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Old 06-10-07, 07:17 PM   #1
WesMorrison
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Why am I so slow?

Why am I so slow compared to the road bikes whizzing by me?

I know some of the reasons, but I'm wondering why the difference is so huge.

It's not that important, really, as I'm riding to lose weight and for enjoyment, but I'm just curious.

Some facts...

Height: 5' 10.5"
Weight: ~ 210 lbs
Bodyfat: ~ 24%
Squat: (Smith machine) 260 lbs for 12 reps (just as a reference point)
Bike: Trek 7.3 FX (hybrid style, tires 700x32c)

Last night I rode 10 miles and averaged 13 mph even though I walked up a 1/3 mile hill.

Today I rode 33.5 miles and averaged about 9.5 mph walking up about 1 miles worth of hills. I slowed down as the ride progressed. About 3 miles from the end, a guy on a road bike whizzed by me.

I'm guessing my weight has a lot to do with it. Also, I'm eating low-carb on non-weightlifting days, so that could be why I slow down so much. I do have to eat carbs after a 30 mile ride.
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Old 06-10-07, 07:22 PM   #2
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They've probably been biking longer and have stronger muscles. The bikes have something to do with it, sure, but the trek you're on has slick tires and isn't really that slow. For a reference point, very few road bikers walk up hills.

That said, who cares? You'll get faster the more you ride.
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Old 06-10-07, 07:48 PM   #3
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It could be a lot of things. Form/technique, equipment, how fit you are, how much you're pushing yourself, how far into the ride you are (it's natural to get tired and slow down closer to the end of the ride), whether you're properly hydrated and, um, calorated (got your carb calories)... Physical conditioning will come with time (as you keep riding you'll get fitter, and specifically better about riding your bike) and equipment is sort of a set variable, but if you are making some common beginner mistakes you may see a great and immediate improvement in your speed if you make a few adjustments. So:

Is your saddle properly adjusted for height (leg almost straigt at the lowest point of pedal revolution)? Are you comfortable with shifting gears? What is your cadence (number of pedal revolutions per minute)? When you pedal are you pushing with the ball of your foot?

Last edited by chephy; 06-10-07 at 08:36 PM.
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Old 06-10-07, 07:48 PM   #4
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Ride lots, and you need carbs to ride lots
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Old 06-10-07, 08:06 PM   #5
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Just keep puting the miles in. I am 230 down from 275. When I started commuting my average speed was 10mph. A little over a year later and my average speed is 18mph. Now I ride 150 miles a week
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Old 06-10-07, 08:45 PM   #6
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Take it one day at a time. By riding more often and recording your progress, it will give you an idea how you're coming along. My average speed last year on Trek touring bike was 9MPH. This year, I am riding a Dahon Speed 7, riding more distance with average ride of 35 + miles and averaging 14MPH. You have to set a goal for yourself like maybe 15 miles per ride and every other day. I set a goal of riding 150 miles a week and I'm on track to meet that. Don't be discourage about your performance and don't get intimidated by other cyclist passing you. They have conditioned themselves to achieve the speed they displayed to you and it's something that comes over time. Keep on pedalling and hang in there.
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Old 06-11-07, 02:45 AM   #7
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Try eating the carbs before you ride, just not immediately before.
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Old 06-11-07, 04:42 AM   #8
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It just takes a while for your legs to catch up. Plus, road bikes have significantly higher gearing. I tend to push a fairly average gear on my road bike but when I jump on my touring bike (MTB gearing) I tend to run out of gears.

No matter what there is always someone faster than you.
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Old 06-11-07, 05:00 AM   #9
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One thing that helped me was to get a good proper "fit" done. I had set my bike up to be comfortable for me but found out that it wasn't properly set up for anything else. I spent the money and had a pro fit done at my LBS. Made a HUGE difference.

Good luck.
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Old 06-11-07, 10:31 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chephy
When you pedal are you pushing with the ball of your foot?
Why is this important?

I've seen this recommendation many times but not an explanation of why. (Physics, leverage, etc.)
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Old 06-11-07, 10:51 AM   #11
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I hear you.... I've been commuting for over a year, and my avg speed is 13-15 mph. It'll get better I'm sure.
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Old 06-11-07, 12:58 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WesMorrison
"When you pedal are you pushing with the ball of your foot?"

Why is this important?

I've seen this recommendation many times but not an explanation of why. (Physics, leverage, etc.)
If you think of the foot as a lever arm, where the ankle is the axis of rotation, then applying force at the ball --perpendicular to the direction of movement--creates the longest lever arm. Therefore, it generates the greatest torque.
(You can't pedal from your toes, but technically, that would be the longest lever arm.)

Also Wes as far as being slow: Consider how many pounds you are over your target body weight.
Then imagine those other riders having to carry that much extra weight on their bikes. It would definitely slow them down.
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Old 06-11-07, 01:22 PM   #13
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You probably need to learn the technique of spinning and gain the endurance to ride fast for long distances. To do that, you will need to really put in the miles on your bike with a bunch of fast riders. Also, at your height, it would be advantagous to drop down under 180 and the speed on the bike would increase.
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Old 06-11-07, 01:22 PM   #14
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Body-position on a hybrid exposes you to a lot of air. Getting drop-bars would help tremendously. Also slick road-tyres instead of knobbies would help as well.
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Old 06-11-07, 01:25 PM   #15
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I concur, it's simply a matter of spending time on the bike.

