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Why am I so slow?

Old 02-11-19, 12:08 PM
  #1  
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Why am I so slow?

First the background data:
  • I'm 56 years old, 6'5" 300 after losing more than 80 pounds
  • I've been riding (again) for about four months on a new Fuji Absolute 2.3 (48/38/28 triple with 14-34 cassette, 700x35 tires)
  • I've ridden once almost every weekend on local MUPs with rides ranging from 6-15 miles
  • I rode 20 miles yesterday with a group of friendly roadies (the route was out and back, +- 1,000 feet in elevation max uphill 4.9%)
  • All of my rides have averaged about 11mph
So why am I so slow?
  • Low overall fitness level (low power to weight ratio)
  • relatively slow bike
  • Both
What do I need to do to get faster?

Last edited by Bigbandito; 02-11-19 at 12:14 PM.
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Old 02-11-19, 12:17 PM
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Cut your weight in half. I am almost certain the climbs are what are slowing you down, and if you don't like going really fast on the downhills, it is sort of a double-whammy.

I weigh a bit less than 200 lbs, am almost your age, and 11 mph on a 12 mile ride near my house with about 1200 ft of climbing is typical for me.

What is your average speed on a flat ride?

Last edited by wgscott; 02-11-19 at 12:20 PM.
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Old 02-11-19, 12:18 PM
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Originally Posted by Bigbandito View Post
+- 1,000 feet in elevation...
[*]Low overall fitness level (low power to weight ratio)
To oversimplify: at 300 lbs, you need twice the oxygen as someone 150 lbs. to elevate yourself 1000 feet, and your lungs probably don't have anywhere close to twice the capacity.
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Old 02-11-19, 12:36 PM
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Originally Posted by wgscott View Post
Cut your weight in half. I am almost certain the climbs are what are slowing you down, and if you don't like going really fast on the downhills, it is sort of a double-whammy.

I weigh a bit less than 200 lbs, am almost your age, and 11 mph on a 12 mile ride near my house with about 1200 ft of climbing is typical for me.

What is your average speed on a flat ride?
God God, man I'm six feet five inches tall. I haven't weighed 150 since I was in fifth grade! And even those crazy insurance charts say I should weigh between 175 and 205.

Yes, the hills are the tough part; but I'd rather go up faster and down slower than vice versa. I don't know what my average speed would be on a flat ride as I haven't done one yet.

Obviously losing another 80-100 pounds will help.
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Old 02-11-19, 12:57 PM
  #5  
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Don't worry about your speed. Just enjoy the ride. On the flats, try some interval training where you go all out for 30 seconds, then ride at your regular pace (don't coast) for a couple of minutes then crank it up again. That will make you stronger which in turn will make you faster. Climbing those hills will make you stronger too even if you do it slowly.
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Old 02-11-19, 01:00 PM
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Originally Posted by Bigbandito View Post
God God, man I'm six feet five inches tall. I haven't weighed 150 since I was in fifth grade! And even those crazy insurance charts say I should weigh between 175 and 205.

Yes, the hills are the tough part; but I'd rather go up faster and down slower than vice versa. I don't know what my average speed would be on a flat ride as I haven't done one yet.

Obviously losing another 80-100 pounds will help.
I'm not suggesting you do it. I am suggesting that is what it would take to be a fast climber.

It takes twice as much energy (mgh) to lift a 300 lb object a given height than it does a 150 lb object.

At 195 lbs, I am not climbing much (if at all) faster than you are.

