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  1. #1
    Senior Member bboseley's Avatar
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    Is This all There Is?

    My story – and I’m sticking to it! I’m an “older” citizen who took up cycling about two years ago to lose some weight and get fit. Following a couple of miss-starts (wrong or poor fitting cycles) I have now been riding a quality road bike – fiber carbon and all Dura-Ace for about 18 months. No need to get into brands.

    My problem – if in fact it is a problem – is that I don’t seem to get much faster. I lost the desired weight, and have definitely become more fit. Lower heart rate, more stamina – but same speeds!

    I have kept a log of all rides since I started, and obviously got faster in the beginning, and certainly picked up a couple mph with the carbon bike.

    Example. I rode 60 miles today and finished with an average speed very close to that posted on similar rides over the last year. (I am in Florida, and it was extremely hot on the return leg – which may have some effect.

    SO – as someone once asked “Is this all there is?” (I’m not going to get into numbers for fear of embarrassing myself)

    A few specific questions: 1) Could a chain approaching the 1/8 inch stretch mark have any effect on speed? 2) Tires. I am running Michelin Carbons. 3)Wheels. Still with the Bontrager Race X Lites. 4) I replaced the bar with the FSA K-Wing. Seems to have increased my reach just a bit.

    Or is it poor “training” technique? My pedaling style has for sure improved with a full 360 degree effort and pretty fast cadence. I do tend to be pretty erratic speed wise. I will sprint a while then cruise slowly to recover. Just shopping for suggestions.

  2. #2
    Lincoln, CA Mojo Slim's Avatar
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    This could be my story, too. I've been riding about 4 years. After initial improvement, plateau. Better bike, better speed/hill climb. Plateau. While I know I'm a better rider than before, I don't see much improvement in hill climbing and speed in the last year+. Many people my age are better. I have come to the conclusion that I don't push myself enough and, while I ride lots of miles (6000 a year), I don't train smart.

    But I'm not too down about it. I'm sure more fit than most 59ers will get better . . . next month.
    Truth is stranger than reality.
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  3. #3
    Prefers Cicero cooker's Avatar
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    You might notice the benefits of weight loss more in hilly terrain. Losing weight doesn't necessarily make you faster on the flats.

  4. #4
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    How many people do you know that would love to lose as much weight as you have and be all toned up? I have friends who don't want to hear that I've lost 55 lbs. It puts them on a guilt trip. We are over 50 and should expect reasonable gains. However, testosterone levels are lower and we can't do it like we could at 25. Get over it and enjoy life as it is. bk

  5. #5
    Senior Member DnvrFox's Avatar
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    It's the motor, not the bicycle.

    You are spending lots and lots of money on expensive items that top bikers might need for just a bit of improvement. But, if the motor isn't there, it won't make much difference.

    I would enjoy my bicycling, work on continued training - i.e., Joe Friels, Cycling Past 50 and quit worrying so much about speed, unless you plan to race. I guess it comes down to what bicycling means to you.

    By the way, how old is "older?"
    Last edited by DnvrFox; 08-12-06 at 08:42 AM.

  6. #6
    Let's do a Century jppe's Avatar
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    A number of us feel your pain. Obviously you have a terrific bike and top of the line equipment. There's not much more that can be done there in my opinion to realize any significant speed gain. A more aero wheel would help a little but not worth the bucks for the minimal gain in speed.

    I think it's really pretty simple. To gain speed is creating the ability to ride at a higher output level for a longer period of time. So like Dnvr said it is the motor. What works best for me is to ride with riders that are faster than you are and stay with them for as long as possible. Doing this repeatedly will increase your ability to ride faster for longer periods, and thus increase overall average speed. You certainly have the base miles so there's no issue with your overall fitness.

    Some people are able to go out and do intervals on their own, or even ride trainers to get somewhat of an equivalent effect. However, I've found there's nothing like getting with a group who's ability is a notch above your own and hang as long as possible. This has worked very well for me in the past, and I'm on somewhat of a quest to do the same over the next 6 weeks. It's tough the first time or two going out but you should begin to see measurable progress over a matter of weeks with this approach.

  7. #7
    King of the molehills bcoppola's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jppe
    ...I've found there's nothing like getting with a group who's ability is a notch above your own and hang as long as possible. This has worked very well for me in the past...
    +1. That's been my "training program" so far...and so good. In fact, I'm going to kick it up a notch (to steal a phrase) in the next week or two with a faster group one night a week. I'll probably get dropped but I'll keep trying until I can hang with them.

    I just got the Friel book from the library. I dunno...looks a bit too serious for a type-B guy like me.
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  8. #8
    Car-Free Flatlander Stacy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DnvrFox
    It's the motor, not the bicycle.

    You are spending lots and lots of money on expensive items that top bikers might need for just a bit of improvement. But, if the motor isn't there, it won't make much difference.

    I guess I would enjoy my bicycling, work on continued training - i.e., Joe Friels, Cycling Past 50 and quit worrying so much about speed, unless you plan to race. I guess it comes down to what bicycling means to you.

