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Old 07-29-12, 07:46 AM   #1
GaryPitts
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Longer rides not getting easier

I'm 57 and in my 2nd year of riding. Did my first 50 miler just over a year ago. Have ridden a metric maybe 3 or 4 times. I did a 50 yesterday and what I started thinking about is that it doesn't really seem any easier to do than it was a year ago. I've put in around 6k miles and you'd think I'd get in better shape to make a 50 not as tiring to do. Don't get me wrong, I like how I feel after riding these long rides, I'm just wondering why it's not really getting easier. Does it just take more time or am I a wuss?
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Old 07-29-12, 08:01 AM   #2
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Most likely problem is weight. If not weight, then it gets complicated and could be a combination of a number of factors. If you've put in over 6k in the last 18 mo., you should be able to handle 50 mi. at a reasonable pace at this point.
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Old 07-29-12, 08:12 AM   #3
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Personally, I think its great that you have put 6K miles on the bike and are able to do 50miles -- and especially that you feel good afterwards

As I walk up and down my street, I don't see many people who could do that. Or, if they did, they would have to push themselves so hard they would be recuperating in the ER afterwards.

Also, one of the posters here (I forget who -- I'm sorry) points out: "There is no such thing as 'too far' -- just not enough time"... (And I further apologize for screwing up the quote as well!)
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Old 07-29-12, 08:17 AM   #4
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I can't explain your experience of course but mine has been very different. Last year I would have struggled to finish a 50 mi. ride. This year, at age 66, a 50 mi. ride at 14-15 mph is no big deal. Even rides with significant elevation are not a problem. Why? Well I can only think of two things I've done differently that may be helping. At the end of last season I bought a cycle computer with cadence and have concentrated on rpm's rather than trying to use power to climb or just go down the road. I went from a typical 60-70 rpms to 90-100 rpms. I've also paid great attention to hydration and fueling on the ride. I make sure to eat and drink along the way before I need to. Those two changes have made a tremendous difference for me and have led to a third advantage.....I ride more so am in better shape.
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Old 07-29-12, 08:54 AM   #5
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Two years of cycling isn't all that long in the great scheme of things.
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Old 07-29-12, 11:59 AM   #6
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It does not take long to see a good improvement in fitness and capabilities when you start riding. The next stage takes longer though. Hopefully by the end of this summer you will see an improvement -but not a big one.

And as your fitness does imporve- you will put more into your riding. That hill that you tackled at 6 months in and you did not walk will have taken a certain amount of effort on your part and it left you knowing what a hill is. A year later and that same hill will leave you just as tired as it did last year- but it would have been done in a higher gear and in less time. That took extra effort and left you just as tired. That is why you don't think you are improving. Look at the distance you are riding- and the speed. Bet that has improved if you haven't.
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Old 07-29-12, 12:07 PM   #7
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Two years of cycling isn't all that long in the great scheme of things.
+1. We are all so different, but at age 66 I've noticed a big difference in my 4th year of cycling and after about 15Kmiles. I'm still heavy for a cyclist at 6', 200 lbs, but my Cat 2 son is the same height and relatively lean at 190lbs so genetics are a bit in play. I can now ride a 100K in relative comfort, but did one with 6000' of climbing and that was pretty tough; it's not all about the length of the ride.

To the OP I would say just keep riding. Vary your rides and don't hesitate to push yourself on some, relax on others. It will get easier.
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Old 07-29-12, 12:21 PM   #8
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Two years of cycling isn't all that long in the great scheme of things.
True, especially if you are climbing a lot of hills. You do have hills in Tennesee, don't you?
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Old 07-29-12, 12:28 PM   #9
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Nutrition might be the issue. A body can go by using existing fuel for 2 or 3 hours, but longer rides require intake from the first hour on on the bike. Without addition fuel, the 3rd, 4th and later hours can feel miserable.

I try to consume about 250 calories during each hour on the bike.

Yesterday I rode 98 miles and burned about 3300 calories. I ate several snacks and had soup and salad during my meal break. By consuming enough calories during the ride, I remained well fueled and was not hungry at the end of the ride.
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Old 07-29-12, 01:38 PM   #10
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Gary,

Your experience is definitely different than mine. I am 55 1/2 yo, have been cycling for a year and a half, and have experienced a tremendous increase in my cycling fitness. For instance, this is the second Sunday in a row in which I have ridden 50 miles after putting in a hard session on my cycling trainer the day before. And though I was "feeling it" a little bit as I finished my ride today, I still had a little gas left in my tank. Last year at this time, I was only up to rides in the 30 - 35 mi range.

