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  1. #1
    Junior Member krispenhartung's Avatar
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    Looking for tips on how to get faster: I hit a plateau

    Hi. This is my first time on this forum and first post, so bear with me as I get to know the landscape and resources.

    I seem to have hit a plateau in my cycling and Iím having some troubles increasing my average speed. I am almost 47 years old, and I didnít start road cycling until a little over a year ago. It about killed me at first (major lung and leg burn), but with some pain and perseverance I was able to get acclimated in about 6 months, started riding a lot of local and out of state centuries, and now averaging about 120 miles a week. I have no desire to race. I do this for fitness and as a personal challenge. On shorter rides and commutes (10-30 miles), my average mph is usually between 19 and 21 mph. On longer rides (40-100) it is between 18 and 20. My average cadence is roughly 95 rpm. Hill climbing is not my forte. I weigh about 178 pounds and Iím 5í 11ĒÖyeah, I know, this is probably one issue. Iíve spent the last 8 years in the gym and wasnít concerned that much about weight, only muscle mass and strength. I donít have a power meter on my bike, so I canít provide that data yetÖbut when my new bike gets here in March, Iíll have one installed. A few other things about meÖin all the seasons except winter, I suffer from major allergies and have asthma, but I can usually control it with inhalers. Intense cardio makes it worse, and I also fail the lung capacity test at my doctorÖso Iím not sure if this has any impact, but letís just set it aside for now since Iíve been dealing with it for years and have adapted.

    Anyway, I am looking for a few basic tips on how I can get faster and off of this plateau. Is this just as simple as I need to suck it up, endure some more pain and push myself? No pain, no gain. I can certainly do that, as Iíve reach sort of a comfort level. Or are there very specific things that I could be doing that may have a good ROI, like interval training, etc. And I wonder if I need to factor my age in here as well.

    Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks,
    Kris

  2. #2
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    Change up your riding, if you hate hills like everyone else then do them until you are good at them. I didn't think I could do a 8-9% grade over about 4 miles, I started to take less breaks and completed it more than 10 times now I am king of the mountain for that segment.

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    What's your ride schedule? How often/how long do you ride?

  4. #4
    Senior Member Homebrew01's Avatar
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    Intervals

    The BikeForums.net workout recipe book

    And consider doing some group rides that push your limits a bit.
    Last edited by Homebrew01; 12-06-14 at 08:59 PM.
    Bikes: Old steel race bikes, old Cannondale race bikes, less old Cannondale race bike, crappy old mtn bike

  5. #5
    Junior Member krispenhartung's Avatar
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    Yeah, I figured someone would bring up hill climbing. Looks like I'll have to bite the bullet. I have no choice but to do them on some of these centuries, and a few are 7-8% for 4-6 miles. Pure torture. :-) Fortunately, I live in Boise, ID and we have a mountain, Bogus Basin, that is very popular with racers for training in the NW USA.

    My schedule: I ride 6 days a week, usually 1 hour a day / 20 miles, and on the weekend, I do at least one longer ride, 40-80 miles. Unfortunately, work gets in the way, as does it getting dark at 5pm. I hate rollers and my trainer.

    Intervals...yup, no way around it. I did them today and my legs were in fire. My legs seem to fatigue easy when I get up off the seat for long periods of time, but today I experimented and tried this in higher gears and a lower cadence, and I was able to go a bit longer.

  6. #6
    Senior Member datlas's Avatar
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    Get a book on training. The ones by Chris Carmichael are popular. Invest in a Heart Rate Monitor or maybe even a power meter.

    You can get better and faster, but you will have to be willing to suffer more. Whether that is "worth it" is a philosophical decision based on your goals and values.
    Quote Originally Posted by RUOkie View Post
    never underestimate the idiocy of BF.

  7. #7
    Stand and Deliver FLvector's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Homebrew01 View Post
    Intervals

    The BikeForums.net workout recipe book

    And consider doing some group rides that push your limits a bit.
    ^^This^^ A combination of interval training and finding a fast group to ride with.

  8. #8
    Junior Member krispenhartung's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by datlas View Post
    Get a book on training. The ones by Chris Carmichael are popular. Invest in a Heart Rate Monitor or maybe even a power meter.

    You can get better and faster, but you will have to be willing to suffer more. Whether that is "worth it" is a philosophical decision based on your goals and values.
    Well, that is a pivotal question, for sure. Why am I even doing this, and why do I want to get faster? It's not like I'm getting paid by the mile and mph...though I wish that were the case! You hit the nail on the head. I don't know exactly why...because I think I can...the thrill of personal achievement, pride, and the rest of the human emotions that motivate behavior. :-)

  9. #9
    Packfodding 3 caloso's Avatar
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    Riding fast is fun. That's all the reason you need.
    Cyclists of the world, unite! You have nothing to lube but your chains!

  10. #10
    Junior Member krispenhartung's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by caloso View Post
    Riding fast is fun. That's all the reason you need.
    That is also true!

  11. #11
    Senior Member Oldbmxguy's Avatar
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    Ride the nasty hills. It Improved my strength, speed, and endurance. I have them all around me, and I hated them. Now I eat them up. Some hills are so steep, I couldn't make it up them when I went to a road bike. I get on flat ground it feels like a cake walk. JMO

  12. #12
    Senior Member Doge's Avatar
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    You are at Altitude (4,000ft??) - correct?
    Do weights, sleep more, ride hard less often. Then do 1X a week or so of real hard - like chasing a group up the hill.

