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  1. #1
    Senior Member jlstrat's Avatar
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    How to get faster...?

    I started riding 7 years ago, and I bought a better bike in 2008. I've averaged 5500 miles a year since then. This year I missed getting mileage because of the cold and ice, and I missed 2.5 weeks because I had an upper respiratory infection. I'm finding that my average speed is a little less since I've been back on the back the last month, but overall I can't seem to average more than about 13 MPH. I do 20-25 miles a day, 35 to 50 on Saturdays, with Sunday off. We have lots of hills around here, so my climbing skills are good. but I'd like to get a little faster. Any suggestions?

  2. #2
    Senior Member Cyril's Avatar
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    intervals.
    or ride with some folks who are a bit faster than you.
    or both.

  3. #3
    Senior Member travelerman's Avatar
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    Find a group to ride with, preferably not a seasoned bunch of 20 mph+ bike jockeys.
    I was going along happily at a 15 mph average, and the bit of competition provided by riding with others, plus the occasional draft line on the longer flats, helped me to raise my average almost unconsciously.

    Another tactic that helped me earlier in riding and training was including a nice flat and straight section near the end of a longer ride to increase speed and endurance, and work past the bonk barrier.

    Others will promote the concept of intervals, and there is every reason and evidence from all fitness disciplines that shows the value of shaking up an otherwise steady activity with segments of increased effort to your anaerobic threshold. This is essentially what you would be doing with the first two suggestions, if you feel too silly just cutting loose and pedaling like mad while riding on your own.

    It takes time to build or re- build fitness, especially if you belong in the age group for whom this section of the forum is intended. I had a helluva time just getting back to rides of over thirty miles when I got back into it, and I have discovered that what they say about the difficulty of building new muscle mass when you hit middle age is all too true.

    One other thing to observe - make sure you are consuming recovery food and drink after you put in a reasonable effort. Even when I ride for only ten - fifteen miles, I drink 8-oz chocolate milk after - for longer rides, I will drink a whey protein shake, and eat an apple or banana.

  4. #4
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    I have never trained in the manner that others have suggested, instead I simply rode with faster riders and put more base miles in .

    What worked for me probably wouldn't work for you so stick to what the experts say.

  5. #5
    tsl
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    Quote Originally Posted by jlstrat View Post
    I missed 2.5 weeks because I had an upper respiratory infection. I'm finding that my average speed is a little less since I've been back on the back the last month
    There's some nasty stuff going around. It may just be your body is still working to recover from this.

    H1N1 knocked me on my ass in 2010. It was three months before I didn't feel weak all the time, and fully nine months before I felt myself again. This past February, I was out of work for a week with something similar. Twelve weeks later, I'm still inconsistent--one good day followed by several not so good ones--and I fatigue easily. My numbers are down across the board, except for heart rate which is up by 5-7 BPM. I'm embarrassed to report that on Saturday's club ride I walked a short 12% grade--only the third hill I've ever walked. (There's a 10% grade on my commute too.)

    If you had something similar, it may just be your body is responding in a similar way as mine.

    Ease back a bit, pay attention to nutrition and rest, and form will return when your body can support it.
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  6. #6
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    You have enough time in the saddle. Two recommendations.

    One was touched on by Travelerman, nutrition. Pay attention to nutrition. I get 40 grams of protein after a ride. I use thishttp://www.t-nation.com/store/products/metabolic-drive-low-carb as I like a combination of Whey and Micellar casein:
    Biotest Store at T NATION | Metabolic Drive® Protein. I found I leaned out too much and I ride less than you. I wanted to keep my muscle mass as much as possible at 60.

    The other suggestion is to do something other than cycle. Get a personal trainer and start hitting the weights. If you can squat, deadlift, bench, chin, etc, you will increase your strength.

  7. #7
    Senior Member big john's Avatar
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    Riding with faster people is the way if they are willing to wait for you.
    Also, don't forget about rest. Six days a week would be too much for me, especially the way I ride.

  8. #8
    Seat Sniffer Biker395's Avatar
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    When I get faster, I'll let you know. lol

    Seriously ... here are the big 3 for me.

    1. Interval training.
    2. Pedaling technique (I climb 1-2 MPH faster when I focus on it).
    3. Weight (on climbs ... it does make a difference).
    Proud parent of a happy inner child ...
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    Quote Originally Posted by jlstrat View Post
    I started riding 7 years ago, and I bought a better bike in 2008. I've averaged 5500 miles a year since then. This year I missed getting mileage because of the cold and ice, and I missed 2.5 weeks because I had an upper respiratory infection. I'm finding that my average speed is a little less since I've been back on the back the last month, but overall I can't seem to average more than about 13 MPH. I do 20-25 miles a day, 35 to 50 on Saturdays, with Sunday off. We have lots of hills around here, so my climbing skills are good. but I'd like to get a little faster. Any suggestions?
    If you're serious about improving your fitness there are several books available that can provide some guidance e.g. Friel's Training Bible. If you're short on time you could try Carmichael's "The Time-Crunched Cyclist".

