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Discouraged Beginner - Any tips?

Road Cycling “It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle.” -- Ernest Hemingway

Discouraged Beginner - Any tips?

Old 04-19-16, 09:53 AM
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Eekthecat
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Discouraged Beginner - Any tips?

Let me preface this by saying that I have not done any real exercise for 15yrs... I'm 5'7" and currently ~165lbs. About 3 weeks ago, I picked up a bike (used craigslist Cannondale Supersix Evo 105 - fit checks out okay) and an indoor trainer (Tacx Neo - wife required "silence" as a feature). I subscribed to Strava and Zwift, and set out to give this whole thing a try -- mostly to get in better shape so I don't drop dead from a heart attack, but also because it's a lot of fun.

In the limited time I have for these indoor rides, I have no trouble puttering along at 12-15mph for 20 miles or so, but I recently did a 20min FTP test and the result was... 98W. I my limited time here on BF, I haven't seen a figure so low. That, combined with a short ride (12mi) I did with a friend (who rides about about 1-2 times a week max, for a year) where he rather effortlessly left me in the dust, has me discouraged and a bit concerned about whether I'm doing something wrong? I'm starting Zwift's 10-12w FTP builder training program, so is it a matter of time/effort?
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Old 04-19-16, 10:03 AM
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Make sure you brakes are not rubbing
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Old 04-19-16, 10:07 AM
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Ride more
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Old 04-19-16, 10:08 AM
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Keep riding. If you ride indoors and out and push yourself gradually, you will leave your occasional-riding friend in your dust. Or if that doesn't work, accuse him of doping.

Seriously, progress will come. Stay with the Zwift program supplemented by outdoor rides.
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Old 04-19-16, 10:10 AM
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EDIT: Looks like that Tacx trainer has a built in PM, so disregard what I said about inaccurate data.

Also, you yourself admitted you've done almost no exercise for 15 years and just started riding indoors 3 weeks ago with a single outdoor ride. You will need a LOT more time riding before you should worry about comparing yourself to other riders. Don't let it discourage you, it's such a great form of exercise and a great way to explore your area, and you apparently jumped right in and got a great bike.

Last edited by Dan333SP; 04-19-16 at 10:33 AM.
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Old 04-19-16, 10:15 AM
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You're pretty light already. Smoker? I mean I think the thing that can be taken away from this is that people vastly underestimate just how out of shape they can get. Also know that you do "get better" at those FTP tests. You're 3 weeks in. You have no idea how to pace yourself at this point. Thats something thats learned over hundreds of hours spent on the bike.
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Old 04-19-16, 10:17 AM
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Don't expect so much, so fast. And don't worry about your FTP, average speed, or any other numbers until you've been riding for at least a year.
Maybe the friend who dropped you has been riding for years? He didn't just buy a bike the same time you did and suddenly become fast, he's had time to work at it.
I think it might have even been a mistake to buy a power meter this soon--just go out an fart around on your bike and have fun. Remember how much fun it was to screw around on BMX bikes with your friends? I'd opt toward that end of the spectrum right now, over focusing on your Watts (which is based on a unit of work).
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Old 04-19-16, 10:20 AM
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Originally Posted by calamarichris View Post
Maybe the friend who dropped you has been riding for years? He didn't just buy a bike the same time you did and suddenly become fast, he's had time to work at it.
Or maybe not. Never too early to accept that this is a sport where having the right parents determines alot of your potential.
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Old 04-19-16, 10:31 AM
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Just ride more and don't look at your numbers. Really, you're coming from a base of Zero. So anything you do is better than nothing. Once you get more miles in, your power numbers will increase, but just looking at the numbers can be disheartening. When I race, I actually tape over my computer so I don't see any numbers.
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Old 04-19-16, 10:41 AM
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Originally Posted by Eekthecat View Post
Let me preface this by saying that I have not done any real exercise for 15yrs... I'm 5'7" and currently ~165lbs. About 3 weeks ago, I picked up a bike (used craigslist Cannondale Supersix Evo 105 - fit checks out okay) and an indoor trainer (Tacx Neo - wife required "silence" as a feature). I subscribed to Strava and Zwift, and set out to give this whole thing a try -- mostly to get in better shape so I don't drop dead from a heart attack, but also because it's a lot of fun.

In the limited time I have for these indoor rides, I have no trouble puttering along at 12-15mph for 20 miles or so, but I recently did a 20min FTP test and the result was... 98W. I my limited time here on BF, I haven't seen a figure so low. That, combined with a short ride (12mi) I did with a friend (who rides about about 1-2 times a week max, for a year) where he rather effortlessly left me in the dust, has me discouraged and a bit concerned about whether I'm doing something wrong? I'm starting Zwift's 10-12w FTP builder training program, so is it a matter of time/effort?
Welcome to BF, this is a great place to find advice, information, and some flame-throwing abuse.

If your 3 weeks into biking, give yourself some time to both learn and get stronger. It takes time.

Lisa (Mrs Toad) been riding regularly for the last 7-8 years, doing 500 to 1000 miles a year. She has become stronger year-over-year, but nothing exception. Then she found Zwift and started the FTP training program. She was learning to ride smarter as well as getting stronger. The result: she started her outdoor season with strong rides - Strava PRs on segments she's ridden dozens of times. Based on what I've seen with Lisa, I would recommend the FTP training series on Zwift... or any of the Zwift training programs.
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Old 04-19-16, 10:42 AM
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Ride more, look at numbers less.

Look at numbers after you are where you want to be from a feel standpoint (a year).
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Old 04-19-16, 10:43 AM
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Originally Posted by Doge View Post
Ride more, look at numbers less.

