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  1. #1
    Senior Member DGlenday's Avatar
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    Thread For 50+ Cyclists Consiidering Racing ( aka Starting To Race ... FOR DUMMIES )

    I hope someone can help with serious answers to some naive "wannabe" questions. There are plenty of threads on racing, but most talk in acronyms and assume you already know the science behind training and diet. But this sub-forum is in the 50+ area, so I'm looking forward to some grown-up discussion

    My situation:

    Past: I used to race when I was very young (late teens, early 20s) - then gave it up when it became too expensive and I discovered girls and motorcycles and parties ... and then got married and built family and career etc. From age 22 onward I sat on the couch, and don't believe I rode more than 30 miles in the next 30 years, until I re-started cycling in April 2011.

    Probably a very typical story.

    Present: My strength and fitness levels are not at racer level, though I like to think I have the potential. I think I'm fitter / stronger than most in my club, though there are definitely some riders who can drop me. But with a bit more training, I should be able to hold them without difficulty.

    There's another much faster group I ride with who are mostly younger, and some of them are racers. Again - I believe that as soon as I start getting serious about training and diet, I'll be able to hold them comfortably.

    Future: IF I get back into racing, I don't think I'll do crits. I used to race track, and I'm "over" the frantic confusion of fast, tight, technical racing. I'm more inclined to do stage races, circuit races, and so on. I'm more inclined toward longer distances than short, and doubt that I'll ever be inclined to try time trials - other than for training purposes.

    Questions:

    ** So - my naive questions (and I'm requesting simple, "For-Dummies" answers here!):

    From reading elsewhere on BF, it seems that my first step is to get a heart rate monitor, and figure out my lactate threshold - and from there, I can start building a training program. Is that about right? (I don't have the $$ for a power meter just now).

    ** Diet: I used to do a pretty serious BB routine in the gym, and at that time, developed the tools to track calories and macros. What would be an ideal ratio of fats / carbs / proteins? I know that "everyone is different", and understand that the macro ratio will change as my training program develops, but I'm looking for a starting point - and will refine from there.

    ** I know it's often regarded as a stupid question, so indulge me as I repeat it here: How fast do I need to be to start racing? And more particularly, how fast to keep up with 55-year-old competitors? E.g. if riding solo on reasonably flat country roads - how fast should I be able to finish 25 miles (40 kms)? Or - are there any other good measures I should try for?

    ** What other advice would you give to a niaive noob?
    Regards,
    Duncan

  2. #2
    Travelling hopefully chasm54's Avatar
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    Hi. I'll start, then if you're lucky the real experts will chime in.

    Yes to the HR monitor and the lactic threshold test. I too have yet to graduate to a powermeter, and while HR training has its limitations it at least allows me to be systematic. And some of those limitations can be minimised with experience.

    On diet, do you need to lose any weight? That's the place to start. If you're happy with that, then I wouldn't suggest a much different split from that you'll get from a "normal" balanced diet. Timing is an issue, though, eating for recovery within a short time of completing a workout, with a mixture of protein and carbs.

    How fast? Obviously the faster the better. But simply looking at average speeds isn't that helpful, even in my very limited experience so far the speed of races varies enormously. Sometimes everyone goes hard from the ***, sometimes it's more tactical. I have been racing mainly crits and a couple of circuit races. You say you don't want to race crits, but sometimes there isnt a huge difference between the two, and in both I have found the big issue to be less top-end speed (until the sharp end, anyway) and more the ability to deal with repeated accelerations. If you're only going to do road racing the demands will be different, but the ability to recover while racing will remain. 55year-olds can be plenty fast. I am racing Cat4 rather than age-related, partly because there isn't much masters racing locally and partly because the old guys who are still racing tend to be stronger than most of the the Cat4 youngsters. Your local circumstances may vary. In any discipline, really the only way to really know if you are fast enough is to jump in. The "new to racing" sticky at the top of this sub-forum contains links that are helpful at any age.

    Good luck.
    Last edited by chasm54; 07-22-12 at 11:29 PM.

  3. #3
    Resident Alien Racer Ex's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DGlenday View Post

    Future: IF I get back into racing...and doubt that I'll ever be inclined to try time trials - other than for training purposes.
    IMHO TT's are one of the best ways of learning about your body and it's capabilities, how to pace an effort, and how to blow yourself up by pacing wrong.