  13. #13
    Senior Member Homebrew01's Avatar
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    Charmichael is a sleazeball. I would not give him my money.
    Bikes: Old steel race bikes, old Cannondale race bikes, less old Cannondale race bike, crappy old mtn bike

  14. #14
    Senior Member BigJeff's Avatar
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    Wait.... What?

    you average over 20mph casually (assuming alone) and you are a first time poster looking for Internet advice?

    Knowing nothing about your bike or riding position, I'd assume the best advice is get more aero.

    If if youare already over 23mph average your next goal should be TT riding at 25+mph average for 40km.

    Buy it an aero tt bike.

  15. #15
    Senior Member Dave Cutter's Avatar
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    Find a coach.

    You can't advance beyond above your own perspective. All your doing now... is redirecting your time and energy to learning how to coach. If you've decided to halt your cycling improvement and switch to improving your coaching abilities... well then you're on the right track. But if improving your cycling abilities is still your goal..... find a coach (instead of becoming one).

  16. #16
    Senior Member MinnMan's Avatar
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    From what you describe, you are either immensely talented for a novice 47 y.o.with one year of riding experience or you are exaggerating your average speeds. 21 MPH on solo rides of 30 miles? How do you measure that? Unless you've got a Garmin or equivalent, there is some reason for skepticism.

    I'll assume for the moment that your speeds are accurate, in which case, you are going to be a great rider. But 120 miles/week is a pittance. If you really want to be fast and strong:

    Aim for more miles/week
    Work on your pedaling technique.
    Work on your position on the bike - get more aero.
    Find a group to ride with that will push your limits.
    Lose 15-20 lbs.
    And like everybody else says, intervals and hills.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by datlas View Post
    Get a book on training. The ones by Chris Carmichael are popular. Invest in a Heart Rate Monitor or maybe even a power meter.
    This. Plus group rides where you work to stay up
    You're just trying to start an argument to show how smart you are.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by krispenhartung View Post
    On shorter rides and commutes (10-30 miles), my average mph is usually between 19 and 21 mph.
    What does your computer read for an average speed at the end of your rides? Including stops and everything else? Because it isn't 21mph.
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  19. #19
    Senior Member EvilWeasel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by caloso View Post
    Riding fast is fun. That's all the reason you need.
    Lol. So true. I ride for fun, getting fit is just a side effect for me. I'd still ride if it was illegal and caused cancer.

    Anyway. Back to the OP's question...
    Group rides are your answer. I never push myself as hard as i do on fast group rides. Our little group has some seriously fast local racers and tri athletes... Trying to keep them in sight two or three times a week is how i got past my own plateau.

    Also. You do seem to reach a point where time is the biggest issue. Most of us have day jobs that keep us pretty busy. It gets hard to find time to get the increased miles required to keep you improving. When i was out of work for a few weeks earlier this year i could do 300 miles a week. I improved by leaps and bounds. Now i struggle to get in 120... Even with my commute.

    That leads back to my point about group rides. Done of the racer lead training rides are short but intense. Also, it doesn't hurt to have a pro or two around to advise on stuff like pedaling technique and gear selection.
    B group for life!!

  20. #20
    Senior Member Nachoman's Avatar
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    One word: Intervals.
    .
    .

    Two wheels good. Four wheels bad.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nachoman View Post
    One word: Intervals.
    Easier way to think about it:

    1. When you ride hard, ride HARD
    2. Rides EASY most of the the time
    3. Take time off when you need it. Push too hard and you go nowhere fast - you know, you might even, ummm, "plateau".

  22. #22
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    I'm not an expert but I'd trade riding 6 times a week one hour at a time for 3 x a week 2 hours/ session.

  23. #23
    Farmer tan f4rrest's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by krispenhartung View Post
    I seem to have hit a plateau... 47 years old, ... averaging about 120 miles a week.... On shorter rides and commutes (10-30 miles), my average mph is usually between 19 and 21 mph.
    Kris, you are riding too hard too often to allow your 47 year old body to recuperate. Think about it: commuting only allows 8 to 10 hours recovery between rides. I was in the same place a couple years ago, but broke through speed and mileage-wise by:

    1. dialing it way back on the morning commute. Like 15 - 16 mph average. This requires a lot of self control.
    2. having 150 calories of sugary drink or fruit after the ride in.
    3. increasing mileage after work. high intensity only 2x / week though, otherwise stay in zone 2. Doing 30 to 50 miles on the way home.
    4. riding with a fast group 1-2x / week after work (crit style fast ride at the Rose Bowl).

    With this, i maintained over 200 miles / week regularly, and my power and fitness broke out of the plateau.

    Goog luck.

  24. #24
    Senior Member thisisbenji's Avatar
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    Jeeze, how do you guys commute at 20 + mph?

    I hit the top end of zone 2 (heart rate) at about 16-17 MPH, there's no way I could do 20+ MPH rides every day.

    I guess I don't ride enough.

  25. #25
    Farmer tan f4rrest's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by thisisbenji View Post
    Jeeze, how do you guys commute at 20 + mph?

    I hit the top end of zone 2 (heart rate) at about 16-17 MPH, there's no way I could do 20+ MPH rides every day.

    I guess I don't ride enough.
    I doubt he was accurate about 20 mph average. My commute ranges 15 - 19 mph (really pushing it), but I can maintain 20 mph in zone 2 for hours if it's flat and uninterrupted.

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