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Old 02-28-09, 08:09 PM   #1
Yen
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Almost a metric - felt like a century

It's utterly amazing how fast leg strength and overall fitness goes down the drain when we our riding/fitness routine slips for just a few months.

We slacked off on riding over the holidays. We still remained "active" but didn't get in nearly as many longer rides, nor as often, and consistently missed our group's 36-mile Saturday rides for breakfast. We did a handful of 20-something rides but rode less often.

So when today's 50+ mile ride to the Original Pancake House was announced, we wondered if we were ready. There was a shorter ride option, to drive to Heritage Park a shorter distance away from the OPH, then ride from there. We did a metric last October so we knew we could do it, but we were in better shape then.

We decided to brave it and do the whole distance. I knew I was in trouble when my quads felt tight before we even arrived at the OPH. The ride back included a long (5-mile, at least??) steady but low climb that seemed to go on forever. When we arrived at our rest stop at the park, I said to the rider near me "Right now I wish I was riding up our driveway at home..." (He almost sprayed the big gulp of water he just took in...) We still had 13 miles left.... to top it off, today was the warmest day we've had in a while (upper 70s), and I wore the warmest jersey in my closet.

The ride home was as much mental as it was physical. "You can do this... you can do this....." I was beat, thrashed, totally spent. I thought "This must be what it feels like at the end of a century."

We rode 60 miles and if I had anything left I'd have made it a metric... but I didn't.

Ate 3 chocolate chip oatmeal cookies w/milk and fixed a good meal of chicken, broccoli slaw and bread... and took an Advil for good measure.

When daylight savings starts next weekend, I plan to ride after work for at least 45-60 minutes before dinner as many nights a week as I can. But not just easy rides.... I need a plan, a strategy to build strength and work my way back.

Does anyone have a good tried-and-true suggestions for making short, even 30-mile rides count the most and be as beneficial as possible? I know riding more often is also key, but I want each ride -- even short rides -- to count if 30 minutes is all I have.
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Old 02-28-09, 09:39 PM   #2
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Intervals.

Warm up.

Ride hard as possible for a minute or two. Ride very easy for twice the time. Repeat several times.

Cool down.

Now personally, I don't like to do strictly training rides. Seems too much like work. Instead, I work a training segment or two into most rides. My commutes are natural intervals with the stoplights and all. Rolling hills are also natural intervals.

But on Thursday, it was a nice day, if a little windy, and I had 45 minutes to kill before work, which is a 15 minute ride away. So I had 30 minutes. I warmed up by riding downtown, easy and upwind. From downtown, I rode like the dickens with the tailwind out to the suburbs. Turning around, I rode gently on a low rise into the wind. Then I did a few hill repeats in the park. Finally, I rode to work, time-trialing it for the first bit, then cooling-down for the last couple of miles. Felt great.
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Old 02-28-09, 10:01 PM   #3
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Yes Yen,

Glendora Mountain Road! Very intense, or potentially so, at least somewhat intense because the first 7.6 miles are a consistant climb.

Go up slowly at first, then add "hill sprints" (essentially intervals, but on a slope), and in a month you'll be flying up the mountain (well, relatively speaking).

I rode it today, 44 mi. from Glendora to Baldy Village and back, a bit over 5,000 feet of climbing, and only 18 min. slower than my record times. I think I'm still recovering from the double last weekend, plus I haven't done enough long clmibs lately.

Lovely day on the mountain, lots of green and some flowers out, but still snow above 4,000 feet (not on the roadway). Anyway, try it, you'll like it!

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Old 02-28-09, 10:05 PM   #4
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Sounds like a tough ride Yen, but you still did it. I like you, have been off the bike for a while with my foot surgury and after 25 miles I could start to feel it. I guess one way to look at it is , it will get better. Keep hammering and you'll get better. I know I was and now I can just about start over again. Not as bad as living up north, where you have all winter off.
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Old 02-28-09, 10:32 PM   #5
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When training in a short period of time, repeat hills.
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Old 02-28-09, 11:58 PM   #6
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Yen just ride as much as you can for now, trying to get your heart rate up.
We were in your back yard today, went up Hwy 39 until there was too much snow, around 6500 feet. Here's a pic from up there.
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Old 03-01-09, 01:18 AM   #7
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+1 on intervals.

