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  1. #1
    Cat 5 field stuffer bbeasley's Avatar
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    Working on getting faster

    Speed, one of my favorite bike topics came up in another thread. Rather than hijack it, I'll start here.

    I've tried training and watched, on Strava, enough of my fast friends to realize I don't have the discipline to stick to a formal training regiment. I also have figured out organized racing is not an option for me without the formal training and way more miles than I care to ride. My goal now is to be able to hang onto our faster group rides. This usually means an average speed between 18 and 21 MPH for 25 - 50 miles depending on day of week.

    I commute rain or shine via bike, on these short ~6 mile runs I ride as fast as I can on my heavyish FG/SS complete with fenders. A good day is 18+ MPH driveway to driveway. If I'm not feeling it or still recovering I ride really slow. What I don't do is ride in the mid effort range where most of my previous riding used to be. On Wed and Sat I do group rides with the fast kids, many times barely hanging on.

    This approach seems to be working for me as I'm slowly moving up the pack on the group rides.

    If you're trying to get faster, what is your goal and how are you approaching it?

  2. #2
    Senior Member ill.clyde's Avatar
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    Funny you bring this up today ... I too have been commuting, albeit about three to four days a week (24 mile round trip) and I've noticed this past week that most every ride this week, where I feel like I'm just doing a tempo ride, I'm commuting faster than ever before. I don't feel like I've been shelled and I don't feel like I can't continue past work/home.

    I haven't really focused on "getting faster." There have been days when I've really gotten after it, but nothing structured. I've just tried to ride as fast, or slightly faster, as the day before. And I'm getting faster for sure. Makes me wonder what I could really do if I went all out.

    A glance at Endomondo tells me I've ridden over 1,400 miles this year, plus a few months on the indoor trainer at the beginning of the year. So clearly the added miles this year over years past have helped.

  3. #3
    Senior Member Ursa Minor's Avatar
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    I gotta work on speed. Right now I average 10 mph on long rides = they take forever.

    Charlie
    Grimly determined to have fun.

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    Serendipitous. I have been feeling great this week also, faster and strong. Except today when I rode a bike I am not used to, or I was just tired.

    I have been starting to think about training harder, so try to figure out how to use intervals along my commute and the other things necessary. I need to get a computer with a clock I think, cadence would be nice also.

    I need to take more time to do active training and ride with faster groups. But I think that good rests are important and working hard when you need to also helps.

    I have started swimming regularly again and I think that improvement in core strength is important and makes a difference on the bike.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Willbird's Avatar
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    I'm not sure that I'm trying to get "faster" :-).

    I am trying to become a stronger rider WHILE cutting 144 lbs of excess ME (I leave it spread in a thin layer on the roads I ride every day). I have managed to drop 70 lbs of that in 120 days of proper intake and riding....the riding has actually will be 3 mos on Sept 1 2014.

    I do a high intensity day zone 4 and 5, followed by a recovery day in zone 1, then the rest of the week I am zone 3 which I suppose you might call "mid level intensity". My most recent high intensity day was climbing a 40' high 800' long hill ten times as fast as I could :-). The one before that was Zecanon intervals (5) minutes zone 5 (1) minute zone 4...repeat 4 times.

    I measure "growth" somewhat by my average mph on zone 1 and zone 3 rides....30 days working with a HRM has let me almost equal my unrestricted heart rate personal bests on a fairly strict zone 3 day. My prior riding in many ways was just "junk miles".....it did suit to give me a decent aerobic base, and did help accustom my rear to a saddle.

    I have adopted the Philosophy from the Cyclists Training Bible that it can take 8 YEARS of athletic development to "get there"...and there are a couple more years of slow gains after that. For sure I will enjoy the next 8 years, but it helped ground me a little that developing the full ability I have for my age will take time, it will not occur this year, not next year...but will be a gradual process of improvement.

