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  1. #1
    Senior Member cod.peace's Avatar
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    Speed after ~1 year of cycling

    Here's a plot I made. I don't always track everything (indeed there're some glaring gaps in the data, although spring househunting took a big bite out of cycling). It's a plot of my average ride speeds on rides typically of length 5-20 miles, combined with a log fit to show the trend. why log? well, it's gotta flatten out at some point As you can see, the trend is increasing and I can now rate myself as having moved from glacially slow to awfully slow. That last data point is 16.2 mph over 19.8 miles with 1000' of climbing yesterday, a ride which including chasing down 2 roadies...not that they knew I was behind them, but they did provide a nice incentive, and that's what it's all about, right? In the process I've also become 15 lbs lighter. Another 36 lbs to go and I'll reward myself with a newer, lighter, faster bike in the spring of 2010.

    Last edited by cod.peace; 09-20-09 at 09:44 PM.
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  2. #2
    Senior Member Jtgyk's Avatar
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    Dude!

    Compared to you, after my two years, I'm standing still.
    I'm elated if I manage an avg of 12-13mph on my rides (does not happen too often, at that).
    I'm going great on the flat (18-20mph) but at 365lbs...the hills eat my lunch.
    Great job on the improvement!
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  3. #3
    Senior Member nkfrench's Avatar
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    Sorry cod.peace, can't see your graph...

    Same topic here after 1 year of cycling - so I hope I'm not hijacking your thread.

    I had my big "teachable moment" and made a Jan 2007 New Year's resolution to fix my lifestyle and get back in shape. I started swimming regularly, ate a healthy diet, lost about 100 pounds from there to Mar 2008. I got into decent cardiovascular shape. Then I had a setback with a major brain surgery and a bout on steroids to reduce cerebral edema. The steroids gave me a huge appetite, vigorous exercise was absolutely not allowed, and I needed to focus on getting healthy rather than on poundage. Jun 2008 I started riding the bike and built up from bike rides measured in blocks to 20 mile rides by end of summer.

    In Nov 2008 I bought a new bike that was more fun to ride, lighter, and fit me perfectly. At the time my lifetime longest ride was 25 miles; or 35 miles r/t on a commute.

    By Jan 2009 I had built up to some 50 mile rides with rolling hills, some short but steep 11% grade hills, averaged mid 13mph to low 14. I gained about 10 more pounds in the process, lots of leg muscle but also increased my % bodyfat by a few percent.

    Fast forward to now (Sep 2009). I've increased my average monthly mileage and get 300-400 miles/month. My parttime commute 1-hour route has rolling hills with some 10% short climbs and I ride hard. I do group rides 1-2 times a week. I swim once a week to try to keep my upper body strength, but I've lost some.

    My resting heartrate is now down to the low 40's. B/P is good, 110/70 on last check. I've lost 20 pounds in the past couple of months to my pre-surgery weight and my body fat is coming down. I have to ride pretty hard to keep up on our group rides, so a lot of it is quite intense exercise. While the others are chatting, I am working too hard to talk. My heartrate monitor shows much of my riding to be 160bpm or above (I am guessing my max is 182; I am 53 years old). Riding at the higher heartrates is easier on me than it used to be, so I am able to redline on hills yet keep riding over the top and recover on the downhills (ie, no CPR stops at the top).

    My diet is just focusing on simple fruits, vegs; modest portions of lean meat (mostly fish, chicken); non-fat dairy (milk, yogurt); cut back on processed foods, sugar, white bread in favor of whole-grain; lower fat. Probably 1500-2000 kcals per day if I am riding, less if it's a rest day.

    What's bugging me about all this ? My average speed was marginally faster 9 months ago, the first times I tried the 50 mile routes I still benchmark my progress on today. Labor Day I cratered on a group 42 mile ride and struggled to finish (almost a DNF), beat up by the heat, humidity and hills and the low calories leading up to the ride. This is pretty much the same group I've ridden with most of the year. Most of them are improving their speeds while riding half as much as I do. I am commuting barely around 12mph; barely average 13mph on longer rides where we don't have to slow or stop for traffic.

