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  1. #1
    Must... ride... more... Phil_gretz's Avatar
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    55+ Climbing Miles W/Relatively Inexperienced Rider Tomorrow

    A can use some reassurance here...

    Tomorrow is the beginning of our annual men's retreat, held in Middletown, MD, at a conference center perched on top of a serious climb. It's ~55 miles from my home, and I've invited another rider to come along with me. The route includes ~22 miles on MUP, which helps. After that, it's gradually "up" over backroads to Harpers Ferry, WV (~11 miles more), then on MD state highways with wide paved shoulders for the next 21 miles). The last ~1 mile is a horrifically steep climb up to the conference center.

    Here's the concern: My buddy is 50-ish, in generally good condition, riding a fine 1980s Univega with upgraded RX-100 group throughout. His crankset is compact. Wide cassette gives fairly wide 14-speed gearing. I've checked the bike over completely last weekend. Wheels are true, brake pads are good, cables are new. Tires are new. Fit is good. He's not ridden much this summer, maybe a few times for a total of 40 miles or so.

    I think that he can make it, but here is my plan in general:

    - pull him as much as he finds comfortable
    - maintain modestly high cadence and lower speeds
    - take breaks every hour or 10 miles or so, whichever is convenient
    - encourage small snacking and hydration, especially at the breaks
    - stretch at breaks, discuss what worked in the previous 10 miles, plan for the 10-miles ahead to reassure him
    - not hurry and keep the tone positive and light

    I'll have the snacks, spares, tools, maps, locks, etc., on my touring bike, so he won't be loaded with anything. Temperatures will be comfortable in low 60s with partial clouds.

    Is there anything I'm overlooking? Will this work? I'm allowing six and a half hours to arrive. I'd like some input from the collective wisdom and experiences. Thanks in advance, all.

    Phil

  2. #2
    just keep riding BluesDawg's Avatar
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    Sounds like a plan. Have a good ride.
    The more you ride your bike, the less your ass will hurt.

  3. #3
    Time for a change. stapfam's Avatar
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    I have a new rider I am bringing on and his first ride up a MUP for a total of 10 miles killed him. He did a few more rides out on his own and then he started coming out with us. First trip of 25 miles with a few slopes and he hurt after wards, Got in a few more rides and he did a flat 40 miles. But where I live we have hills. Took him up an 8% for a mile and it was not that which he did not like- it was the mile at 3% beforehand that sapped his energy. The "Hill" was easier although I was alongside him encouraging him on.

    Then we did a 30 miler with 2,400ft of climbing with most of it at 10 to 12%--in 10 miles of the 30. That was 8 weeks after the MUP ride that killed him. He knew he had done a hill but it was not too bad.

    Take it steady and when he is in the lowest gear possible slow him down. I would not worry about any speed anywhere on the ride and just keep the cadence to around 80 to 90. In fact keep him nearer 80 than 90 as he is a new rider and only allow him to put in effort when needed. Never stop at the top of a hill or just before one----Unless it is all up and he needs a break.

    Keep the Drink flowing and that is right from the start. If he gets to the stage where he does not want a snack- then force more water inside him--Or energy drink if he can test it beforehand. Don't stop too long at any rest unless you have an easy 5 miles afterwards to ease himself back in.

    If my Mate can do it- then so can anyone else so tell him that he must not let the "Americans" down. Us lousy brits can.
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  4. #4
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    Phil, Reads like a sensible outline. I find that a newbie is more comfortable riding along side, rather than behind. In situations where single file becomes required, I urge the newbie to take the lead, if they want. It gives them some confidence, quells the 'I gotta keep up anxiety' and I'm able to observe how the newbie is doing in general.

    Brad

  5. #5
    Must... ride... more... Phil_gretz's Avatar
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    Keeping Him Ahead

    Quote Originally Posted by bradtx View Post
    Phil, Reads like a sensible outline. I find that a newbie is more comfortable riding along side, rather than behind. In situations where single file becomes required, I urge the newbie to take the lead, if they want. It gives them some confidence, quells the 'I gotta keep up anxiety' and I'm able to observe how the newbie is doing in general.

    Brad

    That's a good point. I'll be able to be along side much of the way, too.

    Spike's comments about hydration are right on. I will make certain that he's drinking throughout the day.

    Thanks for the kind feedback so far.

  6. #6
    Senior Member glowrocks's Avatar
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    I may be a wimp, but I'm in my mid-50s, have only been riding since June, and I don't think I would enjoy 4-6 hours on my bike (yet).

    And I've ridden around 400 miles since June, not just 40!

