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Old 12-10-05, 01:13 PM   #1
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Just Bailed on a Ride

I've been riding "seriously" for a little more than 6 months after a layoff of many, many years. I ride 4-5 times a week, including an "easy" club ride every Sunday morning with a great club group. I've avoided most of their more serious rides because of serious hill climbs. I really, really suck on hills. In the last couple of months, though, I've noticed quite a bit of improvement, both in my endurance and leg strength, so I thought I'd give this am's serious ride a try.

A sobering experience. Even on the flats, the group's pace was so much faster than mine that I was puffing to keep up. By the time we got to the first hill of more than 1/4 mile length, I knew that I'd be stopping to catch my breath so often--assuming I didn't completely bonk--that it'd hold the group back, or I'd get dropped.

So I bailed. Back home I'm trying to retain some pride in the real progress I've made, and come up with some plans for pace and hill training that'll widen the range of my cycling. Any advice or reality therapy is welcome!

Bernie
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Old 12-10-05, 01:47 PM   #2
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To improve yourself- you have to push yourself. Only problem is, you can push yourself too far too soon.

You have been out of riding for too many years to join in with the top group. The easier group may be well within your capabilities, but how hard are you going to push yourself within that group. My suggestion to improve is extra rides or gym work. One good session at the gym or an extra ride taking in interval training will work wonders--but you won't see the results for 6 months. If time is the problem- do the normal ride you do with the easier group, but then go for a further 10 miles afterwards with a bit of pace that makes you realise you are working.

I am terrible on hills. I am the one at the back but I don't care. When it comes to the 5th hill of the morning though, or over the last 10 miles of the extra loop that has been put in, then I am there. Not only there but put in the 6th. hill and I am the one sprinting up the hill.

Look at your riding- are the top group younger than you, have they been riding without break for a great number of years, are you requiring a bit more time to get your fitness back. If the answers yes to any of these- Stay with the easy group, but do extra.
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Old 12-10-05, 02:11 PM   #3
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- good advice from previous poster...

- i just started out last April after a 20-year hiatus... my riding buddy is 18 years older than i (i'm 50) and he kicks my road-bike butt using a comfort bike!

:-)

- i realize it is going to take 12 months or more to work up to a good speed... i have been checking my own performance, and i do see my time and distance going up (now doing 20- to 30-milers per day, at least five days a week)...

- so take heart on your own performance... the best measure, IMO, is your own measure, not gauged against others...

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Old 12-10-05, 02:25 PM   #4
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Just turned 46, so yes, I'm crashing this forum.
I moved to Switzerland when I was 42 and resumed riding after a 14 year lay-off. It took 2 years until I could stay with the A-group in my village. 2 years of getting dropped, now I drop! (...on a good day...)
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Old 12-10-05, 02:31 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bernmart
I've been riding "seriously" for a little more than 6 months after a layoff of many, many years. I ride 4-5 times a week, including an "easy" club ride every Sunday morning with a great club group. I've avoided most of their more serious rides because of serious hill climbs. I really, really suck on hills. In the last couple of months, though, I've noticed quite a bit of improvement, both in my endurance and leg strength, so I thought I'd give this am's serious ride a try.

A sobering experience. Even on the flats, the group's pace was so much faster than mine that I was puffing to keep up. By the time we got to the first hill of more than 1/4 mile length, I knew that I'd be stopping to catch my breath so often--assuming I didn't completely bonk--that it'd hold the group back, or I'd get dropped.

So I bailed. Back home I'm trying to retain some pride in the real progress I've made, and come up with some plans for pace and hill training that'll widen the range of my cycling. Any advice or reality therapy is welcome!

Bernie
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Old 12-10-05, 02:39 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bernmart
I've avoided most of their more serious rides because of serious hill climbs. I really, really suck on hills.
all the more reason to NOT avoid them... I recall in the past when I was just starting to ride seriously, avoiding certain hills in the area... finally got sick of my own attitude toward hills and started grinding 'em out... it certainly wasn't pretty at first but I learned better technique and control... the hill climbing power just naturally came as a result... now I find myself going out of my way TO RIDE the hills...

don't avoid and be patient... good luck

not 50+
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Old 12-10-05, 03:23 PM   #7
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Don't get discouraged!! As your hearing from several of us we've all been there!!

