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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 12-20-13, 02:22 PM   #1
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From 20 miles flat to a UCI queen stage in 5 months? What say you?

As many of you know, I started riding last February. I've lost about 60 pounds and gone from riding 1 mile to 20-30. Winter is poor training here in Utah, obviously, so my fitness is going to be down a bit when Spring comes...but I'm considering taking a shot at the 2014 Tour of Utah Ultimate Challenge, in which amateurs are allowed to ride the queen stage of the Tour of Utah early in the day before the pros race it. It's 112+ miles and 12,000 + feet of climbing.

I wonder, though, if I'm being unrealistic here. By the time Spring rolls around, even with my winter training, I'll probably start back on the bike only being able to ride 20 miles, most of which are flat. And I'm a big guy no matter what (6' 10" and 350 right now), so climbing is not my thing. I'll also only have been on a road bike for 5 months at that point (will have been on a MTB until then). I also have a job and a family and won't be able to devote more than an hour or two each day to this.

On the other hand, despite all that negative crap, I can't stop thinking about what it would feel like to actually cross that finish line. I had the opportunity to see some of the slower amateurs cross the line this past August when I went to see the TOU and I damn near got choked up on their behalf.

So . . . 20 miles flat to a UCI queen stage in 5 months. Can it be done? What say you?

p.s. - I want real opinions, here. Everyone on this board is amazingly encouraging, and I love that, but if this really is an unreasonable goal then I want to know it. I can always shoot for 2015 instead.
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Old 12-20-13, 02:40 PM   #2
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I would seriously doubt that you could complete that ride, at even 100 pounds less than you weigh now. That's a world class stage that many very accomplished riders would have great difficulty with. You could ride a few century rides to get a feel for what an easy version of the stage would be like. That would prove more valuable for assessment than "internet arm chair quarterbacks" like me.

But, you could certainly try the stage just for fun.

Choose your battles wisely.

Last edited by 2 wheeler; 12-20-13 at 02:46 PM. Reason: needed more clarification
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Old 12-20-13, 02:41 PM   #3
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Have you ridden a really hilly ride before? Or done over a 100 (with or without hills)?

Last season I did a ride that I signed up to do a 50 miler only, and planned on doing either the 75 or the split to make that decision I decided to do only 50. I was already riding up to that point but glad I didn't since I was spent after it. I also went to northern Wisconsin this year which is both very flat, and then very hilly. I learned that even though I could smoke a 100 mile ride without any problems, those hills kicked my butt severely.

Basically, know your limits, especially if you're going to be off the bike AND off the road (trainers are great, but not the same). Nothing worse than hurting yourself for pride....and I know about that.
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Old 12-20-13, 02:58 PM   #4
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What's the time limit? That would probably take me 8 hours with that much climbing. I can do a flat century in well under 6 hours total time, but the hills slow me down. Add in another 12 miles, and I'd be lucky to do it in 8 hours.

Personally I'd suggest setting intermediate goals for 2014 like a half century, then a metric century, then a somewhat flat full century.

I have a friend that lives near Roy, Utah. He does a lot of cross country skiing out there to stay in shape. He's certainly in better shape then me after winter is over.
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Old 12-20-13, 03:03 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by JerrySTL View Post
Personally I'd suggest setting intermediate goals for 2014 like a half century, then a metric century, then a somewhat flat full century.

I have a friend that lives near Roy, Utah. He does a lot of cross country skiing out there to stay in shape. He's certainly in better shape then me after winter is over.
112+ miles with 12,000 feet of climbing? Uh...that's a VERY serious ride. Not saying to not do it, but I agree with Jerry above. Setting longer-term goals is NOT failure, it's smart. I think trying it in 2014 is setting yourself up to fail. Work up to it, though. Do the rides Jerry recommended and see where you're at. Work up to it, then conquer the ride when you're ready.
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Old 12-20-13, 03:24 PM   #6
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If you work HARD at it, you can do it. Don't have any expectations beyond finishing, and you'll be in good shape.

You need to realize a few things before you start thinking about this. 1. It's gonna hurt like a mofo. 2. You will want to quit. 3. You're gonna have to train pretty darn hard.

