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Thread: Where to start?

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    Where to start?

    I'm very recently getting into cycling (Friday last week was my first time riding a road bike, and first time on a bike since four years prior). I have a long standing habit of doing time consuming cardio and naturally I want to get into ultracycling (I've run a handful of ultramarathons, and have definitely done equivalent feats on the game Pump It Up ("DDR" for those of you not in the know)). But I have no clue where to begin, how quickly I should expect to progress, or how I should expect my body to hold up. I will be doing my first century on Saturday just to get an idea of how I can keep pace on longer rides (I've gone to 60 miles keeping a pace of 20mph, but that was in beyond ideal conditions and probably "beginners luck").

    My questions are this.

    1) What specific stumbling blocks will I run into beyond time constraints? I've heard of 'saddle sores' (though people tell me not to worry since I have a Brooks), but what other injuries are common when getting started with ultracycling?

    2) How do I find others locally who wouldn't mind tagging along on 50+ mile training rides? Are there clubs specifically for distance riding?

    3) More experienced riders, how long has it taken you to get where you are?c Have you met, exceeded, or fallen short of your expectations?

    I suppose I'll have more, but I'm a bit tired and need to get some sleep. Thanks in advance for any replies!

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    Senior Member joewein's Avatar
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    I recommend the "Tips for Riding a Century" thread. It has a lot of relevant information.

    One of the important habits to learn is to eat and drink regularly throughout the ride (at least 200 kcal an hour, at least some water every 15 minutes).

    Personally, I started road biking in October after riding as much as 50 km on a shopping bike. I did rides of about 100 km in December, about 160 km in February and my first 300 km in May. Riding further is definitely easier than riding faster.

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    Senior Member Commodus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LHoT10820 View Post
    I'm very recently getting into cycling (Friday last week was my first time riding a road bike, and first time on a bike since four years prior). I have a long standing habit of doing time consuming cardio and naturally I want to get into ultracycling (I've run a handful of ultramarathons, and have definitely done equivalent feats on the game Pump It Up ("DDR" for those of you not in the know)). But I have no clue where to begin, how quickly I should expect to progress, or how I should expect my body to hold up. I will be doing my first century on Saturday just to get an idea of how I can keep pace on longer rides (I've gone to 60 miles keeping a pace of 20mph, but that was in beyond ideal conditions and probably "beginners luck").

    My questions are this.

    1) What specific stumbling blocks will I run into beyond time constraints? I've heard of 'saddle sores' (though people tell me not to worry since I have a Brooks), but what other injuries are common when getting started with ultracycling?

    2) How do I find others locally who wouldn't mind tagging along on 50+ mile training rides? Are there clubs specifically for distance riding?

    3) More experienced riders, how long has it taken you to get where you are?c Have you met, exceeded, or fallen short of your expectations?

    I suppose I'll have more, but I'm a bit tired and need to get some sleep. Thanks in advance for any replies!
    I'm still new to this, so perhaps my perspective will be useful to you.

    Specific stumbling blocks I've encountered: Fit. It takes some time to figure out how to be comfortable on a bicycle for 10+ hours. Seat height, fore/aft position, bar height, etc. Then, as your flexibility and core strength change (hopefully improve!) things change a bit. For me, it was worthwhile to get a pro fit done to sort out the lower body. The handlebar, I can do that myself, adjusting height and reach and width as I see fit. It should be noted, however, that the quality of 'pro' fits varies significantly. Ask around, maybe get more than one opinion. It costs money, but it's the most important factor in determining your success.

    I also had a problem with my IT band that's pretty common among long distance cyclists. You probably know about this from your running days, but if not it's worth while to look into it. Get yourself a roller and figure out some stretches to keep things limber.

    I would think that any road club is going to distances that will get you going in randonneuring. The local racer club probably doesn't do 200+ km rides, but they'll do centuries and stuff and that'll get you there. Once you start doing the long stuff, you'll be hanging with the rando club anyways. Even if long distance racing is what you're more interested in, I suspect the local randos will be the folks you want to ride with. There's always some guys at the pointy end of a brevet who treat them as such, and train appropriately.

