I'm 54, ridden for 22 months, and was previously a couch potato.
I rode 4200 miles my first year (mostly on a Trek comfort bike) and will probably have 6500 or more the second year (on a Bianchi Volpe touring bike) mostly because I can ride year-round.
I went through what I guess are normal progressions - started really slow (first ride averaged just over 8 mph!), get faster fairly quickly at first, hit a plateau, finally improve some more, etc. My normal ride is 11.2 miles and my best average speed was 18.05 mph - but that was way back last March! Further, I have had trouble even getting close - 2nd best is 3/10 slower and 3rd best is a couple 10ths slower than that.
During this long time where I was stuck, I did make good progress on my rides where I wasn't pushing super hard so I was satisfied. But then that seemed to suffer during September.
After a 3 week vacation, I was really slow (only 13 mph on the first 4 mile section!). What was bad was that it didn't seem to improve much over the next couple weeks.
Talking to someone, they said it might be my diet (true, I don't eat like I should since I hate veggies, but that didn't explain why I was doing worse). When he found out I had been riding about 20 months, he said I had probably depleted my stores of trace minerals and now it was catching up to me because of my diet.
So, I went to the local GNC store and got a mineral/vitamin supplement ("MegaMen").
It seemed to help right away, significantly, but after that progress has been more gradual.
But now I seem to be stuck again. I have reached 17.2 average once and 17.0 a couple times, but there are times, like yesterday, where I'm well rested (2 days off) without a headwind, pushed really hard and only averaged 15.7 mph!!!
Sometimes I don't push quite as hard and actually do better, but it still seems that I'm not doing what I should.
Some things I've noted:
Coming home, I often take my time - yet I'll get just as tired as when I push a little. Also, when taking it easy, I find it hard to pick it up part way back - its as if my muscles have adapted to a certain pace and won't cooperate if I want to change. Sometimes it feels like something is dragging the bike back (but I check and everything is fine).
While usually my total ride is 26 miles (half before breakfast and half after), I was, until recently, doing 36-40 regularly (still split though) and I have done 100 once, a couple of 60+, etc, but I haven't done those for some time and never did them regularly.
I don't have a heartrate monitor, but my resting rate is usually 56 bpm. I've checked a few times when stopped at lights and found that when pushing hard, the rate is about 144. On less aggressive rides, it will be more like 108-124.
Other than knowing the calculation of 220-age (166) for maximum heart rate, I don't know what mine really is.
Oh, one other thing that seems strange to me, especially since I'm not getting the speed I think I should, I used to get a burn when pushing really hard very quickly and I couldn't put up with it for more than a few seconds. Now I don't seem to get the same feeling, though whatever it is I get is uncomfortable and I have to back off fairly quickly too. Seems to me that should mean I could go faster, but something isn't right.
Every lane is a bike lane
If you're really worried go and see a doc. However, I wouldn't let a mere slump concern me too much. There could be other factors involved. I went through a bit of a slump myself around late Oct/early Nov when CPA exams were closing in and taking up a lot of my time and energy. As soon as I got those out of the way I returned to form again.
Have you had any additional stress from your non-cycling life?
"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 bike tours. Japan tour page under construction.
No stress. I'm mostly retired and live in Hawaii. I only work one full day a week and about an hour each of the other 4 days. I teach, which can be stressful, but I haven't had any problems here.
I wouldn't really be wondering about this, except that it has lasted so long.
I can think of a couple factors that might keep me from setting a new record: I switched to sandal (clipless) instead of more regular bike clipless shoes. I suppose they have more "give". I also switched to Armadillo tires because of many flats I was getting. They are kinda heavy, but my second fastest ride was with both these things so it wouldn't account for a general lack of success at getting speeds a tad less than my top record.
I was in Oahu a few years ago with some girlfriends. One day we all did something different, some got their belly buttons pierced, one got a tatoo, and I went to an acupuncturist at the University of Hawaii. I found her name in the yellow pages. She is a doctor and I believe either a department head or at least in charge of her speciality. People in the waiting room asked me how I got an appointment with her. Anyway, I had a problem with my knee for over 20 years. Since my visit with her, I have not had a single pain. They prepared some packages of herbs/tea leaves which I drank for a couple of weeks after the office visit. If nothing else, or if you get injured, please see her. Sorry I don't remember her name.
Me, injured? Just because I got forced off a road while going downhill at 42 mph 3 weeks ago and then two weeks ago had a fool come up behind me without paying attention and darn near ran into me doesn't mean I'll ever get hurt!
Originally Posted by outashape
But I'll keep her in mind!