    Quote Originally Posted by DGlenday View Post
    From reading elsewhere on BF, it seems that my first step is to get a heart rate monitor, and figure out my lactate threshold - and from there, I can start building a training program. Is that about right? (I don't have the $$ for a power meter just now).
    That's a good start. I would avoid doing a periodized program right now, I would get Friel's Training Bible and read it but I think you'd be well served by a steady, consistent approach till you have a better understanding of where you fit into the bigger picture. See below.

    Quote Originally Posted by DGlenday View Post
    ** What would be an ideal ratio of fats / carbs / proteins?
    How tall is a tree?

    That ratio can move around depending on what you're doing in your training. Long aerobic efforts might call for more carbs. Hard anaerobic efforts might need more protein. My rule of thumb is eat healthy, clean balanced meals and you'll be fine. Address more extreme efforts (stage races, Etc) as they arise.

    Quote Originally Posted by DGlenday View Post
    ** I know it's often regarded as a stupid question, so indulge me as I repeat it here: How fast do I need to be to start racing? And more particularly, how fast to keep up with 55-year-old competitors? E.g. if riding solo on reasonably flat country roads - how fast should I be able to finish 25 miles (40 kms)? Or - are there any other good measures I should try for?
    There are no stupid questions, only stupid people

    Again, how tall is a tree?

    I know guys that would have dismally slow 25 mile results and win races. I know guys who have good 25 mile results and get shelled. The question isn't how much (speed/power) it's when and for how long and who you're racing against. There's a reason there a bunch of different words in French to describe a bunch of different types of riders.

    The real answer is "go race". You'll find out where you stack up, what your strengths and weaknesses are, then you can work on a program from there.

    And don't be discouraged if you get shelled or too impressed with yourself if you do well. In your first races the question isn't "how did I do", it's "what did I learn".

    Quote Originally Posted by DGlenday View Post
    ** What other advice would you give to a niaive noob?
    Racing is high speed chess, not weight lifting. Strongest folks don't always win. You know that from your track racing.

    The best way to learn the craft is to race and ask questions. This is actually a very good resource base for those questions. Make notes after every race about what went well and what didn't.

    More is not necessarily better in training.

    Rest is more important than training, especially at 55.

  4. #4
    Elite Rider Hermes's Avatar
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    Learning to race is an apprenticeship. Step one is research. We have so much available on line and in books. IMO, our 33 forum is one of the best sources of accurate information. If you go to the top the 50+ racing sub forum there is a sticky with a link to the 33 racing tips section. I would start there and read those threads.

    Joe Friel's Cyclists Training Bible is okay but IMO is too broad brush. Another resource is Racing and Training with a Power Meter by Coggan and Allen. It is a good read without a power meter since it discusses various aspects of training and racing.

    Watch racing on TV and read some of the books about pro cyclists. There are lots of tidbits in the books and they can provide a "feel" for strategy and tactics as well as jargon and acronyms. BTW, most racing acronyms can be Googled.

    Step two is checking out the local racing scene and joining a racing club. Most of amateur racing is local so learning from local racers about the courses, tactics and races is a must so that you can plan your racing schedule and hopefully have some teammates.

    I knew that starting to race at age 57 was going to be very difficult. I hired a coach and used one for 4 years. I still use a track coach on a selective basis. You learn so much from a good coach with recent training experience and if he/she is local and holds group training sessions, it is even better.

    Since you raced track, you know that it is accelerations not average speed per se that typically determine race outcomes. Although, a 32 mph average speed scratch or points race is going to be very tough to just hold a wheel. Accelerations occur on climbs as well as corners and flat sections. And since you raced track, you know that it is skills that keep you safe and in the game. A skilled racer can ride very close behind another while watching the action ahead and reading the pack. In other words, he hides in the peloton conserving energy.

    Our 55+ peloton is very tough. It is much harder than the cat 5 men and depending on who shows up, tougher than the cat 4. In general, our better 55+ racers are competitive in the Cat 3 but it is very hard. We have a couple that are competitive in the elite P/1/2 races. And you will be racing and training with younger racers. Many masters races limit the entries to Cat 1,2,3 and 4 and you will start as a cat 5. I had a lot of fun racing with the Cat 5 men and train and race with younger races all the time.

    Racer Ex did a great job answering the specific questions.
    "Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." Einstein

  5. #5
    Elite Rider Hermes's Avatar
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    Future: IF I get back into racing, I don't think I'll do crits. I used to race track, and I'm "over" the frantic confusion of fast, tight, technical racing. I'm more inclined to do stage races, circuit races, and so on. I'm more inclined toward longer distances than short, and doubt that I'll ever be inclined to try time trials - other than for training purposes.