Others probably have other methods but the best way for me to improve my climbing is to do more and more of it. Also, riding with groups where you have to push yourself will make you better as well. I just can't push myelf as much as I need to by doing solo training rides. I might add that not having any excess weight and having the right gearing makes a huge difference as well.

It will not improve a huge amount overnight but you'll be amazed at your improvement over a longer period of time. If you want to do it, just spend some time on it and I bet you'll see improvement and results you'd be very pleased with.
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Old 12-10-05, 04:16 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DnvrFox
Do you enjoy your riding?

If so, then so what?
Good question, Dnvr. Certainly not macho pride, or anything like that. At almost 67, I've put away childish things, mostly.

But I live at the edge of the San Gabriel Mountains, and my limits on hills keeps me from doing some delightful rides. There's not a lot of flat terrain around here; much like knoregs's Vermont (where I used to live, btw) in that respect. And of course, there's fitness for its own sake, in which I've always believed.

Good advice from everyone. This is a wonderful forum, and my thanks to you for your role in starting it up some years ago.
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Old 12-10-05, 04:23 PM   #9
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Unfortunatly the only (best) way to improve in the hill is to climb hills.
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Old 12-10-05, 04:23 PM   #10
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The one thing the other posters haven't mentioned yet is pie. Or blackberry cobbler, if they don't have pie. I think that's real good adult therapy, and it will help you get over any bad feelings of inadequacy in a hurry. We've reached the age where we don't even have to rationalize it, actually. So, try the pie.
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Old 12-10-05, 04:32 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DnvrFox

Do you enjoy your riding?

If so, then so what?
Quote:
Originally Posted by bernmart
Good question, Dnvr. Certainly not macho pride, or anything like that. At almost 67, I've put away childish things, mostly.

But I live at the edge of the San Gabriel Mountains, and my limits on hills keeps me from doing some delightful rides. There's not a lot of flat terrain around here; much like knoregs's Vermont (where I used to live, btw) in that respect. And of course, there's fitness for its own sake, in which I've always believed.

Good advice from everyone. This is a wonderful forum, and my thanks to you for your role in starting it up some years ago.
I didn't mean to be churlish.

Of course, you want to improve, as do all of us (I assume).

My point being, don't worry about the "bailing" part.

Instead, develop a plan for improvement, much as you are doing. And, just compare yourself with yourself, note those little improvements like gold stars in a teacher's grade book, and revel in that improvement.

As you admit yourself, you are making good progress.


Quote:
In the last couple of months, though, I've noticed quite a bit of improvement, both in my endurance and leg strength, so I thought I'd give this am's serious ride a try.


And enjoy each ride. And I thnk DG has it all summarized properly. After all, it IS the pie.
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Old 12-10-05, 05:58 PM   #12
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Did you put everything that you had into the ride? I'm sure you did. Good!

Did you "bail" when you realized that the ride was exceeding your current physical limits? Yes. That's good -- and smart.

Have you been noticing incremental improvements up until this point? Yes. Good!

I certainly hope that you've recovered some of the pride that you say you lost -- because you deserve to have it all back.

It may happen again. And again. All part of the game.

But if you keep working hard and clean, it won't happen forever.

Patience is the most effective supplement of all.
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Old 12-10-05, 08:58 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bernmart
But I live at the edge of the San Gabriel Mountains, and my limits on hills keeps me from doing some delightful rides. There's not a lot of flat terrain around here.

