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I hit a milestone and had to share

Old 07-13-10, 07:10 PM
  #1  
engstrom
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I hit a milestone and had to share

I've been riding for the past couple months trying to lose weight and get in shape. One of the things I've been doing is commuting to work - a 7.5 mile ride that I've done 4 times (I had to take 3 weeks off due to an injury and a couple weeks of rain).

I know I need to keep plugging at it but it gets discouraging reading about folks regularly doing 15-20 MPH (or even more). So far the best I managed was 9.2 MPH and usually it seems that while my speed has been creeping up it still in averaging about 8 1/2 MPH. I really wanted to break the 10 MPH psychological barrier. Another weird thing is even though the ride to work is downhill because it follows a creek (and it's not much downhill, but it is a little bit) I am faster on the "uphill" leg from work to home. Maybe it's just that I'm not much of a morning person or maybe it's because I much prefer the hotter drier afternoons to the cooler more humid mornings.

Well today I rode into work for the first time in a couple weeks (see the injury and weather above) and was as slow as I've ever been - clocking in at 7.5 MPH. I figured I had just backtracked because of the time off (I did ride 11 miles a week ago though during the 4th of July holiday). I didn't feel all that good for whatever reason (humidity, not good sleep, a little bit sore) but even so I thought I should have been faster. I even focused on spinning instead of mashing down the pedals and tried to maintain a consistent pace without too much free-wheeling. Still I got no results.

So this afternoon I'm riding back home enjoying the bike and ticking off landmarks along the trail. At one point I'm going faster than I have before (no idea what the actual speed is but I have a 24 speed triple and keep the front in the center sprocket all the time) turning about 70 RPM in 7th gear. That alone made me pretty happy. Next thing I know I'm approaching the final (slight) uphill section on my way home and I focus on maintaining a good RPM and spinning. I wait for the light to turn green and grab some water just thinking about making sure all the cars are stopped. I get to the downhill and keep my pace finally reaching home. By this time I'm pretty sure I've improved my morning time so as soon as I come to a stop in my driveway I check my watch and lo and behold...7.5 miles in 38 minutes for 11.8 MPH!!! I was ecstatic to finally break 10 MPH and not only did I break it but I trounced it. Now I can't wait until Thursday when I ride to work again. Hopefully I can maintain that pace.

So, long story short (too late, I know) sometimes things just happen - I have no idea why I got faster but I hope I can keep up the good habits I've been working on and continue to improve. The speed will come, albeit slowly.
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Old 07-13-10, 07:52 PM
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Don't worry if you don't improve continually. Just keep at it -- the improvements may come slowly, but they'll come. And as things improve, you'll find you enjoy it more, and that will help you improve! A positive feedback loop!

Congrats on your milestone!
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Old 07-13-10, 07:59 PM
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Agreed, numbers may be a good motivator, but they can also backfire... just remember you're going for long-term improvement.

And congrats! I always feel like a brick when I ride my MTB with the roadies...
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Old 07-13-10, 08:03 PM
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Congrats on your milestone. Just keep on peddling away and everything will keep getting easier and faster.
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Old 07-14-10, 07:12 AM
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Thanks for the encouragement tastewar, FunkyStickman and mthayer. Ya'll are right - no need to focus on anything except my own long-term improvement. I'll just keep pluggin' away and slowly improve.
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Old 07-15-10, 08:14 AM
  #6  
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When I first started commuting to work I was averaging about 13 mph. 3 months later it's 17 mph most of the time and there have been a couple of 19 mph days. Just keep at it and enjoy the ride. Set your self some reasonable goals and work towards them.
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Old 07-15-10, 09:18 AM
  #7  
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Jay, you're spot on with the reasonable goals part. At first I was thinking "I'll ride 5 times a week and rack up 100+ miles per week" but I don't think that's reasonable for me right now. I'm setting a goal of riding 3 days a week (commuting or weekend rides - it doesn't matter). And I'm trying to push myself a little bit each ride by keeping my pace a notch above comfortable. My goal is to hit 15 MPH average for my ride to work on my crappy old department store bike by the beginning of October. Then I'll pick up a nice road bike - something like a Trek 2.3 or Cannondale Synapse 5 or maybe I'll look for something a little more aggressive like a CAAD9 5 or maybe even a Felt Z5. It's all going to depend on how I feel during the test rides and rentals. But there's no sense in looking that far into the future. As The Bride said, first things first - wiggle your big toe.

I did manage to hit 10 MPH on the way to work this morning. Not as fast as Tuesday's ride home but still an improvement over my previous best. I think I could have been faster if I had slowed down a little during the middle of the ride. I didn't pace myself and was struggling just to keep the bike moving for the last mile and a half. Well there's another lesson learned.
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Old 07-15-10, 11:29 PM
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You are doing very good. Just keep riding.

Your LBS will probably put a fatwah on me for saying so, but resist the urge to buy something right away to make yourself "faster". Make your current bike more friendly to how you want to use it. You don't mention in this thread what you are riding. Do you need a place to carry stuff? Racks? Another water bottle and cage?

