At my current pace, a century ride with any climbing at all would take me over 12 hours. This seems ridiculous. But all the riding I've been doing (which, admittedly isn't as much as I'd planned) isn't getting me any faster. So now what should I do?
I'm 43, just under 6', 220 lbs (back from from the 200 I'd made it to last year, it seems, which is probably half the problem). I'm riding a Specialized Roubaix w/Apex Compact.
This past Sunday I rode in my first organized ride, the "Tour de Peninsula" - 57 miles, 4068 feet ascent. 7 hours 0 minutes, including the rest stops. Putting me at *almost* the very last person to come in, even having taken the shortcut off the metric century route.
Two days before that I did 31 miles, 2040 feet ascent. 3 hours 26 minutes.
When I go up hills, I appear to be heart rate limited. If I can stay around 140 bpm, I'm ok. Once it climbs out past 155 bpm, I'm pretty much guaranteed to need to put my feet down by the time it gets to 160 bpm and let it come back down. A typical climb of a real hill around here (for example, Kings Mountain Road) has me in my lowest gear, doing 47-50 RPM, with my heart rate ramping up from 145 up to just under 160 at which point I'm just too winded and put my feet down until the HR gets back to 145, repeat.
That gaves me an average speed of around 4 MPH while climbing a real hill. On Sunday I spent quite a while trying to catch up to some folks who'd given up and switched to walking... that's how bad it is.
Then I make it up doing an average of 20 with peaks of 30 back down the hill, but there's no way to make up all the time lost climbing... so when all is said and done, I'm averaging 8 MPH.
A few weeks back I did a 46 mile ride along the Monterey Bay coastline, which is relatively flat, and my pace on the flats appears to be about 11.3-11.9 MPH. Which is better, but still nowhere near it needs to be in order to complete even a totally flat century in a reasonable amount of time.
What I can't figure out is that when I started training, my pace was exactly the same. I can ride a *lot* farther now than when I started... and I can keep pedaling a whole lot longer up the steep hills before I need a break than when I started... but my average speed has only gone up by a tiny fraction, if at all. My only comfort is that I now know that I can do 7 hours in the saddle in one day, after 3.5 hours only two days before.
So, as I kept meaning to ask the literally hundreds of people who passed me on both the flats and hills last weekend... what's the trick to going even a little bit faster?