Short, sweet, to the point. You don't need the long rides, you need the ones that give you strength. Intervals are your friend.

When I do a 45 min. hard interval I think I didn't do enough, yet it's just enough, and I either recover or take the next day off. Intervals are demanding and sometimes we don't respect them as much as we should.

And big john, nice pic! I have to drive quite a ways to see that much snow.
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Old 03-01-09, 01:20 AM   #8
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Have a similar problem to you Yen. Winter has seen me get out most weeks but milage has been down and speed definitely has. Last weekend I did 45 miles and that was enough. Just enough miles to let me know how unfit I am- but still enough to say it was a good ride.

Todays ride will only be a short one as I have a bit of a headache after the celebrations last night. Probably just enough though to warn me that Very shortly I have to get in some real rides.

Take it easy for the next week but get a recovery ride in today.

And That sounds like a good ride to let you know that you have to get some more rides in this summer. Enjoy them.
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Old 03-01-09, 08:20 AM   #9
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Not riding much + 60 miles + a long climb = a century in pain equivilent.
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Old 03-01-09, 08:56 AM   #10
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Whoa! I had to check for a minute to see what forum I was on. This is 50+, right? For a minute I thought I was on "Road".

Intervals. Training. Pain. Whips and chains. What's up with all that? This is a PANCAKE RIDE! It's supposed to be LIGHTHEARTED FUN! The only problem you had was that you ran out of fun before you ran out of miles. Next time, if you're in any doubt what-so-ever, take the shorter route. Make sure that you always leave some fun in your tank for tomorrow.
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Old 03-01-09, 11:05 AM   #11
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You're assuming that it was hard because you haven't ridden as much lately. You're probably right, however, I've found a huge range in the perceived difficulty of a ride from one day to the next.

For example, I've gone on 40 mile rides that seem harder than an 80 mile ride on much of the same route. There are a lot of variables (how well you slept, what you've been doing lately, the temperature, the sun, the company).
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Old 03-01-09, 11:35 AM   #12
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Personally, I think if you have not ridden very much over the winter you don't need to worry that much yet about hills and intervals; you just need to get back on the bike more for now. Somebody on BF once posted "you can ride in a day what you normally ride in a week." Another good rule of thumb is making sure you've done a ride of two-thirds the distance you're aiming for sometime in the few weeks leading up to the "big ride."

It doesn't sound to me like you were regularly doing 60 miles a week the past couple of months, which means a metric century would definitely be a struggle.


Get back on the bike at least 4 to 5 times a week. If you only have 30 minutes, ride 30 minutes. But try to make most rides at least an hour, and do one weekend ride of 2 to 4 hours. 5 one-hour rides per week is going to be roughly 60 to 75 miles of riding - if you aren't riding that much already then a metric century will be uncomfortable.

Ride "energetically;" you know what that means - not just lollygagging along, but riding at a good cadence, with good form. It doesn't matter what your average speed is as long as you cadence is smooth and relatively quick (80 rpm + ).

Start hitting hills regularly and learning about intervals 4 or 5 weeks from now, when you're back in shape...

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Old 03-01-09, 12:36 PM   #13
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Wow, what a lot of great suggestions. I could write a basic training manual for myself from all the suggestions posted here.

Rick@OCRR: A 75-year-old member of our group rides Glendora Mountain Rd. on a regular basis. He's quite a rider. There's a tough hill on our Monday ride that's named after him... he coached me up that hill the first time I did that ride. I may try GMR someday.... for now, I have plenty of hilly neighborhoods around me to climb, one of them is part of the Monday route. I'd love to get up Baldy one day..... when I do, I'll know I've made it.

big john: There's still a lot of white snow to be seen from our house and from most of our ride route yesterday. Very pretty, especially on a clear sunny day with a bright blue sky. Great pic!

stapfam: Too much celebration last night means you need to re-hydrate yourself if you plan to ride today.

Retro Grouch: This ride was lighthearted fun, but I want to train to go the whole distance with them... not to torture myself but to enjoy the whole ride with this really fun group. The social part of it is at least half the fun. And, the longer rides challenge me to train for them, and prepare me for even longer ones. If I ride often enough, that is.....

ALL of you provided great suggestions!

