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  1. #1
    Senior Member admcptch's Avatar
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    Getting back into it

    Hey everyone,

    Been reading around through various threads, a lot of great info about training. I've just got a few personal questions that I'd like some help with, if any help can be given.

    (a little background info...)
    About 3 years ago now, on my first bike, I did a few local races (longest was a 30mi road race, placed 3rd in age group (15 at the time)). For training, two friends of mine and a guy who used to race, (who was friends with one of my friends dad) we basically just did the 30mi course a couple times a week and then on days we weren't doing that we would go out on solo rides to put some miles on. We didn't do any intervals or anything like that. We did however on group rides do pacelines and all of that, so the three of us (my friends and I) got a feel for it and we all did well in the races because of it. That was the last year I seriously rode/raced my bike.

    Now, 3ish years later, I'm getting back into it. I took the two years off following that season to focus on swimming. I am/was a competitive swimmer and at the time I was trying to get recruited for college (that's another story). So I didn't want to chance getting injured or something and ruining a season when it was the time to really show potential college coaches what I could do. This year, after deciding that there was more to college than swimming (I swam for a branch campus of Penn State this year) and that the league I was swimming in was a joke, I decided to get back into cycling.

    I bought an '08 CAAD9 and I have been putting the miles on it since I have gotten home (got home last Wednesday). Basically so far I have just been taking the bike out for about 15-20 miles a day trying to get my cycling legs back. So far so good, as every ride my legs are less tired.

    My question is, should I continue on with just these moderate paced (with some sprints up hills), 15-18mph rides for a couple more weeks, or should I get into one of the various plans people have recommended? I got the recent Bicycling magazine as there were a few articles in it with basic training plans, which I can scan out later tonight so you guys can see them. They seem to be pretty similar to what a lot of people on here recommend.

    My biggest dilemma is that next week on Monday, I'm getting my wisdom teeth out. Hopefully I'm not sidelined for too long. I'm hoping that I won't lose what little I have built-up this week and have to restart after the teeth thing is healed up.

    I'm not sure if/how many races I'll be able to do this summer, due to coaching a local swim team, so this might just end up being a training summer, but in the fall another kid who rides is putting a cycling club together so we will be able to do some collegiate races.

    So the sparknotes of this long post are, should I continue to get my legs back by doing more moderate intensity/distance rides, or should I jump into a training schedule asap.

    Thanks everyone
    Last edited by admcptch; 05-12-09 at 04:28 PM. Reason: Somehow managed to misspell intervals...
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  2. #2
    umd
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    re: wisdom teeth, I guess it depends on how fast you heal and how well you handle pain. I didn't take any pain meds and didn't have any bleeding after a few hours and was riding again after 2 days IIRC.

    re: intervals, you need to establish more of a base or they will wear you out and you will spend more time recovering than training.

  3. #3
    Senior Member admcptch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by umd View Post
    re: wisdom teeth, I guess it depends on how fast you heal and how well you handle pain. I didn't take any pain meds and didn't have any bleeding after a few hours and was riding again after 2 days IIRC.

    re: intervals, you need to establish more of a base or they will wear you out and you will spend more time recovering than training.
    So I've heard about the teeth, I hope I am in the same boat as you were with regards to that.

    Can't believe I spelled intervals wrong, haha. I saw the bold V and I was like, "There is no way I spelled that wrong.." and sure enough I did.

    That's about what I thought with them too.

    Thanks, umd.
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  4. #4
    umd
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    You're young, you will probably heal quickly.

  5. #5
    Senior Member admcptch's Avatar
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    Haha, I hope so. Only 19. Doctor gave me some med to take the day before and the days after to help with swelling and what not.
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    Take this season to build up your base and do group rides. Try a few races if you feel up to it after riding harder group rides, but you might be better off just riding for a bit to get your legs back before starting to race.

    You have the aerobic fitness for it, you just have to get your legs used to the different effort.

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    Resident Alien Racer Ex's Avatar
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    First question is what kind of races in what Cat will you be doing? Second is are you result oriented right now or are you looking more towards long term goals? Finally, how many hours do you have to train/ride?

    The answers will make a big difference in how you would best approach things.

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    Senior Member admcptch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ridethecliche View Post
    Take this season to build up your base and do group rides. Try a few races if you feel up to it after riding harder group rides, but you might be better off just riding for a bit to get your legs back before starting to race.

    You have the aerobic fitness for it, you just have to get your legs used to the different effort.

    Welcome back
    That's what I'm thinking of doing. Looking for a local team to get in with. Quite a few around me.

