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Finding The Zone

Old 08-18-14, 10:46 AM
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Finding The Zone

So by Zone I mean 2 things which I will lay out below

Firstly, The zone I want to reach is to really enjoy cycling. I bought the new road bike I bought some accessories and i browse pages and pages of products that i would love to add to my biking experience. I would love a new pair of gloves and some new pedals with some nice cleats. I love the research, I love to watch videos.......i don't really love biking. Its a chore for me to do. I am not chomping at the bit to go out a bike. I have put about a hundred miles on my bike in a little over a week but it was more or less a forced action on my part. What do you do to turn this around?

Secondly, The zone being performance. I want to be riding and peddling non stop. Where I am at right now I have found a comfortable cadence that i am able to maintain for long stretches, but anything above that and i find myself needing to coast from leg fatigue. In a week i saw a 1mph boost in my average but that means I am only averaging around 13mph. I can do longer rides since i am by no means burnt out at the end but my rides just take to long to finish and it starts getting too dark. I cant start earlier because of kids/work so i'm stuck. Are there any methods you guys use to improve cadence and speed?
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Old 08-18-14, 11:03 AM
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You should get lots of good answers. But I suspect the problem is the same as anyone. Wanting it all at once and too soon. If you are at 13 mph average after 100 miles, that seems very good. I am at 500 miles and have only averaged that on one ride. However in those 500 miles I have gone from a slow 8.5 mph to 12+ in 4 months. And my cadence has gone from at 65 rmp to about 72. It's just a matter of spending time on the saddle.

What makes it fun form me is changing up the routes. Not doing the same thing over and over again. And going to new paths on saturdays for my long ride.
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Old 08-18-14, 11:32 AM
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To keep it or make it fun don't worry about speed or distance. Ride for time. Enjoy the world passing by. 13 mph average early on is great. Over time, possibly longer than you hope you will get faster and stronger. To ride faster you have to ride faster. To ride with a faster cadence you have to pedal faster. In bath cases there really are no shortcuts, just time on the bike. At the stage you are now you will see the most dramatic gains seemingly overnight. Enjoy all the small gains.
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Old 08-18-14, 11:46 AM
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Originally Posted by Black wallnut
To ride faster you have to ride faster. To ride with a faster cadence you have to pedal faster.
Sounds silly, but true.

For your first question - why is it a chore? For me, there are days when I do NOT want to put on my gear and do NOT want to go out there and ride around but 100% of the time, if I put on my bibs and head out the door, I enjoy my ride. If I have a planned ride with other people then I AM champing at the bit to get going, or if I plan a long ride to accomplish something (like riding to my daughter's soccer game 50 miles away). that sort of thing gets me going. Routine riding around the block is very difficult to get excited for, personally. I take my kids to soccer practice twice a week (different teams, same field, same coach, so it's a 3 hour block of time) and I go for a ride instead of sitting there gossiping with the other parents. I don't have any problems getting motivated for those rides; there's something about being away from all the distractions of home that makes it OK, I don't know why.

Your second question - "they" say you need to get at least 500 miles in your legs before you start worrying about speed. I would add that comparing average speed over a whole ride is very difficult too - it won't change much and it's hard to tell if you're actually doing better or not. Make sure you get at least 1 or two easy days in every week. Finding strava was a boon for me too - I can go for a ride and cherry pick portions of the ride that I really want to hammer and improve on, and it's immediately obvious when you do better on a particular hill or stretch of road. I'll never be at the top of any leader boards around here but it works great for personal records & motivation. You can also work on little aspects of your riding (today, I'm going to average 85 rpm, for instance).

Last - get some good lights so you can ride after the sun goes down. I had to remount mine last week. You can get good magicshine clone lights for around $30 and they're plenty bright - it shouldn't stop you from riding after sundown.

It's really hard to balance work, kids and cycling but it can be done with a little flexibility and an accommodating spouse.
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Old 08-18-14, 11:53 AM
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I work on my cadence Monday-Friday. On Saturdays, I ride just to ride. I keep my head up and not looking at my bike computer, I keep the pedaling easy and I bike longer. In the end, I find my average speed to be very close to my "harder" rides. But each month I gain a bit more speed, a bit less fatigue. And each month I love cycling more.
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Old 08-18-14, 12:27 PM
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Originally Posted by linnefaulk
.... But each month I gain a bit more speed, a bit less fatigue. And each month I love cycling more.
+1



I think there are 2 ways to get better speed/ faster cadence....
1. work on it on purpose.
2. spend lots of time riding and your body becomes more efficient and you naturally improve at a slow rate.

