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Need help picking up the pace the right way

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Need help picking up the pace the right way

Old 09-25-10, 06:05 PM
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Need help picking up the pace the right way

53 y/o 5'8" 237
Trek 2.3 road bike with clip-less pedals
Only electronics is Droid phone with Cardio Trainer (tracks miles/calories/speed)
Less than 2 months biking experience

I went my longest today, 45 miles of fun flat riding. At about 18 miles a father and son passed me. I sped up and rode with them for about 15 miles. It seemed it was actually easier or I'll just say better riding quicker. They pulled off the path and I kept going but soon fell back into my slower pace.

On my 11 mile round trip work commute I'm up to 12.7 MPH. On the 45 miler I slipped down to 11 MPH. The last 7 or so miles was very slow as I was tiring a bit.

I don't have a system for picking a gear. I just plod along at whatever feels right.

I've read I should be at a certain RPM range and I guess you maintain that range with gearing? If this is correct, how do you monitor your RPM?

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Old 09-25-10, 06:10 PM
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you can buy bike computers that have cadence sensors that mount on the crank arms and will tell you the rpm you are turning the crank. conventional wisdom says you should look to be around 90rpm "spinning" as opposed to lower cadence and "mashing" I have a polar cs200 bike computer with heart rate monitoring that i paid under 100 for. It can do cadence but I have to buy the cadence sensor separately for about $30 which i haven't done yet but you can def get a bike computer with cadence without breaking the bank.
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Old 09-25-10, 06:15 PM
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Count pedal revolutions against a clock or watch. Count for 6 seconds and multiply by 10. I try to shoot for a cadence of 90, and gear accordingly. After a short while you'll know what that cadence feels like. Just make sure you count complete revolutions, like every time your right foot passes 6:00.

As far as improving your overall speed, there are all kinds of training methods and tips if you want to maximize your performance. I never got into those much myself because I haven't had any reason to "compete" for 30 years or more. I just push myself every solo ride. Ride at whatever maximum effort you believe you can sustain for the length of the ride. You do that often enough and you'll find your perceived level of effort might stay the same, but you'll be riding faster. When I was younger I used to wonder when training rides would start to get easier - after all, I was getting fitter, wasn't I? The answer is of course that they don't. You just get faster as your fitness improves.
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Old 09-25-10, 06:20 PM
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You're right, you generally want to keep a constant cadence and use gearing to keep it there as the wind, terrain, and your conditioning dictate. For most new cyclists, 90 rpm feels way high at first but that's about where you want to be. I think a cyclocomputer with cadence is the best way to calibrate yourself to riding with the right cadence. After a season or riding you won't need it anymore.

Picking up the pace will come with time. At this point it's more important that make it fun so you keep riding.
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Old 09-25-10, 07:54 PM
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don't worry about your cadence it will improve with time. As you did while following the father/son pick up your pace for awhile try to keep at it for awhile. While commuting look for telephone poles, speed limit signs or whatever and push yourself to those spots. It may not be a good idea on the way to work but on the way home push yourself once a week. See if you can beat your previous best time. If you have hills try standing and pedaling up one day another day try spinning the pedals fast and see how that feels. For riding less than 2 months and doing 45 miles you are doing great.

I think the important part is not just to ride slow all the time but push yourself once in awhile depending on your age, weight, sports background this could vary a bit. But, one day you will suddenly notice you dropped your commute time and you felt like you were in your slow mode. I found after taking a break during the winter the next spring I was actually faster than the previous fall.
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Old 09-25-10, 08:29 PM
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Since you're just starting out, I disagree with dbikingman: cadence is where you want to emphasize first. If you learn to ride by mashing along in a big gear, it will be harder to lose that and learn to spin fast. It will then take much longer to improve. Just ask my 14-year old. Train your body and mind to do it the right way, first. Speed will come later.

Put in a good couple months riding at a good spinning cadence. This is called "building a base". If you have a good base--a good foundation--you can then go to higher heights with speed, power, and endurance. Your body will have adapted gradually to the demands and will have strengthened itself. If you try to go hard too soon, or climb hills too soon, you risk not achieving as much as you should at best, or injury at worst.

There's a reason pro riders re-build their base for 2-3 months every year. But they do it with correct/good technique & form. Just because you/we aren't pro doesn't mean we can't learn from them and emulate good skills.
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Old 09-25-10, 08:41 PM
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If you want to read a thread about candence read through this thread. It gets a little heated at times, but there is good information in it. Pay particular attention to what Rchung has to say. He gets bashed alot, but in the end he knows his stuff and it makes since.

So based on that thread I don't suggest a particular cadence. Your cadence will improve with time but as mentioned building a base will allow you to do more and know what is right for you.
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