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  1. #1
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    Setting up a route

    I am a beginner at riding. I ride dirtbikes on weekends but got tired of watching my weight climb (6'0" 222lbs) from not having any exercise through the week so I got into some spinning classes at the gym which in turn got me into riding.

    I have a Fuji Finest AL that I got from the LBS. They have turned me onto some courses but I have not checked them out yet. It is very easy for me to go out my front door and ride on some back country roads.

    My only problem is that I live in the Upstate of South Carolina. There are a lot of hills and I am struggling right now.

    I have one 5 mile route that starts off with a decent flat warm-up to a slight 100ft incline back to flat ground for 200 meters (approx.) and then a downhill to a good 1/2 mile hill to flat to a long down hill. At the 2 1/2 mile mark there is a big hill that I struggle with but do make it up. The rest of the way is small rolling inclines.

    I am just riding based on HR right now, trying to keep my HR under 180 (my max is 188 and I want to keep it between 140 and 160).

    This week I have picked up my riding to do my route twice.

    My question is... am I ok doing it with the hills or should I look for flatter surfaces to make a route? The current route is nice b/c there are few cars. Other flatter routes are pretty busy and have a 55mph speed limit for the cars.

    Any and all suggestions are welcome.

    Thanks in advance.

    Ivan

  2. #2
    Desert tortise lsits's Avatar
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    Hills are your friends!
    Wish I didn't know now what I didn't know then. - Bob Seger

  3. #3
    Life is good RonH's Avatar
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    Ivan,

    When I started riding in 1999/2000 I weighed ~240+ pounds (6'-0").
    I gradually built up my mileage base from 3.5 miles a few days a week to 30-40 miles per day, 5-6 days a week.
    My weight steadily dropped and I have been well under 200 pounds for quite some time.
    I had the greatest weight decrease when I started adding hills to my rides.
    Don't be afraid of them but don't expect to conquer them right away either. Just add in miles and hills when you feel comfortable with the progress you make each week.
    Can you include bike commuting into your schedule? I did that when I was employed and saw a big drop in weight and a big increase in fitness and stamina.

    Good luck and keep us posted of your progress.

  4. #4
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    Thanks for the encouragement.

    Unfortunately, I can't commute. My job is 37 miles from my house by interstate.

    I went out today and looked for a new route. I basically added on to my existing route with a few turns. There are 2 more major hills. They are not long (only about .2 or .3 miles) but they are pretty steep. I got over one today but not the other two.

    The rest of it was a lot of rolling hills where I could go about 3 miles and only change between 4 rear gears while keeping it on the middle gear up front. It was only about 9 miles but it took over 50 minutes to get it done.

    I am enjoying it though. I just hate when I can see the top of the hill but I can't push to get there

    I am happy with my progress so far. Last week I did 4 days of 5.06 miles each day in about 25 minutes. This week I did spinning one day and 2 rides of 9 miles in about 50 minutes. I'm more worried about getting the time in right now than the distance but I am working to get the distance to come as well.

    Thanks again for the encouragement.

    Ivan

  5. #5
    Senior Member DieselDan's Avatar
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    Keep it up, you'll come around. Just look out for some guy in a USPS kit with white framed Oakleys, he'll blow everyone off the road around there.
    Bikes use brakes to stop.

    If your bike has breaks, don't ride it.

  6. #6
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    I would do a little at a time, i began with 8 miles a day every day, it takes courage
    and confidence to get out there with cars at high speed so i began on a walking/biking
    path and in June i did my 1st road tour....it just takes time
    If you go to Pedaling.com you can search for routes in your state/city You also might try mountain biking...you can burn up mega fat and fast! GBY!