    * How long does it typically take to "plateau out" after starting on the bike?
    * Am I actually riding better but just getting beat up by the summer heat/humidity?
    * Do the Mr Tuffys and heavier tubes/tires make that much difference ? (I have a great, light racing bike) Since I commute on the bike, I want to avoid flats on the way to work especially in the dark.
    * I'll ask the neurologist if the anti-seizure meds I was put on in January are related. My regular blood tests shows good numbers and I am not anemic.
    * How badly does the process of 2lb/week weight loss affect speed?
    * Will I ever get any faster ? I have 55-65 pounds to go. I lost my Clyde standings but I am still an Athena. I am hoping once the extra body fat is gone my heat tolerance and hill climbing will improve dramatically.
    Last edited by nkfrench; 09-21-09 at 03:06 PM.

  4. #4
    Galveston County Texas 10 Wheels's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nkfrench View Post

    * How long does it typically take to "plateau out" after starting on the bike?
    * Am I actually riding better but just getting beat up by the summer heat/humidity?
    * Do the Mr Tuffys and heavier tubes/tires make that much difference ? (I have a great, light racing bike) Since I commute on the bike, I want to avoid flats on the way to work especially in the dark.
    * I'll ask the neurologist if the anti-seizure meds I was put on in January are related. My regular blood tests shows good numbers and I am not anemic.
    * How badly does the process of 2lb/week weight loss affect speed?
    * Will I ever get any faster ? I have 55-65 pounds to go. I lost my Clyde standings but I am still an Athena. I am hoping once the extra body fat is gone my heat tolerance and hill climbing will improve dramatically.
    Dump the Tuffys and learn to fix flats.
    What s The Need for Speed deal ?
    Thank God each morning you are still able to ride a bike.
    Eat for energy and enjoy riding.
    You seem to be overthinking the whole thing.

    Your on Meds. They all have side effects that control your life.

  5. #5
    Senior Member nkfrench's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 10 Wheels View Post
    What s The Need for Speed deal ?
    So I can keep up with my friends on group rides.

  6. #6
    Galveston County Texas 10 Wheels's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nkfrench View Post
    So I can keep up with my friends on group rides.
    Guess you could always look for new slower friends?

  7. #7
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    Love your determination. I too am a fairly new cyclist at 1 year 3 months. (i'm 54) I think the gains you see initially are impressive, then you seem to hit a plateau. I found that many of my rides were done at too strong a pace. Like any training program, you need to have a balance of aerobic, threshold, anaerobic etc. I made the same mistakes when I was a runner, always ran too hard cuz its fun to go fast. Without a good aerobic base, your speed will peter out quickly.

    I realized that I was getting into a hole. Got a coach, and also started to cross train. I pay attention to my heart rate monitor now. I swim and run now as well as some strength training. The bike training/riding is more structured now. Sure, its less bike mileage when I was riding 6 days a week, but when I ride, I feel fresh and excited to get on the bike. The swimming/running/gym helps develop the core muscles which will help in cycling. Thats not to say I love the gym

    The group I am with is a triathlon group and I might do one next year. However, they do some strong cycling training in the season, with time trials, hill repeats etc. You might look to join such a group. Hammerfest long rides with the buddies are great, but they are not training.



    Quote Originally Posted by nkfrench View Post
    Sorry cod.piece, can't see your graph...

    Same topic here after 1 year of cycling - so I hope I'm not hijacking your thread.

    I had my big "teachable moment" and made a Jan 2007 New Year's resolution to fix my lifestyle and get back in shape. I started swimming regularly, ate a healthy diet, lost about 100 pounds from there to Mar 2008. I got into decent cardiovascular shape. Then I had a setback with a major brain surgery and a bout on steroids to reduce cerebral edema. The steroids gave me a huge appetite, vigorous exercise was absolutely not allowed, and I needed to focus on getting healthy rather than on poundage. Jun 2008 I started riding the bike and built up from bike rides measured in blocks to 20 mile rides by end of summer.

