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  1. #1
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    I feel a little...pathetic.

    I am really, really slow.

    Any necessary background: I am 23, female, 180 lbs (5'11"--so not seriously overweight, but a little). I have always been pretty terrible at all kinds of physical activity. I have a cheapish hybrid. I put about 250 miles on my bike in 2005, and I've done about 170 so far in 2006. And I am slooow. This morning I took 70 minutes to go 12 miles, over mild hills, and that's pretty typical for me.

    I know I should have a better bike, which isn't really a financial possibility for me right now, and spandex (I had bike shorts under jeans this morning, because it was cooold). But I think mostly it's that I'm just not very good. On the flats I usually push a gear of 70", and can't go much higher while still keeping my cadence up, and even mild hills send me into my lowest gears.

    I thought it might be just a matter of time, but I've been doing consistently about 10 miles every second day (my endurance is not so great either) since the beginning of the year with no improvement whatsoever, so I think I need whatever advice you might be able to provide.

  2. #2
    Senior Member DannoXYZ's Avatar
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    Don't worry upgrading the bike, it's not that big a deal. For where you are now, durability and dependability is more important than outright performance and speed in the equipment.

    With just 4-weeks of training, don't sweat it, it takes months upon months, year after year of training to get fast. You're doing just fine. Some of those guys you see out there who are flying down the road really fast making it look like a stroll in the park have been training for years, often putting in 500-miles PER WEEK and over 10,000 miles per year.

    What you want to do is educate yourself on training, Friel's book is pretty good and takes you from a novice knowing nothing, all the way up to a training regimen for beginning racers.

    You'll want to mix up your training and gradually increase your mileage. One day a week, ride 15-miles. Do this for 4-5 weeks, then up it to 20-miles. Sundays are usually good for this and ride as easy and as slow as necessary to complete the distance.

    After a month of this, add some intensity. On another day of the week, do some hill intervals. Find a hilly area and just ride random loops on hills of half to 1-mile in distance. Rest on the way down, recover fully and ride up another one. Just 10-miles with 5-7 hills will do wonders for your fitness.

    On yet another day of the week, do some sprints. After 3-4 miles of warm-up, pick a street-sign, or a tree or some other landmark and go as fast as you can to blow up right when you hit that spot. Rest, spin easy and recover and pick some other landmark to sprint to. Do 3-4 sprints, 8-miles or so, then go home.

    During all of these rides, be mindful of your pedaling motion. If you don't have clipless pedals, definitely get some shoes and pedals. Otherwise, you can scrounge up some toe-clips and straps at local shops for pretty much free. This will help tremendously over bare platforms and will give you 80% of the benefits of clipless. Then pay attention to your feet's motion and try to go in circles with even-pressure all around. You can typically double your power-output without requiring any more additional muscle-force or effort by just adding force to the dead spots of the pedal-stroke.

    Watch your gearing, 70" is way too big for the speeds you're going, try 50-60inch gears instead. Don't worry about outright speed, just keep the cadence up and the speed steady and you'll be able to go farther and longer. This will improve your fitness quicker than just going fast and pushing hard.

    have fun!
    Last edited by DannoXYZ; 02-16-06 at 01:02 AM.

  3. #3
    Dog is my co-pilot 2manybikes's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fillanzea
    I am really, really slow.

    Any necessary background: I am 23, female, 180 lbs (5'11"--so not seriously overweight, but a little). I have always been pretty terrible at all kinds of physical activity. I have a cheapish hybrid. I put about 250 miles on my bike in 2005, and I've done about 170 so far in 2006. And I am slooow. This morning I took 70 minutes to go 12 miles, over mild hills, and that's pretty typical for me.

    I know I should have a better bike, which isn't really a financial possibility for me right now, and spandex (I had bike shorts under jeans this morning, because it was cooold). But I think mostly it's that I'm just not very good. On the flats I usually push a gear of 70", and can't go much higher while still keeping my cadence up, and even mild hills send me into my lowest gears.

