I have been ridng for years, more so recreational than competitive. I have always riden alone but this summer I have tried to up my performance by keeping a close log of my riding, my HR and nutrition. I am seriously trying my best. I just completed my first half century this past weekend and as noted in another post I completed it in around the 200 mark at an average speed of about 28.2 KM/H. After seeing so many posts about speed and distance I'm thinking to myself that I am so off the mark that if I were to ride with someone or even consider racing I would not stand a chance. My question to everyone is I have always felt that my endurance is strong. I very rarely slow my cadence down. What I need to know is how best to improve speed. I know intervals help but how do I best utilize them? Could my gearing be incorrect? Sometimes I watch local races or tri's and it seems that there pedaling is so smooth that they very easily maintain speeds in the mid to high 30K mark. With Intervals do you go all out for 30 seconds and then cool down for 30 or do you maintain a good speed for 30 then cool down? Really confused please help because I would really like to ride with someothers I just hate the feeling that I would be holding up riders because of my slow pace.
Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia - passionfruit capital of the universe!
I'm actually going to post some serious replies to this question.
Firstly, riding with riders who are faster than yourself will help more than riding alone. You might get "dropped" a couple of times at first but you will get stronger for it.
Secondly, make sure that your bikefit and saddle height is absolutely perfect. A small adjustment can make a big difference (but you knew that anyway right?)
There was something else but it's slipped my mind for the moment.
"I am never going to flirt with idleness again" - Roy Keane
"We invite everyone to question the entire culture we take for granted." - Manic Street Preachers. My blog. My bike tours. Japan tour page under construction.
Thanks Chris L. I actually had the bike fitted but I still feel that I am fine tuning the fit on a daily basis. I think this upcoming weekend I am going to hook up with the LBS and go on a group ride. You know it's really quite ironic, I love the sport so much. Between the beauty of the machines we ride, to the excitement of racing down a climb in a tuck to the agony of a long climb. Yet I have this terrible fear of riding with others and disappointing them with my performance and/or slowing the group down. So I'm taking the bull by the horns and riding into the sunset.
You said that you did a half century, but you put the speeds in metric unit. Does that mean your half century was 50 miles or 50 kilometers.
For the Americaners, let's talk English standard measurements:
Your 28.2 km/hr equates to 17.2 miles per hour.
If your half century was 50 miles, then an average of 17.2 mph would be so-so. A lot of strong bicyclists would tour at that speed.
If your half century was 50 km, then you averaged 17.2 mph for 31.07 miles. Not too bad for a strong touring pace, but not really racing pace.
I toured with a large group a week ago. A 72 year old racer averaged 22 mph for the first 20 miles and averaged in the high teens for the rest of the 75 mile day. That may be discouraging, but I hope that in ENCOURAGES you as to what you can accomplish. In a conversation with this dynomite grandad, he told me that he was in the 1947 Olympic try-outs and has been bicycling all his life. He rode 150 miles in two days and was fresh as Irish spring after each night.
I'm about half his age and he was way ahead of me, so it just 'aint natual for a guy that age to be doing that.
Just like any sport, there is a huge difference between competing and training to compete. I train martial artists for competitive fighting. Once in a while, I get a smarty-pants who thinks he is tops because he does well in class. Real competition changes EVERYTHING. You have to compete to get better. Being the best only comes from competing. Have you ever heard of the world Champion lone bicycle commuter on Adams Boulevard? Me neither.
LT1, don't give up. Let this be a start. I bet you can reach your dream to be a successful racer. You just need to put yourself on the course for competitive bicycle racing. There are many books to get started with. Ask some of the guys on the "Racing" thread of bikeforums.com for advise on how to get started. Go for it and let us know how you progress.
I've trained like hell and I still often get dropped. Don't let me discourage you, you sound a little more focused and have more time than me, so stick with it.
One thing I've found is it's hard to compare your speed while riding alone with your speed while in a group. You'll find, while in a group, you'll be running gears you couldn't touch while alone and this equates to overall speed.
If your experience is anything like mine, you'll be so focused on all the wheels, dodging snot rockets, and the guy who insists on taking off his jacket right in front of you, that the speed will go unoticed.
Between Lecanto and Hernando Florida, 6 miles due west of the Withlacoochee Trail
I've had several since 1999 but have settled on my beloved 2001 Litespeed Tuscany and 2011 Felt Z4. :-)
Here's my 2 cents.
I'm assuming you are riding a road bike and not a hybrid (you said a lot of your riding was recreational before this summer).
From my experience, and I'm no expert, distance (which equates with endurance or stamina) and speed are not necessarily related.
I can maintain a respectable speed for 20 to 30 miles, but beyond that I have to conserve my energy for anything as long as a century or metric century.
In order for me to maintain a good speed and "finish" a long ride, I have learned that I must use a slightly lower gear (meaning slower speed) for the entire ride.
You are probably younger than me so you may be able to go a longer distance before your energy is drained.
Another thing to consider is what you are eating (complex carbs), when you eat (1 to 2 hours before riding), and water. Water is VERY important. Drink plenty of water before, during, and after the ride.
Training for racing, time trials, etc. is not the same as training for a century.
There are plenty of books about both types of training. Check your local library, LBS, or online.
LT1 here are my thoughts,
I have road raced and ridden track on and off over the years and have found some small things that all add up.
Firstly riding by your self does not get you used to the stop /start of road racing- one moment everyone is hammering then they are slowing. So to train push hard in any gear for 1 or 2 or 3 light poles then back off, do this many times in all gears, but the effort has to really work you.
Be used to big gear work, by this you must be able to ride the distance in the big chain ring at a reasonable cadence, you can train to increase strengh by riding in a pretty big gear for say 25km at 70rpm- but be warned make sure your body is ready for this, dont expect a regular easy ride of 5km will allow your legs to turn 53/14 at 70rpm for 25km. Knee injuries take months to heal!!!
Expect to get dropped, it took me 4 races just to finish with the pack, this goes back to strengh and endurance training.
Sorry but all of the above relates to the road, so maybe a mnt biker could add.
Also you are right- sprinting is required, any medium/ big gear efforts lasting for 20/30 seconds and repeated several times are required. So for more details take Mike's advice and look in books either at the library or buy them- every book has a different answer but in one of them is your training program.
Good luck and remember sometimes sprinting will make you throw up or feel like your gunna die!