I'm 6'3" and 235#, and averaging 16-18 mph is well within my capabilities. Don't worry, you'll get there if you just keep at it.
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Old 06-11-07, 01:28 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by beat.tk
If you think of the foot as a lever arm, where the ankle is the axis of rotation, then applying force at the ball --perpendicular to the direction of movement--creates the longest lever arm. Therefore, it generates the greatest torque.
Yes, but, isn't the force to drive the pedal downward coming from your quads?

I'm not saying you're wrong, I just still don't understand why it's right.

If there's a topic on this already point me there. I searched but didn't find one. Searched google, too.
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Old 06-11-07, 01:29 PM   #17
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Pedaling with the ball of your foot allows you to use all the muscles in your lower leg. If you rest the middle of your foot on the pedals you can only use the muscles in your thighs and butt. To increase your average speed, increase your speed going up hills. Dont try to work at max effort continuously, but ease off the effort before the hills, then put 110% effort into climbing the hills so you are on point of collapse when you get to the top. You average speed is pretty good considering that it includes some time walking.
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Old 06-11-07, 05:27 PM   #18
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Walking up hills will kill an average time. If I see a big loss in average time when on a long hill riding at 7-9mph. At 3-4mph walking a bike will really kill your time.

I started riding in the fall of 05 and averaged 12 mph on a 5 mile ride. By the end of last year I was averaging 15 mph on 50 mile rides. I recently tried an 8 mile route that only has a few hills and averaged 16 mph on a 24 mile ride (3 laps). I know I could average around 20 mph if I get rid of all the hills. I plan on taking a drive to a rail trail next month to chack out my speed.

You'll do better as you lose weight and build strenght. It's generally know that people that are on the heavy side, end up being the fastest. So keep up the riding. Try working short rides and try on omproving speed, and long rides to build up endurance. And try your best to never walk up a hill. Map out rides that have hills you can handle now, and try the harder ones later.

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Old 06-11-07, 10:13 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WesMorrison
Why am I so slow compared to the road bikes whizzing by me?

I know some of the reasons, but I'm wondering why the difference is so huge.

It's not that important, really, as I'm riding to lose weight and for enjoyment, but I'm just curious.

Some facts...

Height: 5' 10.5"
Weight: ~ 210 lbs
Bodyfat: ~ 24%
Squat: (Smith machine) 260 lbs for 12 reps (just as a reference point)
Bike: Trek 7.3 FX (hybrid style, tires 700x32c)

Last night I rode 10 miles and averaged 13 mph even though I walked up a 1/3 mile hill.

Today I rode 33.5 miles and averaged about 9.5 mph walking up about 1 miles worth of hills. I slowed down as the ride progressed. About 3 miles from the end, a guy on a road bike whizzed by me.

I'm guessing my weight has a lot to do with it. Also, I'm eating low-carb on non-weightlifting days, so that could be why I slow down so much. I do have to eat carbs after a 30 mile ride.

Lots of things. Less weight up the hills, lower bodyfat, lighter bike, better food.

low-carb is a killer for athletic performance. If you don't have much in the way of carbs, your speed will be seriously compromised. Carbs 30 minutes before you ride (say, 200 calories), during the ride, and the some carbs & protein right after the ride.
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Old 06-12-07, 12:20 AM   #20
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You should ask Ryanf. I'm sure he'd be able to explain that you just need to DROPE THE HAMER a bit.
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Old 06-12-07, 08:11 AM   #21
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Your kickstand is still down.
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Old 06-12-07, 09:09 AM   #22
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You have to train for speed. You are also fat. You also have a hybrid bike. If you rode a road bike you might be 2 mph faster. If you lost some weight you wouldn't have to walk up hills. If you trained using intervals you would be another 2-4 mph faster in a few months.
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Old 06-12-07, 10:21 AM   #23
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^^^Say what you really mean slow and steady.
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Old 06-12-07, 10:39 AM   #24
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^^^Say what you really mean slow and steady.

I get to the point. Not meant as an insult.
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Old 06-12-07, 01:26 PM   #25
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You might enjoy this book. The guy did a '180' -- from being overweight and out of shape, to being a very fit, athletic cyclist.

You can see the transformation in the pictures on the cover of the book:

http://www.amazon.com/Heft-Wheels-Fi...1675946&sr=8-1

There are (at this time at least) 24 customer reviews of the book that can be accessed by scrolling down on this amazon.com page.

Here are a couple of excerpts:

Mike Magnuson decided to start taking his cycling seriously when he finally grew tired of being dropped on club rides. He had been cycling for some time but at one point he decided to quit drinking, smoking, and to lose weight - and he ultimately ends up completing some truly challenging rides like the "Bridge to Bridge Incredible Cycling Challenge" (100 miles of steep mountain ascents).

I read this book last summer and found it to be inspirational. Like Mike, I am a large middle-aged athlete, and I lost sixty pounds via cycling (and running, mostly) and various lifestyle changes....

and,

...I started reading that night and never stopped. It's a compelling story of a regular guy, maybe a little compulsive, getting his act together. I think most of us have, at one point or another, fantasized about making those huge changes in our life. Mike got fed up and did it.

Last edited by Niles H.; 06-12-07 at 05:07 PM.
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