Think about the distance and the elevation profile you'll be facing, and train accordingly. If you do the majority of the training in flat areas, then get to the hills, you'll be cooked. The only way to get better at climbing is to climb. I remember last year, I rode a century ride, then went and played a hockey game a few hours afterward. My legs hurt, yeah, but I was still able to play well. Am I that strong? Not a chance, the ride was in South Florida, so it was an elevation profile of about 0 feet climbing. There is a "three bridges" ride that runs around here that I struggle on, since I'm not very svelte (6'5" - 220 lbs), and I never ride it, so my climbing suffers hard.

If you only have 2 hours a day to train, you have to go ride the hardest hills you can find for as long as you can. I know weekends are valuable with the family, but if this is a goal, you'll have to make some sacrifices... and often times that means sleep. Set up a training schedule for yourself, and talk it over with your spouse and see when you can fit the training in.

I would say to do 3-4 rides a week -

Monday - 30 mile ride moderate pace
Tuesday - HARD pace 15 mile ride
Wednesday - Recover day
Thursday - Interval training
Friday - Rest / easy short ride
Saturday - Longer ride (40+) at a moderate pace.

You'll have to up these distances every few weeks too. If it means getting up early and riding in the cold, or late after work... maybe include trainer time too, since the weather isn't all Florida.

Edit - you should also do one or two rides where you really push yourself to the limit. I mean, ready to quit, can't move your legs, and have to call to get picked up. No, it's not the healthiest thing in the world, but you need to be able to know the feeling if it's approaching, how to combat it, how to power through (if), and when to toss in the towel. On a ride with that much climbing, and probably some hairy descents, you can be in a bad spot if you're hitting the bottom of the gas tank and you have a steep descent coming up. Reflexes get slowed, movement is sluggish, etc etc, much less if there are other riders around.

Last edited by JReade; 12-20-13 at 03:29 PM.
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Old 12-20-13, 03:36 PM   #7
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Be a bit more realistic in goals.
12,000 ft. of climbing? 100+ miles? Be prepared to be picked up before mile 50!
The hardest ride we've done (on a tandem) was a 325 mile ride with 22,000+ ft of elevation gain in Arizona over 3 days.
We were then in our late 50s and in excellent condition.
Tough enough that my wife/stoker said she would not repeat it, ever!
Have ridden in Utah, and yes, there's some serious hillwork on that course.
Wait an extra year (and drop another 100 lbs) see how you feel then.
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Old 12-20-13, 03:55 PM   #8
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I highly doubt it's 12k feet in 112 miles. More like 12k ft in 60-70 miles with 40-50 miles of down hill. Downhill stats sugar coat the overall stats. Full ride stats are nice but real life is that's pretty dang hard. You will realize this when you have 9000ft of vertical and only gone 50 miles

If your're serious, I'd break down the training three ways.

Obvious is to ride your butt off on anything vertical. Each ride should have 1-4k ft of climbing, yes even those 20 milers. You can't train for a hilly century without hitting hills. Get used to them, get your cadence/rhythm figured out. Hit the trainer now if you haven't done it yet. Ride your bike for a long time once a week. Leave at 7am come home at 2-3pm, doesn't matter how many miles you put in, put in the TIME.

These endurance rides are more of race of nutrition vs pedaling squares. Everyone is different but one thing is that if you mess this part up, it can be a VERY LONG bad day. Get used to eating on your rides, eating while pedaling. Drinking 1 bottle per hour. Food should go in your mouth every 30mins, eating a gu or (100cals) ever 30-40 mins, eating something heavier (200-300cals) every 60min. Most people can digest 300-500cals per hr, anything more will sit in your stomach, any less will lead to bonking. Often the mistake is not to eat enough in the 1st 2-3 hours, but that is the critical time, it fuels the 2nd half of the ride. And sets it up for failure or success. If there are sag stations, stop at every one and grab one of everything, put half in your mouth and half in your pockets. If you're doing your own rides, plan which stores you will stop at and carry enough food in your pockets til you get there. For me, its every 2-3hr riding time to get full bottle from somewhere, either a school or 711.

