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Am I doing something wrong?

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Am I doing something wrong?

Old 06-18-13, 02:38 PM
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klepto1
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Am I doing something wrong?

Hey Guys,

Sorry, this might be longer than it needs to be. Can you help me to figure out if I am doing something wrong. Everyone seems to be able to increase mileage quickly compared to me. I know that people develop at their own pace. But I also think I may just be doing something wrong in either riding at the wrong pace or not fueling myself well during rides. I am trying to build up to do a 55 mile ride in September. I think it is very doable if I start increasing my miles now. But I feel like I hit a wall at around 18 miles (about 1 hr 40 minutes) into a ride. I will give you the longer breakdown below, including my last ride and nutrition so that you can critique or give me suggestions.

This is my 3rd year riding. In the past 2 years my job has made it difficult to get any riding momentum until the second half of the summer (~Aug). So I ride inconsistently for a few months and then ride very consistently Aug-Oct. This year I started much earlier and i have been working hard to build in the time to ride. I get in about 3-4 rides a week totaling about 35-50 miles.

So looking back, 2011 was my first year riding. I was really slow, had no endurance whatsoever and weighed in at about 265 pounds. 15 minutes on my bike would kick my butt. By the end of the year I was 250 lbs and I was doing 7-12 mile rides with about 500ft of climbing. And one 15 mile ride that kicked my butt. Some stuff happened and I stopped riding for the year. I totaled about 215 miles for the year.

2012 - Started back up in April. Was back up to 255. Since I didn't have a lot of miles under my belt I kind of felt like I was starting over with a little bit of a head start. But within a month I was back to doing 7 mile loops. But again it was sporadic in June & July and I got back to consistent riding in Aug. Quickly got to 12-15 mile rides. In mid Sept I did a 20 mile ride which was a major milestone for me. And boy did it suck. I had no plan, did it on a whim and 15 miles in I was really questioning my decision. But I survived, so I did it again the next week. I did it about 2 more times then stretched out to 22 miles and one day pushed it to almost 25 miles. That turned out to be my last ride last year, then Sandy hit, it got cold and regretfully I put my bike away. I got down to 235 and had a total of 545 miles for the year.


Fast forward to 2013. I am weighing in at about 240 with a goal of 1000 miles for the year. I have already put in 294 miles and I am on pace to hit my 150 mile goal for the month, which will be the most miles per month up to date. My weekly mileage has gone up considerably. But this has been because I have been trying to ride as frequently as possible, not because I am really pushing the distance. (I got sick for 2 weeks in may, but besides that I have been avg about 3 rides a week). I was feeling good doing 12-15 mile rides and even went 17 miles and felt good after. So I decided to go for the 20 mile mark again. I made it, but the last 4 miles were really rough. Sunday I went for it again, but felt really tired, so I skipped the last mile. Made it 19. I have both Strava rides below with a breakdown of what I ate before and during the ride.

6/9 - I wanted to try out what I ready about fueling during the ride. So I just had a cliffbar. unfortunately I didnt get to leave right away because my wife needed help with the baby. I was feeling hungry before i left so I think I had a slice of wheat bread. About 45-50 minutes into the ride I had half a banana and a few small sugar cookies called florecitas. They are about the size of a nickel, I might have had 3 and two swigs of gatorade. Then I mixed the remaining gatorade with my water and continued my ride. I had planned to eat the other half of my banana at 1 hr 30 minutes, but I at that point I was about 3.5 miles from home which was only like another 20 minutes. They felt a little tough, but I made it and felt ok after. Tired, couldn't really sprint but was able to make it. When I made it home it was 19 miles so I went out for one more mile to complete the 20.

