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Clydesdales/Athenas (200+ lb / 91+ kg) Looking to lose that spare tire? Ideal weight 200+? Frustrated being a large cyclist in a sport geared for the ultra-light? Learn about the bikes and parts that can take the abuse of a heavier cyclist, how to keep your body going while losing the weight, and get support from others who've been successful.

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Old 05-07-16, 06:25 PM   #1
Lightchop
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My performance is dropping

Hi everyone. I got back into biking last summer, and after a couple months of effort, I could pretty reliably complete my 15.10 mile "daily" ride in 50-52 minutes (17.5-ish mph). My record was 48:49 which averaged over 18 mph, which I was very pleased with. I have pretty meticulous records, and towards the end of the fall, I just didn't do anything over 51 minutes on this circuit.

My weight was ~270 - big boned - at the start and I recall hitting 255-ish by the fall.

After a bad-ish crash to finish my ride on October 14th (I finished in under 51 minutes though!), I did not ride the rest of the year. The crash was the garden variety "head over bars" doing a u-turn on my driveway at the finish of the ride.

I then had microdiscectomy surgery in early December to fix my back (nothing to do with the crash). My 2016 resolution was to ride 10 miles per day, and after a slow start to the year (I got back on a bike a bit too quick), as of today (May 7), I am 80 miles over my 10 miles-per-day target.

But my performance just sucks.

Due to the weather, much of my rides in Jan-Mar were at a few gyms where I've been making an effort to get my cadence up. I don't trust gym bikes, but my performance at the gym is way up by the numbers - I have increased my average on the same two gym bikes from 19 to now 20+ mph, always using a setting of 12, whatever that means. But point being I can see the fruits of my labor there.

However on a real bike, I have gone backwards.

Starting in April this year I got back to the usual outdoor circuit, and my results for this circuit this year has been (in minutes) - granted only 4 runs so far:
53.4 (17.02 mph)
55.7 (16.30)
54.5 (16.65)
55.1 (16.54) - today - and I really felt I was going fast, getting aero, and timed the few intersections perfectly - no stops!

Again, this is compared to my 2015 "average" of 50-52 minutes and PB of <49 minutes.

I've also done multiple of my 30 mile rides, and a few 50 and one 85 mile ride. But of course those are slower and cant be directly compared.

I typically take 1 or 2 consecutive days off from riding nowadays. So I think I'm getting enough recovery.

Now my weight and diet. As you might expect after my downtime after my crash, and going through surgery and recovery, I got back up to 270 lbs by end of year. This year I've gotten back down and touched 250. I've been smarter about food - probably what a typical person would call normal. Not drinking alcohol as much, no sugary drinks (except beer and margaritas on occasion), no french fries, etc. I could probably be told I'm not feeding myself after my rides very well (I don't do anything in particular after a 15 or 30 mile ride besides rehydrate & eat a normal lunch/dinner, etc).

I swear, I finish my rides now and think - "how did I ever finish this 5 minutes faster?"

So question is, how can I lose 5+ minutes off of my performance on a 15 mile ride? Especially when I've been working on better cadence at the gym and generally think I am in better physical shape?

I suppose I'm secretly hoping someone says "oh you don't know - you will gain 10% when the temperature hits 75 degrees".

Does anyone have any guidance, recommendations or similar experience to share?

Thanks!
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Old 05-07-16, 06:44 PM   #2
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A better bike? At least make sure your bicycle is well tuned. Tires, bearings, etc.

It sounds to me like you're pretty close to your goal, and reaching your absolute fastest speed is meant to be tough. More time on the bike?

Pinballing the weight around won't help.
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Old 05-08-16, 04:19 AM   #3
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Do that once a week. Why on earth are you doing the same ride day after day? Do one long ride, usually an easy one, once a week. There are lots of books and plans and such if you want to improve your performance.

But I will leave you with the best cycling advice ever given, from Eddy Merckx.