I saw the biggest gains in my cycling fitness after buying myself a cycling trainer (a Kurt Kinetic Road Machine) last Christmas. I bought it so I wouldn't lose my cycling fitness over the winter. However, by enabling me to "ride" more often, I saw a huge increase in my overall cycling fitness. I ride--either indoors or out--an average of five days a week, now. The sessions on the trainer are very precise, measureable, and repeatable, and are easy to ratchet up in a very gradual and precise way. By trial and error, I developed a favorite kind of session on my trainer which is a type of fartlek (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fartlek ) workout.

I find that for rides of 50 miles or less, I don't need to eat during the ride as long as I had a good breakfast beforehand. For anything longer than that I bring food along and nibble after the first hour of riding.
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Old 07-29-12, 01:54 PM   #11
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You've heard the expression "it doesn't get easier you just get faster"? Perhaps that's the case here. My long rides, particularly in a group or race setting, don't get any easier. I monitor power and am happy when I exceed previous bests for particular durations but I don't expect the rides to feel easier.
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Old 07-29-12, 02:39 PM   #12
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I know. I'm very much a beginner and know it I was just hoping for more improvement than what has occurred. I don't think I'll ever make a century cause after doing a metric it doesn't seem any way possible I could ride half again as far.
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Old 07-29-12, 02:41 PM   #13
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True, especially if you are climbing a lot of hills. You do have hills in Tennesee, don't you?
Haha... yeah, a few Here in middle Tennessee they're mostly rolling hills, not the big ones like they have in east TN. There are no flat rides around here, at least not for long.
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Old 07-29-12, 02:42 PM   #14
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I've noticed the same thing Gary and like you, been wondering about it. Greg LeMond said, "It never gets easier - you just go faster". To go just a bit faster, say 10% faster, takes more than 10% more power. So as your fitness, cycling strength and speed goes up, your perceived effort is the same. I'll bet, like me, you are going a mile or two per hour faster.

I'm seeing quite a bit more strength, mostly in climbing and principally because I work at it. There several hills I climb for practice near home. This year I seeing more speed in a higher gear going up. I think I now need to work on more speed on flats so that longer distances are more feasible. I can ride 50 or 60 miles. To ride longer distances without having it take all day I'll have to ride faster and to ride faster I'll have to work at it. I'm grateful to be healthy enough to do this.
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Old 07-29-12, 03:34 PM   #15
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Gary the human body is a wonderful machine that learns. My first two years riding I lost weight like butter melting off. 30 to 40 miles rides three to four times a week with two centuries a year. I was getting stronger, leaner and faster. Year three things slowed down a bunch. I hit a plateau and didn't know why. The doctor explained it like this, my body had adapted and was able to match my performance using less energy. To break that break that plateau I had to fool my body. Ride easy one day, push myself another day rest another day, breakup my distances. He said if I ride 40 miles every day then my body will start to wind down as I get closed to 40 miles. So now I ride to confuse my body. 20, 30, 40 or 50 miles mixed up. Climb one day flat the next. Before a century or a double I ride some 60 and 75 miles rides and then take it easy for a week. Seems to be working because a century now is simply a matter of time not distance. But to go faster as one has said it doesn't get easier. It only gets easier if you learn to pace yourself.
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Old 07-29-12, 03:40 PM   #16
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I know. I'm very much a beginner and know it I was just hoping for more improvement than what has occurred. I don't think I'll ever make a century cause after doing a metric it doesn't seem any way possible I could ride half again as far.
When I did my first century (1988) I didn't think I could finish. It was a fairly flat route and I had done 75 miles leading up to the century. It didn't seem possible during the ride, but I eventually did finish. I'm sure I whined the whole way.
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Old 07-29-12, 04:05 PM   #17
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I know. I'm very much a beginner and know it I was just hoping for more improvement than what has occurred. I don't think I'll ever make a century cause after doing a metric it doesn't seem any way possible I could ride half again as far.
You definitely have hills - not the long grinders that last for two or three hours, but enough abrupt ups to wear you out.

