurance athletes suck carbs like crazy. Baileys fit-or-fat explanation of metabolism is the best, and easiest to live with. You need a better understanding of what a carbohydrate is (almost everything) and how different ones work. How much carb you need is a function of how far and how hard you go.
His books are all over the place. The latest one is called "Smart Exercise"


08-15-2003, 03:01 AM
You'll also find that good quality beer is an excellent training food of champions. I'm totally serious, all those Olympic athletes can't be wrong :D

LOL -- that helps my golf swing also. :)

08-15-2003, 10:10 AM
I will go get the book today. Like I said before, I am terrified of adding the carbs back into my diet. But, I have noticed that even with running, I can't go very long without feeling like I am "pooped out"! I need something that tells me specifically what I should and shouldn't eat.

What is LONG DISTANCE? Is it 20 miles, 25 miles, 40 miles? I am training to race. Don't think I will be doing the century rides, but I could be wrong. Do I need to worry about speed or endurance in the beginning of training?

08-15-2003, 12:47 PM
You poop out on your run? That tells us right there that something is wrong. I don't even remember which fad Atkins is, but the whole carb phobia that's so fashionable right now is exactly the kind of thing that will backlash and put all the weight back on. To keep it off you need to exercise and eat enough. Starvation will make you fat.
Covert makes the very wise observation that fat people have lots of diet books. That's because they don't really work. It's great that you ditched the forty #s with what is essentially a metabolic gimmick, but it doesn't really last. I bet you're worked up into a fat and carb phobia? You can't burn what you eat without fat to enable the process. And not enough carb is what poops you out- that's the fuel for your muscles. You want good quality long chain carb, whith the occasional Ho Ho thrown in. And as you gain muscle the # on the scale will rise, but go by how your clothes fit. A lot of elite athletes are 150 pound size eights. I kid you not.
Get the book, it'll tell you amazing stuff. Actually he's written a lot of easy to read books that will be at the library, and there are tapes of a series for PBS that are the easiest way to go if you can find them. Go to <www.covertbailey.com> for the instant quick and easy version.

High mileage is relative, and usually considered in miles per week.100 is a nice figure, The point where you can eat what you want- you'll want what you need. But as a newbie you won't do that. You should think in time spent in your traing heart rate zone at first. And you need to learn how to handle the bike and spin.


08-15-2003, 01:05 PM
What they said. You need carbs to fuel your body. Yes, too many of the wrong kind are bad for you. But you need the rights kinds to "fill up the tank"


08-15-2003, 09:01 PM
ksbell: I hope your fitting was correct. 52cm sounds big for 5'5" female unless you have unusually long legs. I'm 5'4" and I ride a 47cm with just barely enough clearance. Make SURE you can stand over it WITH CLEARANCE before you take delivery. Every brand is different in their geometry and the way they measure, so a 52 in one brand can be quite different than a 52 in another brand.

08-16-2003, 03:18 AM
Brands must be different because I am just under 5'5" and ride a 54 cm and seriously considered a 56 cm. My legs aren't unusually long I have a 30 inch inseam.


08-16-2003, 04:08 AM
There is a lot that goes into sizing rather than just the category (e.g., 52cm, etc). Top tube length, width of handlebars, and the basic geometry of the bike figure into the ultimate comfort. These change with every rider.

When I was 40, I gave myself a custom bike for my birthday. I'm still riding it (OK, I'll tell you-- 9 years later) and loving it. If you decide that cycling is your true love, you will want to upgrade. But for now, just get comfortable, learn to spin in circles (don't mash down) to teach your muscles good memory.

And fercryingoutloud, eat some carbs! You may gain weight because carbs store water! That is why these Atkins folks have dramatic weight loss - it's mostly water. MissLiz is right on - you need good quality carbs, e.g., oatmeal, whole grain bread etc. Experiment with lesser known grains like quinoa (be sure to rinse quinoa in a strainer first before you boil it - it has a nasty coating) you'll be surprised at how sweet & nutty they are. Add some cottage cheese for protein, some fruit like berries, and you have breakfast. You can even eat it cold at your desk at work.