One good thing about that area is that you can work on the hills so easily. Just pedal up as far as you feel good about. Coast down. Do it daily. Soon you will want to go farther and farther. When you make it to Millard Campground you're ready for anything.
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Old 12-10-05, 11:48 PM   #14
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Shoot, that's the story of my cycling career. I rode solo for about the first two years after I switched from running, and I had no idea how fast a fast rider could go.
I live in Reno, where both Greg Lemond and Inga Thompson Benedict used to live and train. On a few occasions I encountered them on the road, and it was just scary--I was fairly fast by the standards I knew in those days, but they just ate me up so fast it was demoralizing.
One time I saw a nice-looking woman a quarter-mile or so behind me as I turned onto a main road. Couldn't tell much about her at that distance, but she had long blonde hair and seemed fit, and I figured I'd let her catch me about the time we got back to town and see if she wanted to go get lunch or something. I was cracking along at what I thought was a good pace, showing off a little, and in about a minute she just cruised up effortlessly on my left, chatted pleasantly about the day and our bicycles for a few moments while I gasped and blew snot rockets, then she just shifted up and disappeared. Wasn't until a couple of days later I realized it was Inga. One of the good things about being 60 is that people are surprised to see me riding at all--they don't expect me to be fast.
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Old 12-11-05, 01:28 AM   #15
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same story here (returned after 30 y break), only difference is that after ONLY 6 months riding I doubt if I came close to your fitness level. (by the way you didn't mention the speeds, inclines or distances you did with that faster group). NOw 2.5 years later I am in competitive shape and have taken top 3 places in my category in several events duing the 2005 season (again my group averages about 25 mph in races and TT - so you may still be way ahead of us).
Stapfam pretty much summed it up. Another point - once you get to an acceptable fitness level you have to work to keep it.
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Old 12-11-05, 08:59 AM   #16
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Velo, that is a great story!
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Old 12-11-05, 10:37 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bernmart
I've been riding "seriously" for a little more than 6 months after a layoff of many, many years. I ride 4-5 times a week, including an "easy" club ride every Sunday morning with a great club group. I've avoided most of their more serious rides because of serious hill climbs. I really, really suck on hills. In the last couple of months, though, I've noticed quite a bit of improvement, both in my endurance and leg strength, so I thought I'd give this am's serious ride a try.

A sobering experience. Even on the flats, the group's pace was so much faster than mine that I was puffing to keep up. By the time we got to the first hill of more than 1/4 mile length, I knew that I'd be stopping to catch my breath so often--assuming I didn't completely bonk--that it'd hold the group back, or I'd get dropped.

So I bailed. Back home I'm trying to retain some pride in the real progress I've made, and come up with some plans for pace and hill training that'll widen the range of my cycling. Any advice or reality therapy is welcome!

Bernie
Bernie,
Climbing is close to time-trialing...high heart-rate for an extended time. How much do you want to improve? If you really want to climb like a goat it's going to involve some exertion on your part, doing interval training and hill repeats along with your usual riding is a good idea. There are a few tricks you can use on a climb, I personally get to the front on the start of the hill instead of the back also relax your upper body as much as possible. Mind over matter to a certain extent
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Old 12-11-05, 11:00 AM   #18
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Like Roscoe says, technique and attitude (along with fitness level) play a big part in hillclimbing success. I've been back on the bike for 4 summers, the first summer I just about died on each hill. I'd start to worry about the upcoming hills, downshift early, and get all outa breath and have to stop and walk a bit. My second summer, I read somewhere to attack the hills. Works great on short hills, momentum is everything, and I don't downshift until I have to. When I get into a long hill now, I keep my eyes about 15' in front of me and think about riding that 15', not the whole climb. These theories seem to work, as I don't worry so much about the hills and have trounced some of the younger guys (35-40) on hills on some of our rides.
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Old 12-11-05, 01:15 PM   #19
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Bernie,

Its all been said above. But, keep in mind, no matter what superb shape any of us (and "them") may be in or out of.....everybody, repeat that, everybody, can find a hill where, when we finally crest the top, we are left gasping, clawing at the helmet buckle, and seemingly unable to take in enough oxygen....that is, if we make it to the top. Cycling passes through euphoria, pleasure, pride, challenge, and can become pain eventually for everyone. The attraction it has is how close can we each push it to the point where we wonder what the hell we're doing there....and then discovering that "point" is a little further (in distance, speed, steepness) than last spring or whatever. As we age (somewhere in the distant future, huh! ) that point may move back in again, but its still our very own personal point to push against. Its the rider not the ride as we're reminded. DeeGee (mascot philosopher, heart of gold rider, not-a-Fred) sums it up with his signature about cycling really being mostly a head thing.