    If you want to do stage races, you will have to learn to time trial. All the stage races we have include a time trial and generally but not always, the winner of the general category is a great time trialist who gains time against the field. Also, many stage races include a criterium or circuit race.
    "Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." Einstein

  6. #6
    Idiot Emeritus sarals's Avatar
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    Read Ex's threads. All of them that you can find.

    Then read Shovel's threads - ditto.

    Then, read Hermes threads. All.

    Followed by AJ and AzT.

    There are reams of detail, information, sense, and experience in their words. We are all very fortunate to have them here.
    Racer Ex..."Don't know if the shop is under new ownership. If not feel free to shoplift stuff and break bottles in his parking lot."

  7. #7
    Senior Member DGlenday's Avatar
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    OP here: Many thanks to those who have chimed in so far.

    Quote Originally Posted by chasm54 View Post
    Yes to the HR monitor and the lactic threshold test.
    I need to go shopping...


    Quote Originally Posted by chasm54 View Post
    On diet, do you need to lose any weight? That's the place to start. If you're happy with that, then I wouldn't suggest a much different split from that you'll get from a "normal" balanced diet. Timing is an issue, though, eating for recovery within a short time of completing a workout, with a mixture of protein and carbs.
    I could stand to lose 10 pounds (who couldn't? And that last 10 lbs is that hardest...) but that isn't my concern.

    Regarding 'eating for recovery' - I'm very familiar with the idea, but should the recovery meal concentrate on proteins or carbs? I've heard convincing arguments for both.


    Quote Originally Posted by chasm54 View Post
    You say you don't want to race crits, but sometimes there isnt a huge difference between the two, and in both I have found the big issue to be less top-end speed (until the sharp end, anyway) and more the ability to deal with repeated accelerations. If you're only going to do road racing the demands will be different, but the ability to recover while racing will remain.
    Quote Originally Posted by Hermes View Post
    Since you raced track, you know that it is accelerations not average speed per se that typically determine race outcomes. Although, a 32 mph average speed scratch or points race is going to be very tough to just hold a wheel. Accelerations occur on climbs as well as corners and flat sections.
    Regarding the need for frequent acceleration and the ability to recover while racing ... seems interval training would be a good way to gear up for those requirements..?


    Quote Originally Posted by Hermes View Post
    If you want to do stage races, you will have to learn to time trial.
    Quote Originally Posted by Racer Ex View Post
    IMHO TT's are one of the best ways of learning about your body and it's capabilities, how to pace an effort, and how to blow yourself up by pacing wrong.
    Interesting observations. Makes sense. Thanks.


    Quote Originally Posted by Racer Ex View Post
    I would get Friel's Training Bible and read it
    Will-do.


    Quote Originally Posted by Racer Ex View Post
    Rest is more important than training, especially at 55.
    Same as BB or weight lifting, I guess. It isn't about how hard you train - it's about how you recover. Funny - when I was 22, it was just a matter of ride hard, or ride harder. Not much science involved :|

    Quote Originally Posted by Hermes View Post
    I knew that starting to race at age 57 was going to be very difficult. I hired a coach and used one for 4 years. I still use a track coach on a selective basis. You learn so much from a good coach with recent training experience and if he/she is local and holds group training sessions, it is even better.
    There doesn't seem to be much racing activity right where I live, though within an hour's travel, ther's quite a lot ... but per my research there's a coach in my town - and based on your recommendation, I guess it's probably worth consulting her.

    Quote Originally Posted by sarals View Post
    Read Ex's threads. All of them that you can find.

    Then read Shovel's threads - ditto.

    Then, read Hermes threads. All.

    Followed by AJ and AzT.

    There are reams of detail, information, sense, and experience in their words. We are all very fortunate to have them here.
    Regards,
    Duncan

  8. #8
    I need speed AzTallRider's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DGlenday View Post
    I could stand to lose 10 pounds (who couldn't?
    Hermes

    Regarding 'eating for recovery' - I'm very familiar with the idea, but should the recovery meal concentrate on proteins or carbs? I've heard convincing arguments for both.

    That's because you need both: http://www.sigmacoaching.com/recovery-supplements/
    "If you're riding less than 18 MPH up a 2% grade please tell people Coggan is coaching you."