"ride lots"
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Old 05-08-16, 06:05 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by Lightchop View Post
Hi everyone. I got back into biking last summer, and after a couple months of effort, I could pretty reliably complete my 15.10 mile "daily" ride in 50-52 minutes (17.5-ish mph). My record was 48:49 which averaged over 18 mph, which I was very pleased with. I have pretty meticulous records, and towards the end of the fall, I just didn't do anything over 51 minutes on this circuit.

My weight was ~270 - big boned - at the start and I recall hitting 255-ish by the fall.

After a bad-ish crash to finish my ride on October 14th (I finished in under 51 minutes though!), I did not ride the rest of the year. The crash was the garden variety "head over bars" doing a u-turn on my driveway at the finish of the ride.

I then had microdiscectomy surgery in early December to fix my back (nothing to do with the crash). My 2016 resolution was to ride 10 miles per day, and after a slow start to the year (I got back on a bike a bit too quick), as of today (May 7), I am 80 miles over my 10 miles-per-day target.

But my performance just sucks.

Due to the weather, much of my rides in Jan-Mar were at a few gyms where I've been making an effort to get my cadence up. I don't trust gym bikes, but my performance at the gym is way up by the numbers - I have increased my average on the same two gym bikes from 19 to now 20+ mph, always using a setting of 12, whatever that means. But point being I can see the fruits of my labor there.

However on a real bike, I have gone backwards.

Starting in April this year I got back to the usual outdoor circuit, and my results for this circuit this year has been (in minutes) - granted only 4 runs so far:
53.4 (17.02 mph)
55.7 (16.30)
54.5 (16.65)
55.1 (16.54) - today - and I really felt I was going fast, getting aero, and timed the few intersections perfectly - no stops!

Again, this is compared to my 2015 "average" of 50-52 minutes and PB of <49 minutes.

I've also done multiple of my 30 mile rides, and a few 50 and one 85 mile ride. But of course those are slower and cant be directly compared.

I typically take 1 or 2 consecutive days off from riding nowadays. So I think I'm getting enough recovery.

Now my weight and diet. As you might expect after my downtime after my crash, and going through surgery and recovery, I got back up to 270 lbs by end of year. This year I've gotten back down and touched 250. I've been smarter about food - probably what a typical person would call normal. Not drinking alcohol as much, no sugary drinks (except beer and margaritas on occasion), no french fries, etc. I could probably be told I'm not feeding myself after my rides very well (I don't do anything in particular after a 15 or 30 mile ride besides rehydrate & eat a normal lunch/dinner, etc).

I swear, I finish my rides now and think - "how did I ever finish this 5 minutes faster?"

So question is, how can I lose 5+ minutes off of my performance on a 15 mile ride? Especially when I've been working on better cadence at the gym and generally think I am in better physical shape?

I suppose I'm secretly hoping someone says "oh you don't know - you will gain 10% when the temperature hits 75 degrees".

Does anyone have any guidance, recommendations or similar experience to share?

Thanks!
It is not unusual to be way off your best time after a long layoff. I have close to a 1000 miles in already this season, but I am still a few minutes slower than my best time at the end of last year. give it a fw more weeks, and keep pushing it.
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Old 05-08-16, 09:25 AM   #5
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Do that once a week. Why on earth are you doing the same ride day after day? Do one long ride, usually an easy one, once a week. There are lots of books and plans and such if you want to improve your performance.

But I will leave you with the best cycling advice ever given, from Eddy Merckx.

"ride lots"
Funny, i caught myself midway through my post when I realized I had only done my "typical" run 4 times this year! I've actually done more 30 milers than my usual 15 miler this year. But your point is taken to mix it up.

Todays ride was even worse @ 57 min! But I'll chalk that up to underfueled - I did not eat anything as I am off to a big Mothers Day brunch in 30 mins

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It is not unusual to be way off your best time after a long layoff. I have close to a 1000 miles in already this season, but I am still a few minutes slower than my best time at the end of last year. give it a fw more weeks, and keep pushing it.
Thanks. That is encouraging.