    All that to say, good luck to you and your friend. I will say that I would have a better time riding with someone, but 4-6 hours will be tough on this guy if he's never even ridden for an hour at a time before.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by glowrocks View Post
    I may be a wimp, but I'm in my mid-50s, have only been riding since June, and I don't think I would enjoy 4-6 hours on my bike (yet).

    And I've ridden around 400 miles since June, not just 40!

    All that to say, good luck to you and your friend. I will say that I would have a better time riding with someone, but 4-6 hours will be tough on this guy if he's never even ridden for an hour at a time before.
    I gotta agree. I think OP's plan is apretty aggressive for someone with only 40 or so miles under their belt this summer. If I didn't know better, the physical description you gave fits me pretty well. I rode the GAP this summer for the first time and I was knocking off 25 miles on MUP trails with ease. I hit the wall at 40 miles and still had 14 more miles to go before reaching our first night's stop. I could keep my spin rate high, just had no horsepower left (I've never riden in such low gears over what to the eye appeared flat terrain). I was beat.

    The temps will help, but if your friend finishes in the allotted time, I'll be surprised. He's going to be whipped the next day for the retreat.

    Is there anyway you can shave off some of the miles by altering your start point?

  8. #8
    Must... ride... more... Phil_gretz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Altair 4 View Post
    I gotta agree. Is there anyway you can shave off some of the miles by altering your start point?
    We could trim off 5 miles by parking at the MUP. Could also trim off an additional 5 miles by parking further west along the MUP.

    Stepfam's account of his friend struggling, plus yours Altair, have me scared. Maybe it's too much. This guy is game, though. Cutting miles off the front sounds like the better approach...

  9. #9
    Senior Member bigbadwullf's Avatar
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    Dude will be done after the Mup. Have him drive to the conference center and meet you there. Tell him at least he didn't choose the Garrett Co. Gran Fondo to start on! It's like 50 miles of your last mile.

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  10. #10
    Senior Member CHAS's Avatar
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    You should have a contingency plan so that he can turn around and go downhill back to a vehicle. He should be able to load the bike and drive to the conference if necessary.
    You might avoid telling him of this plan until it seems to be necessary.
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  11. #11
    I need speed AzTallRider's Avatar
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    I agree that riding alongside will work better, as he likely isn't going to get much from trying to draft. He probably won't want to get close enough. And I agree it will be a challenge for him. Whether it is worthwhile just depends on his nature.
    "If you're riding less than 18 MPH up a 2% grade please tell people Coggan is coaching you."

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    Phil, not to be a buzzkiller here, but you're shaving off the easy part of the ride. A contingency plan is definitely a worthwhile thought, IMO, especially if that last hill is as horrific as you describe. He's going to be shagged out by the end of the ride and that hill may look like freakin' Everest to him by then. Maybe I'm over-reacting, not knowing the fella - I'm only going by my own experiences. A contingency plan thought - are others that you know going to the retreat? Will they get there before your planned arrival? I'd get some cellphone numbers ahead of time and ask, if needed, could someone come fetch you?

    I'm not familiar with either the bike or the components, but make sure you have the tools to handle problems along the way. I am specifically thinking about wrenches if your friend's bike doesn't have quick release wheels.

  13. #13
    Don from Austin Texas
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    Quote Originally Posted by Phil_gretz View Post
    A can use some reassurance here...

    Tomorrow is the beginning of our annual men's retreat, held in Middletown, MD, at a conference center perched on top of a serious climb. It's ~55 miles from my home, and I've invited another rider to come along with me. The route includes ~22 miles on MUP, which helps. After that, it's gradually "up" over backroads to Harpers Ferry, WV (~11 miles more), then on MD state highways with wide paved shoulders for the next 21 miles). The last ~1 mile is a horrifically steep climb up to the conference center.

    Here's the concern: My buddy is 50-ish, in generally good condition, riding a fine 1980s Univega with upgraded RX-100 group throughout. His crankset is compact. Wide cassette gives fairly wide 14-speed gearing. I've checked the bike over completely last weekend. Wheels are true, brake pads are good, cables are new. Tires are new. Fit is good. He's not ridden much this summer, maybe a few times for a total of 40 miles or so.

    I think that he can make it, but here is my plan in general:

    - pull him as much as he finds comfortable
    - maintain modestly high cadence and lower speeds
    - take breaks every hour or 10 miles or so, whichever is convenient
    - encourage small snacking and hydration, especially at the breaks
    - stretch at breaks, discuss what worked in the previous 10 miles, plan for the 10-miles ahead to reassure him
    - not hurry and keep the tone positive and light

    I'll have the snacks, spares, tools, maps, locks, etc., on my touring bike, so he won't be loaded with anything. Temperatures will be comfortable in low 60s with partial clouds.