    310 miles in June with zero real "structure"
    522 miles in July, again almost zero "structure"
    Should make 500 (431.5 MTD) in August with LOTS of "structure" to them :-).

    Adding structure actually lowered my average speed for August...but I think overall I am a better rider for it.

    Next time I do the hill repeats I will hit "lap" in cyclemeter before each climb to give me a baseline to look at later on, and pre plan how many climbs are seated and how many standing in the pedals.

    Planning on either a set of rollers with resistance or a trainer (leaning towards rollers) for this winter, may be able to ride some days depending on what mother nature decides to hand us :-). New road bike coming early October, riding a hybrid now.

    I have never done a group ride but I could see a tendency there towards overtraining...I'm dead certain I was over training before I got the HRM.

    I will be 50 years old Dec 1 if it has any impact on all of this....I'm fairly sure that the last 120 days, first walking then riding have led me to the highest level of cardiovascular development I have had since birth, and I'm sure not stopping NOW :-).

    Bill

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    I've always thought speedwork helps even for long distance riding. Since this spring I've incorporated an interval workout into my routine comprised of 4 minute repeats on my trainer. In the beginning I did 6 of them with 4 minutes of spinning between, and as the year progressed I increased the number of repetitions and/or cut the time between. In the next cycle of training I plan to do a plan similar to that described in century training schedules in The Time Crunched Cyclist (and do two interval workouts per week).

  7. #7
    Cat 5 field stuffer bbeasley's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Willbird View Post
    I have adopted the Philosophy from the Cyclists Training Bible that it can take 8 YEARS of athletic development to "get there"...and there are a couple more years of slow gains after that.
    ^ this is one of my favorite things about cycling. Keep pushing and you're going to get faster for a long time. None of us newbes, I'm 4.5 years in, really know our potential yet. Using 8 as a hard number I'll get there at the ripe young age of 61, perfect!

  8. #8
    Senior Member Willbird's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bbeasley View Post
    ^ this is one of my favorite things about cycling. Keep pushing and you're going to get faster for a long time. None of us newbes, I'm 4.5 years in, really know our potential yet. Using 8 as a hard number I'll get there at the ripe young age of 61, perfect!
    And you will probably the guy I look to and say "hell if an old codger of 61 can do that, me at my mere 58 better up my game and catch up" :-).

    Bill

  9. #9
    Senior Member ill.clyde's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bbeasley View Post
    ^ this is one of my favorite things about cycling. Keep pushing and you're going to get faster for a long time. None of us newbes, I'm 4.5 years in, really know our potential yet. Using 8 as a hard number I'll get there at the ripe young age of 61, perfect!
    Four more years for me ... I'll be 46!

  10. #10
    Senior Member IBOHUNT's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bbeasley View Post
    ^ this is one of my favorite things about cycling. Keep pushing and you're going to get faster for a long time. None of us newbes, I'm 4.5 years in, really know our potential yet. Using 8 as a hard number I'll get there at the ripe young age of 61, perfect!
    I'll get there by the the time I'm 59. Ouch!

    Got my double metric goal of x.x mph done although that was in "flat" boring land of the beach and had 2 hours of downpour. Maybe if there's a next time I'll do more than the bottom of Z3 and see what happens.

    I used to have a goal of besting my 40K time by 3 minutes. Don't think that dog will hunt so much like my goal of being able to retire before I'm dead that went out the window.

    Now I'll just settle into being a decent club rider that gets shelled off the back during indoor trainer sessions.

  11. #11
    Travelling hopefully chasm54's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by IBOHUNT View Post
    I'll get there by the the time I'm 59. Ouch!
    I'm 59. Sixty next month. Think yourself lucky.

    Got back on the bike 10 years ago. Two years ago, started racing. Last year, was competitive (though not winning) in non age-related Cat 3/4 races. Not racing this year, I got injured in the winter and haven't made it back. However, I am still trying to get faster. My new target is to ride a sub-60 minute 40k aged 60.