    Good luck!

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    tell us if you live through the century, and then we'll know how to tell you to proceed

    There are all sorts of physical ailments that don't show up until you ride longer rides. I have found that 80 miles is a significant point as far as saddle/shorts go. I wouldn't expect the Brooks to be a panacea, although many people have good luck with them. You also will find out if you have fit problems.

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    Senior Member Richard Cranium's Avatar
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    I guess the "best info" is at the UMCA web site - where that is.....

    As far as clubs in your area - and or riders and rides - you need to check with PACTours and get info about the local brevet series operated out of Sharon WI - I think?

    If you were smart enough to become a successful runner then all you really need to do is to apply your instincts to the bike. Of course you must take care - often the heart and mind have much too much determination for the different muscles you will recruit when cycling. An overuse injury is almost more prevelent among "cross over" athletes than newbies.......

    You will have "weak links" in your overall cycling development, only you, and only by experience will you discover and overcome these pitfalls - on the road to your new cycling successes.
    Sorry about my comments - I thought you wanted honest feedback.
    2003 Lemond Wayzata - 2002 LeMond Malliot Jeune

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    I plugged "chicago randonneurs" into Google and found this: http://www.thechainlink.org/group/chicagorandonneurs

    In a town that size, there *has* to be some interest in distance riding.
    Quote Originally Posted by chandltp View Post
    There's no such thing as too far.. just lack of time
    RUSA #7498

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    Senior Member Richard Cranium's Avatar
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    Lon Haldeman runs a set of brevets out of Sharon each year - (at least he did) - and if you wanted to bump into some "hard core" ultra riders - that would probably be the place. but i could be wrong.......

    I can't find it anymore - have to wait..
    Sorry about my comments - I thought you wanted honest feedback.
    2003 Lemond Wayzata - 2002 LeMond Malliot Jeune

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    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    I will be doing my first century on Saturday just to get an idea of how I can keep pace on longer rides (I've gone to 60 miles keeping a pace of 20mph, but that was in beyond ideal conditions and probably "beginners luck").

    That's a good place to start. See how you do on this first century. See if you want to ride another one. If you do ... ride another one. Riding 60 miles will tell you nothing about how you'll do on 100 miles.


    My questions are this.

    1) What specific stumbling blocks will I run into beyond time constraints? I've heard of 'saddle sores' (though people tell me not to worry since I have a Brooks), but what other injuries are common when getting started with ultracycling?

    I've ridden well over 100,000 km including four 1200K randonnees. I've had one saddle sore in that time because of a combination of loose shorts, rain, and a gel saddle. There's a good chance you may never have a saddle sore.

    And a lot of injuries can be prevented by ensuring that your bicycle fits you. Also don't assume that if your bicycle fit you well one year that it is going to continue to fit you 10 years later. You may have to make small adjustments every so often.



    2) How do I find others locally who wouldn't mind tagging along on 50+ mile training rides? Are there clubs specifically for distance riding?

    Check out my Links page ... http://www.machka.net/links.htm


    3) More experienced riders, how long has it taken you to get where you are?c Have you met, exceeded, or fallen short of your expectations?

    I rode my first century in 1994, and vowed I'd never do another ride of that length again.

    Then in 1997, I rode 2 centuries, and they weren't too bad.

    Then in 1998, I started racing and raced for 3 years.

    At the end of the season in 2000, I had tired of the racing scene, and was looking for something else. So I tracked down Randonneuring, and in 2001, I rode my first Super Randonneur series. And I've done a lot of long distance riding since then.

    See my website: www.machka.net

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    Senior Member skiffrun's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Richard Cranium View Post
    Lon Haldeman runs a set of brevets out of Sharon each year - (at least he did) - and if you wanted to bump into some "hard core" ultra riders - that would probably be the place. but i could be wrong.......

    I can't find it anymore - have to wait..
    Richard --

    I understand that Lon stopped being an RBA several years ago. No more Sharon, WI. Apparently no more Arizona PacTour hell-weeks.

