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Thread: Now what?!

  1. #1
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    Now what?!

    Hi everyone!

    I'm pretty new (relatively speaking) to cycling and I've just bought my first proper-ish road bike a few weeks ago. I've been flipping bikes for 2 years and I started riding regularly last year in Colorado and was logging 50-60 miles a week commuting and riding recreationally on a steel frame 700 x 35 setup with a 46/18 with some hills. I've moved back to NY and I'm riding a modern reasonably fitted Schwinn axios 16 spd road bike with drops and aero bars on mostly flat terrain, getting about 70 miles a week at 17+mph average, with 30 milers once a week or so, and having a good time doing it. I have a large frame but I am down from 217 to 200lbs @ 6' and feeling much more lean and powerful and generally feeling great on my rides, but I've hit a plateau . . . I made a ton of improvement in the first 2 months of riding and it came so fast it felt amazing! Every ride was better/faster . . . and now it stopped. Here's some of my setbacks so far:

    1. I ride exclusively solo (not by choice, just don't know anyone and ride in my free time which is limited as I have a 2 month old and a full time job) and as such I have nobody to pace or push me. The few times I do "drop in" with another rider, I find they are often much slower than me (90% of recreational riders around here), and sometimes MUCH faster (mostly the kitted out bike shop types I see on the multi-use trail I ride locally). Also, I almost never have the advantage of a draft, and I'm vulnerable to sometimes fickle and strong/changing winds. I made loads of improvements in the first few weeks but I just can't break through now. I sometimes finish 2+ hour rides nowhere near feeling depleted but I just don't have a training plan to push me. I did 30 miles in 1:47 the other day and was basically bored and not exhausted at the end - this kind of ride would have killed me 6 weeks ago.

    2. I have nobody to help me with technique or fit adjustments.

    3. I have no idea what is fast/reasonable for an average committed cyclist. I was an avid snowboarder and coached at a Colorado mountain for the last 4 years, logging 120+ days a year of riding (at 10,000+ ft altitude!). I am a reasonable recreational athlete with good muscle tone and good cardio fitness (but probably still 15 lbs of excess fat) and have an excellent idea of what sort of skill/endurance/ability is common among advance skiers and riders and mountaineers, but this simply doesn't translate to cycling.

    4. I have no idea what to do next?! I just keep riding the same route over and over, trying to get the time down. Honestly doing it by myself and not having a plan for an interval/shakeup workout in my routine is getting pretty boring.

    So now what?! Simply going farther isn't gonna happen, given my time constraints 30ish miles at a time is probably the most I'll ever get in one sitting as 2 hours is the upper time limit, and I have to start damn early to even make that happen. Do I shoot for group rides? Interval training? Anyone have tricks for pushing yourself to higher cadence or interval training? Do I just push through the plateau and expect to pick it up again?

    I've learned so much from this forum and I need to step it up to the next level. There is a local race in my area with a 14 mile loop for "citizens" in June and I'd love to enter it. How do I get there?! HELP!

  2. #2
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    I'm no expert by any means but I've come to something of a crossroads myself, having pretty much 'peaked' after 9 months or so of reasonable gains.

    I'm approaching the next phase by splitting my time between riding and training. Riding is going out as you've been doing and working on pace, technique, spinning etc, and trying to get my lap times down. 'Training', for me, is taking the bike to steep hills and doing some up/down reps. I don't particularly enjoy it, but like you I don't find myself getting breathless when I'm out on a ride, even when I push hard. Working on hills is a pain but I'm hoping I'll start to see some benefits on my rides, which is what it's mostly about. I'm also taking the MTB to trails where I can get a more varied type of workout than just riding around on the road bike. The MTB helps develop different parts of the leg muscle and works on the upper-body muscles too. It's also a lot of fun - that might be something you could look into.
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  3. #3
    Senior Member TexMac's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ypsetihw View Post
    Hi everyone!

    I'm pretty new (relatively speaking) to cycling and I've just bought my first proper-ish road bike a few weeks ago. I've been flipping bikes for 2 years and I started riding regularly last year in Colorado and was logging 50-60 miles a week commuting and riding recreationally on a steel frame 700 x 35 setup with a 46/18 with some hills. I've moved back to NY and I'm riding a modern reasonably fitted Schwinn axios 16 spd road bike with drops and aero bars on mostly flat terrain, getting about 70 miles a week at 17+mph average, with 30 milers once a week or so, and having a good time doing it. I have a large frame but I am down from 217 to 200lbs @ 6' and feeling much more lean and powerful and generally feeling great on my rides, but I've hit a plateau . . . I made a ton of improvement in the first 2 months of riding and it came so fast it felt amazing! Every ride was better/faster . . . and now it stopped. Here's some of my setbacks so far:

    1. I ride exclusively solo (not by choice, just don't know anyone and ride in my free time which is limited as I have a 2 month old and a full time job) and as such I have nobody to pace or push me. The few times I do "drop in" with another rider, I find they are often much slower than me (90% of recreational riders around here), and sometimes MUCH faster (mostly the kitted out bike shop types I see on the multi-use trail I ride locally). Also, I almost never have the advantage of a draft, and I'm vulnerable to sometimes fickle and strong/changing winds. I made loads of improvements in the first few weeks but I just can't break through now. I sometimes finish 2+ hour rides nowhere near feeling depleted but I just don't have a training plan to push me. I did 30 miles in 1:47 the other day and was basically bored and not exhausted at the end - this kind of ride would have killed me 6 weeks ago.