Is it a chore because that is what you are making it? Always wanting improvements and pushing yourself for those improvements? is it a chore because you aren't actually doing any rides for enjoyment? Try doing a ride without a purpose or that purpose of being not to push on your ride or work on anything. Instead focus on everything but your efforts. Notice the pretty joggers, the deer you might have seen, the flowers, the dog that might try to bite you. Focus on all of these things. That was one thing I wanted to ensure I keep doing with my wife. At least spend some of our rides just chatting and looking around. Because after all, that is why I started to begin with.
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Old 08-18-14, 12:44 PM
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It's a chore and you don't like to bike? Swim or run? How long have you been biking ? Bike set up ? Distances covered? Try some long slow distances, like 3-4 hours @ 75% effort.
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Old 08-18-14, 01:11 PM
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I just got the bike like a week and a half ago so its about that long that I am trying seriously. I used a mountain bike on the same trail on and off over the years but never with the intensity that i am doing now. I really think it becomes a chore because I am out of shape. My route is 17.5 miles which i do between 3-5 times a week. I find i am riding to get it done not to ride. I have the lights...i use the apps (mapmyride) i listen to music. From what you folks are telling me 13mph average is good, but i feel slow. In the end i am riding to lose weight so I forgo the fun ride for a ride that would give me more results.

Just this past friday i felt like i had really done well and was expecting my fastest times and speed yet....i ended up with a 13.2mph average after posting a 13.4 the day before. I was pretty disappointed.

How are you guys calculating RPMs?

*EDIT* In reality after reading this post i gotta say on and off riding is probably inaccurate. I would say its been 5+ years since I have ridden anything over a mile

Last edited by Armyofscipio; 08-18-14 at 01:15 PM.
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Old 08-18-14, 01:23 PM
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Group rides did it for me. I was riding for the sake of weight loss and fitness, when I discovered group riding everything changed. I started riding during the week so I could do better on the weekend group rides, weight loss became secondary. First thing I knew I had a new hobby that happened to be good for me.

I think the speed thing gets to most of us. I couldn't for the life of me understand how folks rode as fast as they do. Cycling fitness takes years/decades, as you force adaptation your body builds extra vasculature in your legs and extra lung tissue in your lungs. The good news is you get faster, if you keep pushing, as the years go by. The bad news is it takes time. You'll run into some very ordinary folks that are very fast on a bike, ask them how long they've been riding? Keep at it and one day you'll be one.

RPM/candence: I use a Garmin that has this feature.
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Old 08-18-14, 01:36 PM
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Is this trail paved? 17 miles 3-5 times a week is a very good start. I don't even have a bike computer on 2 of my commuters. Are you riding and a bike path? Not going to get fast on one of those. What kind of bike are you using? Why are you so focused on speed? 1.5 weeks? Try 6 months and check back. You can ride to have fun and get in shape too. I commute to work some of the time. 18 miles one way 2-6 trips per week. 2,200 commuter miles last year. Can you bike commute to work? Errands/ utility rides? Kids in a trailer, that could be a work out.
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Old 08-18-14, 01:40 PM
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Originally Posted by Armyofscipio
Just this past friday i felt like i had really done well and was expecting my fastest times and speed yet....i ended up with a 13.2mph average after posting a 13.4 the day before. I was pretty disappointed.

How are you guys calculating RPMs?
13 is a little bit slow but it's not bad for an overall ride average, and you can expect to improve after you put more than a week into it.

Anyway, you should find a way to parse out your rides - a full ride 13.4 is hard to compare to a 13.2. One or two more red lights can be enough to change it.

