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Old 02-22-06, 12:37 AM   #1
tennisets
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I haven't ridden my bike since September (I know, I know, but I couldn't bring it to college, though I will next year). I also didn't do any training since then, or really any last summer either. Last summer was my first time riding a road bike; I started in April. The problem was, I really made a mistake in the bike I bought. It doesn't seem to fit me all that well, unfortunately, which means that after twenty miles or so I really didn't feel like riding much further, not to mention the fact that the frame beat me up like crazy, yet still had a flexy BB, which was an unfortunate situation.

I really liked riding though, and this spring and summer I'd really like to commit to it. I'd like to start racing next year, and I'll join the cycling team here at NU (Northwestern University). I'm getting a new bike this summer, from a good shop. I'm going to make sure I do myself right this time and get a great fitting and great riding frame. But that won't be until July, most likely (when I have enough money and enough time to shop for a bike).

Until then, I'm really trying to get faster. Ideally I'd like to be significantly faster at the start of this summer than I was at the end of last summer, which shouldn't be too hard as I hardly improved over the course of last summer, due to the fact that the bike was not pleasant for me to ride. My average speed by the end of the summer was ~17 mph over 25 miles. I never rode longer than that due to my aching back and feet. Yeah, I had poor shoes as well (Performance CR200, way flexy soles), but I've already remedied that by buying a pair of Lake CX165 shoes, which are very stiff and very comfy on my feet.

Here's my plan: Core exercises every day, plank, superman, bicycle crunches. It takes me about 20 minutes to get through these three exercises (a couple sets of each, obviously ramping up as I get stronger). I can currently do two minutes of the plank (or one minute then 15 second rest then one minute, which I've actually found harder), and I'm doing ten reps of holding the superman position for 10 seconds each time. Ten bicycle crunches (counting one as right elbow to left leg then left elbow to right leg). If I have time in between (say 30 minutes) I can do two sets. I have a feeling part of my back (and elbow) pain last summer was due to a weak core, and I will make sure that is not a problem this summer.

Trainer (well, spin bike, but with clipless pedals) 3-4 times a week (every other day), 1 hour each session, doing intervals. I don't know if I'll do them every time, but definitely a couple times a week. I'm getting a heart rate monitor tomorrow to help with this. I guess I'll have to find my LT before I can really get into the intervals, but that shouldn't take more than a few sessions.


What am I doing right? What am I doing wrong? What kind of improvements might I expect by summer? I really want to become a better cyclist, and I know I'll have an even better time this summer if I can maintain faster speeds on a bike I'm really comfortable on.

Also, once I get to whatever speed I decide I'd like to be at (not necessarily by summer), how much hard training will I have to do to maintain that speed? Intervals once a week? Never? Once every couple of weeks? Thanks in advance.
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Old 02-22-06, 12:53 AM   #2
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Personally, I think endurance training (like 4 hour bike rides) is much more important than strength training.
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Old 02-22-06, 01:11 AM   #3
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First step: bring your bike to school.
Second step: ride it every day.
Third step: ride it longer.
Fourth step: ride faster and longer.

Anyways, I didn't know that NU even HAS a team. That's news to me.
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Old 02-22-06, 01:13 AM   #4
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If you want speed, do intervals.
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Old 02-22-06, 01:32 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tennisets
...Until then, I'm really trying to get faster. Ideally I'd like to be significantly faster at the start of this summer than I was at the end of last summer, which shouldn't be too hard as I hardly improved over the course of last summer, due to the fact that the bike was not pleasant for me to ride. My average speed by the end of the summer was ~17 mph over 25 miles. I never rode longer than that due to my aching back and feet. Yeah, I had poor shoes as well (Performance CR200, way flexy soles), but I've already remedied that by buying a pair of Lake CX165 shoes, which are very stiff and very comfy on my feet.
Well, if you're going to be riding the old bike anyway, I would suggest getting fitted professionally by a knowledgable shop. Aches and pains, perhaps even injury is not something you want to be dealing with when you're starting out. Most common fit-issue for beginners is having the seat too far back and too low, leading to knee problems.


Quote:
Originally Posted by tennisets
Here's my plan: Core exercises every day, plank, superman, bicycle crunches. It takes me about 20 minutes to get through these three exercises (a couple sets of each, obviously ramping up as I get stronger). I can currently do two minutes of the plank (or one minute then 15 second rest then one minute, which I've actually found harder), and I'm doing ten reps of holding the superman position for 10 seconds each time. Ten bicycle crunches (counting one as right elbow to left leg then left elbow to right leg). If I have time in between (say 30 minutes) I can do two sets. I have a feeling part of my back (and elbow) pain last summer was due to a weak core, and I will make sure that is not a problem this summer.
I wouldn't do that every day because you need time to recover and rebuild. About 2-3 times per week maximum is all you need. Rather than volume, work on building up strength in your back muscles. Back-lifts with a 35-50lb weight will be the target goal. Once you get there, you can stop the back workouts.


Quote:
Originally Posted by tennisets
Trainer (well, spin bike, but with clipless pedals) 3-4 times a week (every other day), 1 hour each session, doing intervals. I don't know if I'll do them every time, but definitely a couple times a week. I'm getting a heart rate monitor tomorrow to help with this. I guess I'll have to find my LT before I can really get into the intervals, but that shouldn't take more than a few sessions.
Mixing intervals with weight-workouts is way too much intensity, especially in the beginning. Don't be doing the intervals right away, you'll injure something for sure. Take the 1st month easy with lots of easy LSD miles. The weight-workouts takes the place of intervals in building up joints, ligaments and tendons as well as basic muscle-strength and tone. Once you are done with the strength-training in the gym, you can graduate to intervals.