    Getting faster is easy at first, you just ride more. But after three or four years, if you want to continue to improve you have to get systematic, or you just settle into a comfort zone and plateau. You know this as well as I do, these days. But for others in the thread, if you want to keep improving, you need to think about your goals. What do you want to achieve? The furthest you can go in an hour? A five-hour century? Winning a cat 5 crit in a sprint finish? Or just having a lot of fun on a fast group ride? What you choose will dictate what you need to do.
    There have been many days when I haven't felt like riding, but there has never been a day when I was sorry I rode.

  12. #12
    That guy from the Chi Chitown_Mike's Avatar
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    I commuted everyday as well, and I have my roadie and my commuter/MTB I travel on. However my trip to/from work is only 4.3 miles, with traffic lights, so I cannot always time myself out by the overall time, but moving time I can.

    Also I use Strava, mainly because most of my riding cohorts are on it and I like to see where I stack up. What I did was create some segments on my route to work, this way I can see how I go through a certain area everyday. Plus if someone takes a KOM from me it gives me something to work towards, which did happen on one but I reclaimed it.

    Example is this one: Strava Segment | Sprint to Strange - Oakton to Madison

    On days I don't feel like sprinting to work I notice it on my segment and ignore it.

    But find a simple path you can do over and over and look for ways to improve on it. I used a 20 mile run up a MUP and back last year as a way to gauge my fitness, and sometimes used a HRM for good measure. Now I can do it in a little over an hour total time (including stops) and not feel like I am dead afterwards and sleep all day.
    Looking forward to my winter commuting adventure.....

  13. #13
    got the climbing bug jsigone's Avatar
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    I just started riding my bike again and LONG for the speed and ease I had before I got hit. Lost fitness, glimp'd and riding a CX bike w/ 25c slicks are the challenges I'm trying to overcome. The last two will be allot harder to overcome. Riding the CX is fine on its own right but most of the guys in my club are on race roadies w/ deep rims ect ect on top of being in beast mode. The difference I see in the point of the game is the top end speed, those bikes and angles are much more efficient at 25+mph and way more when we hoover 30 in the group. CX is great 15mph to 25mph bike, as it was designed a a racing CX bike. Plus I'm outta shape

    I don't ride w/ a structured program or power meter. Not even a HRM anymore. I'm using an old garmin I have to put in my pocket cuz the straps broke, so no heads up display on speed or why it hurts so freaking much. I'm going by feel, my history, theory, and some stored will power I managed to save. And persistence to see the carrot of fitness hanging out there in front of me. How long will it take to get there is something else. I just get out when I can between work and family.

    As with my theory last yr and seemed to work well for me, so I'm trying it again.......
    1) Base miles at tempo is always needed, there isn't a replacement for saddle time I found yet. Tempo is what i call a paces I can ride hours for w/o much stress.

    ----------But group tempo miles are always better, they are the carrot when I get dropped. Rinse and repeat every Saturday and able to hold on bit by bit more, problem is that it won't stay tempo for long

    ----------Eat right along the way, and when it slows down, eat some more!!

    ----------Ride with those that are faster than I am

    *Active recovery, This is the KEY part of my riding/running/training last yr. What does this mean?

    ----------Recovery is the Key to riding w/ my club, it is how to deal with the accelerations and attack, counter attacks and the sprint along the 45-50mile route.

    ----------Almost anyone can go redline for X amount of time, but how long would it take you recover? and most important, how much speed drop do you need? To me, Active recovery is at peloton speeds in the 10-90sec break the group gives before the next acceleration. And there will always be one coming. Yes it will hurt, yes it will hurt more when you hear the gears clicking or see the fast guys in the group, move left and head to the front.

    ----------Execution on solo rides? Speed jumps, 3 gear clicks, hold for 45s or so, click down to crusing speed, recover for 20s and click up another 3 gears. Make sure you have a good road without many/if any stop lights/signs.