I feel good today, good enough to go for a gentle ride easy on the knees. Even when I promise myself an "easy" ride, I have to work hard to keep it that way... I tend to want to push and ride "energetically" as BengeBoy said.
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Old 03-01-09, 02:24 PM   #14
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Keep it fun. You can follow the principles of preparing your body without using the "T-word" and turning the whole thing into a chore. But that's just me. Some people only find joy in doing things that would ruin the whole thing for me.
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Old 03-01-09, 02:48 PM   #15
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2 x 20's

Everyone has their own solution, and you need to find yours. For me, it's definitely the (in)famous 20 minutes at "1 hour time trial" pace or thereabouts. Definitely hard, but not so hard that I dread doing them.

I rode for fun for a year or two, then more seriously fun for a bit after that. But my general fitness (and speed) only really jumped when I moved on to 20 minute intervals. Like you, I also had a big break from around August last year. Got back on my trainer in January, could barely turn the pedals over without my HR going through the roof. But just over a month later, getting in a few sessions of the above each week, I'm not all that far off riding decently again.

YMMV

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Old 03-01-09, 03:18 PM   #16
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My computer is trashed. I did manage to get 2 more pics uploaded. Sorry for the derail.

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Old 03-01-09, 04:05 PM   #17
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WOW!!! That's deep snow! Exactly where is that, big john? I know it's on the hills behind us, but where?

BD: Excellent advice.... when this is no longer fun, I'll no longer want to ride. I have to keep it fun because that's the main reason we ride (and fitness, of course).

bing181: By "20-minute intervals".... do you mean do intervals for 20 minutes, or go full throttle for 20 minutes then relax for 20 minutes, etc? I do intervals of 1-2 minutes each on our treadmill and I noticed a HUGE jump in my fitness very quickly from those. I know I need to do them on the bike for them to count most on the bike... just looking for how best to do them.
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Old 03-01-09, 04:18 PM   #18
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Sounds like a tough ride Yen, but you still did it. I like you, have been off the bike for a while with my foot surgury and after 25 miles I could start to feel it. I guess one way to look at it is , it will get better. Keep hammering and you'll get better. I know I was and now I can just about start over again. Not as bad as living up north, where you have all winter off.
George, I didn't realize you had foot surgery. I hope you have a complete recovery.
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Old 03-01-09, 04:20 PM   #19
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We did a relaxing 17+ miles today, but it's pretty warm today. Still, we feel MUCH better than we expected to, and I'm thrilled about that.

In all, we did a combined total of 100+ miles this 3-day weekend.... possibly more than I've done the past 2-3 months. March is off to a good start.
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Old 03-01-09, 04:25 PM   #20
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It's hwy 39, the end of Azusa Blvd, or San Gabriel Canyon. There is a gate down pretty low, not far from the OHV area, and the cars can't go up there. It's about 30 miles from Encanto Park to Angeles Crest and it gains over 5000 feet, maybe 6000 but we couldn't get all the way up due to the snow.
It's an absolutely relentless grind once you get up a ways.
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Old 03-01-09, 05:00 PM   #21
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Hey John, I started shaking just looking at that picture. That doesn't look like fun, but a least you got a good ride in.
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Old 03-01-09, 05:54 PM   #22
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John: I'll add that to my "bucket" list.... like riding Baldy, I'll know I've made it when I can do that. My hat's off to you and others who do!
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Old 03-01-09, 06:03 PM   #23
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I forgot a book I bought Yen. It's called " The Lance Armstrong Performance Program" It for beginners to experience riders and it has a lot of good tips. It has a good write up on HRM and power meters and why they are a real benefit to your training. It has training for endurance and speed if you want to go that route. Anyway it covers everything that you need for riding a bike and watching your diet and everything in between.
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Old 03-01-09, 06:12 PM   #24
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Thanks George, I'll check out the book. I like to keep things simple but structured enough and I appreciate any tips I can pick up along the way.

Here's a pic of my breakfast on yesterday's ride -- pecan pancakes with tropical syrup. The syrup tasted like orange marmalade and poured like syrup............... YUM!!!! I'll definitely try to duplicate that at home. I'd already eaten 1-1/2 pancakes before taking this picture; I left 1-1/2 pancakes uneaten. Next time we'll spit them. The place was packed, obviously very popular.

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Old 03-01-09, 07:23 PM   #25
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The place was packed, obviously very popular.

Do they serve pie?
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