    By the way, how old is "older?"
    +1
    I ordered Joe Friel's Cycling Past 50 and Fitness Cycling by Chris Carmichael, Edmund R. Burke, in early July. Added a HRM and I've had significant improvement in less than a month.

  9. #9
    OM boy cyclezen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bboseley
    My story – and I’m sticking to it! I’m an “older” citizen who took up cycling about two years ago to lose some weight and get fit... I have now been riding a quality road bike... My problem – if in fact it is a problem – is that I don’t seem to get much faster. I lost the desired weight, and have definitely become more fit. Lower heart rate, more stamina – but same speeds!
    I have kept a log of all rides since I started, and obviously got faster in the beginning, and certainly picked up a couple mph with the carbon bike...
    SO – as someone once asked “Is this all there is?” (I’m not going to get into numbers for fear of embarrassing myself)
    A few specific questions: 1) Could a chain approaching the 1/8 inch stretch mark have any effect on speed? 2) Tires. I am running Michelin Carbons. 3)Wheels. Still with the Bontrager Race X Lites. 4) I replaced the bar with the FSA K-Wing. Seems to have increased my reach just a bit.
    Or is it poor “training” technique? My pedaling style has for sure improved with a full 360 degree effort and pretty fast cadence. I do tend to be pretty erratic speed wise. I will sprint a while then cruise slowly to recover. Just shopping for suggestions.
    Specific Q's - 1. less than optimum components do have an effect, but hardly one we'd notice without some sort of definitive testing methods 2. tires - certainly considered better than avg. 3. Wheels - also seem to be good quality stuff. 4) Q - ?

    Putting aside what others have noted as a primary method of increasing speed - riding with faster riders; adding speed is as Dig-Gee likes to say - 90% physiological capabilites & 90% mental (my writer's license).
    Reaching outside your current envelope requires not only the physical capabilities (which are often not the limiting factor), but the mental disposition to put aside the discomfort of reaching.
    SInce 'speed' is all about numbers; your numbers are important. And coming to cycling late in life means you don;t have the advantage many of us had, which is knowing what was capable in younger years.
    All that stated, unless you;re unknowingly already pushin some big numbers, there certainly are ways to increase your riding speed. And there certainly are plenty of good opinions here to help you get there. But to make it be useful, we'll need to know some numbers. Being in Florida, we can already assume that the riding is flat, so the numbers are qualified by that.
    Numbers about you - how much do you weigh, how tall? Riding numbers - what do you consider your avg pace? whatz the fastest you've ridden over an extended period (say an hour...)? what is an avg ride for you? what cadence do you find yourself in when you're ridin strong and not paying attention to cadence? What gearing do you use most often? If you know speed and cadence, then you must already have a cyclecomputer w/cadence. Do yo have a HRM? If not, I recommend one as an essential tool in building performance.
    It may seem obvious, but most people don;t really understand that improve anything one must push above the comfort envelope. Cycling happens to be one of those things where that pushing means considerable discomfort.
    So put out your numbers. If you don;t have one, get an HRM. And you'll get some decent advise on building the speed.
    BTW, Friel's - Cycling Past 50 is a pretty good volume for some good general guidelines that should help you improve

  10. #10
    Let's do a Century jppe's Avatar
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    boseley-I will slightly edit or qualify my previous comments........you can pick up speed with different equipment. My buds and I have seen a significant overall speed improvement by going to Time Trial bikes and positioning while doing time trials. While the bike helps somewhat, probably the biggest change is being in the best aero position that is comfortable-which allows me to stay in that position for a longer period. We've also added shoe covers, skin suits, TT helmets, etc. However I was assuming that you were more interested in equipment related to road bike geometry than TT specific setups. But having said that, adding a set of aero bars might help you some if you do a lot of solo riding and it's not too hilly. A significant amount of the drag from riding a bike is the body's air resistance and anything that improves positioning will improve speed.

    Zen is exactly right about the heart rate stuff, cadence etc. It's all about being able to comfortably ride with a higher heart rate and probably pushing a little harder gear for a longer period than normal. Doing intervals and riding with faster riders helps to create that ability.

  11. #11
    Senior Member Garfield Cat's Avatar
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    I don't know your teenage background. But if you were involved in running, like high school track or cross country, or even better... college running, then it was interval training that got a runner to run faster. During the beginning of the season it was a lot of distance running mixed in with hills and maybe some sprints. As the season unfolded, there was more interval training.

    The interval training hurt the most because you're always stressing the body. For instance I recall running 20 sets of 440 yard runs with maybe a two minute rest period between each. At the beginning this hurt a lot. Mentally you want to quit after the 5th 440.

    Even though you think you're mentally tough, you also have to figure if your body can do the same type of stress at age 59. I have a friend who used to run for Univ of So Calif (USC). His specailty was the 2 mile or 5,000 meters. At age 58 he thinks he can run the quarter mile in 60 seconds in an all comers meet. He still runs some 10k's but would never consider trying to do 20 sets of 440's now.