08-16-2003, 12:46 PM
Brands are really different, I found that regardless of what they call it, you have to test ride it, adjusted for you, to see if it fits. I have a 95 Zaskar Mt bike that fit me off the shelf like it was custom made, I still have it, it's my most valued possesion next to my dog. I've test ridden a lot of other high end Mt bikes, the shop guys asked me to try out some rides, and they just didn't fit. Brands are so different. It's just like buying clothes, you never know until you try on.
The thing with a Treck, you can trade it in or sell it off later, it's a popular brand. Ride it for a year, learn what's going on with a bike, and if it gives you trouble sell it off and you'll have a good understanding of what you want next. My first Mt bike was a Giant, and the top tube was too short, utter hell to ride at about six months once my posistion on it flattened out. But then the day I got on the GT I knew it was fate.
Then again, your new bike may be perfect. In a few months, get the fit checked after your posistion on it settles down. And even if the bike is great, you may fall in love with something else later, say that orange Orbea team frame, well, that's what I want.:D If you went to a good shop with a competant proffessional, the Treck'll probably be a good starter bike.


And Irulan is right- EAT SOMETHING!

08-17-2003, 05:04 PM
Ya'll are so funny about this diet thing! My biggest fear is gaining weight, although I know exactly how to take it off again! I have increased my carb intake (wheat bread, berries and other fruit... including a BANANA! you guys have no idea how many months it has been since I have eaten a banana!)

I have been reading everything I can get my hands on about cycling and nutrition. I am going to follow Chris Carmichael's advice about loading up on the carbs the day before a big ride and while riding. I can eat the wheat pasta products and not consume as many carbs as the white flour products. I also am going to TRY to eat a baked potato this week before a ride! It's a mental block!

ABOUT THE FIT THING: The bike shop owner measured me twice and came up with two different sizes for two different brands of bike. The TREK was the 52 cm size. I will know one day this week, I hope, whether he was right. He seems to be very knowledgeable about fitting and building a bike. He came HIGHLY recommended in the cycling community. He also races and has a race team he wants me to train with; so he understands what I need to have to be successful. Does that make sense? The bike I ordered is the intermediate line for TREK. The 2004 1500; the USPS Team's bike (painted like theirs.........that's why it's so hard to come by!).

I CAN'T WAIT TO GET ON MY BIKE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

08-18-2003, 08:00 AM
Hi Kim,

I have enjoyed reading this thread. You'll be happy to know that as a former Atkins dieter, I have been able to maintain my 15-lb. weight loss (and no, it was NOT all water - I dropped from a size 8 petite to a 4 petite and had to buy all new pants!) by starting to ride and eating carbs again!

I was also terrified of carbs at first, but found that if I didn't eat a lot more of them, I would severely bonk on rides. I tailor my carb-eating to the amount of riding I am doing. In the winter, when I ride less and only on weekends (weather permitting), I eat fewer carbs and mostly the day before and the day of rides, then cut back to more of an "Atkins maintenance" level on Mon.-Thurs. Right now, when I'm riding 4-5 times a week and sometimes 40-70 miles at a stretch on weekends, I eat carbs all week (and during rides) and haven't gained an ounce. I also eat fat and protein - a bit of everything. My metabolism seems to be pretty high as I have to eat a lot just to maintain my weight - and that's never been a problem for me before!

So yes, you CAN eat carbs again when you're riding - the more riding, the more carbs. Only you can determine the proper level that will allow you to ride effectively (not bonk) and maintain your weight, so it will take some experimentation. And you may gain muscle while still losing fat, so pay more attention to the fit of your clothes than your scale. I know I have gained muscle in my legs but must have lost some fat too since my weight has stayed pretty much constant since I started cycling - and I want it to. You don't want to get too skinny as having some fat reserves helps on those rides of over 90 minutes where you are primarily burning fat (under 90 minutes and you're primarily burning glucose).

I too remember that first banana and first potato after literally a YEAR with neither! ;-) It's nice to be able to eat cereal again too.

Good luck!

08-18-2003, 10:39 AM
I finally found someone who understands my predicament! I have lost 40# on this diet and I don't want to go back! I'd still like to drop about 5# to get to that 130# mark (I am 5'5" medium build.....that's a good weight, right?). I am more concerned with maintaining the 8/10 I am in........not the weight, though.