    I thought it might be just a matter of time, but I've been doing consistently about 10 miles every second day (my endurance is not so great either) since the beginning of the year with no improvement whatsoever, so I think I need whatever advice you might be able to provide.
    Be patient it takes more time. Follow Danno's advice. Compare what you are doing now to how you are at the end of this summer. You might be pleasantly surprised.
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]

  4. #4
    Climbing Fool terrymorse's Avatar
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    Lots of good advice here already. Here's something else to consider:

    Pick a section of road on your normal route that has no forced stops from traffic signals, etc. It doesn't have to be a long section, say a mile or so. Time yourself over that section every couple of weeks. If you continue to ride regularly, you will see the times come down.

    Regular time trials are a nice motivator, especially as you see your fitness improve.

    But most of all, ride that bike!
    Managing Director, Undiscovered Country Tours

  5. #5
    Senior Member late's Avatar
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    Hi,
    the best, and most famous, piece of advice in cycling is this...
    "Ride lots." Eddy Merkcx

    One of the best ways to rack up miles is to commute to work by bicycle. That's not possible for a lot of people, but it's the best way to start the day you could imagine. Group rides can be a lot of fun. Just pick one for beginners.

  6. #6
    Team BYRDS Katrogen's Avatar
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    I used spin classes and 10K TT's to help improve my time. Once the weather gets warmers my hands will let me be outdoors more. Good luck you aren't alone. We all start somewhere.

  7. #7
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    i actually have slightly different advice, which is: as soon as you can, get a new (used) bike. i rode cheap mountain bikes and $30 goodwill road bikes for a long time, and never understood how anyone could ride a bike for a long period of time and call it fun and easy. then i spent some time riding a bunch of bikes in used bike shops, found one that fit me, and bought it for $250. totally different machine. it made it so much easier to get around, that even while huffing and puffing to get into shape, i had fun - unlike previously, where i was ready to go home really fast because riding the bike just wasn't as much fun as it should've been.

    so - the other advice is great, but do keep in mind that you can get a pretty nice bike for only a few hundred dollars, and it's a world of difference, once you can afford it.

  8. #8
    Senior Member oilfreeandhappy's Avatar
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    Don't worry about taking it slow. The important thing is that you're out there. My wife doesn't ride a lot, but when she does, I always let her lead the pace.
    Jim
    Make a BOLD Statement While Cycling!

  9. #9
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    Speed is only a concern for competative racers. If you dont race then ride at any speed you like. When I'm on tour I guage my travelling speed at about 10mph and my riding speed at 12mph.

    Ride by time rather than speed or distance. Riding longer distances at slower speed is a recognised method of training to develope your aerobic fitness.You do want to ride as efficiently as possible:
    -Ensure your saddle and bars are set correctly.
    -Keep your tyres pumped to max pressure.

    Dont try to ride in the highest gear possible, try riding in lower gears at higher cadence (80rpm)with lower force. A pedal retention system will help your pedaling style, either toe clips or clipless.
    Cadence will drop off a little on hills so dont be afraid of spinning in lower gears.

    A low-end hybrid is good enough for everyday riding and getting fit. Many are quite capable of tackling tours. When your tyres wear out get more efficient ones with higher pressure, slick profile (~28mm width)

  10. #10
    Tail End Charlie Ritehsedad's Avatar
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    You're not pathetic. Pathetic is when you sit and watch TV, guzzle beer, & exercise your thumb on the remote.

    You're a role model because you are out there riding and trying to improve. You could easily say "screw this" and sit on your duff. You won't because you'll hang in there.

    One last thing...if you're slow, you probably won't go by me quite so quickly!
    Why isn't 11 pronounced onety one?

  11. #11
    Senior Member rule's Avatar
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    You are far from pathetic. Keep at it.

  12. #12
    Senior Member Groundhog1248's Avatar
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    See if you can find a club or group that's close to you. Even a little faster wouldn't be bad as long as the group stops to let everyone catch up. We have a club here that has organized rides all year long. The pace of these rides is anywhere from 11mph up to 18+. So you have good choices depending on how you feel or what you want to accomplish. It makes it so much better and enjoyable to ride with a group even if it's only once or twice a week. You might be in better shape than you think but to have other riders somewhere in your ability would make it that much better. Plus you might be have more confidence to wear those shorts on the outside.

  13. #13
    Don't Believe the Hype RiPHRaPH's Avatar
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    spin quicker, and get into your rhythm. find it, get into your zone and see the improvements come. keep your upper body quiet and spin quickly.
    I have enough words to get me into trouble, but not enough to get me out of trouble.