    You might also consider a powermeter. You can pick up a used one for under 300-400 if you look around a little. It's easier to improve something if you can measure it.

  10. #10
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    Wheel suck a Motorbike .. get a motor-pacer. to ride in front of you to take care of the wind resistance.


    It actually is what pro training includes .. wider the guy in front, the better ..

  11. #11
    Senior Member OldsCOOL's Avatar
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    What you are experiencing is exactly the same as I am. You had a tough fight with a virus. Me? I had a tough dose of winter.

    Just do what you did before that worked. Add intervals, hills and base miles. Or get into the science of wattage....but you cant discount what a month long fight can take out of your body that will affect your ride.
    Having a flat tire as part of the total cycling experience is highly overrated. Knowing how to fix one quickly is not.

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  12. #12
    Pedals, Paddles and Poles Daspydyr's Avatar
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    Like you, I have been putting in a good pile of miles for several years. I have already been doing intervals. But I was stuck at 13 - 14 MPHs average.

    In February I started doing some work with weights, leg extensions, hamstring pulls and lots of squats. I use dumbbells for the squats. I am consistently posting average ride times in the 15's and am climbing better than ever. This is what has worked for me.

    I also am put a scoop of BCAAs in my camelback and have a protein smoothie at the end of every ride. The smoothie keeps me from loosing the extra 10 pounds that I need to shed, but I am stronger.
    I think its disgusting and terrible how people treat Lance Armstrong, especially after winning 7 Tour de France Titles while on drugs!

    I can't even find my bike when I'm on drugs. -Willie N.

  13. #13
    Senior Member Wildwood's Avatar
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    I vote for this progression:
    1. Get over the respiratory thing.
    2. Get enough base miles.
    3. Intervals for power. Hills do it.
    4. Nutrition for distances over 20 mi.
    5. Rest.

    There are many books for over 50+ cyclists who want to be strong riders at 70+.
    I mix in hiking excursions and skiing for diversity. Need more 'kayak time'.
    '81 Austro Daimler Olympian, '86 Eddy Merckx Corsa Extra, '87 DeRosa Professional, '99 Calfee TetraPro, '03(?) Macalu Cirrus, '04 Tallerico, '97 Co-Motion Tandem

  14. #14
    Senior Member NealH's Avatar
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    Absolutely nothing will improve your performance like riding with a fast group. This is repeating what several others have said on this thread. All the hip ideas like trainers, training plans, nutrition, are secondary. Ride with fast groups and you will be come a more skilled, fit and efficient cyclist....not to mention a more attentive, disciplined and faster. Eat healthy and don't be scared of sugar and/or fast foods. To an exercising athlete, you'll burn it off quickly and it will provide energy when you need it.

  15. #15
    Senior Member MinnMan's Avatar
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    yeah, all of the above, but don't forget about technique. I'm coming back from nearly a year off the bike and I don't yet have my strength back. But I can ride pretty fast if I emphasize technique- pedaling circles, high cadence and AERO AERO AERO. If you care about riding fast, then ask yourself if you can ride in a more aggressive position without hurting too much. Flip your stem and get down in the drops. Not only will you have less wind resistance, you'll also engage different muscles to help your effort.

    But don't make too many positional changes too fast. Do it gradually.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by travelerman View Post
    Find a group to ride with, preferably not a seasoned bunch of 20 mph+ bike jockeys.
    I was going along happily at a 15 mph average, and the bit of competition provided by riding with others, plus the occasional draft line on the longer flats, helped me to raise my average almost unconsciously.

    Another tactic that helped me earlier in riding and training was including a nice flat and straight section near the end of a longer ride to increase speed and endurance, and work past the bonk barrier.

    Others will promote the concept of intervals, and there is every reason and evidence from all fitness disciplines that shows the value of shaking up an otherwise steady activity with segments of increased effort to your anaerobic threshold. This is essentially what you would be doing with the first two suggestions, if you feel too silly just cutting loose and pedaling like mad while riding on your own.

    It takes time to build or re- build fitness, especially if you belong in the age group for whom this section of the forum is intended. I had a helluva time just getting back to rides of over thirty miles when I got back into it, and I have discovered that what they say about the difficulty of building new muscle mass when you hit middle age is all too true.

    One other thing to observe - make sure you are consuming recovery food and drink after you put in a reasonable effort. Even when I ride for only ten - fifteen miles, I drink 8-oz chocolate milk after - for longer rides, I will drink a whey protein shake, and eat an apple or banana.
    All excellent advice.

    I'll add that when doing group rides, let others know you are trying to improve and it's okay if they don't wait on you. Sometimes groups are very conscientious about not dropping people and you might really slow them down unintentionally.

    The key is finding a group just fast enough so you improve but not so fast they constantly have to wait for you.
    You're just trying to start an argument to show how smart you are.

  17. #17
    Senior Member MinnMan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by StanSeven View Post
    All excellent advice.