RPMs come from my garmin. There are cheaper computers out there that will display your cadence as well. or you can just count pedal revolutions for 6 seconds and multiply by 10. It doesn't have to be perfect.
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Old 08-18-14, 02:55 PM
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as per your first stage.
If you love the online research and what not, use that into your own gear versus always having gear envy. Learn how your bike works and how to maintain it, fine tune it. Know how to tune it on the fly w/o having to get off the bike and stop. Keeping it clean and tuned up will save many headache when you're on the road.

as per your second stage.
already 100 miles a week and you're well on the way to get fit and faster!! as what some of the others said. Ride for TIME not miles. They will go hand in hand as you go along for what route you will plan. Don't break down average speed per week, you will not see much change and most of the time there are plenty of other elements that will dictate that. winds, hills, red lights, flats, traffic ect. Look at it 2-4 month windows. If you can't wait that long, use and upload files to Stava. The segments others or you make will keep you "honest" with your efforts
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Old 08-18-14, 03:01 PM
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I also depend on my Garmin for RPM. Counting one foot for 6 seconds and multiplying by 10 works great as well as Trojanhorse mentioned. Or the old school way is find a comfortable cadence then shift to one easier gear and spin faster. Keep doing this every other ride or every other mile or something along those lines. You also need to use a slower cadence at times to build strength in your muscles. Also get out of the saddle every now and then to build the whole package.

I started riding to help with weight loss and gain fitness. Both happened but I also changed how I ate. Cycling became a passion. Now I can't seem to get enough.
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Old 08-18-14, 04:34 PM
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I think I have always had a passion for cycling, this is my third time being "recycled" after periods where I set it aside, looking to make this time a permanent thing. I am almost always ready to be out the door for a ride every morning, now and then I have the "I'd rather not today" feeling but it is gone before I get out of the driveway.

I got recycled this time June first, I rode 8.01 miles on June 1, 2014, my average speed was 12.38 mph, I finished June with 310.09 miles total, average ride was 11.07 miles, average speed was 12.51 miles. July was 521.57 miles, average ride was 17.99 miles, average speed was 13.64 mph.

August has been 296.49 miles so far, average ride is 21.18 miles, average speed is 13.11 mph, BUT in August I decided to add structure to my training with the aid of a heart rate monitor rather than probably overtraining by blasting around every day with an average HR of 160. I do take a day off the bike if it is raining when I get up, or likely to rain during my ride, I just walk 30 minutes those days.

I was going to do 2 hard days a week but revised that to one for now, that is usually some kind of intervals, followed by zone 3 riding, the day following that is zone 1, then the other days of the week will be zone 3 rides. I just got a book on cycling training so my structure no doubt will change. On the zone 3 days at times I work on high cadence spinning. Looking forward to getting a set of rollers to work with this winter.

I cannot tell the OP how to gain a passion for cycling, maybe you are born with it ?? To me riding a downhill on a nice smooth road bike is the closest to flying I come every week (my present bike is not a road bike, but hehe). Pedaling on a nice smooth slight downhill with a tailwind and screaming along at 25mph (pretty fast on a hybrid hehe) is exhilarating :-).

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Old 08-18-14, 05:55 PM
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Originally Posted by Armyofscipio
I really think it becomes a chore because I am out of shape. My route is 17.5 miles which i do between 3-5 times a week. I find i am riding to get it done not to ride. I have the lights...i use the apps (mapmyride) i listen to music. From what you folks are telling me 13mph average is good, but i feel slow. In the end i am riding to lose weight so I forgo the fun ride for a ride that would give me more results.
Don't ride to lose weight. Fix your diet to lose the weight. Ride for fitness & fun. It shouldn't be a chore, you can do shorter rides, half an hour, even just 20 minutes, with some intensity (find some hills, maybe throw in some intervals, if you want to work harder, but not really necessary since you've only been at it a couple weeks), don't feel like you need to do the whole route to burn extra calories if you aren't having fun. It's a lot easier to just not eat the calories than to burn them off. You can still improve fitness quite a lot with shorter rides 3-5 times a week. Hold off on longer rides until your fitness improves some, maybe a month or two, then they should be fun not a chore? Find new routes, should be fun exploration, not something merely to be endured. If after you get in better shape, it's still not fun, then maybe cycling isn't for you & should find a different sport.

When I first returned to cycling last year after 15 years away, I didn't ride over 12 miles a day for first two months, just did < 6 mile commutes. I was doing centuries by month 8. Don't have to push yourself before you & your body are ready and eager to do so.