  7. #7
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    It really helps to keep a journal. Write how far and speed for a particular route then don't monitor that route for a few weeks. Don't try for speed, but you will be surprised that you can get to the top of the hill and shave off seconds or minutes. If you don't keep a log, you can get discouraged because you will always find a hill, or headwind or heavy legg day that will make you feel like you are not progressing. I don't record too much info, just at the beginning of the spring, I'll time a couple hills, and what was my lowest speed. In midseason and by fall there is usually an increase. As an example, I used to ride a lot faster, but now I commute and am tired/sleepy and sometimes I can barely make it home. Yet this is an easy route. When I ride on the weekend, I feel so refreshed and am much faster. If I only looked at the daily speed, I would think I was declining.

  8. #8
    Passing!
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    Quote Originally Posted by truespode
    Thanks for the encouragement.
    I just hate when I can see the top of the hill but I can't push to get there
    Ivan
    Ivan,

    DO NOT LOOK AT THE TOP OF THE HILL. I am one of those believers that looking at the top is my down fall. You are using a HR monitor, use all the gears you have too. You say you are on your middle ring, use your granny ring if you need it. There is no shame in using all the gears you have to make it up a hill, that granny ring is there for a reason and if you aren't using it it's nothing but added weight. Keep the same cadence and heart rate even if it means you are slowed to a crawl speed-wise. I had a couple hills I just couldn't pull on my road bike, but make it up them with my MTB no problems, I have learned and now know this is a matter of gearing, not of physical condition, although my condition does have something to do with it over all. Given my physical condition if I can do it on one bike but not the other I am not the factor. Once I figured this out, I now make those hills with my road bike as well albeit a little slower! ;-)

    Don't psych yourself out when you see a hill coming, don't speed up prior to the hill unless you can do it by changing gears, maintaining a cadence and heartbeat.

    Before you know it you will be conquering those 2 hills and looking for more.

  9. #9
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    Thanks.

    I thought I was supposed to look to the top of the hill. On the next route I will not look so far ahead and concentrate on my cadence more.

    I do keep a log. I use software called Racing Buddy (www.racingbuddy.com). I don't race but the software is under $30 and it keeps a good calendar and has good graphs that I can look at.

    The only time I'm in the middle gear is on rolling hills. The big hills I do use granny gear.

    I have been trying to attack the downhill to make it up the hill but that sounds like a mistake from the responses I see. I need to work on cadence down and up and not worry about speed?

    Thanks
    Ivan

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by truespode
    Thanks.

    I thought I was supposed to look to the top of the hill. On the next route I will not look so far ahead and concentrate on my cadence more.

    I do keep a log. I use software called Racing Buddy (www.racingbuddy.com). I don't race but the software is under $30 and it keeps a good calendar and has good graphs that I can look at.

    The only time I'm in the middle gear is on rolling hills. The big hills I do use granny gear.

    I have been trying to attack the downhill to make it up the hill but that sounds like a mistake from the responses I see. I need to work on cadence down and up and not worry about speed?

    Thanks
    Ivan
    Looking at the top of a big hill is depressing, but if you "chunk it down", by telling yourself that "I will ride without stopping to the next streelight, lamp post, mailbox, etc, you will find that you will soon be reaching the end of a chunk and riding beyond it, because it is a hassle to stop and because you can ride beyond it. On really steep hills around here I will use the many cross streets as recovery areas that I will ride briefly across the hill on, for 100-200 feet or so.

    Also, I have found it very beneficial to control my breathing while hill climbing. I use and odd number of pedal strokes and especially concentrate on breathing out, rather than breathing in. An example would be to breath out for 3 beats, in for 2, or whatever number out and in that seems to meet my oxygen needs and I can maintain comfortably. The outbreath is always longer than the inbreath and the totals of the ins and outs are always odd numbered.

    I live on the side of a hill, and the hills I regularly, reluctantly, climb are from 1/2 to 1-1/2 miles long, and seem to run it the 5-7% grades or somewhat steeper. I feel I am living proof that if you want to, you can get up hills, very slowly at first. My beginning speeds uphill were usually 4 to 4-1/2 mph (which is faster than I can walk up the hills) and they are increasing to about 5-1/2 mph in my granny gear and 6-7 mph while in other gears for times that are increasing. I am no speed demon, but I am getting more fit and better at climbing hills.