    ----------Secret sauce? running...yup!! There is no coasting, walking isn't allowed speed gains/loses are magnified a ton more vs a bike, recovery hits harder w/ each stride. Learning how not to blow up the speed and end up walking Learn how my stride is efficient and not gimp along once I do blow up. Learn how to avoid injury.


    goals...
    Enjoy riding my bike for the 4+ hours when I get the chance too.
    Enjoy those I ride with and make this enjoyable or enjoy cursing them when they dish out the pain

    oh and not get dropped so often

  14. #14
    Travelling hopefully chasm54's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jsigone View Post
    Plus I'm outta shape
    Still mad as a box of frogs, though, apparently.
    There have been many days when I haven't felt like riding, but there has never been a day when I was sorry I rode.

  15. #15
    got the climbing bug jsigone's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chasm54 View Post
    Still mad as a box of frogs, though, apparently.
    LOL I had to remove that from my sig...coulda swore I've toned it down

  16. #16
    Cat 5 field stuffer bbeasley's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chasm54 View Post
    I'm 59. Sixty next month. Think yourself lucky.

    Got back on the bike 10 years ago. Two years ago, started racing. Last year, was competitive (though not winning) in non age-related Cat 3/4 races. Not racing this year, I got injured in the winter and haven't made it back. However, I am still trying to get faster. My new target is to ride a sub-60 minute 40k aged 60.

    Getting faster is easy at first, you just ride more. But after three or four years, if you want to continue to improve you have to get systematic, or you just settle into a comfort zone and plateau. You know this as well as I do, these days. But for others in the thread, if you want to keep improving, you need to think about your goals. What do you want to achieve? The furthest you can go in an hour? A five-hour century? Winning a cat 5 crit in a sprint finish? Or just having a lot of fun on a fast group ride? What you choose will dictate what you need to do.
    What will happen if I just keep pushing, riding as hard as I can on my short commutes plus my spirited Wed (25 miles) and Saturday (50 - 75 mile) group rides?

  17. #17
    Senior Member mr_pedro's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bbeasley View Post
    What will happen if I just keep pushing, riding as hard as I can on my short commutes plus my spirited Wed (25 miles) and Saturday (50 - 75 mile) group rides?
    I think the two group rides per week where you can barely hang on are excellent to make you faster. How is the elevation on these rides, some climbs or mostly flats? What is your body fat %, if it is high then you could see some speed gains from just dropping some body fat.

  18. #18
    Travelling hopefully chasm54's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bbeasley View Post
    What will happen if I just keep pushing, riding as hard as I can on my short commutes plus my spirited Wed (25 miles) and Saturday (50 - 75 mile) group rides?
    What will happen? That's a tough question, I know even less about the future than I know about you.

    Your commute is very short, it's just a 15-minute ride each way. Personally I'm not a fan of going as hard as I can without a warm-up. I'd be inclined to throw in a loop, so that either the trip to work or the trip home was maybe twelve miles. That would give you a bit of flexibility so you could make it an interval session, or a decent recovery ride, or whatever, and just spin easily on the short 6-mile trip in the other direction.

    If you're just about hanging on during the "spirited" and group rides, that's probably OK as far as intensity is concerned. Once you can hang with them fairly comfortably, then you need to worry about whether you need to up the ante. But maybe a really hard short session on Monday might move things along?

    The bottom line is, if you are really challenging yourself, and giving yourself time to recover between hard efforts, you're going to improve. Riding hard all the time doesn't make you fit, it just makes you tired. But riding within yourself all the time just makes you complacent.
    There have been many days when I haven't felt like riding, but there has never been a day when I was sorry I rode.