https://app.strava.com/activities/59278822

6/16 - this past sunday I had to run some errands and move some small furniture in the morning. I had a decent lunch with a friend (rice with black beans and roast pork). I knew I wanted to ride soon so I only a good portion of the meal, but didnt finish it because I didnt want to be stuffed while riding. So about an hour and a half almost two hours later I went on my ride. About 50 minutes in I stopped to get a gatorade and a cliff bar. Took two swigs of my gatorade. Rode about 5 more minutes to find a bench. Had half of my banana, two bites of the cliff bar and another sip of gatorade before mixing it with my remaining water. My bike computer stopped counting for a few minutes, so I dont know exactly how long it was, but about 30 minutes later, I had the other half of my banana and a few more nibbles of my cliff bar. Drank my watered down gatorade throughout the rest of the ride. From that point I don't feel like I really recovered any energy. Took my about 20 minutes to get back home, but the last 3 miles felt hard. Once I got home again I was closer to 19 miles, but I decided to not go the extra mile because I had no energy.

https://app.strava.com/activities/60960173

So I guess my questions are am I doing something wrong where I am hitting a wall before the two hour mark. Am I not fueling well before or after the ride? Typically I eat a banana and some gatorade during a ride, but I don't really feel that energetic. Or am I just being impatient? Can it be that I still have to develop the muscular endurance? I dont usually feel too winded, I just feel like I lose the power in my legs and once this happens it feels like more work and my heart rate goes up. Any suggestions?
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Old 06-18-13, 02:44 PM
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I think you are doing fine. The main thing is not so much to shoot for mileage increases but to build a comfortable base
that you can do sustainably. if you increase to fast in mileage you run the risk of losing the fun factor and also overuse injury.
Either one could kill your new found riding habit.

Good luck I'm rooting for you.

Charlie
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Old 06-18-13, 02:48 PM
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How much are you drinking? It sounds like hydration may be a factor. Being well hydrated before (starting the night before), during and after are critical.
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Old 06-18-13, 03:05 PM
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My breakfast for a long ride.



Put some gas in your tank before you ride.
Eggs, protein and Vit A
Grits, slowly turns to sugar for energy,
Refried beans, slow energy
Caffeine, energy

I average 220 miles a week.
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Old 06-18-13, 03:06 PM
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Thanks Charlie!

I think I drink a lot of water. Separate from cycling I just enjoy drinking lots of water. Although I feel like I wake up dehydrated and takes me a few hours to drink enough to be adequately hydrated. I have sometimes avoided morning rides because of this. On the ride itself I take a 22 oz. water bottle. I have a second cage on my seat tube, but because of my bike size and geometry I have trouble finding a water bottle that fits. So I end up either buying a gatorade or a second small bottle of water during my rides. But on a hot day I can drink all of that half way into my ride. I need to explore some additional options to bring more water. On days that I have not drank enough going into the ride I am thirsty from the very beginning and can quickly go through my water. I'll admit however that I have not made the effort to try to figure out my sweat rate to see if I am drinking enough.
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Old 06-18-13, 03:12 PM
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More bottles. Works for me.

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Old 06-18-13, 03:12 PM
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Big congratulations on your efforts and attitude! You're miles and miles ahead all the couch potatoes out there, way to go! Keep having fun and it turns into a great habit.

I didn't read all of it, so I'm going to ask some questions and make some assumptions. If I missed please straighten me out!

What type of bike?
What type of terrain, hills, flat, paved?

Generally It sounds like you've been somewhat inconsistent in the frequency of your riding? What do you think?

Assuming it's a decent bike, what jumps out at me is 6/9 to 6/16. That's 6 days off, too much in my opinion. It looks to me like you're eating plenty, we usually do that's why we're here . Think about trying this:

Ride at least every other day even if it's only 5 miles. Go on at least one longish, sounds like ~20 miles is right for you, ride a week. If you tolerate it well, up the all the mileages a bit and you'll get there. I think you'll be surprised how fast you can push that 20 up through 30,40 and on to 50.

Before, during, and after rides don't sweat the calories too much while you're building miles. Between rides, eat like a rabbit if you want to lose weight. This time of year stay hydrated, dehydration sucks.

BTW You're off to a better start than I was. My first ride I barley survived 1 mile! This month I'll hit around 450.

Ride for fitness
Eat for weight loss
Sleep for strength
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Old 06-18-13, 03:15 PM
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I would challenge you to ride more and eat less when you do ride. Your goal of 1000 miles a year is about 20 miles a week. Can you fit in another ride or two - even of 10 miles? If you can, you've upped your mileage by 50% to 100%.