I started riding 15 months ago, overweight and out of shape. Sunday next we are tackling the Mt. Shasta Summit Century - 139 miles if I survive. So my question would be pointed at the intensity of your rides - are you really smokin' it when you ride, or are you having a more relaxed spin? My nature is to really push, and I'm surrounded by friends that I really have to work to keep up with. The intensity of my rides is usually pretty high, for me at least, and I'm sure that has helped my improvement. I don't know if you ride solo or not, but there are advantages to both and I like a mix.
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Old 07-29-12, 06:09 PM   #18
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Gary - are you mixing up the intensity of your rides? 6000 miles is extremely impressive but 6000 miles at essentially the same speeds may not have the same results if you mixed in rides with intervals, tempo pace and even endurance pace.
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Old 07-30-12, 06:25 AM   #19
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Gary - are you mixing up the intensity of your rides? 6000 miles is extremely impressive but 6000 miles at essentially the same speeds may not have the same results if you mixed in rides with intervals, tempo pace and even endurance pace.
I pretty much just ride. I appreciate the fitness that comes with riding, but I enjoy just riding for fun. I've never been one to work out or push myself and that may be part of the problem
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Old 07-30-12, 06:30 AM   #20
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You definitely have hills - not the long grinders that last for two or three hours, but enough abrupt ups to wear you out.

I started riding 15 months ago, overweight and out of shape. Sunday next we are tackling the Mt. Shasta Summit Century - 139 miles if I survive. So my question would be pointed at the intensity of your rides - are you really smokin' it when you ride, or are you having a more relaxed spin? My nature is to really push, and I'm surrounded by friends that I really have to work to keep up with. The intensity of my rides is usually pretty high, for me at least, and I'm sure that has helped my improvement. I don't know if you ride solo or not, but there are advantages to both and I like a mix.
Haha I don't think I've ever been smokin' it. I average 15 mph or so and just ride. I did an hour long push ride back in the spring and got up to almost 18mph average, but really I'd just rather ride at a relaxed pace and enjoy it. What I need to do is just enjoy the ride and not worry about speed or length of the ride, but you know, there's something always there in the back of my mind wanting to do better. I think we all have that sickness
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Old 07-30-12, 07:31 AM   #21
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Haha I don't think I've ever been smokin' it. I average 15 mph or so and just ride. I did an hour long push ride back in the spring and got up to almost 18mph average, but really I'd just rather ride at a relaxed pace and enjoy it. What I need to do is just enjoy the ride and not worry about speed or length of the ride, but you know, there's something always there in the back of my mind wanting to do better. I think we all have that sickness
+1

I have always found extremes to be not good -- in any area. So, each week I try to do a little more a little faster. When my body says it's OK to do more I do more. When it says: "Not today" I do what I can knowing that it is enough and that tomorrow will be better...
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Old 07-30-12, 06:10 PM   #22
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I think some of it could be psychological. I know if I am going to do 30 miles, I have a mindset for that distance and it seems like I am spent at the end of the ride. 40 or 50 miles, same thing. Not sure why it is so, but it is for me.
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Old 07-30-12, 06:51 PM   #23
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So my question would be pointed at the intensity of your rides - are you really smokin' it when you ride, or are you having a more relaxed spin?
I use 5 data fields on my Garmin: elapsed time, time of day, total distance, heart rate, and temperature. I don't even monitor speed anymore except in retrospect. I think I do distance better now. I'd be happy if I had a cadence detector, and I doubt I'm ever spinning as quickly as I imagine I do.

My Stava segments have slacked, but I don't care, as long as I'm not DFL and as long as I'm 0.01 MPH faster than the dreaded, and possibly evil, MK.
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Old 07-30-12, 07:56 PM   #24
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A lot of good information here. All else being equal, my long rides have never gotten easier. However, I have progressively gotten there quicker and more pleasurably.
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Old 07-30-12, 08:17 PM   #25
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Joe Friel's book is a good one, and he has various training programs in there for almost any level of cycling you want. But variation in intensity and duration are key to improvement - you have to push the body to adapt to the stress, so you can stress it more next time (oh, fun!). But riding is supposed to be fun, even though some would have you think that suffering is the entire point of straddling a bike.
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