    2. I have nobody to help me with technique or fit adjustments.

    3. I have no idea what is fast/reasonable for an average committed cyclist. I was an avid snowboarder and coached at a Colorado mountain for the last 4 years, logging 120+ days a year of riding (at 10,000+ ft altitude!). I am a reasonable recreational athlete with good muscle tone and good cardio fitness (but probably still 15 lbs of excess fat) and have an excellent idea of what sort of skill/endurance/ability is common among advance skiers and riders and mountaineers, but this simply doesn't translate to cycling.

    4. I have no idea what to do next?! I just keep riding the same route over and over, trying to get the time down. Honestly doing it by myself and not having a plan for an interval/shakeup workout in my routine is getting pretty boring.

    So now what?! Simply going farther isn't gonna happen, given my time constraints 30ish miles at a time is probably the most I'll ever get in one sitting as 2 hours is the upper time limit, and I have to start damn early to even make that happen. Do I shoot for group rides? Interval training? Anyone have tricks for pushing yourself to higher cadence or interval training? Do I just push through the plateau and expect to pick it up again?

    I've learned so much from this forum and I need to step it up to the next level. There is a local race in my area with a 14 mile loop for "citizens" in June and I'd love to enter it. How do I get there?! HELP!
    Not an expert but 30 Miles is a good distance for starters. You can start by doing intervals twice a week and the other days just easy. Example, 20 seconds all our sprints with 1 minute recovery, repeat 4 times, take 5 minutes off and do another set. If this gets easier add another set or shorten the rest time. Tabata's are good too (20 seconds all out sprints with 10 sec recovery). Use the wind as an advantage and do a 2/3 minute steady intervals on low gear to build muscle with 2 minute easy. As you get fitter you can do 1/4 minute intervals with 1/4 minute off. Most importantly ride hard on hard days and easy on easy days to give yourself time to recover. 2 Yrs of cycling, CAT4.5, so take my 2 cents with a grain of salt

  4. #4
    Packfodding 3 caloso's Avatar
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    The oldest and cheapest way to get faster is to ride with faster riders. If time constraints prevent that (and I remember what it was like to find time to ride with babies in the house), your best bet is interval training. Most of the programs are set up to use with powermeters and heartrate monitors, but you can still do them with just a timer function on your bike computer.

    The tried and true interval for raising your FTP (roughly the highest average power you can produce for 60 min) is 2x20' with a 5' rest between intervals. This is just spitballing, but I think it may be doable for your situation. You say you can do the 30mi. loop with a 17+mph avg. speed. For your 20' interval try to maintain a steady 20mph. It should feel heavy, but not killing. I think of a 7.5-8 out of 10 on the effort scale. Then 5 minutes of coasting/soft pedaling and do it again. You can do these several times a week and continue to do your long rides.
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    Thanks for the input! I have attempted to work in some intervals and hills into my training and so far I have realized that I have a LONG way to go.

    I found a 25k loop local race and decided to enter the cat 5 this weekend which was 2 laps or 50 k, with about 750ft of vertical climb over some rollers with a big effort at the turnaround then back to the start downhill. Lets just say it was pretty rough . . . the field was pretty ridiculous but I will address that in another post. Suffice to say I got smoked - I was off the back within 2 miles and basically rode the rest by myself. The pace was INSANE . . . AND IT WAS CAT 5! How do you get into this sport?! Jesus I was a downhill snowboard coach for 6 years, racing, trees, freestyle, hiking at 12000 feet with 25lbs of gear in remote backcountry - and NONE of that compares to this . . . we hit the first hill and my HR was off the charts, by the second effort I was at the back, by mile 4 I couldn't even see the pack anymore . . .

  6. #6
    Packfodding 3 caloso's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ypsetihw View Post
    Thanks for the input! I have attempted to work in some intervals and hills into my training and so far I have realized that I have a LONG way to go.

    I found a 25k loop local race and decided to enter the cat 5 this weekend which was 2 laps or 50 k, with about 750ft of vertical climb over some rollers with a big effort at the turnaround then back to the start downhill. Lets just say it was pretty rough . . . the field was pretty ridiculous but I will address that in another post. Suffice to say I got smoked - I was off the back within 2 miles and basically rode the rest by myself. The pace was INSANE . . . AND IT WAS CAT 5! How do you get into this sport?! Jesus I was a downhill snowboard coach for 6 years, racing, trees, freestyle, hiking at 12000 feet with 25lbs of gear in remote backcountry - and NONE of that compares to this . . . we hit the first hill and my HR was off the charts, by the second effort I was at the back, by mile 4 I couldn't even see the pack anymore . . .
    Congrats! You are a bike racer now. And yes, that first race is an eye opener, isn't it?
    Cyclists of the world, unite! You have nothing to lube but your chains!

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    Quote Originally Posted by ypsetihw View Post
    Thanks for the input! I have attempted to work in some intervals and hills into my training and so far I have realized that I have a LONG way to go.

    I found a 25k loop local race and decided to enter the cat 5 this weekend which was 2 laps or 50 k, with about 750ft of vertical climb over some rollers with a big effort at the turnaround then back to the start downhill. Lets just say it was pretty rough . . . the field was pretty ridiculous but I will address that in another post. Suffice to say I got smoked - I was off the back within 2 miles and basically rode the rest by myself. The pace was INSANE . . . AND IT WAS CAT 5! How do you get into this sport?! Jesus I was a downhill snowboard coach for 6 years, racing, trees, freestyle, hiking at 12000 feet with 25lbs of gear in remote backcountry - and NONE of that compares to this . . . we hit the first hill and my HR was off the charts, by the second effort I was at the back, by mile 4 I couldn't even see the pack anymore . . .
    See if you can find some faster groups to ride with. It's likely you're not very proficient at drafting yet and end up in the wind more than you need to. Staying on someone's wheel allows you to reduce your power by 30% compared to the rider in the wind. That, some structured intervals and losing some more weight should help.

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