  9. #9
    Elite Rider Hermes's Avatar
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    True dat.
    "Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." Einstein

  10. #10
    Elite Rider Hermes's Avatar
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    Interval training is good but nothing prepares you for racing but racing. IMO, you will not and cannot go hard enough by yourself. The best proxy to practice matching accelerations is a group high intensity sessions with other racers. Our racing club offers these with a coach. We go out together and do intervals as a group. With competition, I generally set new power records. At the track during a clinic we were doing standing starts. Head to head with my competitors, I hit new power records that I have not been able to duplicate on my own.
    "Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." Einstein

  11. #11
    Resident Alien Racer Ex's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hermes View Post
    Interval training is good but nothing prepares me for racing but racing. IMO, I will not and cannot go hard enough by myself.
    FIFY

    I think everyone is different.

    My best 5m number came from a 5 minute test and my best 20m number came solo in a TT. Best 2k came in training also.

    I always temper my efforts in a race to the minimum it'll take to get the job done (timed events obviously excluded...mostly), I train harder than I race for the most part. And that's been the case for some of the most successful athletes; read any bio and you'll probably read something to the effect of "and nobody trained harder".

    Where that motivation/ability comes from...I think you have to absolutely hate losing. But there a cycle of self fulfilling prophesy there as well; if you do well it's easier to train harder. If you're not then it's easier to cut an interval short.

    The problem with the "racing/group ride as training" paradigm is that someone else often dictates how long and how hard your interval is, and how you recover from the effort. There's a lot of holes in there that can limit your improvement in certain areas.

    FWIW I'm a horrible group ride guy unless I've got some particular motivation. Go ahead and attack, ride off into the sunset for all I care.

  12. #12
    Old Road Racer Cleave's Avatar
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    Hi,

    I agree that different people respond differently to specific training regimes. I do not have the mental fortitude to go all out in solo training. At the same time I do not treat group training rides as races. My heaviest workload is during races. That's why I race as much as I do (besides the fact that I love to race). The other training opportunity that I have and use regularly are group interval sessions at the track. I can either ride with a group that is going faster than I would by myself or ride alone. My motivation while riding alone comes from having Roger Young yell out the training zone and feeling obligated to execute. Believe me, there are times when I am counting down the repetitions waiting for the misery to end.

    A couple of other things to think about that DGlenday didn't ask. Why do you want to race?

    Racing takes a level of commitment far above recreational cycling. You need to do rides that fit your training schedule, not your personal preferences. There are a number of rides I'd like to do during the racing season that I have to forgo. As you know, it encompasses your daily diet. It also takes up most of your free time. Between the physical and mechanical preparation, if you're still working a 40 hour per week job, there isn't much time for anything else. You need strong personal reasons to race.

    Racing also requires you to be humble. There are a few people with the genetic predisposition to be "naturally" good at this sport. Most of the rest of us work hard to to be there -- even in Masters racing. You may be an exceptional cyclist. If you aren't you will get dropped in some or all your early races.

    I also think there's a misconception when it comes to road races versus criteriums. In this day there are some tight and somewhat dangerous criterium courses but there are many 4-corner courses that are predominately in industrial parks. These courses generally have full road closures so the course is wide and generally safe. Some of the sketchiest races I've done in recent years have been road races with large fields with the double-yellow line rule (appropriately) in effect. Also, if there are any significant hills, road races require a higher level of fitness and lower body weight. Believe me, there are guys in 50+ Masters races that look like Bradley Wiggins (or some other skinny pro climber). A little less so in Masters 55+ races. A bunch of criteriums on a flat 4-corner course will allow you maximum pack time and learning. BTW, don't take '4-corner' too literally. A flat criterium with wide roads and simple corners is what I really mean.

    I'm not trying to discourage anyone with this post. Just trying to give you a realistic picture of what's in front of you. However, sometimes a little blind optimism goes a long way.

    Good luck with your preparations and first forays into 50+ Masters racing. Oh, and don't dope!
    Thanks.
    Cleave
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  13. #13
    Senior Member shovelhd's Avatar
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    Welcome.

    I am a crit racer (M55+ Cat2). If you want to win stage races in America, you will have to learn to win crits. You can't just bet that it will come down to a field sprint and you'll get the same time. Criterium racing is a lot like the track, very fast, full of surges, attacks, tactics, long hard efforts, and sprints. It's not as dangerous as you think. Sure, I bet there are more crashes per race in crits than in road races, but the damage done is often much less. You can wreck on a training ride or in any kind of race, even an ITT.

    As for an HRM, I would save your money until you can afford a Garmin 500 ($200-$250). It will work with any ANT+ heart rate strap, and any ANT+ power meter down the road.

    My story is remarkably like yours. I raced USCF in the 80's as a Cat2. I hung up the bike until June of 2010, and returned to racing in March of 2011. For a guy who had been off of the bike for decades, I've done very, very well. It does come back. You will be rusty tactically, but it does come back.