Yes, reward yourself, but big purchases can backfire when you don't see immediate improvement.
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Old 07-16-10, 05:25 AM
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Just ride and ride some more.
Some days you'll be faster than others, but overall, your speed will improve as your strength and endurance build.

Cyril
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Old 07-16-10, 05:27 AM
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Just ride and ride some more.
Some days you'll be faster than others, but overall, your speed will improve as your strength and endurance build.

Cyril
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Old 07-16-10, 06:52 AM
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Originally Posted by Kerrvillian View Post
You don't mention in this thread what you are riding. Do you need a place to carry stuff? Racks? Another water bottle and cage?

Yes, reward yourself, but big purchases can backfire when you don't see immediate improvement.
I'm riding a Diamondback Wildwood Deluxe. I added a rack and bungee an old motorcycle tank bag to it. I put my change of clothes for work in the tank bag. I'd love to add a second cage and water bottle - I have one on the down tube - but the seat tube is so short that I can't fit on there. Maybe I can fit one to the underside of the top tube, but the top tube curves so much that trying to attach a bottle to the concave side of it might prove problematic. Anyway, one 24 ounce water bottle is proving to be enough for now.

I do agree though, I'll keep riding for the next 2 - 3 months before getting a better bike. That should give me enough time to get in better shape and know what kind of bike I want.

Originally Posted by Cyril View Post
Just ride and ride some more.
Some days you'll be faster than others, but overall, your speed will improve as your strength and endurance build.
Yep, that does seem to be the key. Last night on my way home from work I managed to be faster than 10 MPH. Next goal is to keep riding and see if I can get to 11 MPH.
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Old 07-16-10, 07:23 AM
  #12  
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Good on you for cracking that 10mph limit!

Keep up the constant riding, that will help you continue to improve more and more over time.

Originally Posted by engstrom View Post
I'm riding a Diamondback Wildwood Deluxe.
Something like this?



What kind of tyres do you have on it? If you don't have specifically road tyres and still have nobbies, this is one simple change you can make that will make a difference to your average speed.

Keep up the good work!
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Old 07-16-10, 09:30 AM
  #13  
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Originally Posted by OiS View Post
Good on you for cracking that 10mph limit!

Keep up the constant riding, that will help you continue to improve more and more over time.
Yep, I had another 11+ MPH ride home from work last night so I'm pretty happy about that. Today my quads are sore - but it's a good sore, not a debilitating sore.


Originally Posted by OiS View Post
Something like this?

What kind of tyres do you have on it? If you don't have specifically road tyres and still have nobbies, this is one simple change you can make that will make a difference to your average speed.

Keep up the good work!
Actually it looks just like this:



The tires are knobby on the outer edge and smooth in the middle. I notice the knobs when leaned over in a turn but they don't seem to cause a problem in the straights. I might put new tires on it but I just might ride it like this for a while and then get a new bike. I was a little concerned because yesterday when checking the bike out I noticed considerable wear on the larger rear gears. It looked like the sprockets weren't made of a very high quality metal.
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Old 07-16-10, 01:40 PM
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I too seem to be faster in the afternoon than morning. I attribute it to more downhill and being more limbered up from being up and active longer. I decided to set seperate goals for each ride. I find I get less discouraged that way.
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Old 07-16-10, 02:16 PM
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Originally Posted by Kerrvillian View Post
You are doing very good. Just keep riding.

Your LBS will probably put a fatwah on me for saying so, but resist the urge to buy something right away to make yourself "faster". Make your current bike more friendly to how you want to use it. You don't mention in this thread what you are riding. Do you need a place to carry stuff? Racks? Another water bottle and cage?

Yes, reward yourself, but big purchases can backfire when you don't see immediate improvement.
+1 on this. You may want to hold off even longer than 2 to 3 months before buying a different bike. The 2011's should be coming out shortly according to my LBS. There will be some great deals hopefully to get folks to buy. I was planning on a new Cannondale in the next couple of weeks however I'm going to wait now to see the 2011's and what kind of deals may be out there.
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Old 07-16-10, 03:24 PM
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Using me for an example... my first ride was 400 yards... now I easily ride 25+ miles... it's been 4 solid riding months for me.

I would suggest focusingf on enjoying the rides, putting on miles...speed will come with miles and comfort in the saddle. People here chew on me as I do not like GOALS, I simply want to ride every day I can, mabe only 15 minutes, or maybe 4-5hrs.

Tire pressure and great quality tires would be my first reward suggestion. Just my $0.02 worth
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Old 07-16-10, 08:49 PM
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I'm always between 12.2 and 12.5 miles per hour in the morning as a ride average. The ride is roughly equal amounts of climbing regardless of which direction I ride. The last three trips home from work have been 13.2mph, 14.7mph (on a 92 degree day (UGH)) and 13.4 mph. Like you I suspect I'm just not a morning person.