Assuming that you're eating proper meals off the bike, you don't need to consume a Gatorade, banana and energy bar on a 20 mile ride. Stick to water, keep the banana and skip the energy bar. A lot of riders overestimate how much caloric intake they need to have for the exertion that is being spent.

It will be tough to see dramatic gains by riding only once a week. I didn't see any improvement in my riding, or my weight, until I started riding 2x a week before work with a local show-and-go training ride, and then working on hills/distance on the weekends. Even so, it took almost 18 months to work off 25# (230# to 205#, with occasional bouts of 201#).

Keep at it - it's a tough road but many others like you have ridden it with success.
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Old 06-18-13, 03:17 PM
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For rides around 90 minutes to 2 hours, my experience is you can get by without eating much at all. Half a cliff bar and one piece of fruit is usually sufficient. In the heat you should be well into your second water bottle. For the other bottle cage, can you use a smaller 16 ounce bottle in that location? As for increasing distance is there any way you can trick yourself one day a week to double your distance? Sometimes these barriers are psychological...
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Old 06-18-13, 03:37 PM
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what size tires are you using on the hybrid? Dropping down to something like a 25C will help a ton if you're going for distance. Picking up a used classic roadie will help allot too on that 55 mile ride.
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Old 06-18-13, 03:51 PM
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@ 10 Wheels - You're making me hungry ... j/k.How long do you wait after that meal to jump on your bike?

@ BBeasley - I ride a hybrid bike. 2009 GT Transeo 5.0. I ride on roads, MUPs and through some parks. But at the end of the day they are all paved roads. Terrain always includes hills. I usually do about 3 - 4 miles on mostly flat terrain while I warm up, the rest is hilly. Right now I think the 20 mile route I shared was about 550ft of elevation. There is a different route that I sometimes take (although not recently) that is closer to about 1200ft of climbing. The rides I shared were only the long rides. I ride in between. I had 2 rides in between the two mentioned above. Outside of a week and a half I was sick in May I get about 3-4 rides in a week. I have less time to ride during the week so I might do about 12-15 miles at a harder pace. And depending on how my legs feel I might take a ride at a slower pace. I'm still trying to find the right balance of pushing effort/distance and pacing myself and getting some rest.
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Old 06-18-13, 03:59 PM
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I think you should congratulate yourself, you're hitting 20 miles!! That's nothing to sneeze at, couch potatoes should be worshiping you!! I've started using a Camelback on my rides, it's much easier for me to use so I tend to drink more. I had issues at first when reaching down for my water bottle so I tended not to until I really needed a drink. My Camelback is a 2liter which is a lot of water in addition to my single cage.
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Old 06-18-13, 04:02 PM
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Originally Posted by klepto1 View Post
@ 10 Wheels - You're making me hungry ... j/k.How long do you wait after that meal to jump on your bike?

@ BBeasley - I ride a hybrid bike. 2009 GT Transeo 5.0. I ride on roads, MUPs and through some parks. But at the end of the day they are all paved roads. Terrain always includes hills. I usually do about 3 - 4 miles on mostly flat terrain while I warm up, the rest is hilly. Right now I think the 20 mile route I shared was about 550ft of elevation. There is a different route that I sometimes take (although not recently) that is closer to about 1200ft of climbing. The rides I shared were only the long rides. I ride in between. I had 2 rides in between the two mentioned above. Outside of a week and a half I was sick in May I get about 3-4 rides in a week. I have less time to ride during the week so I might do about 12-15 miles at a harder pace. And depending on how my legs feel I might take a ride at a slower pace. I'm still trying to find the right balance of pushing effort/distance and pacing myself and getting some rest.
Oh, you're on your way... good job! Just stay at it.
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Old 06-18-13, 04:05 PM
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Big props!

I was in a similar boat early this year, my 4.3 mile commute to work was KICKING MY BUTT hardcore. I was completely wiped out and it took nearly 35 minutes (traffic and such). Now I can knock out the ride in 18 at a very moderate effort and feel great after. But I was also getting up at 5:45 am to go for a 10+ mile ride.