    If you want to race this year, you should start doing some speed work now for the last month or two of the season. If not, just ride a lot of base until the beginning of next year, then start a program geared towards racing. I start mine on January 2nd or 3rd, and my first races are in the beginning of March. I usually take a few weekends off of racing several times during the season to break it up. It's too taxing both physically and mentally. This Saturday I will do my 33rd and 34th races of 2012, and I have reduced the load lately because I am training for Nationals. You need micro and macro rest.

    Good luck and don't be shy about asking questions.

  14. #14
    Senior Member DGlenday's Avatar
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    OP here again - with further thanks for the informative posts.

    WRT proteins / carbs:

    Quote Originally Posted by AzTallRider View Post
    Will read it - thanks.

    Quote Originally Posted by Hermes View Post
    Interval training is good but nothing prepares you for racing but racing. . IMO, you will not and cannot go hard enough by yourself.
    I understand that - but I don't want to want race completely unprepared - and would prefer to be as well prepared as possible before I start.

    Quote Originally Posted by Hermes View Post
    ...group high intensity sessions with other racers. Our racing club offers these with a coach...
    I don't believe there's any facility to do that where I live. There's a trainer, though, and she might be able to point me in the right direction. I'll contact her today...


    Quote Originally Posted by Cleave View Post
    ...interval sessions at the track...
    The nearest track to me is 4 hours away. But I remember from my track racing days (35 years ago) how intense track training can be.

    Quote Originally Posted by Cleave View Post
    A couple of other things to think about that DGlenday didn't ask. Why do you want to race? Racing takes a level of commitment far above recreational cycling. You need to do rides that fit your training schedule, not your personal preferences. There are a number of rides I'd like to do during the racing season that I have to forgo. As you know, it encompasses your daily diet. It also takes up most of your free time. Between the physical and mechanical preparation, if you're still working a 40 hour per week job, there isn't much time for anything else. You need strong personal reasons to race.
    ...
    I'm not trying to discourage anyone with this post. Just trying to give you a realistic picture of what's in front of you.
    That's actually a good question. However, as I mentioned in my OP, I used to race quite seriously and know what it's about (or what it was about a long time ago) - so I'd be going in with my eyes open. The hard work doesn't frighten me, I miss the speed and the hustle of competition. And at (well) over 50, the health benefits are hard to beat.

    And - it's the next logical step. I (re)started cycling in April last year. There are a few important challenges I have yet to meet on the club and in the randonneuring circuits, but racing seems to be the next logical step.

    Quote Originally Posted by Cleave View Post
    Racing also requires you to be humble.
    I shall practice!

    (Just kidding)

    I seem to have enough ' genetic predisposition to be "naturally" good' at club riding, but I'm only too aware that moving into the next league will take hard work.

    Quote Originally Posted by shovelhd View Post
    As for an HRM, I would save your money until you can afford a Garmin 500 ($200-$250). It will work with any ANT+ heart rate strap, and any ANT+ power meter down the road.
    Makes sense - thanks.

    Quote Originally Posted by shovelhd View Post
    My story is remarkably like yours. I raced USCF in the 80's as a Cat2. I hung up the bike until June of 2010, and returned to racing in March of 2011. For a guy who had been off of the bike for decades, I've done very, very well. It does come back. You will be rusty tactically, but it does come back.
    Encouraging words - thanks. I've found that riding - in general - has come back very quickly in the year-and-a-bit since I (re)started. Hopefully, racing will come back to me as quickly as it did to you.

    Quote Originally Posted by shovelhd View Post
    If you want to race this year, you should start doing some speed work now for the last month or two of the season. If not, just ride a lot of base until the beginning of next year, then start a program geared towards racing.
    It will have to be next year. There are some items I need to take care of this year: A few cycling events, a hugely difficult "challenge hike", and two daughters getting Married - in Sept. and Jan. respectively

    Quote Originally Posted by shovelhd View Post
    Good luck and don't be shy about asking questions.
    Thanks to you and everyone in this forum for the advice - I look forward to getting started.
    Regards,
    Duncan

  15. #15
    Fast for a Fred JayhawKen's Avatar
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    This probably sounds overly simplistic, but IMO the best training is a hard weekly group ride. I have a very structured routine with a specific set of workouts each week, I have Friel's book (and it is very good), and I understand my strengths and weaknesses. But the benefits of riding with a regular group of riders, all of whom can pretty much ride me off their wheel anywhere at will, is week-in and week-out the best bang for the buck.