    Of course, my understanding could be mis-informed.
    -----------------------------------------------------

    The "Chicago" randonneurs do all their brevets somewhere in the middle of Wisconsin. Being originally from NW Illinois, you might think I'd be somewhat familiar with Wisconsin, but no. It is easy to find the Chicago randonneurs. Just a little effort on the big interweb, just a little poking around on the RUSA website, even just a little poking around in the Great Lakes forum here on Bikeforums -- information will pop out. Information on the RUSA website includes the name and e-mail address of the Chicago RBA.

    There appears to be exactly one Permanent in northern Illinois (starts in Naperville). A little poking around on the RUSA website, and an interested person would easily find that, and the name and e-mail address of the route owner / organizer, and that would likely lead to more information.

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    Quote Originally Posted by skiffrun View Post
    The "Chicago" randonneurs do all their brevets somewhere in the middle of Wisconsin.
    www.glrrando.org

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    Senior Member k7baixo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by skiffrun View Post
    Richard --

    I understand that Lon stopped being an RBA several years ago. No more Sharon, WI. Apparently no more Arizona PacTour hell-weeks.

    Of course, my understanding could be mis-informed.
    -----------------------------------------------------
    Check his site..... www.pactour.com
    Cheers, Gerry
    gerryelam.wordpress.com

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    Thanks for all the input guys!

    I went out for a 50 mile ride today in less-than-ideal conditions (Storming at the start, fighting 20mph winds for the rest of the ride) and was fairly humbled by the experience.

    One thing that'll definitely need to change for my century in two days is that I need to eat a LOT more before leaving (I had one skinless chicken breast for breakfast with a glass of water, then left), more than one water bottle (the second being filled with something like gatorade), and a bag with some snacks. Ha ha ha.

    I was feeling pretty punished by the 42nd mile, hopefully if I prepare slightly better and the weather works in my favor I'll be able to handle the century much easier. Tomorrow's menu is nothing but delicious carbs.

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    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LHoT10820 View Post
    One thing that'll definitely need to change for my century in two days is that I need to eat a LOT more before leaving (I had one skinless chicken breast for breakfast with a glass of water, then left), more than one water bottle (the second being filled with something like gatorade), and a bag with some snacks. Ha ha ha.

    I was feeling pretty punished by the 42nd mile, hopefully if I prepare slightly better and the weather works in my favor I'll be able to handle the century much easier. Tomorrow's menu is nothing but delicious carbs.

    One of the reasons for building up to a long distance gradually is so that you can get your nutrition and hydration sorted out.

    You probably don't need to need a lot more before the ride. Maybe put the chicken on a piece of bread. But you need to eat regularly during the ride. And you need to determine what snacks will work well for you.

    Have you read the Tips for Riding a Century sticky thread yet? There's some nutritional information there which could be helpful for you.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Machka View Post
    One of the reasons for building up to a long distance gradually is so that you can get your nutrition and hydration sorted out.

    You probably don't need to need a lot more before the ride. Maybe put the chicken on a piece of bread. But you need to eat regularly during the ride. And you need to determine what snacks will work well for you.

    Have you read the Tips for Riding a Century sticky thread yet? There's some nutritional information there which could be helpful for you.
    I scanned through it briefly, and I'll be going in depth with it today.

    I'm feeling confident enough to tackle a century with less than a week of cycling experience because I have six years of history with doing non-stop cardio. I just underestimated how well I'd be able to hold up on a bike (Though I still think it would have gone better if I wasn't fighting strong winds the entire way).

    After I stopped and got a snack around mile 42, I definitely could have gone for a substantially longer trip. I had to end it at 50 miles because I ran out of daylight and I don't have any lights or reflective gear on my bike, and I was clothed in all black.

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    Senior Member skiffrun's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by k7baixo View Post
    Check his site..... www.pactour.com
    Are you implying that my post that Lon & Susan no longer are RBA's, no longer do the Sharon, WI and/or Arizona hell-week of brevets, is incorrect?

    If that is what you are attempting to imply -- I suggest you follow your own link to the PacTour web site. No Arizona brevets next year -- only (? - only - ?) five weeks of normal PacTour touring while in Arizona. And 3 trans-continental tours: Elite on a southern route, Northern, Southern.

