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Old 02-01-10, 12:36 PM   #1
marcusedvalson
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Please tell me things get better from here

Okay, been cycling 10 months. I find that as soon as I reach about 5000 ft accumulative elevation gain during any given ride, my legs go to rubber. I cant seem to break past that ceiling. The next day, my legs are totally trashed, I cant find a comfortable position for them to be in, they just hurt.
Now, the question. Am I the only person who this happens to? Do you find that over time you are able to gain more and more elevation during a single ride and be fine with it? Is it just that I havent been riding long enough? Am I doing something wrong? Please tell me it gets better from here.

I see some of the double centuries here is California with 18k ft of elevation gain and my heart nearly explodes.
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Old 02-01-10, 12:45 PM   #2
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You need lower gearing. Are you running a double or triple? What kind of bike?

You should always be in a gear low enough that you can spin at a normal RPM. Are you staying in a higher gear and trying to "muscle" your way up the climb? Lots of newbies do that.
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Old 02-01-10, 12:53 PM   #3
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You need lower gearing. Are you running a double or triple? What kind of bike?

You should always be in a gear low enough that you can spin at a normal RPM. Are you staying in a higher gear and trying to "muscle" your way up the climb? Lots of newbies do that.
I have a compact double. I dont recall what cogs I have in the rear, but I would say that I do most of my climbing in the second and third lowest gears. It doesnt feel like I am mashing the pedals too much. I would say I get up hills at around 60rpms. Sadly I have a ****ty Serfas bike computer that stopped working so I dont have an accurate measurement of that number. When I get into my lowest gear, often times it feels like I am spinning to high and feels like it makes me more tired. Does that seem accurate? Hell, I have had zero instruction or coaching, so I am really on the road of discovery without a map.
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Old 02-01-10, 01:06 PM   #4
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Are you properly hydrated?

A.
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Old 02-01-10, 01:11 PM   #5
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Are you properly hydrated?

A.
Goodness yes. I have never had hydration problems.
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Old 02-01-10, 01:13 PM   #6
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I'm not the world's best climber, but one thing that has been helping me climb better is to alternate standing and sitting. When I stand I have to shift up a few gears, and ride with my hands on the hoods. After a bit I sit down and shift back to a lower gear an spin for a while. I think i climb faster, and also don't wear down my legs as much.
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Old 02-01-10, 01:18 PM   #7
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I think I generally find it more comfortable to spin at a lower cadence while on the hills. I like to feel more resistance in my legs. When I am in a lower gear, I generally find that it feels like I am pedaling against almost no resistance. Then I am pedaling faster to try to feel it and I tire my legs out. It might just be that my legs are not accustomed to pedaling faster and I need to just work on it.
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Old 02-01-10, 01:22 PM   #8
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5,000ft of climbing kills me aswell. But the legs are OK the next day

Double centuries are not for ordinary mortals. They take some training to get up to- Normally a couple of years and a lot of milage and bikes before you are ready for them.

I do a ride mosr years- Takes 4 months of training to get fit enough even to think about it. 100 miles- 10,000ft of climbing- only daylight so a max of 15hours to do it in.

Oh and it's offroad.

If you want to climb- want to do milage- want to have speed- then train for it. My 100 miles offroad training includes a couple of 100 milers on the road and a few 60 miles offroad enduros. On top of that, the training is hard.
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Old 02-01-10, 03:52 PM   #9
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after your ride, drink a recovery drink......something with carbs and a bit of protein in it.
chocolate milk will work in a pinch.
this may diminish or eliminate the pain in your legs when you are trying to sleep.

works for me.

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Old 02-01-10, 03:59 PM   #10
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And get a massage.
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Old 02-01-10, 05:16 PM   #11
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5000 feet of climbing is a helluva lot of uphill.
Keep it up - with some modifications of your riding style, training, nutrition, etc - and you'll be a monster a year from now.
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Old 02-01-10, 05:29 PM   #12
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5000 feet of climbing is a helluva lot of uphill.
Keep it up - with some modifications of your riding style, training, nutrition, etc - and you'll be a monster a year from now.
Yeah, I was gonna say, 5000 feet is nothing to sneeze at and 10 months is not a LOT, depending on frequency of riding. I'd say you're doing quite well anyways. Perhaps you're just pushing yourself too much and have really high expectations? Maybe change your riding style a bit, take it a bit easier, ride more but without pushing too much? And yeah either use recovery drinks after hard ride or eat properly and keep drinking a lot at least for the next 12 hours. Dehydration is a big factor in post-ride muscle pain.