I did eat some wheat bread today! Thought I would choke on it! But, all is well. I am planning on grilled chicken, baked potato and salad for dinner.........riding tomorrow and need the energy.

As far as the day of and during the ride, what do you eat? I don't want to consume so much sugar. I am thinking the fig bars would be the best for me; can I have the fruited kind instead of fig? I am one of those people who need a lot of something to make it effective. Do you watch carbs while riding and before or just eat til satisfied?

Lots of questions, I know!
Kim in TN

08-18-2003, 02:19 PM
Hi Kim,

First off, congratulations on your weight loss! That's a lot of weight to take off, and you deserve a lot of credit as it is not an easy thing to do no matter how you do it! And, given that, I totally understand and relate to your not wanting to gain it back. I felt/feel the exact same way. I have already gotten rid of all my old pants so I can't afford to! ;-) I didn't have as much to lose, but it was still a big accomplishment, and I plan to keep it off.

Your goal weight sounds very reasonable for your height, and there's no reason why you shouldn't be able to drop five more lbs. with cycling and eating sensibly.

I do understand your thoughts re. sugar. It is hard to eat high carb but lower sugar during rides, especially. One suggestion would be a whole grain bagel with peanut butter. The peanut butter provides protein and fat that seems to give me more "staying power" than straight carbs. Fig bars, as you mention, are lower in sugar than some other things you can get. At health-food stores, you can even find whole wheat fig (and other) bars to avoid the white flour, if you prefer.

Before and during riding I do not worry about carbs. Yes, after being disciplined for so long, I of course thing "gee, I'm eating a lot of carbs", but fortunately I have been doing this long enough to realize that it's not going to hurt me - I am burning (or going to burn) it all off. :-) I also must admit to going for quite a few simple carbs immediately before, during, and after riding. For instance, before weekend rides I'll have a big ole stack of pancakes with fruit and syrup! During a ride I'll have cookies or a Payday bar (or both, if it's a long ride), and after the ride, I'll have a full meal and ice cream! But then the next day, if I am not riding, I'll have eggs for breakfast and keep carbs lower/moderate that day (salads, chicken, veggies, and the like).

Sometimes I'll weigh more on Monday morning (after a couple longer weekend rides) than I did on Friday, and if so, I usually attribute it to some water weight gain from the carbs. Usually a couple of days of watching carbs (but not cutting them out completely) enables me to lose that pesky lb. or two. Overall, though, my weight has not fluctuated more than 2 lbs. this entire summer. If it ever goes up more than 2 lbs, I would cut back more, but so far I have not needed to.

Also, as for beverages during rides, I generally stick with water for rides of less than an hour, but I always have a snack before the ride (often a "Balance" or "Zone" bar, which is a more equal balance of carbs, fat, and protein) so I don't run out of fuel. For rides of 90+ minutes, I start with water (one bottle), then switch over to Cytomax or Gatoraid. Once again, it hasn't caused me any problems. I do feel a bit guilty for consuming such a large amount of sugar compared to when I was stricter about carbs, but it has been working for me so far. As I said, I'll have to start cutting back more come fall, when I can't ride after work any more.

Just for your comparision, I generally ride 25 miles after work Tuesdays and Thursdays and do a Wed. women's ride of 17 miles. On weekends I tend to ride about 45-65 miles one day and 30+ miles the other day. I ride pretty intensely in an area of rolling hills (central NC), and average around 16-17 mph. The longer and harder you ride, the more carbs you burn and can eat!

I hope this helps!

08-18-2003, 04:05 PM
Hey congratulations Kim on losing the weight.

A good weight is the one you can maintain without being too weird and neurotic, feel good about yourself at and allows you do what you like to do. Don't let it be a number on a scale or even a size.

