I ride with a group on the weekend which averages maybe 17 mph over the course of a 40-60 mile ride. Since I joined them about two years ago, Iíve been the last man in the pace line ó on flats at least.
I tend to get dropped either on the uphills or downhills. Itís a no-drop ride, so I get to experience both!
Itís been a bit of a mystery to me, because most of these guys are bigger and older than me. The ones similarly sized and similarly aged to me are comparable runners. Iíve realized that there is an element of skill rather than fitness to account for the difference.
Iíve improved on the downhills. I used to be a bit timid on the rough roads, and Iíve gotten better at cornering, though my left turns are better than my right turns (my left core and hip is weaker and less flexible). I still fall behind but not as badly.
But the uphills are still troublesome to me. Itís like I lose power on them. I know to keep up with the group on the flats, I have to keep up a high cadence and continue to generate power, so I have to be comfortable sustaining a high heart rate. For me, thatís 90+ rpm and 140+ bpm.
On the hills though, my cadence naturally drops to 80 rpm and lower. I donít like how my muscles feel at a lower rpm, itís like Iím doing something bad to my knees. I also feel like I donít have enough power at that low rpm, things are a struggle.
So I downshift and get my rpms back. But then my heart rate drops into the 110s, which means Iím not working that hard, and I start falling behind again.
The best way Iíve found to keep up is to get up off the seat and stomp Ö that way I feel like Iím putting out enough power and getting the heart rate up ó but that state of affairs isnít natural, and I can only sustain it for so long.
Do you guys have any ideas on how I can improve?
* Should I look into bike sizing? I bought my standard ride used, and it might be a little big for me, which may be affecting my effort on the uphills.
* Or is it my training, that I should do more to learn how to sustain a low cadence at a high heart rate?
* Or is it mental ó Iím not dialing into the the right gearing ó Iím either too high, which causes the muscle strain, or too low, which doesnít tax my cardio systems enough?