Last edited by wgscott; 02-11-19 at 01:06 PM.
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Old 02-11-19, 01:02 PM
  #7  
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weight has alot to do with it but can be overcome somewhat I am your age and weigh 240 . When I started riding 4 years ago I said the exact same thing all the people I rode with were much faster. Then me even some old ladies now after 40.000 miles and lots of hills I can pretty much hold my own with most club A riders.still have trouble on the hills but always catch up on the decents and flats .also don't know your physical shape your in but try intervals they will get u faster pretty quick if done right
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Old 02-11-19, 01:27 PM
  #8  
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Originally Posted by Bigbandito View Post
First the background data:
  • I'm 56 years old, 6'5" 300 after losing more than 80 pounds
  • I've been riding (again) for about four months on a new Fuji Absolute 2.3 (48/38/28 triple with 14-34 cassette, 700x35 tires)
  • I've ridden once almost every weekend on local MUPs with rides ranging from 6-15 miles
  • I rode 20 miles yesterday with a group of friendly roadies (the route was out and back, +- 1,000 feet in elevation max uphill 4.9%)
  • All of my rides have averaged about 11mph
So why am I so slow?
  • Low overall fitness level (low power to weight ratio)
  • relatively slow bike
  • Both
What do I need to do to get faster?
i just looked up a Fuji Absolute 2.3 and see that it appears to be a flat bar hybrid or trekking style bike. Since it sounds that you already know the importance of working on fitness and riding more miles, I’ll offer a few equipment suggestions.

1) Can you try your same route on a decent road bike? Before you commit to buying one you could borrow one, buy a used one in your size for cheap or ask a good bike shop to let you test ride one for your regular route?

2) Clipless pedal/cleated cycling shoe usage. If you are not using “clipless” pedals I strongly recommend that you get a set ASAP. In my experience, you will achieve an immediate efficiency improvement of 10% or more on your very first ride. So, just out of the clear blue (if you are riding with “gym” shoes on flat pedals) you could immediately see your average speed go from 11 mph to 12.1 mph just from clicking in. The magic here is that the rigid soles on good cycling shoes greatly aid in power transmission on the down stroke and the fact that you are clipped in recruits opposing leg muscles (hamstrings as opposed to quadriceps) on the upstroke of the pedal circle.

3) Just curious about your 700X35 tires. If they are standard issue hybrid tires, they are probably quite heavy and maybe not even rated to be inflated much above 75psi. For not much money you could swap these out for faster tires in more of a 700x32 or 700x28 size. Now that Continental has released the Grand Prix 5000 tires, some of the mailorder places have been running crazy sales on the well regarded Grand Prix 4000s ll tires. I recently got a pair for in 700x28 for under $60. If you want to get even better performance from the tires you could run them with Vittoria latex inner tubes. There is a bit of a learning curve to successfully mount them without puncturing the first time but once you get it right, these make a noticeable improvement on rolling resistance and grip. My experience with the latex tubes is that they do not flat any more often than butyl tubes once installed correctly. They do lose air daily (~10-20 psi per day) but topping them up pre-ride is a good habit to get into anyway.

4) As you get stronger and reduce weight you might look at your gearing and see if you can tweak it up a few notches. With your 48/38/28 crank you’ve already got the capability to have quite a low climbing gear while in the 28 tooth chainring. So the 34 tooth cog in the rear might not be necessary. If it is a 10 speed cassette, why not get a 12-27, 12-25 or my favorite with triples a 12-23 ! Any of these options could be sleeper fast because your jumps between gears are smaller which will allow you to optimize yourself to your faster buddies and keep you in the zone. Climbing the steeper climbs is going to be a bit harder so you will have to practice your most epic local climb a lot. See what works for you. Are you more efficient as a seated climber? I know it is not realistic to stay standing for long intervals on longer climbs but I do find that alternating short sections of standing on the steepest parts can be of benefit. And then there is that old technique of climbing of shifting into a harder gear just before the summit of the climb to rest your legs momentarily as you crest the summit and jump start your descent. At your height and weight you could potentially be fearsome as a descender. Here is where having an 11 or 12 tooth cog on your cassette comes in. Spin yourself up to your max speed, get in a tuck (drop handlebars help here) and go for it! You may crash, but most people do at some point and when you do your adrenaline will be pumping for sure!

I have been as heavy as #265 and I’m a hair under 6’ tall. Currently I’m at 195# just for reference. I’m also 56 years old by the way.