    Is there anything I'm overlooking? Will this work? I'm allowing six and a half hours to arrive. I'd like some input from the collective wisdom and experiences. Thanks in advance, all.

    Phil
    When there is a killer hill coming up, don't let him make the mistake of charging into it at full ball-to-the-wall speed where he has already shot his wad before it gets tough. We go on a ride where a hill gets progressively steeper and tops out at 20%. An occasional fellow rider is a martial arts instructor in his late 40s where I am 65. So he goes sailing past me at the bottom while I am taking it easy and conserving energy. Maybe 40 yards from the top I cruise past him and he is laying in the grass heaving and cursing. I knew that despite his being younger and actually considerably more fit than me, he was going to get in trouble when he passed me.

    Only the very shortest hill should be attacked with maximum speed and effort at the bottom, but rookies regularly make the mistake of thinking momentum at the bottom will carry them all the way to the top, when in fact it just means they have nothing left when it is most needed.

    Take it easy and try to convince him to maintain a fairly high cadence and only moderate effort and save himself for when there is no alternative to a soaring heart rate.

    Don in Austin
    Last edited by Don in Austin; 09-15-11 at 10:33 PM. Reason: DUPLI

  14. #14
    Don from Austin Texas
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    Quote Originally Posted by Phil_gretz View Post
    A can use some reassurance here...

    Tomorrow is the beginning of our annual men's retreat, held in Middletown, MD, at a conference center perched on top of a serious climb. It's ~55 miles from my home, and I've invited another rider to come along with me. The route includes ~22 miles on MUP, which helps. After that, it's gradually "up" over backroads to Harpers Ferry, WV (~11 miles more), then on MD state highways with wide paved shoulders for the next 21 miles). The last ~1 mile is a horrifically steep climb up to the conference center.

    Here's the concern: My buddy is 50-ish, in generally good condition, riding a fine 1980s Univega with upgraded RX-100 group throughout. His crankset is compact. Wide cassette gives fairly wide 14-speed gearing. I've checked the bike over completely last weekend. Wheels are true, brake pads are good, cables are new. Tires are new. Fit is good. He's not ridden much this summer, maybe a few times for a total of 40 miles or so.

    I think that he can make it, but here is my plan in general:

    - pull him as much as he finds comfortable
    - maintain modestly high cadence and lower speeds
    - take breaks every hour or 10 miles or so, whichever is convenient
    - encourage small snacking and hydration, especially at the breaks
    - stretch at breaks, discuss what worked in the previous 10 miles, plan for the 10-miles ahead to reassure him
    - not hurry and keep the tone positive and light

    I'll have the snacks, spares, tools, maps, locks, etc., on my touring bike, so he won't be loaded with anything. Temperatures will be comfortable in low 60s with partial clouds.

    Is there anything I'm overlooking? Will this work? I'm allowing six and a half hours to arrive. I'd like some input from the collective wisdom and experiences. Thanks in advance, all.

    Phil
    When there is a killer hill coming up, don't let him make the mistake of charging into it at full ball-to-the-wall speed where he has already shot his wad before it gets tough. We go on a ride where a hill gets progressively steeper and tops out at 20%. An occasional fellow rider is a martial arts instructor in his late 40s where I am 65. So he goes sailing past me at the bottom while I am taking it easy and conserving energy. Maybe 40 yards from the top I cruise past him and he is laying in the grass heaving and cursing. I knew that despite his being younger and actually considerably more fit than me, he was going to get in trouble when he passed me.

    Only the very shortest hill should be attacked with maximum speed and effort at the bottom, but rookies regularly make the mistake of thinking momentum at the bottom will carry them all the way to the top, when in fact it just means they have nothing left when it is most needed.

    Don in Austin

  15. #15
    Senior Member robberry's Avatar
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    That's a long ride for a rider with little experience.

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    I was in the same condition as the "friend" at the beginning of this summer. I've been working steadily, preparing for a 52 mile ride with one significant climb (2.5 miles of 8%) that comes up next week. It will be my longest ride to date; I've been riding about 60 miles a week, now up to 80 with a longest of 35 miles.

    I'm pretty confident that I'll be fine for my ride; but I wouldn't have said that even a month ago. I'd have been horribly anxious, even more so if where I was going was a fixed destination with no (known) sag support.

    KeS

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    Quote Originally Posted by Phil_gretz View Post
    A can use some reassurance here...
    - pull him as much as he finds comfortable
    - maintain modestly high cadence and lower speeds
    - take breaks every hour or 10 miles or so, whichever is convenient
    - encourage small snacking and hydration, especially at the breaks
    - stretch at breaks, discuss what worked in the previous 10 miles, plan for the 10-miles ahead to reassure him
    - not hurry and keep the tone positive and light
    Phil, I think you've got it exactly right. An experienced riding buddy and I brought three fairly inexperienced riders along on some pretty 'serious' 40-55 mile rides this summer with the exact same strategy. They'd never done it before and had done some riding, but never rides that long. We all had a ball, and frankly, I had more fun going at their pace than I would have with faster riders. The old slow down and smell the roses thing.