    So mentally, its your determination, physically its interval work and your aging body's ability to take the punishment. If you ask yourself "Is it worth it", you already lost.

  12. #12
    Elite Fred mollusk's Avatar
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    The comments earlier about how to get stronger and faster are all correct and boil down to one essential fact: if you want to ride faster you must ride faster. By doing intervals (and they take on many forms) you ride faster, but not for as long as you might like. By riding with the "fast guys" you ride faster, but you really start to gain the most when you are taking the pulls on the front. All this sounds easy, right? What they didn't tell you is that you also need to push yourself through some very real pain in this process. There is no royal road to speed on the bike. If you can comfortably hang in the middle of a pack of "fast guys" that are doing all the work at the front you might gain some bike handling skills and smooth out your pedaling stroke, but you really won't develop the ability to ride fast on your own doing that. Either get to the front and take some hard pulls or find an even faster group where it is physically difficult to just hang with the pack. The fear of getting dropped 30 miles from home will give you all the incentive you need to work through the pain. If you can embrace the pain you can get faster pretty quickly.

    This sort of riding isn't for everyone. In fact the majority of bike riders think that it is absurd and that 's fine. There is enough road out there for everyone.
    I'm the world's forgotten boy. The one who's searchin', searchin' to destroy.

  13. #13
    Hypoxic Member head_wind's Avatar
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    This quote may _seem_ to contradict expectations: Greg LeMond: 'It doesn't get easier, you just get faster.' Are you pushing as hard as you used to??

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    to ride faster one needs to ride faster

  15. #15
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    Sir Edmund Hillary was asked how he trained to climb Everest. He responded, "To learn how to climb mountains, go climb mountains."

    All the responses you've gotten from this posting are great: which one will you choose as your motivation? I can tell you that I'm envious of such nice equipment to ride so get out there & ride...
    centexwoody
    They're beautiful handsome machines that translate energy into joy.

  16. #16
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    Intervals and Tempos...get the Carmichael book and an HRM...train smart and you'll pick up speed along with an aerobic base of a cheetah...

  17. #17
    Time for a change. stapfam's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bboseley
    A few specific questions: 1) Could a chain approaching the 1/8 inch stretch mark have any effect on speed? 2) Tires. I am running Michelin Carbons. 3)Wheels. Still with the Bontrager Race X Lites. 4) I replaced the bar with the FSA K-Wing. Seems to have increased my reach just a bit.

    Or is it poor “training” technique? My pedaling style has for sure improved with a full 360 degree effort and pretty fast cadence. I do tend to be pretty erratic speed wise. I will sprint a while then cruise slowly to recover. Just shopping for suggestions.
    The chain stretch will not affect your speed at all. In fact a loose chain will have less friction so may even aid you a bit. What it will do though is wear out the cassette and chain rings- even to the extent that they hang onto the chain- causing drag.
    The tyres and wheels will not have a bearing on your performance as they are what you started with, and the bar change you cam feel has been benifiicial.

    What may affect the drag of a bike on the road though is maintenance- or lack of it. Are the wheels still perfectly true and are the spokes properly tensioned. Out of true rims and floppy spokes will affect the ride and the Performance. Are the wheel bearings adjusted properly or are they tight, loose or dry of grease. Same on all the bearins as a tight bottom bracket one of the main area of concern that comes on very slowly. Wheel out of true may hit the brake blocks. Tyre pressures affect drag and although I do not know the rubber on your tyres, do they go off with age and use?

    Then there is you. How did you feel when you first started riding? Bet you are fitter now. Easy way to check is to do one of the earliest rides you did again. You will sail round it now. Couple of weeks ago this is what I did. My first ride was 15 years ago and I struggled. In fact I struggled on that ride for a couple of years. Didn't a fortnight ago though. Looked on it as a good route for a quick ride in future if I want to work a bit, take in a few hills (In fact a lot of hills) and stop for a coffee towards the end.

    I started riding 15/16 years ago. Bike fitness went up within 3 months but it then hit a plateaux for a couple of years. Then I started riding a bit more often and it shot up. I did not ride more each week- but took in acouple of Century rides. Took in day expeditions on the Mountain bike off road instead of just a mormning ride. No extra rides but the milage went up on about 1/3rd of them. Seemed to help me.
    How long was I in the army? Five foot seven.


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  18. #18
    Senior Member bboseley's Avatar
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    Thanks for all the great suggestions.Will try them all.

    Bob

  19. #19
    Senior Member Richard Cranium's Avatar
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    Or is it poor “training” technique?
    Yeah, just keep doing the same things, and you'll get the same results. Pretty weird eh??

    You could go seek out some fine Masters racers that are the same age and build as yourself - then you see what you "could have been".

  20. #20
    Hypoxic Member head_wind's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by head_wind
    This quote may _seem_ to contradict expectations: Greg LeMond: 'It doesn't get easier, you just get faster.' Are you pushing as hard as you used to??
    I should have been clearer. Are you working to get better?? Do you run intervals?? Weight training?? Nutrition??

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