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Old 03-08-06, 04:03 PM   #1
HopedaleHills
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Just Saying Hi

Just another old fart that's been lurking around a while. I'm 56 and have ridden my Trek 800 on and off for about 15 years (more off than on). This year I decided to 1.) quit smoking and 2.) get more serious about cycling. I went out and got myself a road bike, new Trek 1200c and have started to ride more regularly lately for the past couple weeks. Here's my problem. I live in a very hilly area and also have a very long commute to work, over an hour. So the only time I have to ride is at 5:30AM. It's still very dark and cold here at that time so I really don't want to go out of my neighborhood. We live at the top of a hill so my morning ride consists of a mile ride downhill and then a pretty steep mile ride back up hill, which has been a killer on my legs. I'm afraid that if I go farther I won't make back home, longer uphill. The problem is I'm not racking up many miles and my average speeds are slow (10mph). Should I be worrying about this yet, or should I just keep doing this until it gets easier? This weekend is supposed to be nice here so we (my wife, who is much better than me at the moment) will probably take the bikes to one of the rail trails and I'll get to ride on the flats. I can't wait.

BTW, this is a great group.

Tim
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Old 03-08-06, 05:56 PM   #2
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Tim,

First, congratulations on quitting coffin nails. My advice; Stick with it, I promise it will get easier. Don't worry about miles and speed, that will come soon enough. The main thing is that you are moving in a very positive direction. Take it easy, take it in small steps, and most of all, enjoy being a kid again.

It's great that your wife is also cycling. Having company can mean a lot. You might want to check to see if there is a local club. My experience is that fellow club cyclists can be a wonderful, encouraging support group. Soon the weather will be so much better and you'll get hooked. Good luck...
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Old 03-08-06, 06:08 PM   #3
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Agree wholeheartedly with OHB. The hardest part is getting started and you are well on your way. I admire you for the 5:30 riding as that's just not something that would fit into my daily routine. Find a pattern of riding that you enjoy-even if it's just 1 day a week and build from there. Don't give a second thought to speed-both that and endurance will come over time.

Some of us would trade your hills for the wind!!

Good luck and let us know how you'r progressing!!
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Old 03-08-06, 06:18 PM   #4
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Welcome to the monkey house, Tim.

Congrats on your decisions to quit smoking and to start riding more.

I've lived in New England, and all I can say is that if you're riding in Mass. at 5:30 a.m. in March, you are one dedicated cyclist. It will only get better from here. I wouldn't worry about speed or distance at this point--or anything else for that matter. we all worry about too damn much.

But getting a "base" of regular, steady riding is important if you want to build endurance and enjoy those long rides in July. Whatever you do, don't try to increase both speed and distance at the same time. That is, if you're going try to go faster, don't try to go farther, and if you're going to try to go farther, don't try to go faster. It is the royal road to injury. Don't ask me how I know this.

By the way, there is no law against and no shame in walking a hill or taking a "granny stop" part way up a hill.

One way to build your base at this point might be to do some indoor riding, either on an indoor bike or on a trainer, which is a contraption that you attach your bike to for stationary riding.

I use a cheap trainer. Itworks fine. Your LBS can explain it all if you're interested. Some examples here: http://www.performancebike.com/shop/...tegory_id=4120

Again, welcome.
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Old 03-08-06, 06:22 PM   #5
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Hope......by all means stay patient, consistent, and hang in there. Everyone here started gradually and, over time and miles, got better. Everybody who persists progresses. For right now, make sure your gearing is adequate to your terrain. A bike shop which takes the time can advise you. Learn through experience and advice to read your body-- to know when to push it and when to take it easy. In the beginning, emphasize fun and just getting out there. You've plenty of time to become obsessive if so inclined. In 3 months you'll look back and those hills won't seem so daunting. Easier still if you keep it up in 6 months.

Ditto Blackberry above: you might consider an inexpensive windtrainer so you can spin your legs on "take it easy" days, rainy days, got an hour after work but its dark days, etc...whatever keeps you reasonably consistent and "in control" of your riding pattern.

Check out Digital Gee's past posts. He's the self-claimed 50Plus mascot who started riding last year when 10 miles was a chore. Now he's up for riding his age-- and he's (sorry DG) no teenager.

Keep posting with your training or equipment questions, experiences, or random thoughts. This is a very mutually supportive and encouraging place....a healthy version of the corner bar.
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Old 03-08-06, 08:27 PM   #6
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Tim,
Like you, I'm new too. If the hill where you live is stopping you from enjoying or starting your ride, why not car-carry the bike to a better spot, then ride. It doesn't take much longer to do, and it may help you enjoy the ride more. I drive a pickup and it takes about 3 seconds to put the bike in the back. Later, when you are in better shape, you can tackle, and beat, that damn hill. Once that happens, there's no stopping you.

