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Old 05-21-11, 11:01 AM   #1
wphamilton
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Hammering hardly faster than a brisk ride

Is it age, lagging fitness or nothing unusual to see only a couple minutes difference between flat out for ten miles and taking a brisk easy ride? I don't race, train or ride centuries - I just ride.

Specifically, it's ten miles from my back door to work, seven of it on a paved path. I have about 300 trips on the commute, hundreds more on just the path, generally at the same time of day. I know the route, habitually slow down at the same places where people will be etc, so there isn't much difference from one day to the next. When there aren't random variations like traffic jams or big crowds it takes 33 minutes (computer moving time) if I'm larking about, 32 minutes if I'm being brisk and right at 30 minutes if I'm doing all I can muster. (I already know that's too fast for a path. I'm careful and slow for peds and passing).

Is it a concern to hit a wall only two minutes faster out of over 30? Is that a plateau thing that's going to take more intense training or does it gradually improve with general fitness? Am I worried about nothing?
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Old 05-21-11, 11:54 AM   #2
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Doesn't sound to me like the right route for even an informal time trial. 10 miles/30 minutes = 20 MPH. It's VERY hard to do faster than that on routes where there are stops and slowdowns, irrespective of one's ability. Even if you are hammering at say 25 MPH on the fast stretches, numerous interruptions will bring that average speed way down. It's not the actual stops, its all the decelerations and accelerations that will slow you.
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Old 05-21-11, 12:51 PM   #3
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If you are doing 20 mph average on a course with stops and slow downs your doing better than most of us. The fact that there is only a few minutes difference between a hard effort and a not so hard effort is as MinnMan said - due to the ramp ups and downs and stop and go and also due to drag.

If you are hitting peak speeds above 25mph - which you must be given the description of the course, pushing an extra mile or two ph is a big effort because the power required to overcome drag increases with velocity to the third power, so small changes in speed make a big change in power when the speed is larger.
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Old 05-21-11, 01:33 PM   #4
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No big deal then, thank you. I can work on my myriad other cycling deficiencies and forget about this one.

ps, I had to laugh at you are hammering at say 25 MPH on the fast stretches. More accurately that would be "coasting down a couple of decent hills at say 35 mph." Don't read too much into that 20mph average.
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Old 05-21-11, 01:50 PM   #5
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I have a trip to my Pie cafe and it is 10 miles- give or take 1/10th. It will take me around 40 minutes to do it. Hammer it and I might do it in 36. Last time down there and I did it in 34. Found out on the way back that Tailwinds can improve your time no end.
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Old 05-21-11, 01:57 PM   #6
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Regardless of the time or speed, it sounds like it might be good to mix it up a little and add some new routes to your routine.
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Old 05-21-11, 02:30 PM   #7
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"add some new routes" which around here means "more hills", not coincidentally one of the other deficiencies in my riding. You're right of course.
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Old 05-21-11, 03:58 PM   #8
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I have a trip to my Pie cafe and it is 10 miles- give or take 1/10th. It will take me around 40 minutes to do it. Hammer it and I might do it in 36. Last time down there and I did it in 34. Found out on the way back that Tailwinds can improve your time no end.
And we indeed know you are hammering it on the way out - you are going for pie
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Old 05-21-11, 07:29 PM   #9
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I bet you've done it so much your body just reacts to doing it much the same as always. BluesDawg is right-mix up the routine to see different results.
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Old 05-21-11, 09:40 PM   #10
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"add some new routes" which around here means "more hills", not coincidentally one of the other deficiencies in my riding. You're right of course.

More hills = better
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Old 06-05-11, 02:59 PM   #11
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More hills = better
I took your advice and sought out hills this weekend, just a 15 mile loop. I was fine for until the last one, which I knew would defeat me. I know some of you guys would race up it but it's a monster for me. It's a half mile double hump with 8%-9% grade, the second about 125 ft climb. I'm almost in granny at the top, with doubts creeping in about finishing at any speed.

Would you recommend returning and attacking it on weekends until the hill is mastered? Could that even work, 2 days a week? Or some other approach? Unfortunately for my conditioning, a new extension of the paved path cuts the hills and a half-mile off my commute and has so far been impossible to resist after work, so in practice the real work has to be weekends.
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Old 06-05-11, 03:09 PM   #12
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Would you recommend returning and attacking it on weekends until the hill is mastered? Could that even work, 2 days a week? Or some other approach? Unfortunately for my conditioning, a new extension of the paved path cuts the hills and a half-mile off my commute and has so far been impossible to resist after work, so in practice the real work has to be weekends.
Yes.

And take the fairing off. It won't help in the hills.
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Old 06-05-11, 03:55 PM   #13
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Thanks but I like the fairing I'm asking about training - enough power/speed on the hill that issue goes away.
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Old 06-05-11, 04:15 PM   #14
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I have a trip to my Pie cafe and it is 10 miles- give or take 1/10th. It will take me around 40 minutes to do it. Hammer it and I might do it in 36. Last time down there and I did it in 34. Found out on the way back that Tailwinds can improve your time no end.
Hate it when that happens. Just when you think you are having a great run, it's all because of tailwind....and you grind out the return trip.
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Old 06-05-11, 05:36 PM   #15
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I took your advice and sought out hills this weekend, just a 15 mile loop. I was fine for until the last one, which I knew would defeat me. I know some of you guys would race up it but it's a monster for me. It's a half mile double hump with 8%-9% grade, the second about 125 ft climb. I'm almost in granny at the top, with doubts creeping in about finishing at any speed.

