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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Posts
    112

    So slow, so irritated

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    Sigh.

    You know, I'm building stamina/working up to the century slowly. Maybe too slowly, given that I only ride on weekends. But I haven't injured myself and I am really looking forward to my weekend rides - IE I'm enjoying myself immensely. I have a new purpose for the next two months and it's great.

    That said. I'm slooooooooow. Sooooooooo slow. And I was reminded how slow I actually am, this morning.

    I'm still only averaging about 12 MPH on my rides. A little faster average on a few rides (which are a little hillier, go figure). I guess the speed I build on downhill more than makes up for going more slowly going up. There, I said it. 12 MPH. Sloooooooooow. I'm fully able to talk during my rides, so at least I'm not going all-out (and yet still slow). More later on how to speed up (though I figure I just need to get out there more and additionally do sprints once in a while). I'm definitely not going all-out, I am just going longer.

    Anyway, the reminder. My brother is visiting and I told him to bring his bike and he could join me. I told him Saturday was better because "it's my short day and I'm doing 40 on Sunday, you haven't ridden in ages and ages so you don't want to hurt yourself". (Pat pat on my back, good big sister, make sure little brother doesn't get winded or hurt).

    You guessed it. He smoked me this morning. On an 18 year old mountain bike. He waited at the stop signs and took off again. He was always in sight so it wasn't like he was going 20 mph to my 12 or anything, but still.

    I guess I could try to excuse the sluggish performance this morning with the excessive amounts of Korean BBQ (and beer) last night, and a little too late for a comfortable 6 AM wake up call.. but he ate the same thing. Drat!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Location
    San Jose, CA
    Posts
    691
    Hi Beth,

    Here's a funny story for you. When I was about to turn 30 (back in the Stone Age), my brother and I signed up for a century. I trained for it -- boy did I train for it! I devoured books by the editors of Bicycling Magazine, Greg Lemond, you name it, and came up with a training plan for the century, which I stuck to. My brother, on the other hand, did his own thing -- played hockey, went out for the occasional bike ride, and even did a super long ride less than a week before the century.

    The day of the century came, and about 10 miles in, we hit some hills. My brother went up them no problem. I had a few issues. (Jobob, if you're reading this, you've probably guess that this is when the infamous Fig Newtons made their presence known on the Calaveras Wall.) My brother continued to ride along thru flats, rolling hills, etc., no problem, as I struggled to keep up.

    I must admit that I was a little pissed.

    I kept my mouth shut and kept going. Really, it was a lovely ride -- we got to know some great cycling routes in the area and met some very nice people at the rest stops. Anyway, about 10 miles from the end of the ride, I felt great -- plenty of stamina to finish the ride, and go a little further if necessary. My brother, on the other hand, was whupped! He was definitely looking forward to the finish line -- once he got there, he was getting off of the bike!

    So, what's my point? Since your goal is to ride a century, and it sounds like this is your first century, I think you're doing the right thing by training for stamina and distance rather than speed. It's a really, really good sign that you haven't injured yourself and are still looking forward to your weekend rides. It sounds like you have a good fitness base, so if you want to incorporate some speed workouts, go for it! Push the envelope for a minute at a time, and rest for about 5 minutes before doing it again. But if they take away from your enjoyment, you should probably continue to focus on building your distance.

    I should also mention that one of my goals this year was to improve my speed. I found a really nice set of workouts that I was doing on my indoor trainer during the week, and I noticed the improvement during my outdoor rides on the weekend. Unfortunately, this put a little extra strain on my lower back. This combined with being a weekend warrior at softball practice has resulted in me blowing out my back. Guess what? I've been off the bike for the past few weeks, and when I do get back on the bike, I'm going to be as slow as ever. Oh well, it's not a race out there.
    I'll get back on the bike soon, I promise!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Central Indiana
    Posts
    6,132
    Out of curiosity, how fast is your cadence and what gear(s) are you typically using on relatively flat and not-too-windy conditions?

    I ask because a lot of new riders make the mistake of using too hard of a gear and, consequently, spinning too slowly. They can often go faster with less effort by using an easier gear and spinning more quickly, i.e, roughly 90 rpm. I say roughly because there is no one "right" cadence; 90 is just an average number that's often suggested as a starting place.

    Now, it often takes some time and training to increase one's cadence, but if you think you might be spinning much slower than 90ish, then it's something I'd try to work on. Beyond that, there's nothing wrong with 12 mph. Just make sure there's not a time cut off for the century you're training for.
    Live with intention. Walk to the edge. Listen hard. Practice wellness. Play with abandon. Laugh. Choose with no regret. Continue to learn. Appreciate your friends. Do what you love. Live as if this is all there is.

