I'll provide a little back story.
I'm 33, going on 34 years old. Prior to May 30, 2010 I hadn't been on a bicycle in at least 12, and more likely 15 years. I've picked up back up with quite a bit of passion actually. I'm commuting to and from work at least twice a week, usually three times if my wife's schedule allows.
I am using the bicycle first as a way to get into better shape, and be healthier. And second because I have great memories of cycling with my parents when I was growing up. My daughter just had her first birthday a few weeks ago, and I'd love for her to grow up with similar fond memories. The only way for that to happen is for me to be in good enough shape to go on rides with her.
I've worked up to pretty easily doing 12 mile rides, regardless of weather, at an overall average speed of about 12.5 miles per hour. In the examples where I went 12 miles I'm pretty sure I could have easily doubled the mileage and still been alive at the end. What I would like to do is get myself up into the 18 mile per hour average cruising speed. And I'd like to be able to sustain that average speed for at least an hour and a half, but would rather be able to do it for "as long as it takes."
I've noticed even when going in that 12-15mile per hour range that I tend to pedal for maybe a half block then coast. Rinse and repeat. I'm certain I'd average a higher overall speed if I kept spinning, but can't seem to figure out how to make that work without feeling like either my legs, or lungs (it's one or the other) are on fire. I'd love advice on how to just spin, and only coast when it's fun, not because I need a break.
I don't know how much equipment comes into play, but I'll share some details anyway.
I'm 5' 10", weigh ~ 225# (at least I did before I started riding)
I'm riding a Surly Long Haul Trucker complete, with the standard 35mm wide 700c Continental Contact tires. I have a set of Shimano SPD pedals (from when I had a Diamondback Venture in highschool) with a new set of Shimano shoes.
I'm certain my form needs improvement, but I don't know how to get from where I am, to where I think I should be.
Any advice the collective intelligence that is bikeforums.net can provide would be GREATLY appreciated.
If you're in the Indianapolis area, and would like a slow riding partner, or would love to coach a slow rider into being a less slow rider I'd happily entertain PMs. In fact I'd be willing on weekend to even travel to other parts of Indiana to ride with folks who wanted to help
Thanks again BikeForums.net!