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Old 08-17-09, 08:16 AM   #26
BluesDawg
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Originally Posted by AdrianL View Post
Other than spinning classes, faced with Minn. winters, I would get a trainer even thought most people here may disagree. At least it is a way to continue to ride and get the exercise.
I don't think most of us would disagree with having a trainer. We have them. We use them and we hate them.

One thing my trainer does for me is to convince me to go out and ride in rain or cold. It has to be pretty bad outside to be worse than riding the trainer.
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Old 08-17-09, 09:10 AM   #27
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It has to be pretty bad outside to be worse than riding the trainer.

Amen brother!
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Old 08-17-09, 09:30 AM   #28
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The faster cadence is, for now, more tiring, not less. And the faster I pedal, the harder is is for me to concentrate on pulling back during the understroke, etc.

Probably my biggest challenge is going to be how to stay fit in the winter. I really enjoy my rides, but this is Minnesota. Half a year of bitter cold, early darkness, and terrible road conditions are not my idea of fun. And neither is the gym. It's just not the same...
I'm right there with ya. I just started this year (May) myself. I found unlike my boyhood years, these new bikes are cool and the tech toys are fun to play with. When I started, I came here and read people spinning at 80-100+ when I was spinning around 50 rpm. I was a bit intimidated by all that. Now I'm consistently spinning 70-80 and it does get easier, especially when you DON'T think about it.

What works for me is to do what feels right and everything else will sort itself out.

I have a Cateye Strada /w cadence cyclocomputer and I usually keep it on speed and cadence for a quick look at what I think I'm doing. Concentrate on a smooth circle. Start out slow, real slow, the type of slow that makes you feel guilty or you're not accomplishing anything.

Establish a good feel for the pedaling circle. I had to move my saddle forward a bit, tilt the nose down a bit and raise it to get my pedaling to feel easy and to not be so hard on my back and sit bones.

Once you are comfortable your cadence will increase naturally. The thing is it takes time, a lot more time than us noobs are prepared for, to improve. The body is a self regulating mechanism and like with all things to change what it is used to required muscle memory and to train that requires time and practice. The self regulation will increase as your muscle memory improves.

Most of all have fun at it first.

BTW I'm going to buy a hydro trainer for our winter months and concentrate on my core exercises through he winter.
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Old 08-17-09, 02:42 PM   #29
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I think if you're under 15 mph on the flat you should just find the biggest cliff in Minnesota and drive over it ! Of course that would be all of a 6 foot drop !
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Old 08-17-09, 03:59 PM   #30
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DF's suggestion of spin classes could work, if you're both competitive and social. I'm neither, so I'm not a gym kind of guy.
Spinning classes are NOT competitive, unless one makes them so.

In the classes I go to in the winter time, a lot of folks do exactly what they want. One guy grinds in max resistance the whole 50 minutes. Others are standing almost the whole time. Some sit a lot, as I do.

You adjust the tension to whatever YOU want. If you feel self-conscious, you can just pretend to turn the knob up when the instructor says to increase resistance, and then smile as if it is easy. Yes, I've done that.

Be prepared for a lot of very "in condition" - that is "in-condition for spinning classes" ladies in their 50's - 60's - 70's who will wipe you out if you try to keep up with them.

However, a whole lot of them don't even own a bike, and have never seen a trail.

Overall, it is a lot better for me than grinding away in the basement, even though I have a nice basement.
YMMV
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Old 08-17-09, 05:20 PM   #31
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Spinning classes- sounds like a great idea. I teach at the university and there all kinds of spinning classes at the Rec Center- I just looked it up. Then again, they're filled with 20 year olds. Not exactly my crowd.
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Old 08-17-09, 06:08 PM   #32
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Spinning classes- sounds like a great idea. I teach at the university and there all kinds of spinning classes at the Rec Center- I just looked it up. Then again, they're filled with 20 year olds. Not exactly my crowd.