    On rolling hills that aren't too long, I try to attack the up hills and recover on the downhills, because it seems no matter where I ride around here, there are lots of both!

    And yes, work on regular cadence, constant comfortable cadence, up and downhill
    I . . can . . . doooo . . . it

  11. #11
    Senior Member DieselDan's Avatar
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    Never look up while climbing. I look at the front of the wheel at the road just in front of me.
    Bikes use brakes to stop.

    If your bike has breaks, don't ride it.

  12. #12
    Passing!
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    Quote Originally Posted by truespode
    Thanks.
    I have been trying to attack the downhill to make it up the hill but that sounds like a mistake from the responses I see. I need to work on cadence down and up and not worry about speed?

    Thanks
    Ivan
    I tend to do the same thing in rolling areas, but going down a hill in a tougher gear you can still maintain the same cadence while not exerting near as much effort. I am constantly telling my kids, to take advantage of the downhills and that getting up the hill is well worth the effort since there is usally a corresponding down hill waiting for your pleasure on the other side. We have one road we ride where we can loop around so the uphill is gradual but the downhill side is much steeper, they just LOVE climbing the one side now to fly down the other. Last year they couldn't make it up either side, and would have been reluctant to fly down the other, this year they have some miles behind them and love it. Bad thing here is that too many of our good hills climb out of the valley to flat and there is no downhill reward waiting on the other side!

    Going up though, it's like DieselDan said, I look at the road in front of me, and once to the crest of the hill, I LOVE to look back and see what I accomplished! :-)

    Foehn's suggestion of using side roads for recovery helps a lot too, if it is safe, you can also work your way back and forth across the hill which reduces the grade minimally but can really help you up the last portion of the tough climb.

    I used to be a masher, but found that mashing up a hill will burn up your energy and cause your legs to get sore really quick as compared to a steady cadence even if it is a little slower, I'd rather my legs burn as a result of a long over-all effort as opposed to multiple short efforts plus I don't have to worry about recovery on the ride. On short hills mashing may be fine, but on longer hills, persitence will pay off much faster. On occassion though I will mash at the top of the hill just to get it over with.

    Listen to what everyone says, try everything, incorporate parts of this with parts of that and before you know it you will figure out what works best for you while you are building your base.

  13. #13
    Mad Town Biker Murrays's Avatar
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    A couple bits of advice I’ve learned along the way-

    -Keep your effort low at the bottom of a long hill; go into the lowest gear if you need to. Save the effort for accelerating to the top. A little adrenaline can help here

    -Enjoy the downhill and get some rest.

    -On the downhill, shift up out of the little ring and up a couple cogs so you’re in the right gear when you start pedaling.

    -On rolling hills, I like to start pedaling when my speed is just starting to go down. Try to maintain your momentum as long as possible by keeping your cadence towards the high end, shifting down when the effort goes up or cadence drops. Sometimes this will get you over the next hill without any real effort (those are the good days )

    -When you get in better shape and are looking for ways to increase average speed, I tell people to “push” all the way through the hill, not just to the top. In other words, maintain the effort you used to climb the hill until your up to speed on the down hill. Personally, I look for ~20mph on the down hill to start coasting.


    Regarding routes, check with you bike shop or local clubs. They may publish maps of their favorite routes. A search on google could help, too.

    Don’t worry too much about your heart rate, your body will tell you when you’re working too hard. One of my rules of thumb, go hard when it feels easy, go easy when it feels hard.

    Enjoy your riding!

    -murray
    "I feel more now like I did than when I first got here"

  14. #14
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    Thanks for the advice.

    I got a Cateye Astrelle 8 yesterday to monitor my cadence. I already have the HRM so I will work and work on the hills.

    Thanks
    Ivan

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