Look at numbers after you are where you want to be from a feel standpoint (a year).
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Old 04-19-16, 10:46 AM
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It's definitely a matter of time. I remember when I determined I wanted to get in shape by riding, I was in high school and 250lb, I got the bike I had access to, a rigid mtb, and rode it maybe 5 miles. I got home exhausted and threw up in the yard. Over time I increased my distance and speed until I maxed out what that bike could do on the road. Once I had a road bike I kept getting faster and able to go further. It will come to you, but you have to put in the time. If you start from zero, then it's a truly painful experience kickstarting your body to do anything. You've already got a bike and have started to work at it, that's the hardest part.
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Old 04-19-16, 10:48 AM
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You're making it seem like work. It's supposed to be fun. Enjoy your rides for what they are. You will improve with time in the saddle.
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Old 04-19-16, 10:48 AM
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Originally Posted by therhodeo View Post
Or maybe not. Never too early to accept that this is a sport where having the right parents determines alot of your potential.
"A LOT of your potential"? I doubt it. Perhaps 5%. The rest is fitness.

If his friend has been riding twice a week for a year, that EASILY explains any difference in fitness. Regular riding will take care of that...outside riding is more fun, unless you've got a giant TV in front of you trainer and you can binge-watch your favorite shows on Netflix while you ride...
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Old 04-19-16, 10:54 AM
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Originally Posted by 12strings View Post
"A LOT of your potential"? I doubt it. Perhaps 5%. The rest is fitness.

If his friend has been riding twice a week for a year, that EASILY explains any difference in fitness. Regular riding will take care of that...outside riding is more fun, unless you've got a giant TV in front of you trainer and you can binge-watch your favorite shows on Netflix while you ride...
If it makes you feel better to believe that go for it.
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Old 04-19-16, 10:56 AM
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3 weeks? Dude! Forget about the numbers! Go out and ride your bike and just have fun. You gotta have a foundation to build on before you start worrying about raising your FTP. Look at it this way: for 15 years you did nothing... but you've now been at it for three weeks. Every time you swing your leg over the bike is a small victory that should be enjoyed as you get closer to what should be your (for now) goal of improved fitness. The numbers will follow in due time. And don't listen to anyone that tells you you may not have "the right parents".... I have a friend with a paralyzed son (from birth) who will NEVER even walk. Just be thankful, enjoy each ride and take it one day at a time.

Good luck!
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Old 04-19-16, 10:56 AM
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Jeez, you just started; cut yourself some slack.

Make sure there's nothing wrong with the bike and just ride more. You don't have to kill yourself; do a little more every few rides and you will get better.

Above all, keep it fun...
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Old 04-19-16, 10:57 AM
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Originally Posted by Eekthecat View Post
I'm starting Zwift's 10-12w FTP builder training program, so is it a matter of time/effort?
Yes. If you haven't exercised for 15 years, it's not realistic to expect to jump in and keep up with people who've worked hard for many years -- all the time and effort they invested makes a major difference. For a bit of perspective, many people here (including myself) believe that for every week you spend off the bike, it takes a month to recover that fitness.

Plus, there's more technique to cycling than most people realize. There is a reason why a lot of people with gray in their hair seem to do so well against very physically strong 20 somethings.

Just keep riding, don't worry about comparing yourself to others, and you'll be fine. 3 weeks is very little time, and the improvement shows up slowly over time. As others have suggested, it might not be a bad idea to ignore the numbers for now. Or if you must look at numbers, look at ones that only give good news or help you set rhythm/pace -- i.e. odometer, cadence, and heart rate.
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Old 04-19-16, 10:58 AM
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Like has been said you really have to put your time in with cycling to see real results. When I started I was 30 pounds overweight and it took a year of riding to lose it all.
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Old 04-19-16, 11:04 AM
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Originally Posted by 12strings View Post
"A LOT of your potential"? I doubt it. Perhaps 5%. The rest is fitness.
Depends what you have as goals. Riding with groups - keeping up. Maybe some can never do that, most can.

The higher you go, the more the genes matter.
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Old 04-19-16, 11:08 AM
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Rome wasn't built in a day. You cannot expect not to exercise for 15 years, then start cycling or exercising a bit and expect to be in outstanding shape. Consistency wins. Keep at it and don't expect instantaneous results.
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Old 04-19-16, 11:15 AM
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Another vote for riding more. I started last summer and had similar numbers, and have made progress since. If I can, anyone can.
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Old 04-19-16, 11:18 AM
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You have motivation! That's the biggest obstacle to getting good at anything. Keep at it and enjoy the motivation while you have it. I'm to the point where I have to keep buying new stuff to keep me motivated. That's a slippery slope.
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Old 04-19-16, 11:21 AM
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Originally Posted by Doge View Post
The higher you go, the more the genes matter.
but most won't ever go that high, and OP certainly never asked how soon he should obtain a UCI license. Telling an already discouraged new rider that their problems are rooted in genetics and they can never amount to anything no matter how hard they work is hogwash and extraordinarily counterproductive. Any person with a reasonable commitment to improving and no outstanding medical conditions should be able to become at least a respectable club racer if they desired to. At the very top level it matters, where the only differences between riders in terms of advantages available to them are the riders themselves, an inherent lineage that's conducive to racing would matter. At the level of almost everyone else, blaming your genes is a convenient excuse.

(Not singling you out Doge, but it seemed like an appropriate way to continue the conversation. I wholeheartedly agree that top level riders are all morphological outliers to reach the top, but the average enthusiasts goals won't be broken by their lineage)
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