Not around here. Here they are filled with 50, 60, 70 and a couple of 80 year-olds. Why not ask at the rec registration?
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Old 08-17-09, 06:42 PM   #33
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Not around here. Here they are filled with 50, 60, 70 and a couple of 80 year-olds. Why not ask at the rec registration?
No, they'll all be really young - it's the University rec center. It's ok, I'll deal with it. After years being middle aged on a university campus, you get used to being invisible - that's a topic for another thread or really another forum, but there it is - working at a University: every year you get older while everybody around you stays the same age.

The classes sound like just what I need and they're a 3 minute walk from my office. I'll go for it.
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Old 08-17-09, 06:57 PM   #34
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Any kind of road or trail biking offers lots of distractions.
That is why a trainer or spinning class is good. You can strap on your HRM, go 90 RPM at HR 120 for 1 hour. No BS and no excuses.
The result will be distance traveled in that hour or calories burned.
I just did such a session on a recumbent trainer. I burned 750 calories in that hour and my knees hurt.
That translates to over 20 MPH on my Trek Madone on flat ground and no wind. I have done that also.
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Old 08-18-09, 11:17 AM   #35
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I started at your age 7 years ago. Recently I was told building cycling legs is a 2 year process. I agree. Just ride, watch others and learn. I started riding alone and chased average speed, then chased distance. When I started riding with a group I thought I was ready, ready to be dropped like a bad habit.

Enjoy riding, work on cadence as you do, spinning easy gears gets you to the same place with less effort and it will help build your cardio. 6 or 8 months down the road, start working intervals into your riding (search threads for that topic) Also, find some hills and climb them. Then do it again and again and again. You will be much stronger for it.
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Old 08-18-09, 06:22 PM   #36
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Cadence is personal. 100 for Lance and Lance wannabe's, 75-80 for those that follow Jan Ullrich's type of riding. Jan Ullrich was only the second best rider in the world for 4-5 years. Your physiology will determine what works for you.

You have gotten a lot of good advice about pedaling in circles, not mashing like two pistons. I spent 2 years increasing my cadence, allways over 90-95 on the trainer, avg. 90 on the road. I specifically sped up my feet during training and on all the roads. I got slower and slower as I lost power spinning with these two big legs. Most neophytes do pedal too slowly, but everyone must respond to their bodies. This year, I have switched back to a cadence of 80-85 and sometimes in a big gear I run all the way down to around 75. My heart rate stays lower and I can push a pretty strong gear. It took my buddy running 400-500 watts to keep up with me on a hill and I outweigh him by 30 lbs. The moral of the story is that we are all different. Ride, Ride some more, and ride even more. There is only one way to get better, "time in the saddle". Be Patient, build muscle and technique by travelling down the road on your bike and enjoying the time with your friends.
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Old 08-18-09, 09:46 PM   #37
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Spinning classes- sounds like a great idea. I teach at the university and there all kinds of spinning classes at the Rec Center- I just looked it up. Then again, they're filled with 20 year olds. Not exactly my crowd.

I think it's been stated before that spinning uses the cardio a bit more than mashing does, but is easier on the knees. Just find a comfortable rpm to pedal at and try to maintain that at a pace that's moderate for YOU. Just ride a lot, and someday you'll realize that you're going faster in a different gear for the same effort.
Go ahead and sign up for the spin classes with the younger folk. Stay at the back of the class, but tell your wife/girlfriend that you're in the front.
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Old 08-19-09, 12:46 AM   #38
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Cadence is personal...
...Most neophytes do pedal too slowly, but everyone must respond to their bodies...
...The moral of the story is that we are all different...

Very true. I try to stay away from the idea of a prescribed cadence being the answer for everyone. When I first started riding a lot as an adult, I bought a cadence reading computer to see how I was doing compared to the advice I read in magazines to spin 80 to 90 rpm. I was shocked to see that I was usually mashing along at 50 to 60. Gradually I progressed to being able to spin at 90 rpm comfortably, but most of the time I felt better around 80. But at times I found it helpful to speed up to 90 or 100 rpm. I tend to stay somewhere between 70 and 90 rpm now.