    Find a group that is known to not go out of their way to kill newbies, learn the route ahead of time so you have no anxiety about being dropped, and you basically have your A race for every week. It is really hard to push yourself in a solo training ride as hard as you will trying to hold a wheel near the top of a climb in a hard group ride. It also gives you a network to pick up useful training and racing tips as you become a know quantity in the group.
    Quote Originally Posted by caloso View Post
    ... bad things can happen when you're hypoxic....

  16. #16
    Senior Member DGlenday's Avatar
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    Thanks - I'm doing group rides right now, and agree that they're a great way for me to to push my performance. E.g. this week's ride: http://app.strava.com/rides/21778589#comments (a decent pace, though not the hardest we've done this season.)

    There are 2 groups in my area - one that rides pretty fast, on flat and rolling countryside - and one that's equally fast but focuses on really tough hill climbs. As much as I hate hills, I know which group I need to spend more time with, and that I need to change hills from being my enemy to being my friend.

    There's a 3rd group which is more likely to drop those who can't keep up. I plan to start riding with them when they re-start their weekly rides next spring.

    Meantime - I'll be signing up with a coach for winter, and will ride through the cold season. And I'm also cross-training, while gearing up for an "extreme hike" in May. (42 miles on rocky, hilly terrain, in one day.)

    2013 will be the year that I try a few races, and decide if it's something that I'd like to pursue ... and I'm pretty sure that I'll be hitting the 2014 spring races.
    Regards,
    Duncan

  17. #17
    Senior Member CommuteCommando's Avatar
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    I'm kind of in OP Duncan's situation, but different. Rather than start a thread, I thought I would bump this one because there is a lot of info I find relevant.

    I have been riding semi seriously for several years. My focus was on increasing distance and speed on recreational rides, as opposed to racing. I have had a bike most of my life, though have not always ridden it much. I did get quite heavy, and racing was in the realm of "get real". In the last two years I have lost 70 lbs, and have lately started working on my core in a gym.

    I still have quite a bit of weight to loose, but think that a 20k TT is doable. I had a MI in 2008, and another out of the blue last August. The docs are ok with me working out, and I have an appointment with a cardio-rehab for evaluation. Normally, someone like me who has been doing Cardo workouts already are not sent to rehab, but I requested it in order to evaluate how hard I can push myself safely.

    Due to my size, stage races are out of the question until I get down to at least 170. For my height 160 would be better. I am currently at 220, and would like to be 210, or preferably 200 to attempt a TT.

    As far as how I currently "train" I commute to work five days a week, which I know is not an optimal routine, but it lets me get training into a life style that includes a steady job. I ride 5 miles each way, which counts as a "rest" day if I keep HR under 110. Two or three day a week I do a harder training ride after work. Weekends are on day of 20-40 miles with hills.

    I will be looking for a coach soon, and re reading this, and possibly getting Friels book.

    I just turned 57.
    Last edited by CommuteCommando; 11-07-12 at 01:43 PM. Reason: <life style> was<like style>
    As much as you paid for that Beemer [Mercedies, Audi, Escalade], I'm surprised it didn't come equipped with turn signals.

  18. #18
    I need speed AzTallRider's Avatar
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    Welcome, and congratulations on your successful weight loss and for the steps you've taken. Quick question: Do you have a way of stretching your commute? I ask, because doing that enabled me to turn my commutes into true training sessions.
    "If you're riding less than 18 MPH up a 2% grade please tell people Coggan is coaching you."

  19. #19
    Travelling hopefully chasm54's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AzTallRider View Post
    Welcome, and congratulations on your successful weight loss and for the steps you've taken. Quick question: Do you have a way of stretching your commute? I ask, because doing that enabled me to turn my commutes into true training sessions.
    This. My last commute was about 16 miles each way, which was pretty much ideal most of the time, but even at that distance I found it useful to throw in an extra loop a couple of times a week so I could get a longer ride in on my way to work. Commutes are a great way to get time-efficient training if you can use them systematically.

    CommuteCommando, obviously you'll want to listen to medical opinion. But if that is encouraging, then go for it. There's lots of advice to be had in this sub-forum, don't hesitate to ask. And for your info, last season was my first as a crit/circuit racer, and I was just your age.

  20. #20
    Senior Member shovelhd's Avatar
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    CommuteCommando,

    Welcome. Good on you for losing the weight and committing to cycling. Here are my thoughts.