One thing that helped me is a heart rate monitor. I found my lactate threshold, basically where my body went into anaerobic work, and then found where I could pedal and not have to huff and puff to do so, basically a stable effort without staining myself. Once I found that I trained at that level, EVEN IF that meant I was going "too slow" for my liking. Within a few weeks of that I was able to increase my speed AND distance and see my working heart rate increase (which is why those increased). I went from about a 130-135 BPM to 150-155 BPM and can push into the upper 160s for a sprint or 2.

But those few weeks of having to go slow to stay in my target heart range seemed to drag on. Now I am glad I did, I went out for a 50 mile ride and had a goal to do it under 3 hours, I did it with flying colors, threw in some sprints for good measure, and felt great afterwards.

Keep at it! You got this, just LISTEN to your body and it's feedback, adjust accordingly, and then before you know it a 20 mile ride will be a warm-up before breakfast.
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Old 06-18-13, 04:14 PM
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Everyone has added good stuff.

It is really important to remember to eat before a ride, typically 1 - 2 hrs so the food/calories can process into energy and be used (up) during the ride. Fueling during a ride can also be helpful but that's strictly for "quick energy" generally needed after about 2 hours of riding or so. Eating just before a ride, generally not a great idea.

When I read this:

" 6/16 - this past sunday I had to run some errands and move some small furniture in the morning. I had a decent lunch with a friend (rice with black beans and roast pork). I knew I wanted to ride soon so I only a good portion of the meal, but didnt finish it because I didnt want to be stuffed while riding. So about an hour and a half almost two hours later I went on my ride. About 50 minutes in I stopped to get a gatorade and a cliff bar. Took two swigs of my gatorade. Rode about 5 more minutes to find a bench. Had half of my banana, two bites of the cliff bar and another sip of gatorade before mixing it with my remaining water. My bike computer stopped counting for a few minutes, so I dont know exactly how long it was, but about 30 minutes later, I had the other half of my banana and a few more nibbles of my cliff bar. Drank my watered down gatorade throughout the rest of the ride. From that point I don't feel like I really recovered any energy. Took my about 20 minutes to get back home, but the last 3 miles felt hard. Once I got home again I was closer to 19 miles, but I decided to not go the extra mile because I had no energy."

After such a big meal I am surprised you wanted to eat anything at all or even go for a ride! If I know I am riding, say starting at 8 am, the night before I have a good, but not large sensible meal, with complex carbs (ie veggies - only a little meat) and drink plenty of water (not Gatorade, water). The next morning i am up generally around 5:30a and make a breakfast of (1) small cup of coffee with cream and Splenda - (small amounts of caffeine are good), 2) 1/2 slice of toast with peanut butter and a small apple or a bowl of oatmeal with craisins or (small bowl) Cheerios with 1/2 banana (not all 3 - I bet 10 Wheels chooses only one item from his list not all of them).

During my ride (and I ride hard) I drink water. At about the 1 1/2 - 2 hr (or after 20 - 25 miles) mark, I might start nibbling on a Shok Bloc or fig cookie if I know I will be riding another hr or 4. For every 1/2 hour after 2 hrs I generally have a Shok Bloc or Fig cookie with water. Mountain biking is alittle different because of the intensity of the sport. I might start nibbling at about the 1 hr mark or so...

You eat right before a ride, you will feel sluggish as your body is now trying to process food into fuel instead of burning off calories you need for a ride. Also doesn't seem like you drink enough water - you should be sipping every 15 minutes, more if weather is warm. I will go through a 100 oz Camelbak on a 3 hours ride in warm weather.

Nutrition is all about planning... last minute stuff won't do the trick. But keep at it. Do some research on nutrition. Try to find a routine that works better for you. Also learn to pushed through the fatique. I sometimes real absolutely done but then get a second wind if I just stay with it!
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Old 06-18-13, 07:43 PM
  #16  
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Breakfast looks hearty! I doubt if calories is your problem.

Have you checked seat height? 95% of the riders I've ridden with have their seats too low and this causes higher stress on quads and hamstrings. On most bikes, a proper saddle height disables the ability to touch the ground with even one foot except with extremely unstable leaning on the tippy toes. It's hard to push more than 20 miles if your legs aren't getting sufficient extension during the rest phase of each stroke.