    As you said, I do have the aerobic, but I absolutely need to get the legs back, haha.

    Quote Originally Posted by Racer Ex View Post
    First question is what kind of races in what Cat will you be doing? Second is are you result oriented right now or are you looking more towards long term goals? Finally, how many hours do you have to train/ride?

    The answers will make a big difference in how you would best approach things.
    Well I would be Cat5 to start. I enjoy road racing/riding, but I have never done a crit and would like to give a few of them a try. Probably more towards long term goals, I'm used to swimming where you don't put up the times you want to until the very last meet of the season, after 9 months of training.

    I have quite a few hours to train/ride. Home for the summer from school and the time that would normally have been devoted to swimming, I will be putting towards riding. The only other time commitments I have are the occasional lifeguard shift here and there and the coaching job I have.
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  9. #9
    Genetics have failed me Scummer's Avatar
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    I would try to find some fast training rides which run consistently every week and some fast weekend group rides. If you get dropped, don't worry, just keep coming back for more and you will get faster.
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    umd
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    Quote Originally Posted by Scummer View Post
    I would try to find some fast training rides which run consistently every week and some fast weekend group rides. If you get dropped, don't worry, just keep coming back for more and you will get faster.
    This is by far the best way for a beginner to get faster.

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    Resident Alien Racer Ex's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by umd View Post
    This is by far the best way for a beginner to get faster.
    "Best" is subjective, but I'd say the quickest way for a beginner to get faster is structured training plan if the person has a coach or some training knowledge. Anecdotally I've seen much more improvement from people using this path than I have from people who do the group ride thing. Certainly that was the case for me. And I still do very few group rides, the ones that I do are mostly to reduce boredom and when I'm working on TT and bridging efforts.

    I also avoid a lot of group rides because in a lot of the ones I've seen people ride like dangerous idiots.

    But doing a structured plan requires a level of commitment that's helped along by having some concrete goals, because it's not "fun" per se. I'm not getting that from the OP, though if he's coaching swimming his knowledge level might be higher than most newbies.

    My advice at this point would be to go do some races, figure out what you like, what you're strengths and weaknesses are, and if you want to seriously pursue it, get back to us. I'm not a "one size fits all" training advocate and you need to be able to self assess before jumping into any specifics.

  12. #12
    umd
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    Quote Originally Posted by Racer Ex View Post
    "Best" is subjective, but I'd say the quickest way for a beginner to get faster is structured training plan if the person has a coach or some training knowledge. Anecdotally I've seen much more improvement from people using this path than I have from people who do the group ride thing. Certainly that was the case for me. And I still do very few group rides, the ones that I do are mostly to reduce boredom and when I'm working on TT and bridging efforts.
    Even structured training "gods" like Friel recommend not starting structured training initially, that a certain amount of base "riding around" is desirable before going the disciplined structured route. Ok, so best is subjective of course, but for someone just starting out (a "beginner"), I think just going to a group and getting hammered into submission is going to provide better motivation than trying to follow a training plan without any kind of experience.

    I was not necessarily referring to the OP, who has some experience and is familiar with structured training from other sports, but a pure beginner.

  13. #13
    Senior Member admcptch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Scummer View Post
    I would try to find some fast training rides which run consistently every week and some fast weekend group rides. If you get dropped, don't worry, just keep coming back for more and you will get faster.
    Quote Originally Posted by umd View Post
    This is by far the best way for a beginner to get faster.
    This is mainly the most occurring bit of advice I have read in the newbie bike racer sticky. I will try and find some group rides, I found quite a few back where I am at school, so next year when I have my bike with me (won't be in the dorms like this year) I'll be able to do those.

    Quote Originally Posted by Racer Ex View Post
    "Best" is subjective, but I'd say the quickest way for a beginner to get faster is structured training plan if the person has a coach or some training knowledge. Anecdotally I've seen much more improvement from people using this path than I have from people who do the group ride thing. Certainly that was the case for me. And I still do very few group rides, the ones that I do are mostly to reduce boredom and when I'm working on TT and bridging efforts.

    I also avoid a lot of group rides because in a lot of the ones I've seen people ride like dangerous idiots.
    I do have training knowledge that came from swimming. I'd do intervals, distance swims, active recovery, etc. that is involved in the cycling training I have seen. So I am familiar with those concepts and how to do them in a pool. I would just need to learn more about how to apply them outside, on the road.

    The people riding like idiots is what concerns in as far as group rides go.

    Quote Originally Posted by Racer Ex View Post
    But doing a structured plan requires a level of commitment that's helped along by having some concrete goals, because it's not "fun" per se. I'm not getting that from the OP, though if he's coaching swimming his knowledge level might be higher than most newbies.