    In Nov 2008 I bought a new bike that was more fun to ride, lighter, and fit me perfectly. At the time my lifetime longest ride was 25 miles; or 35 miles r/t on a commute.

    By Jan 2009 I had built up to some 50 mile rides with rolling hills, some short but steep 11% grade hills, averaged mid 13mph to low 14. I gained about 10 more pounds in the process, lots of leg muscle but also increased my % bodyfat by a few percent.

    Fast forward to now (Sep 2009). I've increased my average monthly mileage and get 300-400 miles/month. My parttime commute 1-hour route has rolling hills with some 10% short climbs and I ride hard. I do group rides 1-2 times a week. I swim once a week to try to keep my upper body strength, but I've lost some.

    My resting heartrate is now down to the low 40's. B/P is good, 110/70 on last check. I've lost 20 pounds in the past couple of months to my pre-surgery weight and my body fat is coming down. I have to ride pretty hard to keep up on our group rides, so a lot of it is quite intense exercise. While the others are chatting, I am working too hard to talk. My heartrate monitor shows much of my riding to be 160bpm or above (I am guessing my max is 182; I am 53 years old). Riding at the higher heartrates is easier on me than it used to be, so I am able to redline on hills yet keep riding over the top and recover on the downhills (ie, no CPR stops at the top).

    My diet is just focusing on simple fruits, vegs; modest portions of lean meat (mostly fish, chicken); non-fat dairy (milk, yogurt); cut back on processed foods, sugar, white bread in favor of whole-grain; lower fat. Probably 1500-2000 kcals per day if I am riding, less if it's a rest day.

    What's bugging me about all this ? My average speed was marginally faster 9 months ago, the first times I tried the 50 mile routes I still benchmark my progress on today. Labor Day I cratered on a group 42 mile ride and struggled to finish (almost a DNF), beat up by the heat, humidity and hills and the low calories leading up to the ride. This is pretty much the same group I've ridden with most of the year. Most of them are improving their speeds while riding half as much as I do. I am commuting barely around 12mph; barely average 13mph on longer rides where we don't have to slow or stop for traffic.

    * How long does it typically take to "plateau out" after starting on the bike?
    * Am I actually riding better but just getting beat up by the summer heat/humidity?
    * Do the Mr Tuffys and heavier tubes/tires make that much difference ? (I have a great, light racing bike) Since I commute on the bike, I want to avoid flats on the way to work especially in the dark.
    * I'll ask the neurologist if the anti-seizure meds I was put on in January are related. My regular blood tests shows good numbers and I am not anemic.
    * How badly does the process of 2lb/week weight loss affect speed?
    * Will I ever get any faster ? I have 55-65 pounds to go. I lost my Clyde standings but I am still an Athena. I am hoping once the extra body fat is gone my heat tolerance and hill climbing will improve dramatically.
    Cervelo P2C & Cervelo R3

  8. #8
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    I don't see the graph, but I know I'm at a point where I need to be increasing my speed. I'm averaging about 8-10mph (maybe up to 12 at some points), and just realized with my last longer ride that I need to be doing that more than worrying about distance. Is there anything specific to do, or is all that can be done is to ride more?

  9. #9
    Senior Member cod.peace's Avatar
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    The graph is fixed. I should really start using Flickr instead of Picasa.