I struggled with that too. I wanted to weigh a certain number because it was a good number. But I'd lose a lot of muscle to get there probably. I need those muscles to power the tandem home after a century with more climb than advertised.:p


08-18-2003, 05:31 PM
You guys ROCK!!!!!!!!!! (I am 37 and I talk like my teenaged daughters! (15 & 13))

OK........I am ready to look at carbs in a new light now! I had often thought about eating pancakes (I love peanut butter on pancakes!) before riding. How many hours prior to riding do you eat something like that? I did go to the store and look at the fig bars and stuff today. I can eat the fruit kind (I love the strawberry and raspberry ones) during the ride and get the same amount of carbs as the fig ones. I bought some of the sobee bars today to try.........they're ok........not great, but ok. I think I have been off of sugar and chocolate for so long the thought of eating a lot of it makes me sick! I need something that isn't nearly as rich and sweet. The payday bar might be ok, but I think I would puke that back up! Weak stomach........it kills me!

I plan on racing and training for racing. The schedule Emily in NC laid out works for me. I will probably follow that one. I had thought to train with guys mostly, just figuring if I can learn to keep up with them, I can race girls more evenly. Does that make sense? I have always competed with guys........softball is my other sport and I love playing co-ed more than with girls. I am supposed to meet with a race team in the next week or so and get on a training schedule with their trainer. Should I approach it as a female or male racer?

While we're on the subject, what is a median speed to shoot for when racing? I think most of them are around 50 miles around here and kind of hilly. Most guys do it under or right around 2 hours. What about girls?

When I start out, in the first 500 miles, what speed and cadence am I trying to build up to on a 45-60 minute ride?

Kim in TN (anyone around Nashville/Murfreesboro/Cookeville?)

ridin a giant
08-18-2003, 05:48 PM
HI ksbell

try the Power Bar Pria for a sweet fix that is also good for you. I find that it really helps me when I just want something not too sweet and don't want to go near chocolate. I also use the when biking, etc.

H/e, I keep in mind what I eat thru the day and balance my "treats" .... certainly has helped me.

Hope my tip helps someone.


08-18-2003, 06:16 PM
Hi Kim,

I generally eat pancakes about 45 minutes before hitting the road. I have a very strong stomach and don't seem to have problems with anything I eat on the road.

Payday bars are great (for me, anyway) because they don't melt, are cheaper than Powerbars and similar bars, and have some protein, fat, and salt in them too, all of which help me on a long ride - but everyone is different. Straight low-fat carbs just seem to get burned too fast for me and I'm hungry again in an hour.

I don't race so can't offer any replies to those questions. I do think riding with men whenever you can really helps with increasing speed, though. My husband averages 18-20+ mph, and riding with him and/or him and his buddies is a BIG workout for me. I push, push, push while he is cruising!

Of course, when you start out, you'll just have to do whatever speed you can do and try to increase that over time with training. Don't do too much too soon or it is easy to get injured. I had an ITB (ileo-tibial band in the leg) injury in early May on a Century ride and had to go very easy for a month after that. I think I had increased my mileage too fast without enough of a base.

As for speed, my average speed has increased from around 14.5 mph in the fall to 16.5-17+ now. A lot of gals are faster than me, but I am 42, so I blame age! ;) I don't think I could take the pressure of racing, but I wish you much good luck and fun with it!


08-18-2003, 06:38 PM
I just started riding about 2.5 months ago and I have trouble getting over 14.5 pace because there are so many 4-way stops in our neighborhood. I always ride around here to stay out of traffic. Occasionally, I'll go to Ft. Jackson if I have someone to ride with -- I don't like to go alone. I haven't joined a cycling club so I don't know any riders besides my sister. I guess I should join one. I'm always worried I won't be able to go as fast as they do.

On another subject, a Payday sounds good to me! I love those and haven't had one in years! :D

08-19-2003, 03:47 AM

We buy the multi-packs of Payday bars at the grocery store to save $. I also loved them as a kid and hadn't had them in years, so it's fun to eat them again (and not feel guilty!)

As for speed, you are so right that it is VERY hard to go fast in subdivisions and areas with more traffic/lights/stop signs. Most of my riding is done in our very rural area with no traffic or lights, just the occasional stop sign. Most roads you can go on for miles without ever having to stop, so that makes a big difference.

Terrain also makes a huge difference in speed, for me. I can do my after work "speed loop" (which only has a couple hills) at 16.8-17.4 mph, but I did a VERY hilly (and partially in-town) club ride this past weekend and, despite pushing hard, only managed 15.4 - and that was my fastest ever on that particular route. The headwind didn't help either; that's another factor that makes a big difference in speeds.