    My advice at this point would be to go do some races, figure out what you like, what you're strengths and weaknesses are, and if you want to seriously pursue it, get back to us. I'm not a "one size fits all" training advocate and you need to be able to self assess before jumping into any specifics.
    Not getting that as in, not reading here or what? As for commitment for training, I have been a competitive swimmer for 8 years and trained 10-11 months out of the year and in the time off I was in the gym to keep in shape. Training for swimming was never fun, races and meets on the other hand were. I assume it is the same way for those of you who race.

    I think I'll try and get a few races in to see. There are a couple local crits coming up and a few road races too. I think that is what I need to do, asses myself, and if I really want to pursue this sport more competitively.

    Quote Originally Posted by umd View Post
    Even structured training "gods" like Friel recommend not starting structured training initially, that a certain amount of base "riding around" is desirable before going the disciplined structured route. Ok, so best is subjective of course, but for someone just starting out (a "beginner"), I think just going to a group and getting hammered into submission is going to provide better motivation than trying to follow a training plan without any kind of experience.

    I was not necessarily referring to the OP, who has some experience and is familiar with structured training from other sports, but a pure beginner.
    I have the cardio and the background knowledge from my swimming for the various aspects of training. But I really do need to get my legs back and each day I have been home my legs have been feeling better. The real question is how long should I keep doing these rides to get my legs back. I would assume that if I am riding with a group it would be when I can keep up and not get dropped. My schedule is pretty wacky so I'm not sure how often I would be able to ride with a group as I normally wake up and ride early in the morning before I head down to the pool to coach.

    Thanks so far guys this is really getting me thinking.
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    Resident Alien Racer Ex's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by umd View Post
    Even structured training "gods" like Friel recommend not starting structured training initially
    The crux is how you define "initially". For me (and Friel BTW) it's pretty much what I stated, you need a self assessment period. I think actual races against your peer group is the best place to do this, vs. a group ride where some Cat 1 guy on a cross bike with 28c tires, fenders, and a frame pump rides off from you.

    They hate when I do that.

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    Resident Alien Racer Ex's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by admcptch View Post
    I do have training knowledge that came from swimming. I'd do intervals, distance swims, active recovery, etc. that is involved in the cycling training I have seen. So I am familiar with those concepts and how to do them in a pool. I would just need to learn more about how to apply them outside, on the road.
    The basic cycle is the same. Once you've figured out where your strengths and weaknesses are, and what racing you want to focus on (if anything in particular), then you can apply the same principles from swimming (overload/rest cycles)

    Quote Originally Posted by admcptch View Post
    The people riding like idiots is what concerns in as far as group rides go.
    Be careful. If you can find a mentor to help with pack riding that would be good. Just don't be one of those numbskulls who ends up in the oncoming lane, runs lights, Etc.

    Quote Originally Posted by admcptch View Post
    Not getting that as in, not reading here or what?
    Not getting that you've got any particular goals at the moment. You know from swimming it helps get you through tough workouts when you know you've got a big event on the horizon.

    Quote Originally Posted by admcptch View Post
    The real question is how long should I keep doing these rides to get my legs back. I would assume that if I am riding with a group it would be when I can keep up and not get dropped.
    That's the problem with group rides. It's hard to quantify if you've improved because there's a lot of variability in there. Before I got a power meter I'd do measured distance tests, if you can find a local TT series those are great. But it's a fluid thing, legs get better, legs get worse, they get really good, then they get really bad. You just have to judge when you think you're ready, an outside metric may not be the best way to do that.

  16. #16
    umd
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    Quote Originally Posted by Racer Ex View Post
    The crux is how you define "initially". For me (and Friel BTW) it's pretty much what I stated, you need a self assessment period. I think actual races against your peer group is the best place to do this, vs. a group ride where some Cat 1 guy on a cross bike with 28c tires, fenders, and a frame pump rides off from you.

    They hate when I do that.
    Fair enough

  17. #17
    Senior Member admcptch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Racer Ex View Post
    The basic cycle is the same. Once you've figured out where your strengths and weaknesses are, and what racing you want to focus on (if anything in particular), then you can apply the same principles from swimming (overload/rest cycles)
    That's exactly what I thought, same deal as swimming. Distance sprinters don't very often do a sprint set and sprinters don't very often do a distance set.