Come to think of it, the only tinkering on my bike this year was that I had the seat slid back an inch. And I'm still having to sit back on my seat to be comfortable. I suspect my top tube might be too short for me, and sitting back puts my legs in an inefficient position to create power.

Part of the solution here will be to get properly sized when I get a road bike - hopefully soon!
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Old 05-08-16, 02:51 PM   #6
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I have the same problem - sprained the HELL out of my ankle the Sunday before Thanksgiving and basically had two months off. I'm still not back to where I was last year.

Most people will tell you to get a bunch of base miles in before you start hammering for speed so I'll tell you the same thing. Go get 500 or 1000 easy miles in your legs before you start worrying about being slower than before.
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Old 05-08-16, 08:30 PM   #7
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there are two things that really effect ave speeds solo

Hills

Wind

How much effort you put into those two areas is likely where your differences are. If you fitness is good/steadym, Allot of it is mental on how much effort you have for the day or want to put into it.
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Old 05-08-16, 09:38 PM   #8
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I was told by my tennis coach that you don't play tennis to get in shape, you get in shape to play tennis.

So, you are getting in shape to ride faster by trying to ride faster?

Have you thought about cross-training? Developing the muscle groups that allow you to go faster? 5 Exercises to Build a Better Body for Cycling | Men's Fitness
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Old 05-08-16, 10:04 PM   #9
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........... I suppose I'm secretly hoping someone says "oh you don't know - you will gain 10% when the temperature hits 75 degrees".
Spinning in the gym ain't nothing like riding a bike. This is a new season... and your starting over after a winter of not riding. Give yourself a little time.


Pedal faster... or change gears.
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Old 05-08-16, 10:38 PM   #10
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I'd mix in intervals and really work on both pushing your engine to its extremes (like lung-busting all-out sprint interval workouts mixed in with very slow paced endurance rides.) The fact that you're doing the same exercise more often means you'll see a plateau with nowhere to go but the same place.

Introducing a different stimulus will elicit a different response.

I'd go 2 days hard work intervals with 2-3 days of long endurance rides, and if you want extra credit then spend time doing some weight work/stretching elsewhere. Doesn't even have to be weights. Plyometrics will work miracles, and a strong core will further refine your form.
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Old 05-09-16, 08:55 AM   #11
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Just to be different and mess with trojan I am going to go the other way. The science of training seems to me to be changing. Before it was lots of miles in zone 3. Today HIIT seems to offer much faster gains with much less time.

My anecdotal evidence would bear that out.
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Old 05-09-16, 09:35 AM   #12
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Just to be different and mess with trojan I am going to go the other way. The science of training seems to me to be changing. Before it was lots of miles in zone 3. Today HIIT seems to offer much faster gains with much less time.

My anecdotal evidence would bear that out.
Yeah, but you should be doing intervals after you get some miles in your quads. Speaking of which, I really need to start taking intervals seriously.

Oh, or do hills... lots of hills. There's just no faking it on a hill.
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Old 05-09-16, 09:47 AM   #13
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The wind has been slowing me down a lot over the last week or so, you won't have to fight it in the gym but it's a huge factor out on the road. I didn't ride any during January and February, started back the last of March and was back down to the averages of when I started riding last summer but improved quickly. I've started using HRM and try to hold to a range which helps me (I ride alone and tend to get lazy on the bike).
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Old 05-09-16, 09:49 AM   #14
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Do you have your GPS in your pocket? It's useful to have one good piece of info you can see during the ride. I liked using average speed. It takes a lot of sustained work to punch that up and you can see the improvement.
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Old 05-09-16, 01:26 PM   #15
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Yeah, but you should be doing intervals after you get some miles in your quads. Speaking of which, I really need to start taking intervals seriously.