    I'll add that when doing group rides, let others know you are trying to improve and it's okay if they don't wait on you. Sometimes groups are very conscientious about not dropping people and you might really slow them down unintentionally.

    The key is finding a group just fast enough so you improve but not so fast they constantly have to wait for you.
    The groups I ride with are usually not shy about dropping people. If I'm in that situation, I hang on as long as I can and then I get dropped. It is always a little disappointing, but I can take care of myself out there if I need to. I ride on, finish by myself or with other stragglers, and know that I've pushed myself and built some strength and that I'll hang with them another day.
    Last edited by MinnMan; 04-29-14 at 04:03 PM.

  18. #18
    Semper Fi, A way of life. qcpmsame's Avatar
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    As well as the advice you have gotten here (good advice all,) look in to the Master's Racing Forum, Masters Racing (All Disciplines) , even if you aren't wanting to race. Those folks are knowledgeable and ready to help when asked. I have gotten good recovery advice from them when I came back in to riding.

    Best of luck with gaining your speed, please listen to those that recommend letting the URI, or whatever your illness is, get completely over and gone.

    Bill
    "I Can Do All Things Through Christ Who Strengthens Me" Philippians 4:13

  19. #19
    Senior Member MinnMan's Avatar
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    Also, I'm not familiar with the Litespeed Blue Ridge. Though it's a Ti bike, it's a touring model, right? I wouldn't say that that's the main limitation on your speed, but perhaps you have it set up for a rather upright position? That could be slowing you down (but giving you more comfort).

  20. #20
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    Two steps worked for me when I decided to get faster. First, get a road bike, a good one. You will add a couple MPH with a GOOD road bike. Second, ride with a group that is faster than you and stay with them. Accept the pain to stay with them longer. You will gain speed sooner than you think.
    I started riding my bike to get healthy. Now I try to stay healthy so I can ride my bike.

  21. #21
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    Average speed is often dominated by the amount of time you have to spend going slowly, not how fast you go when you can.reduce the amount of time or distance you have to slow down for hills, traffic, pedestrians, stoplights or stop signs.

    Also don't believe all the speeds people post. There is no meaningful comparison.
    Real cyclists use toe clips.
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  22. #22
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    No expert here, but I would say train fast to ride fast. It sounds like you are getting enough miles but need some speed work. Maybe dedicate 1 ride per week to speed training. Could be intervals or riding with a faster group, or just pushing yourself. I think even 30 mins at a couple mph faster than your normal pace would pay dividends. Not immediately, but over time. I've used that to get from about 15 to 16.5 mph ave, only doing around 80 miles a week total.

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  23. #23
    Senior Member OldsCOOL's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jimmuller View Post
    Average speed is often dominated by the amount of time you have to spend going slowly, not how fast you go when you can.reduce the amount of time or distance you have to slow down for hills, traffic, pedestrians, stoplights or stop signs.

    Also don't believe all the speeds people post. There is no meaningful comparison.
    This why I wont use the avg readout if it involves a number of extenuating factors. I try to keep the comparisons as duplicate as possible. I know I'm getting faster when riding my hill course with a better time. I dont want avg, I want quicker.
    Having a flat tire as part of the total cycling experience is highly overrated. Knowing how to fix one quickly is not.

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  24. #24
    Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by MinnMan View Post
    Also, I'm not familiar with the Litespeed Blue Ridge. Though it's a Ti bike, it's a touring model, right? I wouldn't say that that's the main limitation on your speed, but perhaps you have it set up for a rather upright position? That could be slowing you down (but giving you more comfort).
    Have to agree with MinnMan about the touring bike holding you back as far as maximum attainable speed, i.e. being fast, but not when comparing current fast to past fast on that bike.

    I do not care to hurt, punish, or push myself hard as far as spending individual time on my bikes. I will go out and ride 100+ miles but not at breakneck speed or effort, even though an Ironman is 112 miles of biking. Going out doing intervals also isn't my thing.

    Riding with guys faster than me does the trick since I just do not want to be dropped. Tomorrow's ride will start with a 26 mile first section and they will go out at 21-22 within 1 mile. 4 miles of bike lane, 55mph highway, we turn off onto local roads. As soon as we do that it is 23 to 26 until the stop. Last week's average for that section was 23.3mph. I will hang on for dear life then take a short pull maintaining whatever the guy who pulled off did and before I flame out I will attempt to up it 2mph for maybe 20 seconds. Getting to 27-28 on my own is hard to do but drafting then upping it a bit is easier and becomes an effort that pays back dividends, especially when I burn up and have to get back on the paceline or be dropped. After the brief rest stop last week I got caught at a stop light while the others moved on. The KID, 42yo, waited until I caught him after about 3/4 of a mile and we proceeded to chase down 2 others. Took us 9 miles to catch them and then we continued to do most of the pulling until the next stop. Total distance for that section was 12.25 and we averaged 23.7mph. Rides like this is what has helped me get faster and I am expecting tomorrow will be a bit harder.
    Last edited by OldTryGuy; 04-30-14 at 09:44 AM.

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