I'm quite new to racing (though I've been a commuter cyclist for a few years) and having just bought my first road bike I'm really keen to get hyper fit and lythe from cycling but I have a question I'm hoping someone can answer??
I'm carrying around 12kgs of extra weight at the moment which I want to burn off quickly and I live in a particularly hilly area of Sydney which means I'm almost killing myself on these hills (evil sadistic things they are).
What I'm wondering is whether the extra weight I'm carrying is what makes the hills so difficult for me and if I should just train on flat roads / parkways until I've trimmed down a bit OR if I should persist with the hills because I'll eventually be able to get up them without gasping for breath sooner or later - but will my legs become really big and muscly in the process? (not desirable as I just want slender sexy legs thanks.... I already have issue with my calves being chunky and I don't want to build them up any more than strictly necessary)..
I don't want to sound like some kind of bubble head just concerned with her looks - I just want my bod back and to have fun on the hills without dying.
My guess is you'll get skinnier legs from spinning at high cadence and bulkier legs from mashing. For sure the weight is holding you back on the hills and they will get easier both from getting fitter and from getting lighter.
I'd look at it more from the perspective of going on rides that interest you rather than whether they've got hills or not. Hills will make you stronger quicker than just riding on the flats. And they wont in themselves make your legs bulky. But you want to be enjoying your rides to make you keep doing it. Just keep mixing it up and putting in the miles. The weight will come off quickly and the hills will be no problem before you know it. They never stop hurting though. ;)
I don't think you'll ever get huge and bulky just from riding a bike - especially if riding isn't your full time profession. Beefy track sprinter types get theri size more from gym work than bike riding.
Also, sensible diet and plenty of riding (exercise) will help you lose the weight you say you need to, and this will result in overall body size diminishing so your legs should look more slender and toned....(and muscle tone is good!)
Oh, and the hills will get easier the more you ride them, but as badsac rightly states...they won't stop hurting tho. :(
after a few years those big bad hills turn into little bumps . as you lose the fat, some of the weight turns into muscle, so you will swap some fat for muscle, and you will lose some extra fat. the 12 kg of fat you want to lose (how do you know that it's 12 kg?) is holding you back: it's like carrying an extra bicycle around. the 4 kg of muscle you may gain will be helping you a lot too, so don't worry about not losing as much weight as you want to.
hills that hurt once eventually don't hurt anymore, but then bigger hills hurt instead.
if you just train on the flats, you quickly reach a point where there is no perceived need to work any harder. unless you get into TT racing, of course.
go on long interesting rides. it is really the length of time in the saddle (at a pace you can just keep up for two-three hours) that will get you fit and lose fat. sydney doesn't really have any difficult long climbs (aerobically speaking), although when you start it seems that way!. maybe some, like out of the royal, into waterfall. it certainly has some short bastard climbs, but when you get stronger you can just crank up them anaerobically. you really have to go to mountain country for climbs!
Just keep on riding ,how can you go wrong ?
Thanks folks for your insightful replies.
I'll definately be going on more interesting rides urodacus but I need to work up to that first I think. I'm riding thrice a week at the mo for an hour at a time just around Centennial Park and over to Watsons Bay only occasionally - because New South Head Road kills me!
I'm very focused on having a good time (hence avoidance of the hills I suppose) as that's all I'm really doing it for anyway - I'm no elite athlete by any stretch! I just want to lose enough weight and get fit enough to take my bike anywhere without struggling - Royal NP is on the list though!
I'm clear on the leg muscle thing now so thanks for your help everyone. xo
Take it easy
If you are new to racing you should not try to break any records right at the beginning. Take it easy. If I can be a bit patronising, try to achieve high cadance by spinning reasonable gears. One always suffers in the hills-that's the name of the game. The idea is to APPEAR you are NOT suffering, to look as if you are enjoying yourself. Looking relaxed (whilst you are hurting like hell) is THE strategy in the hills. Also, don't expect to shed all those kilos overnight. It all boils down to good eating habits and exercise. Enjoy your lager after training or racing but all in moderation. Above all, enjoy the sport of cycling! It is fabulous!!