Last edited by stephtu; 08-18-14 at 06:03 PM.
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Old 08-18-14, 06:20 PM
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Forgot to mention that the "old school" base building phase was 1000 miles at the beginning of each season. Joe Friel the author of "the cyclists training bible" says in some cases that is too much, in others it is not enough. The author says however that it takes 8 years for an athlete to really become engaged, and they usually will continue to improve for up to 3 more years.

from that I take that for many of us we are only in the earliest stages of that process :-).

looking at my riding as "training" has put some things in a new light.....my passion for it drives me......but adding structure gives me more value for my investment :-)
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Old 08-18-14, 07:38 PM
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I used to ride a 10 mile loop day in and day out and it became boring. Then a few months into this I started going out on a D group ride. Love the comrades. Going for my first pint ride Wednesday weather permitting. Meeting and riding with other people challenged me and pushed me. I'm coming up to a year back on the bike and even though I'm not as fast as I think I should be (who is) but when I look back at my average speed, Strava segments and how my heart rate has changed riding at the same pace. There has been tremendous changes including going off medication. Now during this time I have dropped almost 30 lbs and that gets me excited.
Some days I ride for Hill climbing for strength, others it's a flatter route and one day is where I try and get the miles in. I ride at a comfortable pace, enjoy my surroundings and breath the air. It's great for stress relief.
Something that was a great purchase was a Garmin. It has allowed me to follow routes I would never have ventured and allowed me to find a quick route home this weekend when I wasn't feeling too good.
Variety is the spice of life. And if that doesn't work, try something else.

Just try to be better than yourself.
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Old 08-18-14, 09:13 PM
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For just starting out 13 is a great pace. If you want to get faster you'll have to make *some* of the riding uncomfortable but as you are proclaimed new cyclist my opinion would be for you to build endurance first. I keep reflecting back to a saying a guy told me that I asked to coach me after I was doing this for maybe 18 months. He said...

Come back to me when you have 3,000 miles in; and I expect you back in 3 months.

Originally Posted by bbeasley
Group rides did it for me. I was riding for the sake of weight loss and fitness, when I discovered group riding everything changed. I started riding during the week so I could do better on the weekend group rides, weight loss became secondary. First thing I knew I had a new hobby that happened to be good for me.

I think the speed thing gets to most of us. I couldn't for the life of me understand how folks rode as fast as they do. Cycling fitness takes years/decades, as you force adaptation your body builds extra vasculature in your legs and extra lung tissue in your lungs. The good news is you get faster, if you keep pushing, as the years go by. The bad news is it takes time. You'll run into some very ordinary folks that are very fast on a bike, ask them how long they've been riding? Keep at it and one day you'll be one.

RPM/candence: I use a Garmin that has this feature.
I still don't understand.
As @TrojanHorse wrote me one day...

There will always be someone faster than you.

In my case it's many that are faster. I get shelled off the back in an indoor trainer session

I also have a Garmin Edge that can give me all the data that I need. When paired with a power meter it gives me more than I want at times...
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Old 08-18-14, 09:19 PM
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Throw the electronics away for now. When you were a kid, riding a bike was pure joy. I think we screw that up with our gizmos and monitors and gps and ARRGH! Just ride where you want and how far you want. If it is fun, you will do it more. And then guess what? You'll start getting better. When that happens, start using the tools. I can totally understand how one can become addicted to Strava. So I make a conscious effort to only do a few Strava rides a month.

I am guilty of this kind of obsession/goal fixation myself. I've got to get XXX miles for the week, climb YYYY feet. Last Saturday, I went on a ride with my gf. She rides for pure joy and it was the most fun ride of the week. It reminded me of why I love it. That's the feeling we all need to hold on to when we ride.
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Old 08-18-14, 10:26 PM
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Originally Posted by IBOHUNT
As @TrojanHorse wrote me one day...

There will always be someone faster than you.

In my case it's many that are faster. I get shelled off the back in an indoor trainer session


In your case, I believe I said there will always be somebody "Younger" and "Better Looking"..... not sure about the faster part.