This might be the hardest but makes #1 and #2 easier. Dropping the weight. 5 months time, I'd aim to drop at least 10lbs a month til you flat line somewhere around month 3, then find a way to switch it up and get past the plateau. Running/jogging worked for me. Endurance cycling is hard to do without carbs, it's the stored fuel that we need + I'm filipino so I can never really cut out rice, but can limit them. Treat it the same way. Eat crap load of green rabbit food as I call it, heavy proteins like tuna or chicken for muscle recovery and do you best to cut out sodas and juices. I didn't say this part is easy, pedaling a bike is easy

People get all caught up is diets and losing weight, but the end game is power to weight ratio. When you plateau and you will. In my perspective you can split off in two ways. One is do everything you can to jump the hurdle and lose weight again aka cut more cals again which affect energy levels and on bike performance OR accept your body weight and push to get stronger/faster at that Body weight. pushing that weight will make you both stronger and faster and eating the same will keep the body fueled and primed. When you push through the plateau you will not only come out lighter but faster as well.

I bring up faster cuz in the big picture the ride time will be allot less then can be. There is a big difference in doing that ride in 9hrs moving time versus 12+ hours moving time. Iduno about you but sitting on the saddle 2-3 hrs longer to do the same mileage doesn't appeal to me very well.

If you're still reading this at this point.........YES it's worth it. Yes the training suck but will be awesome too, remember to look sideways on your rides and enjoy what you see. Yes the rabbit food will suck, but add more low fat dressing to make it better. Yes the food and beer after the event will be bliss. Take as many pics as you can during training and of the event, so you can look back and say "FUC Yah!! I did that and it was awesome" Read my threads on the Rapha Gentleman's race I did last month for some motivation if you'd like
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Old 12-20-13, 04:12 PM   #9
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I'm more of a "my cup is half full" kind of guy. When I started riding I had no idea what a century ride was but I was with my friends who were talking about doing one in the Sierras. I though "what the heck" and signed up. Three months after I purchased my first bicycle, a (20yr old) Peugeot 12 speed with toe clips, I started the Grizzly Century. 100 miles with 10,000ft of climbing. I had no idea what 10,000ft of climbing meant but I sure found out! I had to stop and rest on the climbs and I was the last one in but I finished!

I'm of the opinion that you never let anyone tell you what you can't do (except mom) but you have to look at things realistically. If I were you,I'd get myself a cheap trainer or a set of rollers and start training now in the warmth of your house so that when the snow melts you can jump into your road training full throttle. If you wait till spring it'll be tough.
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Old 12-20-13, 04:38 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by WEK View Post
p.s. - I want real opinions, here. Everyone on this board is amazingly encouraging, and I love that, but if this really is an unreasonable goal then I want to know it. I can always shoot for 2015 instead.
With the time you have available to train, I'd say it's very unlikely you would be able to finish this ride. Even if you did finish, you would probably find that the experience wasn't very fun. If you want to finish in 8 (long) hours, you'd have to maintain a 14mph average pace while climbing 1500 feet/hour. For someone without a strong base of riding (and climbing!) miles, I think that's going to be next to impossible.

By way of comparison at my fitness peak, I was 190lbs lighter than you are, rode 12+ hours week/500+ miles month, rode from SF to LA in six days on a 51lb touring bike... and I'm still not sure I could have finished a ride with 12,000+ feet of climbing.
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Old 12-20-13, 04:46 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by WEK View Post
By the time Spring rolls around, even with my winter training, I'll probably start back on the bike only being able to ride 20 miles, most of which are flat.
Some conflicting advice above but most of it is good anyway... you CAN do it, the question is whether you're willing to make the sacrifices necessary to get fit enough first.

What's the farthest ride you've done?
What's the most elevation you've climbed in one ride?
How old are you?

I'd be inclined to tell you to set that as a longer term goal - say, 2015. If you haven't ridden a century then make 2014 the year of the century and do one a month or something along those lines. Make the later ones hilly centuries and you'll be in a better spot to finish that ride in 2015.

We have some rides down our way that sound similar (Breathless Agony, Mulholland Challenge and Heartbreak Hundred)... they require a lot of dedicated training time unless you are just naturally a skinny, gifted cyclist. (not me)
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