There is no better feeling than being 50+ and in good shape. I'm loving every painful, breathtaking minute of it.

Bill
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Old 03-08-06, 08:55 PM   #7
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And Tim, one more thing.....out there somewhere is a hill so steep or so long that everyone of us, no matter how stainless steel his/her legs, will get off and walk it. Oddly, time, mileage and experience seem to actually "shrink" those hills...and then we meet their ever-bigger brothers. Cycling is good for both pride and humility all at the same time!
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Old 03-08-06, 09:17 PM   #8
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Firstly, 10 mph up hills is not necessarily bad. Particularly if they are long or steep.

Second, you don't have hill gearing. You have nice level ground gearing. 30-42-52 on front and 12-25 on the rear. This means your lowest gear is 32 gear inches. Touring riders want to get down to 22 gear inches. However it's not hopeless, I goofed and put my gears too high at first. I had a 12-23 on the rear and like you hills are a bit hard, and when the winter winds came they became too hard. I didn't want to give up the smoother shifting with gears so I changed both sets. I put a wider 12-27 on the rear and dropped the front low gear to 26 teeth ring. That dropped me to 26 gear inches. If you need lower, a 12-32 or 12-34 will easily enable you to handle hills. I can handle most hills now, but I have to mash, push hard, on some long steep hills. Cost is not bad and sure is a lot cheaper than knee replacement. You'll need:

1. new rear cassette
2. maybe new lower front chain ring
3. maybe a long derailer shifter cage, if you have the short one
4. maybe a small charge for labor. I think my charge was only about $30. Not worth my time and frustration ability to find numerous ways that don't work.
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Old 03-08-06, 10:30 PM   #9
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Just ride, dude. The important thing for now isn't the mileage... the numbers will come with time. The important thing is that you're out there every morning, fighting the good fight. Pedal hard, feel good about what you're doing, and above all, have fun with it.
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Old 03-08-06, 11:14 PM   #10
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Don't worry about riding just a few miles. When I started (Aug 05), I was tired riding around the block. I got sick just as I started riding, maybe because I was out of shape.

Keep at it and your strength will build up.
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Old 03-09-06, 01:47 AM   #11
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Hi and welcome. Your situation sounds ideal to me: 1 hr commute plus a nearby hill for interval training. Keep it up - it only gets better.
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Old 03-09-06, 07:34 AM   #12
HopedaleHills
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Thanks for all the responses, that's the great thing about this group. The collective years of wisdom! I did have a slight breakthrough this morning. At the end of the ride I had enough left to take the long way around the block to the house. This adds another .5 miles to the trip. To my suprise when I checked the comp, I did it in the same amount of time as the shorter route. I'll take any improvement I can get.

Hi Yo Silver - Thanks for the gearing tutorial. Maybe I will think about putting some slicks on the Trek 800 and using that on the hills. I'm not sure what the gearing is on that bike but I know it's lower than the 1200.

Dakota - My thoughts exactly. I've been pondering taking the bike down to the rail trail in town. It's pretty flat execpt for one large hill at the far end. It's 3 miles end-to end. I think it would be a good 6 mile morning workout. I waiting for it to get lighter out at 5:30. That trail runs through the woods and I'm not comfortable riding it in the dark. Better safe than sorry!

BTW, I very much enjoy DG's posts.

Also, we are taking a vacation to Cape Cod in July. My goal is to ride the Cape Rail Trail, 28 miles end-to-end. Both ways would be my age!

Thanks Again, all you New Englanders enjoy the 60F weather we are getting this weekend.
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Old 03-09-06, 10:01 AM   #13
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Welcome to the "club", Hope.....!!
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Old 03-09-06, 10:18 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Raketmensch
Just ride, dude. The important thing for now isn't the mileage... the numbers will come with time. The important thing is that you're out there every morning, fighting the good fight. Pedal hard, feel good about what you're doing, and above all, have fun with it.
+1. Welcome and enjoy your newly smoke free lungs!!!
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Old 03-09-06, 01:59 PM   #15
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Hills are always a problem, but think of the achievement when it becomes just a long slope. It is a long time since I walked a hill but start at the bottom of the hill with the intention of riding it- no matter how slow you are. Start at a slow speed in a gear that is comfortable. Then as it gets harder change down on gearing. Still hard, change down again and again. When you have run out of gears and it is still hard------Slow down. Many novices take the option of rushing at the hills and just run out of energy. Slowing down a bit will help.
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Old 03-09-06, 02:34 PM   #16
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From one 5:30 rider to another Welcome!
Just keep riding and you'll be eating up those hills in no-time.
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