But Armyofscipio - it's probably important to note that there are LOADS of different ways to calculate average speed and the most common way these days is to let your garmin delete the stopped time from the calculation. if you are doing a simple miles traveled divided by time out then your number is probably lower than what everybody else is using. Don't despair.
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Old 08-19-14, 07:59 AM
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@raceboy I find your advice interesting in that it is the exact opposite from what I would advise. Everyone is different and your advice probably is good for many. The Op will need to decide if it is right for himself. My riding did not really take off nor did my weight loss until after the addition of a smart phone app with the social media interface. it was the accountability and comments from my family and friends that fueled my desire to improve and keep getting out there. Feed back from folks that have only known the fat me offering me kudos and encouragement telling me that I was an inspiration for them to get out. One of these people was a distance runner that was doubtful ever overweight a day in his life. Sadly Facebook is not quite the same anymore and what worked for me might not work for others now. The important part of this was that I had a cheering squad supporting me and following my progress. I made my goals of fitness and weight loss know and knowing my friends were watching kept me accountable to those goals and myself. It worked. I have become a much better cyclist but still get spit out the back on most group rides. Yet I am an inspiration to others that are faster than I am both near and far.

IMHO the key is to feed whatever it is that motivates the rider and in the OP case it seems to be the desire to enjoy the ride and gain speed. To get faster you have to ride faster and to know you need to track it.
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Old 08-19-14, 08:07 AM
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Originally Posted by TrojanHorse


In your case, I believe I said there will always be somebody "Younger" and "Better Looking"..... not sure about the faster part.
Well, it's true. Past Saturday proved my point. Whooped by ~5 minutes in a 40K so you, my good man, are 3 for 3.

Originally Posted by TrojanHorse
But Armyofscipio - it's probably important to note that there are LOADS of different ways to calculate average speed and the most common way these days is to let your garmin delete the stopped time from the calculation. if you are doing a simple miles traveled divided by time out then your number is probably lower than what everybody else is using. Don't despair.
Agreed, don't despair. Ride lots; speed will come. Fitness will come which generates more speed, which generates more fitness.... Like a dawg chasin it's tail.
Sure the improvements will slow; it's not a linear progression as there's that law of physics BS to get past but improvements will come. Get on Strava and create some segments that are private. You will see yourself improve which boots your confidence and will make you want to go out. You'll then be saying... "remember when a 15 mph average was stoopid fast and now it's a Z2 ride?"

How to calculate overall average is one I agree with other here on. The ride I did on Sunday the 10th had 38 minutes of non moving time, which I (nor Strava) count. Take the non-moving time into account and my "speed" (for the lack of better terms like 'slug') drops off 1.5 mph. There was no stopping the last 2 hours of that ride. It was all Rule 9. South Carolina afternoon downpour

As for the second stage - it's tough some days but like @TrojanHorse said - If I get to where my kit is on then it's going to be a ride day.
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Old 08-19-14, 08:07 AM
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I am really glad I logged almost every ride so far in cyclemeter. I was logging walks before that so it was a natural progression to log rides, it is nice to have that data to look back at :-). If you only have a simple cycle computer and no smart phone you can write a paper log, or manually enter it into cyclemeter or another ap.

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Old 08-19-14, 08:32 AM
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Everyone seems to be using Strava. Is this the better option? I use mapmyride to record because that is what the people i sometimes ride with use so we are up to date on each others rides and such.

Part of the desire to be faster and push harder is riding with other people. I ride with a small group of mostly family members who for the most part are all faster than me. They will hold up for me most times and to me this feels worse than if they just left me in the dust. Knowing they are being held back by me is bothersome. I check their stats on mapmride and they are maybe pulling 2mph average more than i am but it just seems like light years.

I may try the more structured approach. I enjoy having specific goals and trying to meet them. A riders training book would be good for me i think because it sets out a detailed plan on how to get results.

What would be the best books for that? I think i saw the cyclists training bible or somthing like that in a previous post
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Old 08-19-14, 08:47 AM
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Do you have a heart rate meter? You can do a pretty good training program with just an HR meter, although power is superior (it also leaves your pocket book nice and thin). The cyclists training bible is pretty dense reading. If you're in to that sort of thing by all means, get one. Your chief limitation right now is just a lack of rides though.

I don't know what map my ride does for you - the part of strava that I like is a) a record of all the riding I've done and b) the concept of segments...

map my ride may have segments now too, seems like everybody does. use THOSE to gauge you progress, not your overall speed. Obviously, you'll want to start your ride at a reasonable, warm-up pace so why beat yourself up about a lower average speed?

If your family members are "holding up" to ride with you then it's because they want to, not because they have to. You don't have to go 100% every ride, maybe they just enjoy getting out and spinning around.
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