    Quote Originally Posted by 10 Wheels View Post
    What s The Need for Speed deal ?
    For one thing, it's fun and I can track some quantitative improvement and motivate myself

    Also, I really like cycling because you get to actually go places and see them. Faster I go, the further I can roam in a given amount of time. One problem I've had over the summer since I've moved is that bike commuting to work is now longer with tougher mornings getting the little ones to kindergarten & preschool. I figured out last week how to do a bimodal commute that will bring the bike distance from 18.5-20 miles to ~9 miles. This should let me do this a few times a week and get more miles in.
    old steel Specialized Hardrock

  10. #10
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    I had a road bike up until last year (Specialized Allez Triple), I could easily average 16mph on my hilly 20 mile route. I sold it. Hate drop bars, hate being bent over and MISSING everything that's going by. I now have a hybrid (Specialized Sirrus), and I average about 13mph on my hilly 10 mile route, but I am comfortable and get to enjoy the scenery. Not to mention way better handling (believe it or not) and brakes that actually have the ability to stop a bike.

    It is not about speed for me, its about getting out there and not being lazy. Heck, I drive a Neon...definitely not worried about speed

  11. #11
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    Do you use a heart rate monitor? I would recommend it. Then find out your resting and max heart rate and the training zones that go with it. Find out from a good coach what percentage of your training should be in which zones and try to stick to it. Its a process that takes time, but it will bear results. Trying to hammer all the time without a proper base is just asking for trouble, I speak from experience.

    Quote Originally Posted by cod.peace View Post
    The graph is fixed. I should really start using Flickr instead of Picasa.



    For one thing, it's fun and I can track some quantitative improvement and motivate myself

    Also, I really like cycling because you get to actually go places and see them. Faster I go, the further I can roam in a given amount of time. One problem I've had over the summer since I've moved is that bike commuting to work is now longer with tougher mornings getting the little ones to kindergarten & preschool. I figured out last week how to do a bimodal commute that will bring the bike distance from 18.5-20 miles to ~9 miles. This should let me do this a few times a week and get more miles in.
    Cervelo P2C & Cervelo R3

  12. #12
    Senior Member mkadam68's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cod.peace View Post
    Here's a plot I made. I don't always track everything (indeed there're some glaring gaps in the data, although spring househunting took a big bite out of cycling). It's a plot of my average ride speeds on rides typically of length 5-20 miles, combined with a log fit to show the trend. why log? well, it's gotta flatten out at some point As you can see, the trend is increasing and I can now rate myself as having moved from glacially slow to awfully slow. That last data point is 16.2 mph over 19.8 miles with 1000' of climbing yesterday, a ride which including chasing down 2 roadies...not that they knew I was behind them, but they did provide a nice incentive, and that's what it's all about, right? In the process I've also become 15 lbs lighter. Another 36 lbs to go and I'll reward myself with a newer, lighter, faster bike in the spring of 2010.
    Congratulations. I thought I was retentive...

    As for nkfrench...

    * How long does it typically take to "plateau out" after starting on the bike? Every body is different. No easy answer here.
    * Am I actually riding better but just getting beat up by the summer heat/humidity? Very possible. Make sure you're hydrated well before and during rides.
    * Do the Mr Tuffys and heavier tubes/tires make that much difference ? (I have a great, light racing bike) Since I commute on the bike, I want to avoid flats on the way to work especially in the dark. I like to avoid flats as well. But they're part of riding life. No way around it. All riders must know how to fix a flat. It's required. Yeah, get rid of Mr Tuffy's. Ride 700x25's or even 23's. (I do 25s while commuting in the dark--you never know what you'll hit.)
    * How badly does the process of 2lb/week weight loss affect speed? Alot. You should probably eat more. You need energy.
    * Will I ever get any faster ? Only if you keep trying.
    * I lost my Clyde standings but I am still an Athena. I am hoping once the extra body fat is gone my heat tolerance and hill climbing will improve dramatically. BTW, Clydes are male. Athenas are female.

    When I started training/riding faster, it made other, slower rides much easier and more enjoyable so it's certainly an admirable--and practical--goal. But make sure your personal value doesn't rest on how fast you go because there's always someone faster.

    It all comes down to: in order to ride faster, you have to ride faster. I remember doing a climbing challenge once. Well, I climb slowly. Training for and riding the challenge definitely hurt my speed and I occasionally found it difficult to keep up. After the challenge, I went back to training for speed and I could keep up--and even lead/attack/put the hurt on others--without problem.