    --Mary Anne Radmacher

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
    Location
    Jacksonville area of NC
    Posts
    847
    I've wondered about speed myself. Although I really, really need to do more with stamina than anything else. I also know my candence is slow. My husband keeps telling me I need to up my candence, but I'm happy and comfortable with a slow cadence. Guess once I build up my stamina a good bit the candence should be the next thing to work on.

    skywalkerbeth, my speed is about what yours is.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Central Indiana
    Posts
    6,132
    Quote Originally Posted by Koronin View Post
    I've wondered about speed myself. Although I really, really need to do more with stamina than anything else. I also know my candence is slow. My husband keeps telling me I need to up my candence, but I'm happy and comfortable with a slow cadence. Guess once I build up my stamina a good bit the candence should be the next thing to work on.

    skywalkerbeth, my speed is about what yours is.
    If your cadence is slow because you're using too hard of a gear to spin faster, then that might explain why you have no stamina. You're working unnecessarily hard and it's wearing you out.

    If, on the other hand, your cadence is slow and you're using an easy gear, then you just need to keep at it and add a bit of distance each time you're out.
    Live with intention. Walk to the edge. Listen hard. Practice wellness. Play with abandon. Laugh. Choose with no regret. Continue to learn. Appreciate your friends. Do what you love. Live as if this is all there is.

    --Mary Anne Radmacher

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Posts
    257
    Stupid testosterone!

    Stay the course. It sounds like you are doing the right thing AND having fun (mostly).

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
    Location
    Jacksonville area of NC
    Posts
    847
    I don't have any stamina because I spent the better part of 10 years basically sitting on my butt and not doing anything other than working (mostly retail as a cashier when is basically standing in one spot all day). Another reason I love my current job since as a merchandiser I'm walking and lifting, ect. Also basically had spent probably 15 years or so not riding a bike. (My guess is my candence is slow for that same reason.) My road bike has a triple front rings and I basically ride in the middle front one and the back is somewhere in the middle of those rings as well. I did try an easier ring on the front so spin more, but ended up making it worse to where I got worn out faster. So yeah, I just need to work on the overall of everything. Spent too many years being way too lazy, is where I think the problem is at.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    Concord, MA
    Posts
    13,142
    I would think, that it might be hard to build up slowly enough and train for a century, only riding on the weekends. There is nothing wrong with an average of 12 mph, but if you want to improve, it takes time in the saddle (tits). And that doesn't necessarily mean long rides 5 days a week.
    I am a fan of not calling what I do training, but I consistently ride at least 4 days a week, sometimes more. At least 2 of those rides are short, maybe 12-18 miles. One is usually long, 40-60 miles and another 20-35. But all of my riding involves hills, which helped me build endurance and strength. When I did a century, I did nothing other than my regular riding and no ride longer than about 70 miles before the ride. It was flat, but with a brutal headwind. I finished in a respectable time of 6.5 riding hours, in terrible weather conditions for the last 15 miles.
    You have to be willing to suffer a little, to improve. But, I think that if you even added one more day a week, it would get easier.
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  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Posts
    152
    Hey Melissam - would you be willing to share your set of workouts on the trainer?

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    Greater Atlanta
    Posts
    249
    Take my advice ('cause I'm not using it!)....if you really want to get faster, try adding intervals to your training. It's uncomfortable to get out of your comfort zone and you're heart will feel like it's going to jump out of your chest at times, but you WILL see an improvement in your speed.
    She's going the distance...

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  11. #11
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Location
    Elon, NC
    Posts
    70
    Quote Originally Posted by buffybike View Post
    Take my advice ('cause I'm not using it!)....if you really want to get faster, try adding intervals to your training. It's uncomfortable to get out of your comfort zone and you're heart will feel like it's going to jump out of your chest at times, but you WILL see an improvement in your speed.
    +1..intervals will, uncomfortably, increase your speed,,,..as will miles, many many miles

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Location
    Central NJ
    Posts
    876
    I think a lot of people fall into the same comfortable heartrate and speed ruts as they ride. If you want to improve, you need to push yourself out of these comfort zones. Even if you had some intervals into your long weekend rides, that should start to push you in the right direction. Otherwise, I think including a ride during the week will help, even if it's just short and fast or a challenging group ride. And there's nothing wrong with 12 mph! Most people just aim to finish their first century. As they do more, they might set a time goal, but don't put too much pressure on yourself to do that. Just have fun!
    Girl meets bike. Bike leads girl to a life of grime: http://mudandmanoloscycling.com/

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Washington, DC
    Posts
    1,686
    Re the intervals: yes, they help. I had never done structured intervals until this last winter, on the trainer. And I did notice the improvement once on the road. Doing this on the trainer means, for me, that you can do them with reckless intensity, really push to see how far you can go. The worst that can happen is that you have to stop and get off the bike (in your home).

