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  1. #1
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    How do I get faster?

    I know...ride more. I have been riding for a little over a year. Just recently stepped up to longer and more frequent rides. I had been doing 2 10-15 mile rides per week on average. In the last two months I have been doing 3 15-20 mile rides and 1 40+ mile ride per week. I do a fair amount of climbing. My shorter rides average 750-1000 feet gain and longer ones around 3000 feet gain.

    My average speed is usually around 15 mph on my rides. I usually ride solo but I want to get into some groups. Where do I start to get myself up to the 17-18 mph average? My only plan is to add hill repeats one day a week instead of one of the shorter rides. I am pretty clueless on cycling training
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    Travelling hopefully chasm54's Avatar
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    If you are climbing 1000 feet in a 15-mile ride, that's a moderately hilly ride. Considering that you haven't been doing this long and that your weekly mileages have until recently been quite low, 15 mph is a very respectable average speed.

    Hill repeats will certainly boost your fitness and increase your power. But if you want to join a group, I'd just join one. The worst thing that can happen is that you can't keep up. However, you will learn some valuable skills by riding in a bunch, and you'll be surprised at how much easier it is to maintain a high speed when riding in a bunch and taking advantage of the draft. But make sure the group you join is aware of your inexperience. Riding safely at close quarters needs a bit of practice and having someone there who is prepared to explain stuff to you will be a big help.

    And yes, keep riding more.
    There have been many days when I haven't felt like riding, but there has never been a day when I was sorry I rode.

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    The fastest way to get faster is to ride with a group that is slightly faster than you and make it your goal not the get dropped. If you ride solo @15 MPH, you should be able to do a group ride that averages 17 or so. I would go out with that group and stay with them as long as possible.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by chasm54 View Post
    If you are climbing 1000 feet in a 15-mile ride, that's a moderately hilly ride. Considering that you haven't been doing this long and that your weekly mileages have until recently been quite low, 15 mph is a very respectable average speed.

    Hill repeats will certainly boost your fitness and increase your power. But if you want to join a group, I'd just join one. The worst thing that can happen is that you can't keep up. However, you will learn some valuable skills by riding in a bunch, and you'll be surprised at how much easier it is to maintain a high speed when riding in a bunch and taking advantage of the draft. But make sure the group you join is aware of your inexperience. Riding safely at close quarters needs a bit of practice and having someone there who is prepared to explain stuff to you will be a big help.

    And yes, keep riding more.
    Thanks. The first group I'm targeting is a once a week no drop ride. The ride is about 20 miles with a 7 mile climb that varies 2 degree to 6 degree and the last two miles of the climb are 5-6 degree. I'm a little intimidated about keeping up but I guess I should just do it
    http://www.pedalroom.com/members/rms13

  5. #5
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    To ride faster; train faster, not longer.

  6. #6
    Senior Member squirtdad's Avatar
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    I find a heart rate monitor (HRM) is a useful in making sure that I am working hard as I my shape improves.... which usually means for the same ride I ride faster to keep the heart rate at the range I want.
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    Excellent advices from the above posters. This is my first year racing(time trial and starting track racing in a few weeks), 3rd season of riding and what I found to work for me to get faster was to actually race. About 2mos ago when my race season started I was averaging 20mph and now I'm doing 22mph. Hill repeats definetly helped a bunch on my strength and using a hrm can definitely help you monitor your effort while riding. I should mention that I'm riding a fixed gear so train accordingly and have fun doing it!
    http://www.pedalroom.com/bike/unknown-psx--16196

  8. #8
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    Go with the group and try to keep as long as possible, no shame in being dropped if you choose a drop ride. I have been dropped many times after you are off the back a long ways it's quite peaceful.

  9. #9
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    My group ride opportunity is limited because I can only do longer rides on the weekend and my wife usually needs our shared car to work on the weekends. I've found one group that leaves near my house but it is not a no drop ride, their ride includes about a 6 mile long climb and it seems most guys avg 17-18 mph +. So I envision myself getting dropped somewhere in the first couple of miles of that hill and never seeing the guys again. I'll probably ride alone for a few more weeks and then try to join them.

    I do ride with a few other people once in a while. Road with a friend that is faster than me last week and of course I hit many PRs trying to keep up with him
    http://www.pedalroom.com/members/rms13

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    What kind of bike are you riding?
    http://www.pedalroom.com/bike/unknown-psx--16196

  11. #11
    Senior Member Northwestrider's Avatar
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    Tires ?

  12. #12
    Senior Member bmontgomery87's Avatar
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    I agree with the recommendation to go ahead and ride with that faster group, you get better at any activity by being surrounded by those who are better than you.
    I sandbag in the gym all the time, put me in a training sessions with guys who are stronger than me, and I start performing. It's easier to push yourself in a group setting, your ego will make you keep going.

  13. #13
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    Start doing sprints. It's true if you want to go faster, you got to train faster, not longer. To go fast, you got to go fast.

    Although, it's very important that you have a good base, which in your case it sounds as if you do, before you start sprinting. Also want to do shorter tempo rides.