Oh, or do hills... lots of hills. There's just no faking it on a hill.
Hills, hills, and more hills. And a HRM.

I tried something different this year. Instead of doing a ton of base miles this year I really put the effort into hammering the hills.
I have a mile and a half long hill on my normal route (I live at the top).
Nothing major... 4-5% grade kicking up to 7-8% towards the top.
I've worked on pushing my heart rate up to just below max and holding it there as long as I can and then recovering.
Repeating 2-3 until I get to the top.
I then turn around and climb it 2-3 more times.

I also try to pack as many other hills, that I know will push my heart rate up, into my rides as possible.
On them I really try to focus in on my breathing.

Last week I downloaded the Garmin on to the computer just to see how things were going and I noticed that I came with in 20 seconds or so of my PR on the hill by my house...On my cross bike...In early May (my PR was set last year end of July)
Of course the next day I jumped on the road bike to see if I could top my PR.
I smashed it by 45 seconds. And then came with in 6 seconds of my new PR the very next day.
I knew I was feeling good on the bike and my legs were feeling strong but I would not have thought that I could challenge my PR's this early in the season.
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Old 05-10-16, 01:40 PM   #16
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Between weather and travelling I ended up with only 3 real rides in April. After a winter of 1-2 indoor strength/power interval sessions per week killing my endurance enough, April just destroyed me. I'm physically stronger than last year by quite a bit, but I can't make use of it because my base wasted away. Rides that were routine in September are pretty tough right now.

Watching my power numbers on hill repeats I should be at or near my personal best (and I was in mid-March), but two of what I would normally consider relatively trivial group rides on the two days before repeat night just leave me wrecked. I'd lost about 60% off my comfortable ride distance.

It comes back quickly enough, though, if you let it and stay on top of your recovery/rest. Just ride to the same perceived effort and you'll get back to where you were. It's pretty hard to keep from beating yourself up about it, but it's just the way things work. When your base fitness gets back to where it was all of your gym work will pay off and you'll be ahead of where you were.
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Old 05-13-16, 02:35 PM   #17
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There are a lot of variables in elapsed time over a course. Are you using a cycle computer ?? (I hope so). If so and it is a GPS equipped one then create a bunch of segments in sections of the ride where there isnt anything variable that can make you alter your riding style/speed. Also are you using an HRM (I hope so)...if not you are strictly working off of RPE (ratio of perceived effort)..which is not terribly reliable really.

It took me a LONG time to throw down for a Garmin Edge 510, in reality I should have done so a lot sooner. I used Cyclemeter on a smart phone before that....and it is "ok".....but the Garmin is very nice :-).

I have a 20 mile canned loop that I ride a lot, pays to get to know where the dogs are :-). But WIND can be very different day to day, it is not SUPER hilly but hills and terrain can change the impact of wind on the speed one can achieve for a given heart rate, when it really "opens up" as far as wind breaks go a wind that was not kicking your a** suddenly starts to do so, especially when you are on an uphill. Crops make wind different too, Tall corn can TURN a quartering wind into a head on wind (or tail on) almost if the other terrain and wind breaks make it so.

I have ridden that loop oh heck I bet 300 times in the last few years and unless it is dead calm it is "different" every time. And when it gets REALLY hot the road surface gets "sticky" almost in some places where it is tar bound.

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Old 05-16-16, 08:49 AM   #18
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There are a lot of variables in elapsed time over a course. Are you using a cycle computer ?? (I hope so). If so and it is a GPS equipped one then create a bunch of segments in sections of the ride where there isnt anything variable that can make you alter your riding style/speed. Also are you using an HRM (I hope so)...if not you are strictly working off of RPE (ratio of perceived effort)..which is not terribly reliable really.

It took me a LONG time to throw down for a Garmin Edge 510, in reality I should have done so a lot sooner. I used Cyclemeter on a smart phone before that....and it is "ok".....but the Garmin is very nice :-).