    My cadence is a little over 80, sometimes 90+. I'm working my way up, gradually.

    @CyborgQueen: the videos I like for the trainer are from the Sufferfest.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Posts
    112
    @Melissa - I'd love to hear the Fig Newton story! Re: your brother: that's exactly it. I have the last laugh here, too: when we got back he showered up and then took a two hour nap on the couch. ha!

    @indy: I'm not sure. I don't get the sense it's a fast cadence - 90 sounds awfully quick. Cadence is one full go 'round, right? How do you know, other than counting? I have a garmin watch, not a bike computer. I'm not entirely convinced that a quicker tempo wouldn't tire me out more quickly. So far my stamina is good even if I'm not fast... What gear should I use? The lowest? I probably do use too hard of a gear during the flats... probably in the middle (and then really make it easy gear on the hills).

    @Koronin - I think we are on the same page. I've also spent too much of the last decade on my butt. I would always get some exercise, but less each year and not enough to counteract a desk job. I am hoping stamina will get to where I want it and then I can up the pace. In the end, I just want to finish this century!

    @roo4: yes!

    @crankin, you are right, I am going to have to pick one extra day. It's going to be tough to do because taking it to the trail adds a minimum of 30 minutes to the whole endeavor (min) because of loading/onloading the bike, getting there... and leaving from my house is problematic because rush hour starts early and the drivers right outside my subdivision are maniacs. 6 AM would probably be OK but that means coming back to my house at 730 AM which means 2 miles of roadway with fast drivers. It's the only way to get it in, though.

    @buffy @lawchick @bluebug @pll: I did yesterday! We went out again and I decided that on the first hill I was NOT going to let him pass me and I really hoofed it. I stayed way out in front and let me tell you, when I finally slowed it down my legs felt like jelly and I just breathed hard for several minutes. Forget about doing anything other than grunting... the distance I rode for that amount of "holy hell" was pitifully short though, which only serves to tell me how out of shape I am. (maybe 1/2 a mile up hill).

    Definitely having fun!

    Injury: I think something is in the mail. Last Sunday (35 miles) my lower back on the right side/right hip started to hurt at mile 30. Tender. Not quite sciatica but like that. I figured it was the fanny pack hitting a tender spot and when I was done biking and took a shower I was fine and the next day (Monday) I was just fine even with contorted sitting - no pain at all. This weekend the pain started earlier (no fanny pack) and now it's even off the bike. I am wondering if it could be yoga causing it? I started that too, thinking that I needed to limber up as well as exercise.
    Last edited by skywalkerbeth; 08-15-2011 at 04:54 AM.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Central Indiana
    Posts
    6,132
    [QUOTE=skywalkerbeth;595057@indy: I'm not sure. I don't get the sense it's a fast cadence - 90 sounds awfully quick. Cadence is one full go 'round, right? How do you know, other than counting? I have a garmin watch, not a bike computer. I'm not entirely convinced that a quicker tempo wouldn't tire me out more quickly. So far my stamina is good even if I'm not fast... What gear should I use? The lowest? I probably do use too hard of a gear during the flats... probably in the middle (and then really make it easy gear on the hills).[/QUOTE]

    Cadence is revolutions per minute or RPMs. So, yes, it's one full 'round. A cadence of 90 may seem awfully quick to someone who is spinning at 60-70, but if you work on gradually increasing your cadence, you will likely find over time that you're going faster with less effort and fatigue. It will take some time for your aerobic system to get used to it, but trust me when I say that your knees and quads will love you for it.

    You can work on building to a faster cadence by doing cadence intervals. Just as a for instance, do one minute spinning at a faster cadence with one minute off x 10. Part of being able to spin closer is gear choice. You want a gear that's not so hard that you have to grind away at your pedals, but not so easy that you have no resistance and just bounce around in the saddle. To get a feel for that, pick a gear that offers virtually no resistance, then move your rear shifter a cog at a time so that it progressively gets harder. After a few clicks, you'll likely be in a range that is perfect for 90 (or so) RPMS.
    Live with intention. Walk to the edge. Listen hard. Practice wellness. Play with abandon. Laugh. Choose with no regret. Continue to learn. Appreciate your friends. Do what you love. Live as if this is all there is.

    --Mary Anne Radmacher

 

 

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