"Not having problems with dehydration" doesn't necessarily mean much. You can be dehydrated without feeling thirsty and it's important to keep hydrated after the ride. Thirst is a warning sign that you are already dehydrated. Drink before you get thirsty, eat before you get hungry and rest before you get tired. You need to stop to pee at least every two hours and your urine needs to be watery-clear. You will be amazed how many cyclists ignore this, including myself

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Old 02-01-10, 05:35 PM   #13
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And remember: It never gets easier, you just go faster.
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Old 02-01-10, 05:41 PM   #14
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Gosh, thanks for the feedback. I think I might be suffering from the age old habit of comparing myself to everyone around me. I get dropped a lot on the 70 mile club rides on Saturdays and probably push to hard to catch back up. I am sure it is fairly common to be like me when you first start and think that magically you wont be susceptible to all of the road blocks and hardships that cyclists run into. I have probably set my sight a little too high from the beginning and I need to put my larger goals a bit further out and focus on technique and time.
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Old 02-01-10, 06:34 PM   #15
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You just need to ride more climbs. Youare in LA, close to GMR and other ustained long climbs. I've done 5 centuries with 10,000 -12,000 ft of climbing on a satandard double (53/39-12/25) Sure the bailout gear on a compact would help but IMO, if yo are conditioned, it's not any tougher on the standard. I also have a triple that I use on training rides, but avoid the 3 lowest gears keeping it equal to the double.

To answer your question, IMO, it gets better. First training ride of the year, back hurts, legs ache etc. But I continue to do sustained climbs which seems to get easier just about every week. Before the event (Ride Around the Bear) I ride GMR (Mt Baldy village) every weekend for atleast 3 months.

See! After 9500ft, still smiling!..BTW, I'm a 6'1 Clyde and at 220 lbs, I finished in the top 30% on the timed event consisting or 400 riders, all climbers!

It's all training!




It does help to maintain some sort of climbing forum during the year, not rushing before an event. This is me on GMR two weeks ago ON MY TREK!



If you get a chance, throw in some MTB climbing. I ride firetrails, nothing too technical but it helps with climbing and handlng skills when returning to the roadie. Couple months back ON MY OTHER TREK!

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Old 02-01-10, 07:27 PM   #16
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wow. yeah, my legs are rubber after 5000' in a day too, and I live and ride in the mountains.

just make sure you up that protein content, and stay hydrated.
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Old 02-01-10, 08:38 PM   #17
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Keep in mind that some of us could cover half our states and never hit 5,000' of climbing, so not everyone doing centuries is doing that much climbing.

Also, some of the routes around here DO have lots of climbing, but it's lots of little hills, not one huge mountain pass. As far as I know, it's a lot easier to do 100 hills 50' high than one 5,000' climb. So don't assume that everyone doing 5,000' is doing what you are.
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Old 02-01-10, 08:39 PM   #18
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Depending on your elevation the thin air will take a toll on your performance, esp if you hang around at sea-level a lot.
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Old 02-02-10, 01:05 AM   #19
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It might just be that my legs are not accustomed to pedaling faster and I need to just work on it.
Yes, exactly. Many of us (me included) have naturally low cadence. Pedaling with higher cadence can be learned, it just takes time and effort. Think of it this way. Your power output are exactly the same if you raise the RPM, but lower the torque by a similar amount. Doing that is way better for minimizing lactic acid buildup in your legs.

When I first started riding about 5 years ago, I would say my natural cruising cadence was about 60 RPM. After years of working on it, I'm now up to more like 75 or 80. I have pretty weak legs and knees, so I've had to learn to baby them, and I do that by riding at a higher cadence and lower torque.

Do you ride with clipless pedals? Also, what is your combined (body+bike) weight?

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Old 02-02-10, 11:23 AM   #20
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When I first started riding about 5 years ago, I would say my natural cruising cadence was about 60 RPM. After years of working on it, I'm now up to more like 75 or 80. I have pretty weak legs and knees, so I've had to learn to baby them, and I do that by riding at a higher cadence and lower torque.
I agree but there are exercises that one can do to increase cadence, high rev intervals on a trainer. Totally changed my style from mashing to spinning.