I have a 20 mile canned loop that I ride a lot, pays to get to know where the dogs are :-). But WIND can be very different day to day, it is not SUPER hilly but hills and terrain can change the impact of wind on the speed one can achieve for a given heart rate, when it really "opens up" as far as wind breaks go a wind that was not kicking your a** suddenly starts to do so, especially when you are on an uphill. Crops make wind different too, Tall corn can TURN a quartering wind into a head on wind (or tail on) almost if the other terrain and wind breaks make it so.

I have ridden that loop oh heck I bet 300 times in the last few years and unless it is dead calm it is "different" every time. And when it gets REALLY hot the road surface gets "sticky" almost in some places where it is tar bound.

Bill
I did that all season last year: rode the same loop over and over and over again. 150-plus times. I still ride that loop on my commutes, but I plan to mix up my recreation rides a bit more this year. Bottom line though is I agree with you and what you wrote. You need to really understand your route to assess performance.

I know every segment of that ride. I know my times on each: the good, the bad and the ugly. It's like clockwork now. One hour to get here; half an hour to get there. If I fall off a bit in between, I know it and give myself a push to get back on the game. Some people fail to see the fun in doing that though. But, I think they are missing out on a golden opportunity.
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Old 05-16-16, 02:12 PM   #19
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I did that all season last year: rode the same loop over and over and over again. 150-plus times. I still ride that loop on my commutes, but I plan to mix up my recreation rides a bit more this year. Bottom line though is I agree with you and what you wrote. You need to really understand your route to assess performance.

I know every segment of that ride. I know my times on each: the good, the bad and the ugly. It's like clockwork now. One hour to get here; half an hour to get there. If I fall off a bit in between, I know it and give myself a push to get back on the game. Some people fail to see the fun in doing that though. But, I think they are missing out on a golden opportunity.
There is a structured workplace not far from here, where mostly Autistic but some other diagnosis people go to work on a farm with animals and a green house. They built a Labyrinth...not a maze, a Labyrinth is not meant to confuse and befuddle you...it is just a pattern you fairly easily follow to the center...but you must follow the pattern :-).

The owner made a comment in the newspaper. About the act of going through it calming the "Lizard Brain". Sometimes I wonder if a canned ride could do that :-). I do have several others I have worked up but my proximity to a Turnpike here can make wandering out of known territory less than calming as the roads get really screwy. That is fine well and good but sometimes it is dumping one onto a busy highway one would rather not ride.

here is their Labyrinth

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Old 05-17-16, 07:45 AM   #20
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There is a structured workplace not far from here, where mostly Autistic but some other diagnosis people go to work on a farm with animals and a green house. They built a Labyrinth...not a maze, a Labyrinth is not meant to confuse and befuddle you...it is just a pattern you fairly easily follow to the center...but you must follow the pattern :-).

The owner made a comment in the newspaper. About the act of going through it calming the "Lizard Brain". Sometimes I wonder if a canned ride could do that :-). I do have several others I have worked up but my proximity to a Turnpike here can make wandering out of known territory less than calming as the roads get really screwy. That is fine well and good but sometimes it is dumping one onto a busy highway one would rather not ride.

here is their Labyrinth

I buy into that. I love turning off my conscious thinking cap while riding and just focusing in on the six feet that are in front of my wheel. I can get into quite a zone that way, knock off a quick ten miles without even realizing it.
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Old 05-17-16, 08:08 AM   #21
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I've got the same sort of loop that I ride — actually two variations of the same thing: a 13 mile version and an 18 mile route that encompasses the same 13 mile route but with a 5 mile extension. I ride them often and use the data to gauge my training. For me, I keep an eye on average speed which should increase over the course of the season. I have the Garmin 520 set to break down my rides by mile so I can geek out on each segment of the ride including a couple of big-a** hills.
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