    I usually do massive sprints when starting off from redlights, but if you've never done them before it may take you some time to recover and your heart may feel like it's about to pound its way out of your chest. However, you get use to it and your body learns to recover well.

    I've been sprinting for years as a way to build speed and I now can easily attain 30mph on a straightway and that with a loaded bike and I'm a virtual 50 y/o Clydesdale.

    I've been cycling for decades, but I've only been running for a few years and I just started incorporating sprints in my runs for the same reason -- to increase my speed, since I now have a very good base. I've gotten pretty good at sprinting on a bike, including the recovery. However, my running sprints leave me totally exhausted, just like they use to on my cycling sprints.

    Some interesting things on sprinting and what it does to the body

    Eight Reasons Everyone Should Do Sprints | Poliquin Article

    Why Sprinting is Essential | Mark's Daily Apple

    12 Reasons Sprinting is the King of Cardio JillFit Jill Coleman Fat Loss Coach

    6 Cycling Drills to Improve Sprinting Speed | ACTIVE

    P.S. Don't do any serious sprints at the beginning of a long ride; I learned that the hard way
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  14. #14
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    Thanks for all the advice. I'm riding a CAAD9 most of the time with 23s. I'm finishing tuning up the 1989 Centurion Ironman I bought and plan on training on that once a twice a week too for variety

    I usually try to do sprints at the end of long rides. After all of my significant climbing is done and before cooling down. The last couple of rides I've also been staying in higher gears on climbs and getting out the saddle and mashing up the hills
    http://www.pedalroom.com/members/rms13

  15. #15
    Junior Member Montgomery1234's Avatar
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    Getting faster....

    Quote Originally Posted by rms13 View Post
    Thanks for all the advice. I'm riding a CAAD9 most of the time with 23s. I'm finishing tuning up the 1989 Centurion Ironman I bought and plan on training on that once a twice a week too for variety

    I usually try to do sprints at the end of long rides. After all of my significant climbing is done and before cooling down. The last couple of rides I've also been staying in higher gears on climbs and getting out the saddle and mashing up the hills
    I was a competitive distance runner for years and injuries finally got the better of me hence my change to cycling. After all of those years of training, the best way to improve your cycling (whether its running or cycling the benefits are the same) is by doing cycling intervals. And you need to do the intervals at a pace that challenges you. You can do a workout like 4 x half mile at 85-90% heart rate with a half mile rest (keep pedalling!...very important!). Another good workout would be do 8 x 1/4 mile at 95% effort. The combination of workouts like these will give you strength and explosiveness. Between intervals, during the rest it is important to keep pedaling. The part of interval workouts that some people don't understand is that you need to teach your body how to recover under stress and keeping your legs moving during the rest portion is vital to these workouts.
    Interval workouts are the fastest way to improve but you need to have a solid base of long mileage over 3 or 4 months. In the off-season (winter), try to hit the weight room and work on your strength and plyometrics...plyometrics will really help your explosiveness
    Good riding....

  16. #16
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    My thought is that, to get faster, you need to train to increase power output, so do exercises that build leg
    strength and leg speed. Then, work to sustain that output over longer periods by building stamina.

    I'd recommend mixing low cadence/big gear (i.e. high resistance) workouts with high cadence/lower gear workouts, and combine the two for moderate cadence/mid resistance tempo pace workouts.

    Sprinting is okay, but for fast road riding, you need to be comfy working at a sustained high effort. Not as high as full out sprinting, which no one can sustain for long, but something you can push at 85-95rpm for a solid while.
    Chaad--'95 DeKerf Team SL, '02 Lemond Buenos Aires, '05 Novara Buzz, '73 Schwinn Collegiate, '06 Mountain Cycle Rumble, '09 Dahon Mariner D7, '12 Mercier Nano, '12 Breezer Venturi

  17. #17
    just another gosling Carbonfiberboy's Avatar
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    You're doing it right. It takes time to get the speed up, years really. Just keep at it. To speed the process, study up on training, read books, work up a year-long training plan, have a goal ride that you're training for, etc. 17-18 is a fast pace for recreational cyclists. The more miles you can do, the faster you'll get. Distance=strength. Gradually increase the length of your weekend ride and add a little to the mid-week rides, too. When you've worked up to riding 60-80 miles in the hills every weekend, you'll definitely notice a difference.

    If you're under say 55, you can do intervals on one of your week-day rides as well as going all-out on the weekend ride. Some people only do intervals during the week and then use the weekend for a long moderate endurance ride, but that precludes the fun of joining a group ride. I prefer a hard weekend ride and then endurance work during the week.

  18. #18
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    I road this morning with the plan to just ride faster. Got a PR on this particular 8 mile loop I ride regularly. Shaved an entire minute off my best time and averaged 17.6 mph where I usually do 15-16.5 depending on the day.

    Bike Ride Profile | Morning Ride near Glendale | Times and Records | Strava

    I basically mashed up the hills and tried to sprint every flat section. My cadence in most spots was about 80 rpm instead of 90-100 that I usually aim for but I was sticking in higher gears
    http://www.pedalroom.com/members/rms13

  19. #19
    Senior Member Vlaam4ever's Avatar
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    rms,
    Sounds like your doing things right. first recommendation, ride with a group until you keep up with them, consider this a harder ride. Second recommendation, do solo rides at an easy pace to continue to build up endurance. Find a balance between fast group rides and easy long endurance rides. Try to ride 4-8 hours per week balancing between easy rides and harder ones.