  19. #19
    Cat 5 field stuffer bbeasley's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mr_pedro View Post
    I think the two group rides per week where you can barely hang on are excellent to make you faster. How is the elevation on these rides, some climbs or mostly flats? What is your body fat %, if it is high then you could see some speed gains from just dropping some body fat.
    I live in the flats, we have to leave to find hills. The Wed ride is 400', the Sat about 1300'. Oh body fat, you had to bring that up . I'm 5'8" and go 190 - 195. Down from 252 but still a long way to go.

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    Cat 5 field stuffer bbeasley's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chasm54 View Post
    What will happen? That's a tough question, I know even less about the future than I know about you.

    Your commute is very short, it's just a 15-minute ride each way. Personally I'm not a fan of going as hard as I can without a warm-up. I'd be inclined to throw in a loop, so that either the trip to work or the trip home was maybe twelve miles. That would give you a bit of flexibility so you could make it an interval session, or a decent recovery ride, or whatever, and just spin easily on the short 6-mile trip in the other direction.

    If you're just about hanging on during the "spirited" and group rides, that's probably OK as far as intensity is concerned. Once you can hang with them fairly comfortably, then you need to worry about whether you need to up the ante. But maybe a really hard short session on Monday might move things along?

    The bottom line is, if you are really challenging yourself, and giving yourself time to recover between hard efforts, you're going to improve. Riding hard all the time doesn't make you fit, it just makes you tired. But riding within yourself all the time just makes you complacent.
    I take Sunday's off so I'm recovered by Monday. The Wed ride is short enough that I'm recovered for Thursday. I'm not wearing myself out like I used too. I'm feeling stronger every week and it's very motivating to keep pushing.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by joeyduck View Post
    I have started swimming regularly again and I think that improvement in core strength is important and makes a difference on the bike.
    I agree. For an obvious example, I'm more comfortable in the drops when I'm lifting or swimming, as well as more comfortable with a lower handlebar(Jamis adjustable stem, can move the handlebar 100mm up or down). I'm sore lots of riding with persistent back ache would work as well, but it's easier and faster to lift, and I enjoy the variety of swimming.

    Quote Originally Posted by bbeasley View Post
    What will happen if I just keep pushing, riding as hard as I can on my short commutes plus my spirited Wed (25 miles) and Saturday (50 - 75 mile) group rides?
    you'll get burnt out and make minimal gains due to lack of recovery time, most likely.
    Last edited by Sullalto; 08-28-14 at 03:43 PM.

  22. #22
    Senior Member IBOHUNT's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chasm54 View Post

    The bottom line is, if you are really challenging yourself, and giving yourself time to recover between hard efforts, you're going to improve. Riding hard all the time doesn't make you fit, it just makes you tired. But riding within yourself all the time just makes you complacent.
    Top man
    BAM! Nailed it - at least for me those are the answers.

    rsz_1rsz_002.jpg

  23. #23
    Senior Member IBOHUNT's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bbeasley View Post
    I live in the flats, we have to leave to find hills. The Wed ride is 400', the Sat about 1300'. Oh body fat, you had to bring that up . I'm 5'8" and go 190 - 195. Down from 252 but still a long way to go.
    Tele-commute and spend a week or month with me. We don't have many long hills but I can get you started

  24. #24
    Cat 5 field stuffer bbeasley's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by IBOHUNT View Post
    Tele-commute and spend a week or month with me. We don't have many long hills but I can get you started
    Packing my bags Do you want me to bring along a gator or two? I live 1 block from Kliebert's gator farm featured in Swamp People.

  25. #25
    Senior Member mr_pedro's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bbeasley View Post
    I live in the flats, we have to leave to find hills. The Wed ride is 400', the Sat about 1300'. Oh body fat, you had to bring that up . I'm 5'8" and go 190 - 195. Down from 252 but still a long way to go.
    If you need to make the group rides harder, you can start riding more in the wind by leaving a bigger gap with the person in front and then you can even start pulling in front for a little. The commutes are too short to make it a serious training ride but they are a nice bonus helping you to loose weight as it allows you to still eat 3 decent meals while remaining at a deficit.

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