    If you want to race and be competitive, then you can't be riding 7 days per week. That's fine for base, which is good for weight loss, but not for speed. A lot of beginning racers think a "hard training ride" 3x/wk is good for racing, but it is often just the opposite. You didn't mention when your first race could be, but if it is months away, here is what I would do. Spend the next few months riding as long as you can 5 days per week. Force yourself to rest for two days every week. Your pace should not be easy, and not be hard, it should be right in the middle where you feel like you're getting a workout but you're not crushing yourself. If you watch your diet, you will drop the weight and gain base strength. Three months out from your first race, take a week off. Ride no more than 3x that week, and super easy, much easier than your base rides. Start speed work the week afterwards. Speed work can mean many things, from power work to intervals to sprints, but it is always high intensity work with LOTS of rest. This means your commute has to be fit into the plan. It's possible, but you will have to compromise. Sticking to the plan is paramount, no matter how many fun things you have to give up.

    You didn't mention group rides. I'd suggest that you start doing them in order to get a feel for what it's like riding at speed next to other riders. It's sort of a prerequisite to racing. Because group rides are unpredictable, it's hard to work them into a training plan. It's too easy to blow a planned training day by letting other rider's goals and your ego get in the way. It takes discipline to ride with others, and let them ride away in order to stick to the plan. This discipline will pay big dividends in races.

    I have mixed opinions on beginning racers employing a coach. A coach can teach you many things, but there are many things you will need to learn the hard way by yourself. That's what Cat5 is for, to learn about yourself. If the coach can augment this process, that's a good coach. If the coach dictates this process, that's not optimal. Only you can find out who you really are as a racer.

    Good luck, and keep us all posted in the training and racing threads.

  21. #21
    Senior Member CommuteCommando's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AzTallRider View Post
    Welcome, and congratulations on your successful weight loss and for the steps you've taken. Quick question: Do you have a way of stretching your commute? I ask, because doing that enabled me to turn my commutes into true training sessions.
    Xcuse typos. Im on the smart phone

    My commute is 65 miles each way. Most of it, 54 miles, is by commute,r rail. I often stretch the afternoon comute by riding to a train station further down the line. The next station is 9 miles, but that can be streched to 15 by alternate routes. All are pretty flat. The 15 mile route has about 3 mi @ a very gentle incline. I can reach the third station down the line for an 18 mi with some hills. The 15 and 18 mean catching a later train.
    As much as you paid for that Beemer [Mercedies, Audi, Escalade], I'm surprised it didn't come equipped with turn signals.

  22. #22
    Senior Member CommuteCommando's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by shovelhd View Post

    If you want to race and be competitive, then you can't be riding 7 days per week. That's fine for base, which is good for weight loss, but not for speed. A lot of beginning racers think a "hard training ride" 3x/wk is good for racing, but it is often just the opposite. You didn't mention when your first race could be, but if it is months away, here is what I would do. Spend the next few months riding as long as you can 5 days per week. Force yourself to rest for two days every week. Your pace should not be easy, and not be hard, it should be right in the middle where you feel like you're getting a workout but you're not crushing yourself. If you watch your diet, you will drop the weight and gain base strength. Three months out from your first race, take a week off. Ride no more than 3x that week, and super easy, much easier than your base rides. Start speed work the week afterwards. Speed work can mean many things, from power work to intervals to sprints, but it is always high intensity work with LOTS of rest. This means your commute has to be fit into the plan. It's possible, but you will have to compromise. Sticking to the plan is paramount, no matter how many fun things you have to give up.

    You didn't mention group rides. I'd suggest that you start doing them in order to get a feel for what it's like riding at speed next to other riders. It's sort of a prerequisite to racing. Because group rides are unpredictable, it's hard to work them into a training plan. It's too easy to blow a planned training day by letting other rider's goals and your ego get in the way. It takes discipline to ride with others, and let them ride away in order to stick to the plan. This discipline will pay big dividends in races.

    I have mixed opinions on beginning racers employing a coach. A coach can teach you many things, but there are many things you will need to learn the hard way by yourself. That's what Cat5 is for, to learn about yourself. If the coach can augment this process, that's a good coach. If the coach dictates this process, that's not optimal. Only you can find out who you really are as a racer.

    Good luck, and keep us all posted in the training and racing threads.
    I found a 20 K TT about an hour and a half drive away, and I know of some Crit's that are much closer, but those kind of intimidate me. Most group rides near me take advantage of the fact that we live in fairly hilly country, and I can keep up on the flats, but get dropped on the hills.

