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Old 07-07-08, 06:55 PM   #1
Laminarman
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Getting my butt handed to me

I'm 44 and newly back into cycling after a couple decades. Half a dozen rides on my new road bike and I'm making progress VERY slowly. I'm not fat, but out of condition, about ten pounds over where I'd like to be (179 pounds and 5'8" with a stocky build). Diet is OK. I have hills, and I mean hills. I live half way up the death climb our local bike club uses on occasion. No matter which way I go, I have some significant climbs to get back. The shortest route back to my road is almost 3/4 mile very steeply graded and I need my easiest gear in my triple to keep it going, and I have to stop twice or I can't make it. I felt awful until I saw a neighbor, who rides daily and is in much better shape, stop halfway (I was driving home). So my question is, seeing that I'm getting frustrated, do I keep grinding it out (my heart rate screams and I get seriously out of breath working so hard) and try to get stronger, or take my bike to flatter terrain to get miles under my belt? He asked me to ride with him, but he's coming back from a 30 mile ride when he dies on that hill, I only make it six miles max due to the type of terrain. I'm hoping losing ten pounds will help me out too. Thanks.
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Old 07-07-08, 07:11 PM   #2
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I would persevere and keep riding the hill. You can also ride with the other cyclist just cut his routes shorter and ride with him for what you feel comfortable. Riding with someone faster is gives you an incentive to work harder.
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Old 07-08-08, 09:41 AM   #3
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I would advise doing most of your riding on flatter terrain. Otherwise, you won't be able to ride often/long enough to build aerobic fitness. Only challenge yourself on those hills occasionally. Over time, you will find you will be able to ride the hard hills more often without wearing yourself out too much.
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Old 07-08-08, 10:34 AM   #4
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Keep your expectations realistic. It's been 20 years since that 24-year old you once knew was riding a bike. Set reasonable goals and be patient.
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Old 07-08-08, 11:17 AM   #5
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I would advise doing most of your riding on flatter terrain. Otherwise, you won't be able to ride often/long enough to build aerobic fitness. Only challenge yourself on those hills occasionally. Over time, you will find you will be able to ride the hard hills more often without wearing yourself out too much.

horse hockey.

don't mean to just blast away at you there, but I live in the mountains of Pennsylvania and I have to climb every single day or leave my bike on the porch. There ain't no third way.

but to the OP......

If you want to put your bike in the car and drive somewhere at $4 a gallon, that is your business, but it really isn't necessary.

You are going to have to be patient. It takes time for endurence training to pay off. In time, the hills get easier and you get stronger, but you have to be patient. When I first moved out here to where I am at, it took me 3 years before I could ride over any mountain road I wanted. And after 8 years here, there are still roads that I don't take lightly.

But trust me, I'm your age, I weight alot more than you, and I ride the mountains all the time. What you should do is embrace the fact that your riding experience is not going to be just relaxed tooling around. It honestly takes some amount of passion to go into the mountains, and you have to learn to love it.

And be sure to ride through the winter so you don't just go through it all again next year. Build on this year by continuing through the winter months, too.
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Old 07-08-08, 11:35 AM   #6
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Just keep at it. You mentioned you have a tripple, what is the range of your rear cassette?
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Old 07-08-08, 11:59 AM   #7
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Thanks folks! I tend to look at the brighter side of things. So I could see my situation as being blessed with the opportunity to be a better climber...or the excuse to buy a trainer for prolonged spinning during winter months (or could dig out my mountain bike which collects dust and do winter rides). I really didn't relish the thought of driving my bike somewhere, and at $4 a gallon that's bad enough, but it's the time I'm short on. Whoo-eee I'm sore today after my ride yesterday. On a positive note even though I have to stop I have shortened my time by 5 minutes from the initial ride, and my average MPH is going up, so something is working. Patience has never been a virtue by the way.
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Old 07-08-08, 01:06 PM   #8
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"So I could see my situation as being blessed with the opportunity to be a better climber..."

you will just plain be a stronger rider all the way around. Steep hills help you develop power, they help you with your lactic threashold, your VO2 max, all handy stuff for a bike rider.

Then when you leave your mountains and go to an organized event down in the valley, you'll notice that you are having a much easier time than you are used to.

living in a tough area to ride makes you a strong rider, so it may take longer, but the payoff is worth it


one thing though is that you will probably ride fewer miles than somebody in a flat area, so don't get discouraged into thinking you aren't riding enough miles. Pay more attention to how much time you are riding in hours for now and let the miles be what they turn out to be.

good luck
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Old 07-08-08, 02:02 PM   #9
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I'm with veloGeezer. My first year on the bike was spent learning to climb the 500' just to get out of town. Don't let the high HR bother you. Hard effort is always the fastest way to get strong. And as Umney mentioned, a wide range cassette is a good idea. 13-29 is good.
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Old 07-08-08, 08:29 PM   #10
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Thanks Velo and Carbon. I want to lose weight too, so I assume this can't hurt riding like this. I am itching to ride right now at 10pm at night, had a long day at the office.
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Old 07-18-08, 01:24 AM   #11
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eh...the truth is a combination - you need to do baseline endurance, low intensity riding, but you also need to keep climbing the hill - SO - get a smaller set of gears that allow you to climb without redlining -you should be able to climb most any hill below your threshold heart rate with the right gearing...
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Old 07-19-08, 11:43 AM   #12
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Fitness will come and when you make that climb the first time without stopping you will be like, "dam" I made it"

keep goin.
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Old 07-19-08, 03:15 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by Laminarman View Post
I'm 44 and newly back into cycling after a couple decades. Half a dozen rides on my new road bike and I'm making progress VERY slowly. I'm not fat, but out of condition, about ten pounds over where I'd like to be (179 pounds and 5'8" with a stocky build). Diet is OK. I have hills, and I mean hills. I live half way up the death climb our local bike club uses on occasion. No matter which way I go, I have some significant climbs to get back. The shortest route back to my road is almost 3/4 mile very steeply graded and I need my easiest gear in my triple to keep it going, and I have to stop twice or I can't make it. I felt awful until I saw a neighbor, who rides daily and is in much better shape, stop halfway (I was driving home). So my question is, seeing that I'm getting frustrated, do I keep grinding it out (my heart rate screams and I get seriously out of breath working so hard) and try to get stronger, or take my bike to flatter terrain to get miles under my belt? He asked me to ride with him, but he's coming back from a 30 mile ride when he dies on that hill, I only make it six miles max due to the type of terrain. I'm hoping losing ten pounds will help me out too. Thanks.
I like the idea of a climbing cassette. I run a 12-27 on my bike, and that's a about 8% better than a 25. Every little bit helps on the steeps.

If you are like most new riders, you are riding too hard much of the time. Your initial challenge is to build an aerobic base, and that's hard to do if you ride all-out much of the time. Try to spend most of your time riding where you can easily talk - that will let you ride far enough for you to see a good training effect. If you are only riding 6 miles you will find it hard to make much progress.

Hills are hard for everybody. First, start out slower than you want to at the bottom, and learn to ride *slowly* on steeper hills. Slowly as in 4MPH, hard to keep the bike upright slow. That will help put you in a less painful situation.

And, if that's still not enough (and I know some hills around here that would fit the bill), put your bike on a bike rack and drive up and down the hill. Sure, you'll feel silly, but you'll progress faster.

There are specific drills you can do to improve climbing speed and power, but they aren't really appropriate for a beginning rider.
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