I hope my suggestions are well received. They are things that have worked for me. I notice on these forums that folks get preachy and dogmatic in trying to help others. Ultimately you know your trajectory. You are right to inquire on the factors playing into gaining more speed. It sounds as if you are already going to blow by the avg speed plateau. These things tend to be moving targets anyway.





Last edited by masi61; 02-11-19 at 01:33 PM. Reason: punctuation
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Old 02-11-19, 01:41 PM
  #9  
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Originally Posted by masi61 View Post


I hope my suggestions are well received. They are things that have worked for me. I notice on these forums that folks get preachy and dogmatic in trying to help others. Ultimately you know your trajectory. You are right to inquire on the factors playing into gaining more speed. It sounds as if you are already going to blow by the avg speed plateau. These things tend to be moving targets anyway.


Your suggestions are well received and much appreciated! I also really appreciate the encouragement.

I also appreciate the information and suggestions from wgscott, tyrion, NomarsGirl, and ridingfool.
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Old 02-11-19, 01:54 PM
  #10  
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Originally Posted by Bigbandito View Post
First the background data:
  • I'm 56 years old, 6'5" 300 after losing more than 80 pounds
  • I've been riding (again) for about four months on a new Fuji Absolute 2.3 (48/38/28 triple with 14-34 cassette, 700x35 tires)
  • I've ridden once almost every weekend on local MUPs with rides ranging from 6-15 miles
  • I rode 20 miles yesterday with a group of friendly roadies (the route was out and back, +- 1,000 feet in elevation max uphill 4.9%)
  • All of my rides have averaged about 11mph
So why am I so slow?
  • Low overall fitness level (low power to weight ratio)
  • relatively slow bike
  • Both
What do I need to do to get faster?
You need to ride more and focus on the "engine" and not upgrades. Once almost every weekend is not nearly enough. You should also build up your distance. Do you have an indoor trainer you could use to get more time on the bike (on those days where work schedules/daylight/weather do not facilitate going outdoors)? I would start by riding at least 3 times a week, then progress to 4, 5, and even 6. At this stage, just ride within your limits. Time in the saddle is more important than speed right now. Speed and endurance will come as you spend more time in the saddle.
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Old 02-11-19, 03:33 PM
  #11  
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road bike will help you cover more distance faster and hint easier. Speed is addictive so it never really becomes "easier". you just ride more and speed will come. there isn't a replacement for the saddle time though. Zwift or real world
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Old 02-12-19, 07:01 AM
  #12  
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Originally Posted by masi61 View Post


i just looked up a Fuji Absolute 2.3 and see that it appears to be a flat bar hybrid or trekking style bike. Since it sounds that you already know the importance of working on fitness and riding more miles, I’ll offer a few equipment suggestions.

1) Can you try your same route on a decent road bike? Before you commit to buying one you could borrow one, buy a used one in your size for cheap or ask a good bike shop to let you test ride one for your regular route?

2) Clipless pedal/cleated cycling shoe usage. If you are not using “clipless” pedals I strongly recommend that you get a set ASAP. In my experience, you will achieve an immediate efficiency improvement of 10% or more on your very first ride. So, just out of the clear blue (if you are riding with “gym” shoes on flat pedals) you could immediately see your average speed go from 11 mph to 12.1 mph just from clicking in. The magic here is that the rigid soles on good cycling shoes greatly aid in power transmission on the down stroke and the fact that you are clipped in recruits opposing leg muscles (hamstrings as opposed to quadriceps) on the upstroke of the pedal circle.

3) Just curious about your 700X35 tires. If they are standard issue hybrid tires, they are probably quite heavy and maybe not even rated to be inflated much above 75psi. For not much money you could swap these out for faster tires in more of a 700x32 or 700x28 size. Now that Continental has released the Grand Prix 5000 tires, some of the mailorder places have been running crazy sales on the well regarded Grand Prix 4000s ll tires. I recently got a pair for in 700x28 for under $60. If you want to get even better performance from the tires you could run them with Vittoria latex inner tubes. There is a bit of a learning curve to successfully mount them without puncturing the first time but once you get it right, these make a noticeable improvement on rolling resistance and grip. My experience with the latex tubes is that they do not flat any more often than butyl tubes once installed correctly. They do lose air daily (~10-20 psi per day) but topping them up pre-ride is a good habit to get into anyway.