  14. #14
    Skybird JLauren's Avatar
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    It's a bit of a catch-22 that in order to train your body to do something, you pretty much have to do it. So keep doing it and give your body time to get the idea and build up.

    I started riding my old AMF Roadmaster (circa 1973) about 16 months ago. After a couple of months of riding, I put a computer on the bike to better guage my progress. The first ride I recorded was 7 miles at 12mph, and that was about all I could do.

    I've kept at it, and last Sunday I rode 31 miles at 16.93mph, and I've topped 18mph on a couple of shorter rides. A couple of weeks ago I climbed my Big Hill faster than I ever did, and had an attitude change: the hills and wind are not something to be endured and slogged through; they're to be attacked.

    Granted I picked up some speed by switching from my AMF to a new Trek a few months ago, but most of it has been me. A better bike might make cycling more enjoyable, and if it helps you stay with it, then go for it. But you'll build your capability no matter what you ride. It's not what you ride that's cool, it's that you RIDE!

  15. #15
    New! With Self Loathing! scottmorrison99's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ritehsedad
    You're not pathetic. Pathetic is when you sit and watch TV, guzzle beer, & exercise your thumb on the remote.

    You're a role model because you are out there riding and trying to improve. You could easily say "screw this" and sit on your duff. You won't because you'll hang in there.

    +1.

  16. #16
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    Yeah, Danno's spot-on. If you slowly add a little distance, over time you'll come back to your 10 mile ride and you'll be much faster at it. But if you keep riding 10s, you won't progress much. Keep doing that 10 mile ride every day, but throw in a 12 or a 15 once a week, and see if you can't get up to doing 12 or 15 instead of 10 once you start feeling better. Then, make your 15 an 18, etc.

  17. #17
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    some advice

    work on keeping cadence high...try to get to cruising at 90rpm all the time.
    just change gears when you need to keep it at 90 and you can't. you will
    automatically increase conditioning at a rapid pace as the days go by.

    . do not worry about speed
    or power...just 90 rpm. the rest will take care of itself. 90 rpm
    is spinning along nicely. 90-110 is usually most peeps cruising
    rpm.

    you'll be likely just below lactate threshold, fat will melt away 'really fast' day by day

    your muscles and nervous system will start to adapt and you'll be able to
    motor harder up hills when you are ready (and for example hills are harder
    so don't blow up trying to maintain 90....ok to drop to 60 rpm or even 40
    on a hill....but it /is/ best at higher rpms and try for 90 if you could)




    high cadence cruising produces the most injury-free (muscle tears....cramps)
    conditioning, and builds the lung capacity and heart capacity rapidly without
    blowing out and overdoing, while also developiing a perfect spin and posture on a bike.

    do this for a year and you'll double your distances over time by wanting it not forcing yourself

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fillanzea

    I thought it might be just a matter of time, but I've been doing consistently about 10 miles every second day (my endurance is not so great either) since the beginning of the year with no improvement whatsoever, so I think I need whatever advice you might be able to provide.
    I've read your post a couple times and still am not sure what you are asking. Then again, reading comprehension was never a strong suit.

    If you are asking if you are very fast, the answer is probably not.

    If you are asking does it matter, the answer is definitely NO!

    If you are asking if you need a better bike, the answer is probably not. Just make sure your current bike is tuned up and functioning properly. A well tuned cheap bike is better than a poorly tuned expensive one.

    A lot of people ride bikes for a lot of different reasons. If fitness is one of your primary reasons remember one thing. Consistancy is the most important thing, not speed. Riding often is a LOT more important than riding fast. If you are riding, you are chipping away at the block wall that is keeping you from being fit.

    If you focus on speed too much you may be making the wall stronger. Just ride, enjoy the scenery and breathe the air. Over time you will naturally go faster and not even notice and even then it still won't matter how fast you are going.

  19. #19
    Senior Member bransom's Avatar
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    First off, you're not pathetic at all. As someone else mentioned, sitting on the couch eating twinkies and watching tv all day is pathetic. Getting out and riding isn't.

    Give yourself time. I've found that speed increases happen very gradually. Just keep at it, keep pushing yourself, and you'll see some real increases.

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