Would you recommend returning and attacking it on weekends until the hill is mastered? Could that even work, 2 days a week? Or some other approach? Unfortunately for my conditioning, a new extension of the paved path cuts the hills and a half-mile off my commute and has so far been impossible to resist after work, so in practice the real work has to be weekends.
A 1/2 mile of hill at 8% is not a big hill. However if it is causing you difficulty then just go back and do as many repeats as you can, if one is all for now then do one, later do two and build up to 4. Then find a bigger hill and do some more. You may also want to check your gearing, if all you have is a 53/39 and 12/25 cassette hills will be hard until you build a lot of power. Lots of strong riders I ride with use a compact with an 11/28 or a triple.
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Old 06-05-11, 06:00 PM   #16
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Lots of repeats, that's my plan then!

A 1/2 mile of hill at 8% is not a big hill. I know, it's frustrating. Mapmyride says it's a little meaner than that so I might have messed up the specs but regardless it's a challenge. I'm just running out of juice.
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Old 06-05-11, 08:25 PM   #17
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A 1/2 mile of hill at 8% is not a big hill. However if it is causing you difficulty then just go back and do as many repeats as you can, if one is all for now then do one, later do two and build up to 4. Then find a bigger hill and do some more. You may also want to check your gearing, if all you have is a 53/39 and 12/25 cassette hills will be hard until you build a lot of power. Lots of strong riders I ride with use a compact with an 11/28 or a triple.
I do reps on a hill here in town. Not sure of the grade numbers but it's 1/2mi hill with a 135ft gain. It's fairly steep at the top. So for a workout I do 4 reps and increase one rep per week. When the reps get too easy I'll not do the granny gear but will bump up a gear.
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Old 06-05-11, 10:09 PM   #18
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Doing reps on that hill sounds like a plan. Do it as many times as you can and then come back next week and do more, or better yet, do it the same number of times, but stronger.

Don't do hill repeats too often though- once or twice a week, max. Mix it up with easier and more enjoyable rides.
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Old 06-06-11, 09:19 AM   #19
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Cycling on a flat road requires one to move a volume of air out of the way. The power required to go faster is not linear meaning it takes a lot more power to go just a little faster. That is why improving time trial times is so difficult.

For example... Using http://www.noping.net/english/ it takes a 175 pound rider approximately 190 watts (in the drops) to maintain 20 mph. To go 25 mph, requires 330 watts which reduces the time to 25 minutes. Increasing the speed 25% required an increase in power of 74%. And year over year improvements in human power performance in general are 5 to 20% and sometimes we stay the same or decrease. So, when one "hammers" the power does go up but not enough to make a significant difference in time or speed. However, knowing this, you may be improving quite a bit but the measurement method is not accurate enough to gage improvement.

Hopefully, I have my math right or C'Fool will correct me.
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Old 06-06-11, 10:25 AM   #20
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There's a 12 mile bike path loop right by my front door. It involves crossing 10 streets, two sets of railroad tracks. It has a few narrow places where I won't pass people and a couple of blind curves where I have to be a little careful on the approach. It's also mostly flat and very smooth. There are also some very long straight sections where you can go as fast as possible. One day last week I managed to get around it only having to unclip once. I've never been able to do that before and I've been riding that loop for over 5 years. There's no possible way I could do this at a 20 mph average. The best I have ever been able to do is average 18 mph and that was hammering it. If I just ride briskly I average 16.5. That's a time difference of like 3 minutes and 40 seconds. There's just too much time spent slowing down for the intersections and waiting to pass people. I think your time difference of 3 minutes over 10 miles is completely within the realm of normal.

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Old 06-06-11, 02:16 PM   #21
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That's very true reverborama. I was concerned because the difference was close to one minute which seemed kind of slim. But I think the guys are right, that with stops and slowdowns you have diminishing returns when you're close to your limit. I've moved on to worrying about my other defects such as endurance on climbs, other than the unimportant-in-the-scheme-of-things that no one believes my commute time. Since ahsposo mentioned it, it's because of my fairing (I'm not that fast) but that's another story.
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Old 06-08-11, 07:56 AM   #22
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I just chanced upon this thread, and the title reminded me of a frequent bit of running coaching, from when that was my main exercise

Coaches would say, after a warm up - '800 meters as hard as you can. 10.10 effort'.

Then a short recovery period. - 'Now, same but think about form. Light foot touch, no impact, no bouncing, imagine you've a glass of water on your head and mustn't spill it, 7.10 effort'

Second was usually faster, often the same, very seldom slower. Maximum 'hammer' seemed to produce a lot of waste.

Maybe similar with cycling, I imagine
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Old 06-08-11, 08:30 AM   #23
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Since ahsposo mentioned it, it's because of my fairing (I'm not that fast) but that's another story.
A lot of the members here don't care to go into the Road forum.

Why don't you show them what we're talking about?
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Old 06-08-11, 08:55 AM   #24
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A lot of the members here don't care to go into the Road forum.

Why don't you show them what we're talking about?
Do you REALLY want to go there (there meaning the wind cheats / fairings)?

I'll do it just to get it over with...

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Old 06-08-11, 11:08 AM   #25
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Do you REALLY want to go there (there meaning the wind cheats / fairings)?

I'll do it just to get it over with...

A remarkable resemblance to:
http://www.bikeforums.net/showthread...1#post12735890
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