    Lon and Susan last did brevets out of Sharon, WI (Beloit is listed as the official region) in 2007.
    The link to results for the "Beloit, WI" region didn't work.

    Lon and Susan last did brevets in Arizona in 2008.
    The link to results for the "Desert Camp, AZ" region didn't work.

    ------------------------------------------------------------------
    Btw, I know I can do brevets up to 600k; some friend(s) doing the ToC-1200 in a couple weeks are wondering why I'm not doing at least the 1000 as they think I'm in better shape than them; but I have no illusions about me being able to complete even a "normal" PacTour trans-continental. I ain't that tough. I know some who are, but I'm not.
    Last edited by skiffrun; 08-17-12 at 09:10 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by LHoT10820 View Post
    ...I'm feeling confident enough to tackle a century with less than a week of cycling experience because I have six years of history with doing non-stop cardio. I just underestimated how well I'd be able to hold up on a bike (Though I still think it would have gone better if I wasn't fighting strong winds the entire way)....
    There is a lot more to cycling fitness than just cardio. When I first started cycling I was running 30+ miles a week. My first ride on the bike was a 30 miler, I made it about 8 miles and almost puked. The cycling fitness came fast though. Mainly because of my running fitness. I did my first century just under three months after I got my bike. It was a little harder than I expected. Probably because it had 10,000ft of climbing. Not an ideal first century but I had no idea. The moral here is that if you are in good physical condition you can ride the bike as far as you want. Where you are likely to run into problems is that the longer you are on the bike the more likely that you are going to start having fit/stress issues. I can almost guarantee that unless you were fitted on your bike by someone who knows what they are doing, with your limited cycling experience, you are not in an optimal position on the bike. You could have hand problems, foot problems, seat problems, knee problems etc. plus there are a lot of cycling muscles involved besides your legs. Finally, just because you have a brooks saddle does not mean that you are immune to saddle sores or seat problems. Brooks are quality saddles but they are not the bees knees for everyone.
    It doesn't get harder, you just go slower.

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    On the RUSA home page, they have links to all the rando clubs, www.rusa.org.

    Randonneuring doesn't demand a whole lot of speed, and if you can plug away all day at 14 mph, you can do fine. If you're riding with a group, then it depends on what that group is doing as to how fast and how fun it is. If you were riding with our rando group, then at 20 mph, you'd be doing most rides solo. A lot of "regular-distance" roadies do 100k or 100 mile routes fast, and you may find that more to your liking for training- check local bike shops and bike clubs. If you insist on riding fast, you may find long-distance racing more to your liking than randonneuring. Look up the Ultra-Marathon Cycling Association above.

    The pre-aged Brooks on my Raleigh Sojourn was comfy from the get-go, the regular B17 on my tandem, less so. In both cases, I had to experiment with saddle angle to avoid personal numbness.

    I kind of worked my way into this, I didn't get up one morning and say "I'm going (edited) to buy a bike and become a randonneur!" And a lot of my progess was just losing weight and getting a decent bike, so it varies considerably from yours.
    Last edited by StephenH; 08-17-12 at 07:23 PM.
    "be careful this rando stuff is addictive and dan's the 'pusher'."

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    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by StephenH View Post
    I kind of worked my way into this, I didn't get up one morning and say "I'm boing to buy a bike and become a randonneur!" And a lot of my progess was just losing weight and getting a decent bike, so it varies considerably from yours.
    +1

    I've been cycling since I was 6 years old. When my interest in cycling waned a bit in my teens, I got into running and cross-country skiing. Then I picked cycling back up again when I was 23. But it was still 4 years before I attempted my first century.

    I expect I could have done it sooner than that, but I didn't feel ready. And even though I had done quite a bit of cycling in preparation for that century, I still struggled with it. My struggle was mainly nutritional, and partially bicycle fit.

    Going from riding a road bicycle for the first time in 4 years last week to riding a century this week might be a bit of a quick progression. Sure, the cardio strength might be there ... but the bicycle fit? And nutrition/hydration? Maybe ... maybe not.