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Originally Posted by tennisets
What am I doing right? What am I doing wrong? What kind of improvements might I expect by summer? I really want to become a better cyclist, and I know I'll have an even better time this summer if I can maintain faster speeds on a bike I'm really comfortable on.

Also, once I get to whatever speed I decide I'd like to be at (not necessarily by summer), how much hard training will I have to do to maintain that speed? Intervals once a week? Never? Once every couple of weeks? Thanks in advance.
If your average speed is 17mph on a 25mile ride, you're plenty fast already. Take some time to develop your back to be able to take more intense rides. Get some base-miles in on the trainer, or on the road if you can. Work up to 3-hour rides, or whatever the longest distance you'll be doing this next year. By April, you'll be ready for intervals. Do one day per week for the 1st month, then twice per week with the 2nd one being hill-intervals. After two months of that, take a week or two off with easy miles. At this point, you should notice a 2-4mph faster average speed than last year. Then repeat the macrocycle again for another two months and add a sprint day.

Last edited by DannoXYZ; 02-22-06 at 07:43 PM.
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Old 02-22-06, 09:09 AM   #6
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Thanks for the advice! It sounds like I was getting ready to bite off more than I can chew. What will be nice this summer is I won't need to ride the old bike for too long (well only for a couple of weeks, one month max). I don't get home until June 9, then I'm going to Europe from the 14th to the 24th. I'm working part time here (hopefully) from late March to June, so I hope to be able to buy a bike as soon as possible, or as soon as I find "the one."

What do you mean by "LSD" miles? Also, I won't be able to do any rides longer than 1.5 hours until the summer, since until then I'll be on a spinning bike, and that's about the most I can handle of that in one sitting! Maybe if I brought a portable DVD player or something to the gym and watched a movie it would be better. Right now I just listen to music.

What is a back-lift? Like a leg-lift only with your upper body instead of lower?

Even 2 mph faster would be great in just a few months, and if I could increase that more by cycling season next year that would be great. I'd like to try entering some local races later this summer as well in Washington, DC, but I'll see where I'm at by then.

Last question: what effect does a short break have on cycling fitness? For example, if I'm gone for three weeks, where I can't cycle, how is that going to affect me?

And yes, NU has a cycling team, just not a serious one. It's a club team, not varsity, with little coaching. The captains are basically the coaches, scheduling the workouts and whatnot. It's a very relaxed atmosphere, where everyone can do as much or as little as they want, which suits me.
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Old 02-22-06, 11:11 AM   #7
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Yes, thats how all collegiate cycling teams are, as the NCAA will never, ever endorse cycling (too many of us make money at it in the summer and whatnot).

Do you guys race? If you do, you'd probably be in the MWCCC...the midwest collegiate cycling conference. Most of the collegiate programs have sponsors and some of them have coaches, depending on how big they are, team dues, and funding from the school due to their student organization status. My college team doesn't have a coach, but a lot of us are on the same shop team during the summer, and our coach tells us what to do for the spring, and we pass it on to the team.
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Old 02-22-06, 11:48 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Duke of Kent
Yes, thats how all collegiate cycling teams are, as the NCAA will never, ever endorse cycling (too many of us make money at it in the summer and whatnot).

Do you guys race? If you do, you'd probably be in the MWCCC...the midwest collegiate cycling conference. Most of the collegiate programs have sponsors and some of them have coaches, depending on how big they are, team dues, and funding from the school due to their student organization status. My college team doesn't have a coach, but a lot of us are on the same shop team during the summer, and our coach tells us what to do for the spring, and we pass it on to the team.
Yeah, we (well they, since I'm not on the team this year) race in the MWCCC. The team is recognized as a club sport at Northwestern, and they're sponsored by a local shop. Team dues are $150, I think. I'm really looking forward to joining the team next year.

I'm also sure I could get a much better deal on a bike if I wait until I join the team, but I don't think I want to ride my current bike that long. I'll also be shopping for a bike at a shop local to me at home (Washington, DC), which stocks a ton of different brands and has been really great every time I've been in there. On the other hand, I'll see how I feel on the bike this summer when I'm in better shape than last year. I have a feeling some of my discomfort was simply due to a weak core, which is why I'm trying to work on that.
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Old 02-22-06, 02:48 PM   #9
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I agree with Danno that your plan has too much intensity. You need to build a plan that hits all phases, base, endurance, aerobic capability, power at lactate threshold and top end speed, and allows for adequate recovery and rest (that's when you get faster). No one can set this all out in a paragraph or 2. I'd suggest you buy a heart rate monitor, and a book such as Joel Friel's or Chris Carmichael's.
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Old 02-23-06, 08:21 PM   #10
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Assuming your summer schedule allows, check out some of the local club rides. While Reston & Herndon are not exactly close to McLean, Reston Bike Club has Tuesday and Thursday late afternoon rides that usually turn into 30-mile hammerfests for the faster groups. There are probably similar rides closer in to DC. If you are near the McLean-Arlington line, there are some great hill routes for training along Military and Custis Roads.
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