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Also, what is your combined (body+bike) weight?
Mine is over 250 lbs, does that matter as much as conditioning and training?
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Old 02-02-10, 03:34 PM   #21
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One of the big mistakes a "Novice" makes is to try and stay with the "BigBoys" It takes an average mortal 2 years to become bike fit. Sure you would see improvement in the first 3 months of riding but then it starts to tail off. The better riders will have their pacing right. Whether that be a 20miler or a 100mile ride. They would have got cadence right- the bike will fit and more than that- they will know when to ease off a bit to recover.

But bike riding is not the only thing to worry about. Hydration is a big thing.You may not realise it but a 2% loss of fluid through sweating will show in performance. In fact it can put you near bonking stage where you will have no energy. 2% fluid loss is only 3lbs on a 150lbs body. That means you have to keep replenishing fluid loss at the rate you are losing it. Long rides and I take 1 litre of fluid every hour. That just about keeps pace with what I am losing and I do not have to keep taking pee stops either.

Same on nourishment. You will be using energy on rides and that has to be replenished. On a 70 mile ride I would have a good breakfast- normally oatmeal and I start snacking on carbo-hydrates right from the start of the ride.

Bike riding is not all about the bike and the body. And fitness only pays a part of successful riding. There is all the other stuff to think about aswell. And for recovery after a ride----Weigh yourself before a ride and then afterwards. Any weight loss you have will be through Fluid loss. Replace that by drinking (Not alcohol) as soon as you can. Even the pros have to do this so something else to worry about.
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Old 02-02-10, 04:12 PM   #22
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One of the big mistakes a "Novice" makes is to try and stay with the "BigBoys" It takes an average mortal 2 years to become bike fit.
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But bike riding is not the only thing to worry about. Hydration is a big thing.You may not realise it but a 2% loss of fluid through sweating will show in performance.-hydrates right from the start of the ride.
Great key points! Even Lance and other racers have verified that even the big boys lose some form after leaving competitive racing. It was stated by Lance himself that getting back into racing
it would take atleast a year to even think about winning. Part of the reason he is expected to do better this year. Not only Lance has made that statement. Figue the OP just starting out, it's going to take some time.

As far as hydration, I've seen too many riders bonk on 40 mile flat trail rides. The have some nice sweet stuff in their bottles but they don't drink it! 20 miles into a 40 milers on a 1/4 bottle? I'm usually done with 2 large bottles by this point. AND I was downing fluids the night before. On a climbing century, I'm hydrating two days before the event!
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Old 02-03-10, 01:45 AM   #23
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Mine is over 250 lbs, does that matter as much as conditioning and training?
I was referring to the OP. He stated in post #14 above:

"I think I might be suffering from the age old habit of comparing myself to everyone around me. I get dropped a lot on the 70 mile club rides on Saturdays and probably push to hard to catch back up."

If he and his bike combined weigh 170 lbs., he needs better technique and more training. If he and his bike weigh 300 lbs., he needs to lose weight. That is, if he wants to start passing others on the climbs.
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Old 02-03-10, 01:31 PM   #24
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I was referring to the OP. He stated in post #14 above:

"I think I might be suffering from the age old habit of comparing myself to everyone around me. I get dropped a lot on the 70 mile club rides on Saturdays and probably push to hard to catch back up."

If he and his bike combined weigh 170 lbs., he needs better technique and more training. If he and his bike weigh 300 lbs., he needs to lose weight. That is, if he wants to start passing others on the climbs.
I dont actually know how much my bike weighs, I dont have a scale. It is an 2009 AL Cannondale Synapse. I myself weigh 215 (used to be 240). My hope is to make it down to 190 by summer. I think my problem is a combination of both weight and training. I was speaking with a friend of mine who used to race Cat 4, and explained that I have been riding for 10 months after 27 years of fairly hard living (ie. drinking, smoking 1 pack a day, eating horribly, no exercise). He explained to me that it just takes time to overcome all that damage I did to my body. Just keep riding and things will get better, weight and conditioning wise.
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Old 02-03-10, 01:58 PM   #25
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your friend is definitely right, you have to work away the years of sin. you will get there.

do you do any cross training? surprised that it took 25 posts to get to that question? other forms of exercise (running, weights, swimming) will help you with your strengthening regimen.
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