08-19-2003, 05:28 AM
I have added a protien shake in the morning, after a workout and at night to my diet. It has all the amino acids, l-glutamic acid and stuff that the training books say I need. I am also taking a multi-vitamin ever day now. I feel better and stronger. I am still walking or running every day...........I pulled something at the top of my left thigh last night and tried to walk thru it today......should have let it rest! I am in agony right now! I will stay off of it for a couple of days and resume walking/running until my bike comes in.

I am concerned about keeping up and staying on the bike for an extended period of time. I don't want to get discouraged and quit training for racing just because I don't start out "fast" and ready!

How can I stay motivated even though I can't see the light at the end of the tunnel? Do any of you train with a group or coach? Do any of you keep a journal? And is it beneficial?

I am going thru some emotionally baaaaaaaaaaaad times right now. I need to be on that bike. It is calling me right now! Running is great therapy.......but I think cycling is going to be the best therapy of all. I am in grief counceling with a minister's wife and that is helping me cope with the most gut wrenching loss I have ever been thru! (not a death, but it feels like it!) Anyone else in that predicament? I need a support group right now!

OK.............enough of that..............I am grateful for all of your advice and input concerning my questions. I have volunteered to help with the "Hot 100" this weekend in Murfreesboro, TN. It is a premier event in the south. I think being there will help me understand the sport more and make some contacts that will boost me up and get me going!

Ya'll are great!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

08-19-2003, 08:27 AM

Your protein shake sounds great! I use whey protein powder mixed in with my morning cereal and also mix it with juice after a ride - or else I use Endurox, which has a 4:1 carbs to protein ratio that is recommended by a lot of knowledgable cycling types.

Motivation....here are the top 10 that spring to mind:

1. Belonging to a bike club and doing group rides on weekends. I find this a lot more fun that just riding around our area over and over. It's fun to talk to different riders and go different places, plus it pushes me to try to keep up with some of the faster riders and continuously improve. The friendships I have made through the club keep me motivated. I also enjoy riding with women for a change, since I usually ride with my husband. I have had some great conversations on the bike that make the miles fly by!

2. Setting a mileage goal for the year and keeping a log on the computer so I can see how I am doing vis-a-vis that goal. My goal for this year is 4000 miles, which is way more than I have ever done before. I will hit 2500 miles this week, so barring injury, I think I can do it! :)

3. Setting average speed goals so I push myself to go faster over time. For this one, I like using the same route a couple times a week (but not every time I ride - see #4 and 5 below!) so I can compare apples to apples as much as possible and really see improvement over time.

4. Riding to interesting places so the ride has a goal. Often this is a restaurant, ice cream parlor, or the like (bike to eat!), but could also be a nice park or historic site, or whatever charms you!

5. Varying your routes to prevent boredom, even if that means sometimes driving to start somewhere other than home.

6. Events! Single day or multi-day events with a large group - organized metrics, centuries, bike tours (we did Bike Virginia this year and had a blast!), and bike vacations of all sorts. You'll really find yourself energized by being around so many others who share your interest in cycling.

7. Reading about cycling, through these forums, roadbikerider.com (great free weekly newsletter!!), usenet newsgroups (rec.bicycles.misc), and books - whether about bicycle training or tour narratives. Amazon has zillions!

8. Mental tricks: "If I ride tonight I get ice cream for dessert! " Stuff like that always tends to get me off my butt.... ;)

9. Having a schedule for riding so I feel more compelled to ride and not slack off. It really helps if you have a regular riding partner too. Some days you'll be the motivated one and some days he or she will be, but usually one of you will be, so you'll ride.

10. With all that said....taking time off when you need it to do other things, rest and recoup, do something different. I find that I come back from these sorts of breaks raring to ride again!

I hope your bike come soon. I know what you are going through (sorta) as my husband and I are currently waiting for a tandem! It seems like the day will never come. You're doing the right thing by running and staying active, and volunteering at the ride is a fabulous idea. That will totally motivate you!

Hang in there!!