    I don't have a TT bike yet, just a Tektro level aluminum road bike, but this TT has a class for "Public 55+", in addition to the Masters 55+, so I am not at all self conscious about the equipment. I have competed in R/C airplane Aerobatics, and done OK with a hand made wooden plane, as opposed to a full composite sandwich air frame at $3k a pop, and 14 Channel programmable FutabaMZ remote ($2.5k) (yes, guys spend that much on model planes)

    One thing said earlier to OP was about getting a Garmin Edge 500. I got one a few months ago, and love the thing. In addition to the ANT HRM, it uses a pressure altimeter, which is more accurate than using GPS for altitude.

    I have heard the thing about not riding every day, and I have reduced the days I ride hard. There is actually a bus I can take from the train station that reduces the ride to less than a mile, and I use it fairly often now.

    The times I have managed to get the nutrition right, I can really tell the difference, not so much in speed, but in ease, and recovery. That is hard since I live with someone who is fighting tooth and nail to keep her old eating habits, and trying to sabotage my eating plan. I am gaining ground there though.
    As much as you paid for that Beemer [Mercedies, Audi, Escalade], I'm surprised it didn't come equipped with turn signals.

  23. #23
    Senior Member shovelhd's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CommuteCommando View Post
    I found a 20 K TT about an hour and a half drive away, and I know of some Crit's that are much closer, but those kind of intimidate me. Most group rides near me take advantage of the fact that we live in fairly hilly country, and I can keep up on the flats, but get dropped on the hills.

    I don't have a TT bike yet, just a Tektro level aluminum road bike, but this TT has a class for "Public 55+", in addition to the Masters 55+, so I am not at all self conscious about the equipment. I have competed in R/C airplane Aerobatics, and done OK with a hand made wooden plane, as opposed to a full composite sandwich air frame at $3k a pop, and 14 Channel programmable FutabaMZ remote ($2.5k) (yes, guys spend that much on model planes)

    One thing said earlier to OP was about getting a Garmin Edge 500. I got one a few months ago, and love the thing. In addition to the ANT HRM, it uses a pressure altimeter, which is more accurate than using GPS for altitude.

    I have heard the thing about not riding every day, and I have reduced the days I ride hard. There is actually a bus I can take from the train station that reduces the ride to less than a mile, and I use it fairly often now.

    The times I have managed to get the nutrition right, I can really tell the difference, not so much in speed, but in ease, and recovery. That is hard since I live with someone who is fighting tooth and nail to keep her old eating habits, and trying to sabotage my eating plan. I am gaining ground there though.
    Getting dropped on group rides is part of the progression. It's part of the learning process. Don't be afraid of it. Crits intimidate you because you haven't ridden fast enough and close enough to others on group rides to be comfortable.

    Racing a citizen's class TT is a good way to get some competition in and learn about yourself as a racer. It won't help with getting comfortable in a mass start field, though.

    You need to do more than reduce the days you ride hard, you need to reduce the days you ride, period. Now a 1 mile ride from the train station at 10mph with no effort is pretty close to a day off, as long as the route is flat.

  24. #24
    Senior Member ericm979's Avatar
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    5 miles easy riding morning and night for a commute isn't stressful. In fact it's probably good for recovery. Get the legs moving and blood flowing.

    Do the local TTs. Do the group rides and hang on as long as possible in the hills.

  25. #25
    I need speed AzTallRider's Avatar
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    I agree that you should jump into those TTs, and absolutely not worry about how you stack up to the other folks initially. My short route commute is around 8 miles each way. Rightly or wrongly, I've always considered that commute, at recovery pace, to be about equivalent to a non-riding rest day. I keep the power way way down, and my cadence at or above 100, and use the ride to work on my form. That said, I follow my coach's instructions, and my weeks typically include two days off the bike and often a day of recovery riding. Just depends on the goals for the week and what my training stress level has been. This week is a heavy week for me; next week is a recovery week. I'll ride, but it will easy stuff.

    It's good that you can vary the distance of your commute. Shovel and I both commute, and use our commutes for training. I think he'd agree that making those an hour each way would be very beneficial, so long as you get your recovery days. Much better than shorter rides every day. And what he says about the pace is crucial. Many people toodle along at (IMO) too easy a pace for their base miles. There are theories that support that (especially the affect on substrate utilization), however most of us here are sold on doing our base miles at a decent clip. Part of it is, for me, that it just gets you used to riding faster all the time. Your "cruise speed" will increase, and that is of great value.

    Also, especially given your interest in TT's, ride in the drops almost all the time. You need to build up the muscle groups that requires.

    We could all go on and on, and several others haven't even chimed in yet, but I fear we are going to overload your circuits. :-)
    "If you're riding less than 18 MPH up a 2% grade please tell people Coggan is coaching you."

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