The second thing is to stop mashing in too low of a gear. Most riders I train with start out mashing too much, then periodically coast. They're using too high of a gear, averaging just 40 - 50 rpm on a ride. You can train for much shorter times and build endurance simply by using far lower gears and spinning at 70 - 80 rpm continuously without coasting very frequently.

The third thing is to examine your cardio workout and ask yourself just how long and how hard is your heart beating like it's going to come out of your chest? If you only hit this for 30 seconds during a 30 minute ride, it's unlikely that you'll improve much if any. If you're able to sustain that effort and endure a higher aerobic output for 20 - 30 minutes at a time, there could be massive benefits you could reap from this type of training. No, it's not easy, and if you have a history of heart disease, this may not be safe to start suddenly. But it really is the way to improve your endurance, to work at 60% or higher your max aerobic capacity continuously for a sustained period. Hill climbing is excellent for this kind of training and the burn on muscles, lungs, and if steep - the upper body is just exquisite and extremely beneficial.

The 4th thing to examine is frequency and schedule for riding. If you're training to build stamina for long rides, you should ride often. If you work out really hard, to the point where quads just above the knee or groin muscles are sore and may occasionally cramp at night while sleeping, then you worked out hard, and maybe ride every other day. If you aren't working quite that hard, then bike every day, and alternate your rides from pushing hard one day, and spinning in lower gear the next. Nothing like regular stress on the legs and cardio to cause the body to respond, heal, and improve. But if you're only riding twice on weekends, and going 5 days without riding, then you're not likely to achieve stamina.

The last thing to do consistently, is to assess your fitness on some ride segment 2 - 3 times per week. An easy way to do this is to do a mini time trial during your rides. Can you pedal 1 mile in 5 minutes? What about 1.5 miles? Can you do 2 miles (which would be phenomenal!!!)? Knowing how comfortably you can sustain a hard workout for 5 minutes and how far you can ride will give you a pretty good snapshot of your fitness. As your distance increases, you know you're improving.
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Old 06-18-13, 09:08 PM
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Have to admit that I didn't read every word of everyone's lengthy response. Good stuff there. My initial thoughts about reading your post is that you are not drinking enough water. Subsequent posts seem to confirm this. Additionally, I would like to suggest that during those periods when you can't or don't ride, that you walk. Walk around the block once or twice. Get some basic exercise to built up your endurance. It need not be a lot or intense, but something, any type of physical activity will help build your basic endurance.

Good luck. You are to be commended are doing well. Keep at it.
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Old 06-18-13, 10:28 PM
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I guess we are all different and need to find our own way with the nutrition and the bicycling.

My max ride is about 40 miles, but for a 20 or 30 mile ride, I generally eat nothing, and I drink little. For a 40 mile ride I would want a break with some food and water.

If I ate a huge breakfast, there is no way I could ride. My body would be so busy trying to digest all that stuff that I would have no energy left.

Another typical pattern would be a 20 mile ride, a stop at McD's for a fruit and yogurt parfait and a sausage burrito - about 350-400 calories - then a 45 minute swim, then another 5 miles or so.

That's what makes it so interesting - we are all so different.

So, you will have to find what works for you - and it may be quite different from what works for others.

Good luck and keep up the good work.

DnvrFox in Parker - 73.5yo, 215 lbs.
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Old 06-19-13, 08:21 AM
  #19  
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First: I echo the comments about eating less. Under 30-40 miles you shouldn't need to eat much, if at all. On days I do the local shop ride after work, I ride my 7 mile commute home, switch bikes, ride 2.5 miles to the shop, ride the 16 mile loop all out, then ride the 2.5 miles back home. THEN I eat a normal-sized dinner.

Second: instead of pushing up to your max miles on the infrequent times you ride, focus on riding at like 75% of that, but doing it more often...and try to do those rides on back-to-back days at least once a week. It's hard to build endurance if your rest days outnumber your riding days.