What I came to focus more on was making sure I was in a gear I could "stay on top of". This meant that I should never let my rpm get so low that I could not accelerate. This was especially important on hills, but even on flats, I found that I was most effective if I was able to increase my speed if I tried. I find that to be a better way to gauge my pedaling than knowing my cadence number.
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Old 08-19-09, 02:21 AM   #39
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I started at your age 7 years ago. Recently I was told building cycling legs is a 2 year process. I agree. Just ride, watch others and learn. I started riding alone and chased average speed, then chased distance. When I started riding with a group I thought I was ready, ready to be dropped like a bad habit.

Enjoy riding, work on cadence as you do, spinning easy gears gets you to the same place with less effort and it will help build your cardio. 6 or 8 months down the road, start working intervals into your riding (search threads for that topic) Also, find some hills and climb them. Then do it again and again and again. You will be much stronger for it.
Wow... what excellent advice!
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Old 08-19-09, 08:30 PM   #40
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If you're just getting back into biking, this site may be of interest: http://www.biketoledo.net.
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Old 08-19-09, 09:17 PM   #41
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First off, let me say that you are doing great. You are riding a nice distance. You are doing it routinely. And you are enjoying it.

As others have said, you should learn how to spin your pedals.

Currently, you are riding a 50 tooth chain ring in your 3rd smallest cog which I guess is 15. To get chain inches that is 50/15 times 27 (wheel diameter) = 90. At 90 chain inches and 100 rpm, you would be going 27 mph. By you are going 13 mph which means your rpm is about 48. That is about what one would expect for a neophyte rider.

An experienced rider can cruise for hours at a cadence of over 100 rpm. Everyone has their preferred cadence. Lemond liked to ride in the low 80s. I believe Armstrong rides in the low 100s. Riding a high rpm allows a cyclist to generate power on a sustainable basis. But it takes some time to develop the ability as others have said above.

Something to do when you is practicing increasing your cadence. Concentrate on spinning your legs faster. You will probably feel your quads burning. Back off a bit. I think over time, the quads develop more capillaries which allows more blood flow so you can sustain a higher spin. It took me a whole summer to develop a decent spin and that was riding a bunch of miles. But keep at it, it will come.

As for your toe clips, you should do more than push down your pedals. What happens is many riders use the power stroke to push up the foot on the recovery stroke. You should think of lifting the foot on the recovery stroke whilst pushing on the other foot on the power stroke. A lot of people describe this as "pedalling in circles". The whole point of toe clips is to have your feet firmly connected to the pedals so you can develop a smooth spin.

Clipless pedals provide a better connection to the pedals than toe clips. But toe clips work just fine. Another aide to a better spin is a bike computer that gives a cadence read out. That will provide you with an instant read out of your current spin which is a great learning device.

I learned to spin before cadence computers so I calculated the mph at 100 rpm for each of my chain ring and cog combinations and arranged those in 2 columns and taped it to my spin. That way I could glance at my current gear and look at the table and figure out how close I was to 100 rpm. It worked reasonably well and was dirt cheap.
I think this post has a lot of good advice, and I agree, you're doing really well.

I'd like to add a few feasible pedaling techniques that help to make good circles - at teh bottom of each pedal stroke, pull your foot back gently, like you're scraping mud off your sole. It helps to remember to change stroke direction, but don't pull your foot out of the clip - that's too severe a pull. Then lift your knee toward the handlebar on teh upstroke, then lead your toe forward over the top.

You've found that pulling up with power is not a sustainable operation. I've found the same thing, and I think it's telling that Bernard Hinault in his book Road Racing, does not advocate this. I do think the gentle elements of pedaling in circles are sustainable, and you can practice these techniques as you pedal your 80 rpm. Do it when there's nothing more important to think about, such as traffic.
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