    Quote Originally Posted by Racer Ex View Post
    Be careful. If you can find a mentor to help with pack riding that would be good. Just don't be one of those numbskulls who ends up in the oncoming lane, runs lights, Etc.
    Yeah I'm going to need to find someone/group like that. There are a few local guys around here who do just that. Run lights, etc and a few of them have gotten hurt doing that.

    Quote Originally Posted by Racer Ex View Post
    Not getting that you've got any particular goals at the moment. You know from swimming it helps get you through tough workouts when you know you've got a big event on the horizon.
    Gotcha, that's what I thought you meant. I know exactly what you mean. My main goal right now is to get back into riding. I need something to replace swimming (haven't stopped swimming but I'm no longer on a team that I compete for) and I have always enjoyed going out and riding and I want to take that to the next level to fill the space that swimming once took. Maybe I'll set me sights on a race some time this summer and give that my best shot.

    Quote Originally Posted by Racer Ex View Post
    That's the problem with group rides. It's hard to quantify if you've improved because there's a lot of variability in there. Before I got a power meter I'd do measured distance tests, if you can find a local TT series those are great. But it's a fluid thing, legs get better, legs get worse, they get really good, then they get really bad. You just have to judge when you think you're ready, an outside metric may not be the best way to do that.
    There's a local TT group that runs every week about 40 minutes from me, maybe I can check that out. Once again, same as swimming, days you feel great, next day you feel awful. The joys of training
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  18. #18
    Genetics have failed me Scummer's Avatar
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    In my case for the Tuesday nighters there is a A and a B group. A = cat1,2,3 B=4,5
    If you can find a setup like that you'd be golden, because the 4/5 group should be at the speed you need for now. Just make sure you watch the other riders and see how they behave and make sure you follow a wheel which is not swerving left and right.
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    I honestly think you should just ride around for a bit as you've been doing. Just get used to spending time on the bike and getting comfortable.

    As far as how much to ride/what to ride. Start upping your mileage by about 5-10% a week if you can. Don't ride so hard that you blow up after ride, instead ride hard enough that you're feeling challenged but you're not heaving on the bike.

    As you do these rides, you might notice that you start to get slower over a few days as you get more fatigued, when this starts happening and you feel that you can't get a good ride in because you're tired, take a day or two off. Then start riding again. Make sure to take a day or two off when your body's letting you know that it needs a little rest.

    Listen to your body when it hurts, is tired, or something just doesn't feel right.

    I honestly think that someone riding for their first year with the intention of getting competitive should spend a lot of time just riding like this, and toying around with a few races and group rides while just building up some fitness.

    If you start your own training plan from what you read and are told, you might just blow yourself up because your body isn't used to it.

    Due to bad technique and trying too hard too early in the season, I got tendinitis and had to take off for 2 weeks. It still hurts every now and then so I have to be really careful.

    Good luck riding!

    -A 20 year old in his first 'serious' year racing
    I'm getting a coach this year, so lets see how that goes.
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  20. #20
    Senior Member admcptch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Scummer View Post
    In my case for the Tuesday nighters there is a A and a B group. A = cat1,2,3 B=4,5
    If you can find a setup like that you'd be golden, because the 4/5 group should be at the speed you need for now. Just make sure you watch the other riders and see how they behave and make sure you follow a wheel which is not swerving left and right.
    That's what I'd like to find. Gotta check out the couple local team websites and see what can be found.

    Quote Originally Posted by ridethecliche View Post
    I honestly think you should just ride around for a bit as you've been doing. Just get used to spending time on the bike and getting comfortable.

    As far as how much to ride/what to ride. Start upping your mileage by about 5-10% a week if you can. Don't ride so hard that you blow up after ride, instead ride hard enough that you're feeling challenged but you're not heaving on the bike.

    As you do these rides, you might notice that you start to get slower over a few days as you get more fatigued, when this starts happening and you feel that you can't get a good ride in because you're tired, take a day or two off. Then start riding again. Make sure to take a day or two off when your body's letting you know that it needs a little rest.

    Listen to your body when it hurts, is tired, or something just doesn't feel right.

    I honestly think that someone riding for their first year with the intention of getting competitive should spend a lot of time just riding like this, and toying around with a few races and group rides while just building up some fitness.

    If you start your own training plan from what you read and are told, you might just blow yourself up because your body isn't used to it.

    Due to bad technique and trying too hard too early in the season, I got tendinitis and had to take off for 2 weeks. It still hurts every now and then so I have to be really careful.

    Good luck riding!

    -A 20 year old in his first 'serious' year racing
    I'm getting a coach this year, so lets see how that goes.
    Thanks! I'll try the 5-10% increases. I feel like that's probably a good idea.
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