Anyway, seemingly supermortal Lance has that point of failure and so does my MS neighbor on his gigantic trike that he takes around the block rain or shine. Our only real competition out there should be ourselves. True training involves the mind, too....being prepared for the inevitable bad days, plateaus, even injuries...as well as personal victories. I can recall, when recovering from pneumonia, feeling proud walking out to, and returning from, the mailbox. A few days before, I would have been gasping over even that effort.

Stay patient, keep riding.....race your shadow.
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Old 12-11-05, 02:08 PM   #20
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I've been through the same thing, I used to be a good solid climber, then laid off for 20 yrs and have been back riding for 6 mos. I haven't had problems keeping a pace on the flats, but hills required serious training, and I'm not anywhere close to my goal yet.

So I ride a lot of hills alone at my own pace. And I join group rides, but selectively. I choose rides where they're either listed as "L" for leisurely, or where they break into 3 groups, and I'm sure to be in the slowest group, with a "no-drop" policy. At least here (SF Bay Area) there are a lot of groups and least most summer weekends it's possible to find one with the right pace, where the group is not resentful for slowing the pace.

After reading these forums + my own experience over the last 6 months, I'm confident that muscle strength and lung capacity will continue to improve, just give it time!

Good riding and don't be discouraged!
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Old 12-11-05, 07:21 PM   #21
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I've been thinking about this thread since last night. I don't know exactly what it is, but I couldn't get it out of my head. Maybe it's due to the fact that to get somewhere in life, in any pursuit in life, there is always that inevitable period of when you have take your knocks.

Sure, there are some people that just seem to breeze through anything. Few and far between, but they're out there. For the rest of us, it's like riding a highway -- and having to pay that toll every 20 or 30 miles.

Many years ago I had my rear-end handed to me in front of hundreds of people -- including friends, coworkers and family, at night, under bright lights and on local TV. It's a long story, and one of unsportsman-like conduct on the part of another (and a "name" at that). What's done is done. But bernmart, I know what you were talking about when you mentioned your pride in your own circumstance, and I also would bet that you couldn't/can't get it out of your mind.

That was the last that I ever rode in an organized event. I walked away. Ever since, and it has to be at least 20 years, I've been a lone rider -- just enjoying riding for my own pleasure, at my own pace, and my own challenges.

So, now I'm going to be 50 -- a milestone in life. This upcoming year, I'm training to be "back". I fully expect experiences like your own. I'll use them as a yardstick -- and, just like you mention above, adjusting training to return stronger (and in some cases, wiser) for the next time around.

But the point is, is that this time there WILL be a next time around. I just didn't have it in me back then, but I do now. Looks like you do as well. Go for it.
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Old 12-11-05, 08:25 PM   #22
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It really does take a long time to get into bicycling shape and, for old timers like us, it takes just that much longer. Just this year I finally got better than terrible at climbing hills. It took practicing all of last year to get there. What I did was find a steep short hill (lots of them around my home) and climb it. Then I'd go back and climb it again and again and again. I trie to accelerate through the whole ordeal as I climbed. When I couldn't do it any more, I'd take a casual bike ride and then head home. Then the next day, I would attack the hill again. Bit by bit I got so I could do the climb more times, faster and with acceleration. I can't tell you how many trips up the hill it took before I gained confidence in my climbing. Hundreds and hundreds of trips to be sure. But in time it got better.

I often ride in the mornings to a little town 7 miles from home. I get coffee and then ride back and it makes a nice morning exercise ride before breakfast. The trip back is uphill. A gentle grade, to be sure, but steadily uphill. I used to pant and struggle at 10mph on that long climb home. This year I've done it at 16 mph and actually enjoyed it. My goal next year is do it in the large chain ring. Somebody before said you have to push yourself. It's true. Take your time. Work at it little by little and you'll get there after enough repetitions.
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