    Group rides are an excellent idea for riding faster. On individual rides, keep track of a specific route (like your commute) and how fast you ride it. Over time, you should see the trend.

    Also, when you do ride faster, your caloric needs jump...well not exponentially...but alot. It's very difficult to lose weight while riding fast. You should only be on a daily deficit of maybe 4-500 kcals or less which equates to around a pound a week. I think your current eating habits are holding you back. BUT, I would also say, lose the weight you want to first. Then train for speed.

    My $ .02

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  13. #13
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    Don't feel bad for wanting to go faster, I enjoy mixing it up with a group fast of riders. There is an adrenaline rush that you experience that is hard to beat.

    You don't have to work on going slower, that can be done quite easily.

  14. #14
    Senior Member nkfrench's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mkadam68 View Post
    BTW, Clydes are male. Athenas are female.
    Poor choice of words on my part just to give a ballpark on my size. Just meant that I no longer weigh as much as a Clyde. Not sure there is a "uber-Athena" classification.

  15. #15
    Old Fart gapwedge's Avatar
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    http://www.bikejournal.comis where I log my weight, my rides and average mph. It is all graphable. Being an engineer I like to tinker with graphs and progress reports.
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  16. #16
    Neil_B
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    Quote Originally Posted by 10 Wheels View Post
    What is The Need for Speed deal ?
    Because all cycling in the USA is racing. Haven't you heard?

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Historian View Post
    Because all cycling in the USA is racing. Haven't you heard?
    I think the problem is you simply can't accept the fact that some people like to go fast. For some reason you hold it against them.

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    Quote Originally Posted by nymtber View Post
    It is not about speed for me, its about getting out there and not being lazy.
    Normally, I wouldn't care about my speed (as was posted earlier in this thread), but I realize too that I need to up that speed so going longer distances can be practical. So I suppose it's not so much a need for speed as a need to be more efficient (for me, 52.5 mi in 6 hrs isn't going to do it). Again, victory, though, that I managed that much seat time

  19. #19
    Neil_B
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    Quote Originally Posted by jesspal View Post
    I think the problem is you simply can't accept the fact that some people like to go fast. For some reason you hold it against them.
    Not at all.

  20. #20
    Senior Member Jtgyk's Avatar
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    I find I am having an increasingly hard time making myself take it easy and go slow (as riding into work to minimize the sweat factor or riding with my wife).
    It seems that what I perceive as "slow" changes as my level of fitness and ability improve.
    Last year, I thought that 10 mph avg was doing great!
    This year, I sometimes hit 11 or 12 mph avg and think, "Meh...I'm not working at all."
    Next year it may be that 15 or 16 mph feels like I'm standing still...

    Am I trying to go faster? In general, No.
    That doesn't keep it from happening, though, as my body adapts to cycling.
    Last edited by Jtgyk; 09-22-09 at 12:55 PM.
    Hey, I'm just this GUY...you know?
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  21. #21
    Senior Member nkfrench's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Glenn1234 View Post
    I realize too that I need to up that speed so going longer distances can be practical.
    This too. My new office is 16 miles from my house and by improving commute speed I could reduce time on the road and be able to commute with some others (improved safety and social contact). Right now they drop me within a mile.

    Years ago, pre-Tuffys I went through a stint with flats on EVERY ride from the goatshead spurs. Some of the backroads I ride have no shoulder nor safe level place to change a flat and it can be pitch dark. Picture a 2-lane unlit country road with a muddy ditch and tall weeds/brush/fireants where I had one flat - it was over a mile to get to a safe place to work on the tire. I recently bought new tires, went from 23's to 25's and they have helped a lot with foot pain and hand numbness from road buzz.

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    faster

    Are you riding a recumbent ? Something upright might be faster? Try intervals , go out on group rides, try rides with the big ring only, those are a hoot.

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