I have been riding regularly for several months, commuting to work 9 miles in, 11 miles home 3 to 5 days per week. I have made no effort to push or "train", just getting accustomed to riding and getting comfortable. Now I feel physically ready to start getting a little organized and push myself toward gradual improvement. Let me stress that I am at a very basic level and not at all interested in racing or achieving an extreme level of fitness. As a personal challenge, I just like to push for consistent improvement in general cycling skill/ability.
So my basic question for the group is should my focus be strictly cadence or should I alternate cadence and strength. In other words, should I work in the same gear range and work on building toward being able to sustain a certain cadence for long periods? If so what level 100? 120? Then drop cadence back a notch and work in a higher gear, rebuilding cadence to the same level? Or should I stairstep. Build cadence to a lower level, increase a gear, rebuild cadence, increase a gear, etc.
Can anyone recommend a good BASIC level book that discusses such issues. I am not looking for a specific training program, more of a general direction right now.
I used to be a regular runner and did a lot of reading about training and conditioning so I am familiar with all of the concepts of heart rate monitoring, interval training, etc. My question is much more basic and cycling-specific - do I focus on building cadence first or stairstep cadence and strenghth?
When i used to actualy train, i was raceing if you do not want to race or not it dosent matter, training is training. normaly use a gear that you can maintain cad. of about 90-100 r.p.m. over the distance of your ride. dropping to one lower for short about 30 second bursts of all you have got sprints , i mean all you have got, mabye 2 or 3 times in your average ride. Take some long distance slow pace rides i mean 25% slower than normal and i mean long whatever your indurance will allow. these two things will increase your strength and indurance like you would not believe, when i did this i used to go on groupe rides and ride a 52 13 gear the whole ride up and down hill, and out ride people half my age, try it a while.!! p.s. go climb some long hills a lot whenever you can.!
thanks for the e mail rainman, ill just reply on the thread it gets me one more post you know. Dont forget th lsd rides maybe 25 mi. or so they are imporntant, btw i use to push even 54 /11 sometimes but 60 years on this old planet has slowed me down some. my mt. bike only has a 46/11 on it, sold my road machines when i quit raceing. have a good one, catch you later .!!
Don't underestimate the training value of commuting!
Endurance and muscular development take time... but regular commuting at a moderate pace will do wonders for your muscular endurance. There's probably no easier way to develop base fitness and maintain development you already have. It won't win you the Tour de France, but it'll definitely make those summer centuries easier.
Follow Steve33's advice, and for strength, mix in some shorter rides (say, 20 miles), pushing harder at a lower cadence (90-ish), once or twice a week. Try and hold it close to your aerobic threshold, and go over the threshold several times per ride. Ride some hills if you got 'em. Since you've been a runner, you're probably pretty well in tune with your body, and can tell when to back off. The danger signal is knee pain. It can have several causes, but if your strength conditioning appears to be the cause, lighten up.
The most important thing to me? Don't let it become drudgery. If you're finding it easy to talk yourself out of getting out there, you're probably pushing too hard.
Newtbob (Newt? Bob?),
Thanks for the encouragement! My primary objective is always to enjoy the ride. Sometimes enjoying the ride is pushing it and breathing hard. Sometimes it means spinning in a low gear and not breathing hard. This morning for some reason everything felt tired AND there was a headwind (don't the two seem to go together more often than not?). So I took it down a notch. Took only about 5 minutes longer than usual, and I arrived feeling good. Now I will look forward to the ride home instead of dreading it.
Here's what I try to do, when I'm healthy enough:
Hit the weights 3 times a week during the winter to work on overall and leg strength, make sure to emphasize areas that may be underdeveloped or imbalanced from riding- shoulders, front of neck, stomach, and hamstrings. I always work with weight machines for a while before I try the free weights.
To prevent almost certain injury be sure the strength ratio of hamstrings to quadraceps is at least 2 to 3, right now it's likely to be 1 to 2 or worse. Working the inner quad-head helps too, straight and 10 to 15?degree leg extentions, make that "sucker burn" right by your kneecap.
Beginnig of season I ride easy in small chainring only, no hills, 90 to over 100 rpm, till I'm used to the bike and have gained a little shape. (During the season I always try to ride 100 to 110 rpm because it always drops a bit if you're not thinking about it. It's good to ride at a higher rpm, so when you shift up into a higher gear, you'll already be"on top of it" in the 85-95 rpm range.)
Then, I work on my spin till I can do at least 160 rpm on the bike over 200 rpm on the ergomete/trainer, higher is better, we're talking short term here. Just try to do do it, then try to hold it for as many seconds as you can. The very high rpm will give you a much smoother pedal stroke and better sprint, (you'll be able to "wind up" much better), because it makes your your muscles will "fire"more efficently. Riding an old 1 speed cruiser or a fixed gear, ( I cobbled mine together with some old stuff), really helps with the spin and also can be used to transition into and be used for power workouts by changing cogs. (Try riding with some roadies on a cruiser, when you keep up they'll think your an animal and you'l get a helluva workout).
After my spin feels good. I start working on power but only one or two days a week- climbing in a "big" gear, sprints, hard intervals etc. If you work on power too much it screws up your spin and speed. Speed comes from being able to spin much, much more than it comes from having a lot of power. If you try to ride fast by masing your gears and not spinning you WILL hurt yourself.
Trying doing; intervals at different intensities, sprints, riding with one leg, resting one leg every for or five strokes, pedaling in "squares", horozontal ovals and smaller circles than your pedals make, riding uphills in a very big gear. All this stuff will help in various ways, but don't do very much of any one thing, stay balanced.
During the season I try to hit the weight room 1 or two days a week mostly to prevent imabalances and work on upper body stuff.