4) As you get stronger and reduce weight you might look at your gearing and see if you can tweak it up a few notches. With your 48/38/28 crank you’ve already got the capability to have quite a low climbing gear while in the 28 tooth chainring. So the 34 tooth cog in the rear might not be necessary. If it is a 10 speed cassette, why not get a 12-27, 12-25 or my favorite with triples a 12-23 ! Any of these options could be sleeper fast because your jumps between gears are smaller which will allow you to optimize yourself to your faster buddies and keep you in the zone. Climbing the steeper climbs is going to be a bit harder so you will have to practice your most epic local climb a lot. See what works for you. Are you more efficient as a seated climber? I know it is not realistic to stay standing for long intervals on longer climbs but I do find that alternating short sections of standing on the steepest parts can be of benefit. And then there is that old technique of climbing of shifting into a harder gear just before the summit of the climb to rest your legs momentarily as you crest the summit and jump start your descent. At your height and weight you could potentially be fearsome as a descender. Here is where having an 11 or 12 tooth cog on your cassette comes in. Spin yourself up to your max speed, get in a tuck (drop handlebars help here) and go for it! You may crash, but most people do at some point and when you do your adrenaline will be pumping for sure!

I have been as heavy as #265 and I’m a hair under 6’ tall. Currently I’m at 195# just for reference. I’m also 56 years old by the way.

I hope my suggestions are well received. They are things that have worked for me. I notice on these forums that folks get preachy and dogmatic in trying to help others. Ultimately you know your trajectory. You are right to inquire on the factors playing into gaining more speed. It sounds as if you are already going to blow by the avg speed plateau. These things tend to be moving targets anyway.




11 mph to 12.1 mph just by going clipless.
Good stuff
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Old 02-12-19, 09:32 AM
  #13  
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Ride more, at the speeds you want to be riding. Make a genuine effort to go faster. If you're going out every day doing a couple of miles at 11mph, your body will be more than content to repeat that every subsequent day. The road to getting faster sucks, because it's not comfortable.

Don't look at training plans, don't overthink it. At least once a week, go out and ride hard. Harder than you feel like you want to or should. I've only been riding for 4 years now, and I started off with no preconceptions. I just went out and hammered it. I'd ride on Monday and not be able to ride again until Thursday-- not because of time restrictions, but because I was horribly out of shape and physically couldn't do it. Then I was up to every other day, then stringing days together, and now I ride at least 180 miles every week. Speed is a byproduct of conditioning. Ride more, lose weight, get faster, repeat.

Oh, and the bike matters very little, unless it fits you poorly. I have 30,000 miles on cyclocross frames with tires 32mm or wider, and my global average speed over those miles-- including all the time spent off-road climbing hills-- is 15.8mph.
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Old 02-12-19, 09:40 AM
  #14  
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I found this advice inspiring, and extremely helpful last summer in improving my fitness. Very easy rule to remember too.


This guy knows what he's talking about.

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Old 02-12-19, 11:53 AM
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Only saddle time will get you stronger and faster. Once a week isn't enough to move the needle much. I ride at least 3 times a week and am not getting faster. I need to ride more to do that.
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Old 02-12-19, 12:05 PM
  #16  
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If you don't push yourself, regularly, you'll never get any better. While it's theoretically possible to overtrain on a bike, barring injury, it's pretty difficult to do unless you're racing.

One trick I have found for maximizing weekend-only riding is, do a morning ride, come home and eat, then take a nap. Then when you wake up, go out and do a second ride in the afternoon. Doesn't necessarily need to be all that intense, but the fact you rode twice in the same day tells your body you're quite serious about getting into shape for this particular activity.
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Old 02-12-19, 01:59 PM
  #17  
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Originally Posted by Lemond1985 View Post
I found this advice inspiring, and extremely helpful last summer in improving my fitness. Very easy rule to remember too.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9FfA6VM7iT4

This guy knows what he's talking about.