I have found on the days I commute on my bike, the time from "start" until 11:30 is a LOT more productive, and I generally feel better all day.
I'm riding a touring bike with drop handle bars, and 35mm tires. I suspect switching to 25mm slicks is worth at least a 1mph advantage. Which makes me think the large comfy tires on your diamondback are likely putting a cramp in your style as well.

One thing I've decided is if I'm riding on tires with a fair amount of drag, both aerodynamic and friction, that just means every mile I ride is that much better workout
It's awesome you're on the bike and commuting! This forum has been a great Inspiration to me as well, and hearing about the guys who commute at 20mph average or better just make me want to push harder!
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Old 07-17-10, 04:33 PM
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Originally Posted by Peter_C View Post
I would suggest focusingf on enjoying the rides, putting on miles...speed will come with miles and comfort in the saddle. People here chew on me as I do not like GOALS, I simply want to ride every day I can, mabe only 15 minutes, or maybe 4-5hrs.
I think you're spot on Peter. I went on a nice little 14.2 mile ride today and had a blast. I have no idea how long it took me (didn't check the time, didn't care) because I was just out to ride and have fun (and get stronger, loose weight, yada yada yada). Sure it was 99 degrees out when I finished (and close to that when I started) but it's not really hot until it's 100+ right? I've always enjoyed the heat. Now when fall/winter comes and it's in the 50s I'll whine like a baby because it's too cold for me, so I gotta enjoy it now. And I did notice toward the end of the ride I was getting a little uncomfortable. Not in the butt, I've ridden motorcycles for years so I'm used to sitting on a saddle. Even if it's not the same kind/size/shape of saddle I think it helps a lot. I remember when I first started riding my motorcycle my butt would get sore quickly but now I can ride it all day without a problem. What was causing me problems was the position of my handlebars. I'm starting to think straight bars like I have were an invention of the devil. I'm going to have to drop them and move them out away from me (which I can do) but the position and multiple grip points of drop bars seem like they would be great.

Originally Posted by Absenth View Post
I'm riding a touring bike with drop handle bars, and 35mm tires. I suspect switching to 25mm slicks is worth at least a 1mph advantage. Which makes me think the large comfy tires on your diamondback are likely putting a cramp in your style as well.
It's funny, when I first saw a road bike with the seat way up high and the bars way down low I thought to myself it had to be the most uncomfortable position in the world. Now I'm thinking that it looks like a pretty comfy way to ride.

It is OK or even possible to give your hands a break and lean forward on your forearms using drop bars? I kind of did that today but due to bad bar position it was hitting me close to my elbows instead of the middle of my forearms. I was able to ride for a few minutes with with my elbows barely touching the bars and it didn't seem to stress my core muscles. I'm sure I need to work on core development but at least it's not as bad as I feared. I did, however, not like looking down over the front axle with my head way out in front.

Who knows, maybe I need a fitting at a LBS.
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Old 07-19-10, 09:49 AM
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Good job. Just keep on pedaling. I wouldn't be in a hurry to spend big $$$ on a new bike yet. Try some high grade slick tires at a high pressure and some bar ends for your flat bar.

Also thanks for telling the truth. I have seen many people on here say I've been riding a week and avg. 20 mph+... LOL!

Keep spinning the cranks don't worry about how fast the bike goes. As you get stronger on the bike, you will get faster.
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Old 07-21-10, 10:32 AM
  #20  
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Thanks for posting Engstrom, and congrats on the successive milestones.

It helped inspire me to get back on the saddle after a couple of months off due to some medical and physical issues.

I'd been working them out with the various doctors, but there are still symptoms that I may just have to deal with for the duration, like I'm sure a lot of 50-yr old ex-soccer/rugby types do ... and then there was attempting to conquer a few fears, like could my cardiovascular system handle riding in the heat.

But darn it, after a few days of walking civil war battlefields in 95+ heat (vacation with the kids) I figured I could handle a 45 minute hilly bike in 85 degrees.

I'd been seeing cyclists all over DC, Md. and Virginia doing it, and I starting to get downright envious.

Mercifully the basement was cool for airing up the tires this morning, and the road was 55% shaded still at 9:30 am.

Ahhhhhh, the pleasure of just being out there cruising, and rediscovering the refreshing breeze that comes with the induced wind from riding — not as hot as it looked. I used to ride a bit more for performance, and now I ride when I can, more for pleasure.

Yes, a short easyish ride to begin with, back to "square one" for me: the same distance, about 7.9 miles, 12.4 mph moving average. I kept telling myself, no rush, just enjoy the ride.

So thanks for you report, it helped inspire. (I'm sure there are more of us lurkers out there, who read a bunch of posts but don't post up much. )
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Old 07-21-10, 05:17 PM
  #21  
engstrom
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Originally Posted by rideorglide View Post
So thanks for you report, it helped inspire. (I'm sure there are more of us lurkers out there, who read a bunch of posts but don't post up much. )
Glad I could help RideOrGlide. Here's to many more miles in the heat left for us this summer.
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