    What is interesting is in group rides is that you either work really hard or almost not at all, but always go way faster then being solo. The key will be is not letting a significant gap open up with the rider in front of you. This is especially important if you are the last in the group. Once that gap opens, you may never close it again and be riding home solo. Be sure you have a map or good idea on how to get home. Group rides often force you to go 100% to stay attached, but reward you with a nice easy coast if you stay on with the group. Until the next acceleration, so you do it all over again.
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  20. #20
    You gonna eat that? Doohickie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bmontgomery87 View Post
    I agree with the recommendation to go ahead and ride with that faster group, you get better at any activity by being surrounded by those who are better than you.
    Furthermore, I find it much easier to ride fast with a group (or even just one other rider) than by myself. I think I save energy and don't let it all hang out when I'm by myself, but with a group I just hang on.

    Also... ride more. I rode every day in May for National Bike Month and rode a lot more than my usual miles in June as well, and on recent group rides I'm finding myself easily able to keep up with the group (or even pull ahead).

    One other thought.... get a fixed gear bike. For training there are several advantages including making sure you're always moving, always working, and also makes you attack hills because if you don't you have a much tougher time making it up the hill. Hill climbs on a fixed gear (or even just a freewheeled single speed) bike also give you a lot of practice in riding out of the seat if you're not especially comfortable doing that.
    Last edited by Doohickie; 07-03-14 at 10:10 AM.
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  21. #21
    Senior Member wolfchild's Avatar
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    One thing which increased my acceleration and sprinting speed was to gain few extra pounds of lean body mass and increase my strength through weight training...I am not really all that fast compared to some other cyclists...I spin out at 29.8 miles MPH on my fixed gear with 69 gear inches on flat roads with no wind and can only maintain that speed for under 1 minute....The only way for me to go faster would be to start using a geared bike , which is something I don't want to do , because I just enjoy riding fixed.

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    A better goal would be to become faster rather than to "get" faster. Just sayin'.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by wolfchild View Post
    One thing which increased my acceleration and sprinting speed was to gain few extra pounds of lean body mass and increase my strength through weight training...I am not really all that fast compared to some other cyclists...I spin out at 29.8 miles MPH on my fixed gear with 69 gear inches on flat roads with no wind and can only maintain that speed for under 1 minute....The only way for me to go faster would be to start using a geared bike , which is something I don't want to do , because I just enjoy riding fixed.
    I'm with you on riding fixed gear and 69gi is quite small. I'm doing the local road time trial on a fixed gear and just moved up to 76gi from 73gi. On the 73gi I'm averaging anywhere from 21.8mph to 22mph with average cadences of 103rpm to 104rpm. Hopefully with the bigger gear inches now I'll start seeing 23mph average speed.
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  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by rms13 View Post
    I road this morning with the plan to just ride faster. Got a PR on this particular 8 mile loop I ride regularly. Shaved an entire minute off my best time and averaged 17.6 mph where I usually do 15-16.5 depending on the day.

    Bike Ride Profile | Morning Ride near Glendale | Times and Records | Strava

    I basically mashed up the hills and tried to sprint every flat section. My cadence in most spots was about 80 rpm instead of 90-100 that I usually aim for but I was sticking in higher gears
    A month in a half after setting my PR on this loop at 28:01 (17.6 mph/avg) did it today in 26:40 (18.5 mph/avg) for a new PR.

    http://www.strava.com/activities/179...nts/4189593210

    Thanks for everyone's advice. I think the best advice was really to just ride faster. On this particular ride there is one main climb and some shorter ones that I used to shift to the small chain ring and today is the first time I did the entire ride in the big ring. Standing and mashing where I used to shift down and spin.

    I joined a club and doing my first organized group ride in 1 1/2 weeks. It's a no drop ride that should get my feet wet.
    http://www.pedalroom.com/members/rms13

  25. #25
    Retired dabbler hobkirk's Avatar
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    I think the most practical way to discuss hills is "average feet of ascent per mile." My definition of "hilly" is anything over 50'/mile. But I'm old and fat, so others may have different standards!

    I believe that intervals need to be short - under a minute! That's not what I've done in the past, but I have become convinced of late. But I am in recovery mode, so I haven't really tried it. (In the past, I'd do a mile as fast as I could, recover, and repeat 4-5 times. It made me work hard, I think it was good for my cardio, but I don't think it made me faster.)

    But I'm sure the other responders know more than I do.

    I find the group rides educational. Do draft, but ask first. Helping a new rider is an ego booster. My favorite group uses human arrows at every real turn who waits until he sees the sweep rider, then he can race to catch up to the leader. The 17 mph riders don't get aggravated by the 13 mph riders. (The group rides on a weekday morning, so we're mostly old.)

    Good luck, and I hope you enjoy the sport.
    Last edited by hobkirk; 08-14-14 at 06:21 PM.
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