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    Senior Member k7baixo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by skiffrun View Post
    Are you implying that my post that Lon & Susan no longer are RBA's, no longer do the Sharon, WI and/or Arizona hell-week of brevets, is incorrect?

    If that is what you are attempting to imply -- I suggest you follow your own link to the PacTour web site. No Arizona brevets next year -- only (? - only - ?) five weeks of normal PacTour touring while in Arizona. And 3 trans-continental tours: Elite on a southern route, Northern, Southern.

    Lon and Susan last did brevets out of Sharon, WI (Beloit is listed as the official region) in 2007.
    The link to results for the "Beloit, WI" region didn't work.

    Lon and Susan last did brevets in Arizona in 2008.
    The link to results for the "Desert Camp, AZ" region didn't work.

    ------------------------------------------------------------------
    Btw, I know I can do brevets up to 600k; some friend(s) doing the ToC-1200 in a couple weeks are wondering why I'm not doing at least the 1000 as they think I'm in better shape than them; but I have no illusions about me being able to complete even a "normal" PacTour trans-continental. I ain't that tough. I know some who are, but I'm not.
    I seem to have inadvertantly touched a nerve. I'm not implying anything bud. I simply posted the link to their sire for others' convenience.
    Cheers, Gerry
    gerryelam.wordpress.com

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    Went for my Century on Saturday. Held a pace of 18mph without too much effort, however I didn't finish. I had to end it early due to a cable snapping on me in the 31st mile jeopardizing the safety of the ride. Got it replaced this morning and will be trying again next Saturday.

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    Quote Originally Posted by LHoT10820 View Post
    Went for my Century on Saturday. Held a pace of 18mph without too much effort, however I didn't finish. I had to end it early due to a cable snapping on me in the 31st mile jeopardizing the safety of the ride. Got it replaced this morning and will be trying again next Saturday.
    Check the other one too! I assume this was a brake cable?

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    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LHoT10820 View Post
    Went for my Century on Saturday. Held a pace of 18mph without too much effort, however I didn't finish. I had to end it early due to a cable snapping on me in the 31st mile jeopardizing the safety of the ride. Got it replaced this morning and will be trying again next Saturday.
    18 mph might be all right for 31 miles ... but don't count on holding that for 100 miles. You might, who knows, but there's a huge difference between 31 miles and 100 miles.

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    I did my first 50 miles today, I might have done 50 or more before but I dont know cause I never paid attention to miles or speed back then. I just rode for the fun of it & didnt care how many miles I did. Now I do care about mileage. I'm gonna get a bike computer soon so I wont have to pay attention to mile markers or drive the route to find the mileage out. Getting the computer primarily for keeping track of speed. I'm working towards doing my 1st century.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ace X View Post
    I did my first 50 miles today, I might have done 50 or more before but I dont know cause I never paid attention to miles or speed back then. I just rode for the fun of it & didnt care how many miles I did. Now I do care about mileage. I'm gonna get a bike computer soon so I wont have to pay attention to mile markers or drive the route to find the mileage out. Getting the computer primarily for keeping track of speed. I'm working towards doing my 1st century.
    good times . . . .

    Sometimes I go out with electrical tape over my computer so I can't worry about speed/distance. Most of my favorite rides have happened this way.

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    Quote Originally Posted by StephenH View Post
    Randonneuring doesn't demand a whole lot of speed, and if you can plug away all day at 14 mph, you can do fine.
    Quote Originally Posted by Machka View Post
    18 mph might be all right for 31 miles ... but don't count on holding that for 100 miles. You might, who knows, but there's a huge difference between 31 miles and 100 miles.
    So 14mph allows for enough time at controls? Does 14mph on the bike allow for any sleep on a 600k?

    I can average about 16.5mph on a century, but as I want to stretch myself into longer events and explore randonneuring I admit I have NO illusions that I can hold that on brevets. I was hoping to be able to average 13-14mph on the bike. Will that be enough?

    (sometimes hard to tell when folks talk about average speed on a brevet whether they mean total or on the bike)

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