I've been riding "seriously" since late April, after a 15-plus-year layoff. I was kinda a serious roadie in college, but hadn't really ridden since marriage, grad school, kids, etc. Even sold the bikes (I miss my '85 C'dale SR-900!!!) and everything. Coupla years ago I got a Trek 4300 hardtail, to ride the neighborhood with my son. Last year he took up riding for the Cycling merit badge, so I rode most of their Saturday rides last summer. This prompted a gradual switch to 1.2" slicks, clipless pedals & shoes, and bar ends. We rode a 50-miler at the end of last summer, which was excruciating because the boys wanted to poke along at 10 MPH or so. 50 miles in the saddle isn't too bad (I'd done it in college several times on club rides) - 6 HOURS (counting breaks) on the road introduced me to placed I didn't know could hurt. Then I pretty much stopped riding (big mistake) because he stopped riding.
I started again in April at 6'0" 244 (ding!) riding 2-3 days a week. My usual rides are either 13 or 22 miles, and I'd been frustratingly "stuck" at an average of 14-14.5 MPH for the ride. No matter what I tried, I'd check when I hit the garage and there it'd be, laughing at me: 14.5. After some motivational reading here, I pushed my pace a bit yesterday and finished the 22 mile circuit at an average of 15.0! YAY! My goal is to ride the Metric century this year when my son's troop goes to ride the 50 miler again, get back on a road bike when I can afford to get one, after I can get my pace up a bit, and spin out the top or next-to-top gear most of the time on the flats. And a century in 2010!
I'm still at 244, but feel better. I'm sure my BP is lower, and I think my clothes are getting bigger...
So keep it up! The breakthroughs will come if you keep plugging!
congrats! I have the 4300 as well, and have been commuting with it for just over 1 month. I have had the bike for years, but it was used for neighborhood, and occasional trail riding. I hear you on the pace thing, though. I am stuck in the 14.5 rut myself, though I am not sweating it too much since the overall ride still only takes about 38 minutes, and it is hilly. I am contemplating doing a 20 mile loop tomorrow, but for now it has just been 10 miles each way for work.