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What the video says. Sweet spot training. Goggle away
Start doing intervals. Make the rest period as long as the work period at first. When you get used to them back off the rest period. Example:

10 min hard
10 min rest
repeat X number of times

After a while, you'll do
10 min hard
5 min rest
repeat x number of times

If you have a hill you can do hill repeats. See how long it takes you to get up the second time. When your time increases by 10% you are done. Go home at a recovery pace.
Also can't emphasize recovery rides enough. You can only beat yourself up for so long before you need to do a recovery ride which is 30-45 min at 1/2 power or so.

Don't forget stretching is your friend.
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Old 02-12-19, 02:14 PM
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Originally Posted by masi61 View Post
2) Clipless pedal/cleated cycling shoe usage. If you are not using “clipless” pedals I strongly recommend that you get a set ASAP. In my experience, you will achieve an immediate efficiency improvement of 10% or more on your very first ride.
I think that's proven to be false. You can apply more power with lock-down pedals (and you have more control), but it's not more efficient.
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Old 02-13-19, 09:09 PM
  #19  
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Originally Posted by wgscott View Post
I'm not suggesting you do it. I am suggesting that is what it would take to be a fast climber.

It takes twice as much energy (mgh) to lift a 300 lb object a given height than it does a 150 lb object.

At 195 lbs, I am not climbing much (if at all) faster than you are.
you know. There was a good piece that showed many of the variables in climbing scale fairly linerally with lean muscle mass, VO2max being the outlier. W/kg will only take you so far.

But to be faster — lean muscle mass as opposed to less lean. I’m 6’7, about 185 now after a crash diet (literally) in Nov 2017 and I ride mostly hills. There’s no shortcut to faster — carry as little excess weight as you can that’s not muscle and ride hills. You’ll get faster. It just won’t get easier
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Old 02-16-19, 04:43 AM
  #20  
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Originally Posted by jadocs View Post
You need to ride more and focus on the "engine" and not upgrades. Once almost every weekend is not nearly enough. You should also build up your distance. Do you have an indoor trainer you could use to get more time on the bike (on those days where work schedules/daylight/weather do not facilitate going outdoors)? I would start by riding at least 3 times a week, then progress to 4, 5, and even 6. At this stage, just ride within your limits. Time in the saddle is more important than speed right now. Speed and endurance will come as you spend more time in the saddle.
This.
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Old 02-17-19, 10:08 PM
  #21  
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Originally Posted by tyrion View Post
I think that's proven to be false. You can apply more power with lock-down pedals (and you have more control), but it's not more efficient.
To pile on, you may be able to obtain major improvements from better pedaling technique if that's something you're lacking in. But clipless isn't necessary to accomplish that.
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Old 02-17-19, 11:59 PM
  #22  
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You just need to ride more, as a few others have mentioned. I pretty much started out just like you are, but I was a lot younger at 30. I'm 6'5" also, and I was 140kg (~310lb) when I got my first road bike. Those extra years you have under your belt will mean that getting faster WILL take that bit longer, but it will come if you persist with it.

You've only been riding for 4 months, so don't stress about it. The key factor is consistency. Try and get out and ride at least 3x/week in some form, with at least one of those rides as hard as you can maintain. Make those other 2 rides relatively easy, yet hard enough to benefit. Maybe use a heart rate monitor if you don't have one to know you're pushing yourself without smashing yourself. If you really want to get fast, then a new road bike is definitely in your future. Losing weight is definitely key, but something to come to terms with is that you'll never be as fast up the hills as those skinny little roadie guys. So just roll with it and don't let that beat you up. Go with your strengths which will be flats and descents. I could keep up with even our top level guys on the flats and downhills when I was training regularly and putting the time in.
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