    Rest early and often, eat and drink early and often: never cross the line to over-fatigue, or low blood sugar or dehydration. (hard to get 'em back), , make it a social affair. Don't let on that you're stopping just for his sake - make sure you're enjoying the pace and rhythm and make sure he knows that you're perfectly happy and prefer to go that pace yourself. Make sure you'll be proud of yourself for making the ride, he will too. Be more of a partner/leader than a leader/puller. I don't care if you have to fake it, you should come off as really enjoying doing exactly what you're doing, at the pace and speed you're doing and he will too.

    The butt is the only variable that you have little or no control over - so encourage him to stand up a lot! Like the muscles and the food and drink, it's hard to get the butt back once it's been over done! Prevention, prevention.

    Bottom line: Have fun and it will be more likely he will.
    Last edited by Camilo; 09-15-11 at 11:58 PM.

  18. #18
    Senior Member John_V's Avatar
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    My wife and I are doing a charity ride next Saturday along the Gulf Beaches. The ride is 32 miles, which she can easily do, but there are two very tall bridges that we has to climb. She rides a recumbent tricycle due to having bilateral hip prosthesis and has decided to ride up the bridges as far as she can and walk it the rest of the way to the top. I am riding with my cycling team, so I won't be able to ride with her. There is nothing that says that you can't walk part of that route if you see your friend is having difficulties. I did a charity ride in April of this year where I walked up the last 3 or 4 blocks of the last hill because the winds were so strong throughout the entire 50 mile ride that it wore me out getting as far up that hill as I did. Even some of the younger, stronger riders were walking up that hill. If all you have to do is get to the retreat, then do as Camilo suggests, take your time and have fun on the ride.
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  19. #19
    Have bike, will travel Barrettscv's Avatar
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    Try to avoid any spikes in the rider’s heart-rate. Crawl up the hills at 5 mph if necessary to keep the cyclist relaxed and free of excess exertion. Suggest and use a heart-rate monitor to keep the pace as easy as possible. Suggest Hammer brand Endurolyte tablets and use HEED or some other sports drink mix. Consume 300 Calories per hour.

  20. #20
    The Left Coast, USA FrenchFit's Avatar
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    My guess: Epic Fail. I took out a newbie for 35 miles and he was a superhero, until hitting hills or headwinds. I think you'll find he'll have no legs for hills after an hour and will be walking his bike up 6% grades.

  21. #21
    Senior Member NOS88's Avatar
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    So, Phil, what happened? How did it go?
    A conclusion is the place where you got tired of thinking. - S. Wright

  22. #22
    Must... ride... more... Phil_gretz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by NOS88 View Post
    So, Phil, what happened? How did it go?
    Success!!! We made the 59-mile each way trip in 5:15 hrs going (up), and home on Sunday at 4:29. My friend and I did exactly according to the plan, stopping regularly and talking about how it was going, encouraging him to spin and keep the speed slowish (~12 mph), snacking at about 250-300 calories per hour, and talking the whole way. He struggled with cramping in the calves and quads/hammies for the final 1-2 miles of climbing, but we made it most of the way up the final climb where he had to stop and we walked up together. It felt rewarding and was fun.

    He was appreciative of my having had a plan that we could follow, and knowing in advance what we'd be facing.

    The ride home was pretty easy and although a bit breezy and chilly, just as nice. I took no photos, though, as our daughters have the two small digital cameras at college.

    Mechanically, we had no issues whatsoever, although I did pack both tools, tubes, patch kit, and such. He has some biding in the rear brake cable, and I'll help with that this wee (probably replacing the housing with a teflon lined one like Jagwire. There's also some brake lever play in his right brifter, and I'm not sure how to take that out - maybe it's wear on the lever. We really didn't have time to remove it and diagnose more closely.

    Thanks to everyone for the encouragement and words of warning, though. It really worked out well - and my friend is pretty stoked to see that he can ride his bike again after taking more than a decade "off".

    Phil G.

  23. #23
    Must... ride... more... Phil_gretz's Avatar
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    The destination point, I later learned was the 2nd highest point in Maryland. Right near the Washington Monument State Park along the Appalachian Trail. PG

  24. #24
    Have bike, will travel Barrettscv's Avatar
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    Great Job, Congrads'!

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    Phil, I had a feeling it'd all work out well, nice to read it actually did.

    Brad

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