Finally, the thing that really strikes me about your rides is your high heart rate (161 average for 20 miles and 700 feet of climbing). Obviously, it's hard to make an accurate assessment without lots more information, but I find it interesting that, even on downhills where your speed doesn't really spike (indicating you aren't hammering on the descent), your HR doesn't really go down at all. For example, on your 20 mile ride, you hit a downhill section at about mile 12, and while your speed goes up a little, your HR is steady at over 160bpm. Comparing this to my own experience, on a recent ride my HR hit 170 on a hill around mile 80 (so my HR was trending higher in general because of the length), but within 60 seconds of cresting the hill it was back down to 108. The only places I see your HR come down in any meaningful way is when you stop completely, and even then it's still above 130. Again, that's on observation with a lot of unknown variables, but in general, it does seem like your HR is pretty high given the numbers I see for speed/cadence/elevation. Either that, our your HRM is screwy.
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Old 06-19-13, 09:07 AM
  #20  
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Go out and ride and have fun. On the days that you feel good ride hard on days that you don't feel good take it easy and notice that when you step off the bike that you feel better than when you stepped on the bike.

Just riding and having a good time will keep you motivated and the riding will help to keep you healthy. This is a win win situation.

If you are going to race, then get a coach and spend thousands of dollars on equipment. I think that I will just have fun.
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Old 06-19-13, 11:08 AM
  #21  
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Keep in mind that a 20 mile ride only burns up about 1000 - 1200 Cal.

Last edited by DnvrFox; 06-22-13 at 07:18 PM.
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Old 06-19-13, 11:15 AM
  #22  
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Welcome to the world of expectations exceeding abilities. Consistency is the key at whatever level you have. Because of a shoulder injury I'm just getting started riding this season. This time last year I had already gotten in 3 metric centuries in and really that's as far as I want to ride in a day. I'll be riding a max of 30 miles/day 3-4 times a week for a couple months kinda like I would have done back in March and April. Maybe in Sept I'll be ready for a Metric. I say that as someone that rode over 4000 miles last year.

I'd say ride whatever distance that keeps you riding 3-4 times a week. Your goal of 55 miles in a ride is pushing it for a goal of 1000 miles in a season.
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Old 06-19-13, 12:21 PM
  #23  
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I agree with all the comments about not needing that much fuel for a 20 mile ride. I think you may be bumping up against your conditioning limits rather than running out of fuel. In other words, additional GUs, Gatorade and Clif Bars won't get you home any easier or more comfortably.

The answer is more riding, and longer rides. Now, I admit I only scanned all the responses so far instead of reading them in detail, but I don't recall seeing anyone address the issue of building ride length, which seems to be the underlying goal of the OP. Ride as often as you can, and try bumping your mileage up every ride, a little bit each week. It doesn't have to be much, just 10%. Those increases will get greater as your ride length increases. Before you know it, you'll be well prepared for your 55 mile ride in September.
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Old 06-19-13, 12:49 PM
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Ride more is all I got. But it's also all you need at this point.
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Old 06-19-13, 01:25 PM
  #25  
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Seconding gyozadude's advice about checking saddle height and aiming for a high cadence. I also noticed that your heart rate was fairly consistent, except when you stopped. One way to lengthen a ride is to rest while riding: that is, slow down a bit. 1-2 mph makes a huge difference. The idea is similar to Jeff Galloway's run-walk approach to training for a marathon.

If you don't have a history of heart disease, you might mix in some interval training on days you do short rides. Tabata intervals (explained here) are unpleasant to do, but they're short and effective. There are other forms of somewhat less intense interval training that take somewhat longer but are also effective. Meanwhile, make sure you're not pushing yourself too hard on your long rides. My lactate threshold is around 165 bpm, and when I'm out for a long ride I try to keep my HR under 155 except on hills.

I also agree with Pamestique and others who say that looks like a lot of food for 20 miles. I personally don't bother eating during a ride of under 40 miles unless I'm hungry, or the destination of the ride is a café. Everyone is different, but I suspect it's your endurance that's limiting your riding, not your food. Most people have sufficient muscle and liver glycogen for a few hours of hard exercise.
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