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

"Improvement"

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Old 10-05-06, 06:55 AM
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Hipcycler
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"Improvement"

....take two....(I wrote a long post about this yesterday afternoon and it never showed up. I guess there was a little server issue again for a while yesterday, so here is the shorter version)....

My point here is that improvement is something different for all of us, and can not simply be measured by time or distance.

My question here is what defines improvement for you?

I've been thinking about this as another outdoor season comes to a close and I start planning next season's goals....improvement....what would that mean for me.

I posted here earlier in the week about a ride I did, and someone sort of took me to task about it, saying basically that I am nuts if I think I can keep riding the same route the same way as my training and expect to improve. But I beg to differ. Despite that, I DID improve. I rode a solo 72 mile ride Monday in some nasty wind. I had done the same ride in spring and had to walk up part of a steep hill toward the end of the ride. Monday, no walking....no cramping...I did the entire thing in four MORE minutes than in spring, but I felt I improved because of how I felt the entire time on this ride.

Next season improvement = ?

I'd say being able to go faster for longer when riding with a group.
As for a more specific goal, I'd like to do my first 40-50 mile ride with an average of 20 mph. I've done a 50-mile ride with a 19 as my best.

I'd like to be able to ride longer chunks of time at 20+ mph in a paceline too.

So the bottom line is how, with limited scheduled time for riding, do I use my 26-mile route to better train next season to become faster?

Step one: Practice riding faster...focus on that portion I guess.
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Old 10-05-06, 06:59 AM
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For me, improvement really starts to make itself known when my recovery time at the top of a hill or after a hard sprint is noticeably shorter than any time in the past/current season. However, I do pay attention to all the other standard variables for improvment: average speed on the same routes, distance/endurance, abitlity to hold speed with a fast group, ability to bridge gaps without blowing up, seeing the miles add up in my cycling log, etc.
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Old 10-05-06, 07:00 AM
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For me it is hill climbing. I am fast on the flats.....time trial type of guy....but I loose on the hills. So power is where I need to get better.
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Old 10-05-06, 07:09 AM
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Hip, you definitely improved this year. And I'm not just blowing hearts and rainbows up your keester, either.

You achieved your goal to ride 100 miles. You realized that it wasn't your cup of tea. Just finding that out is an improvement in your riding knowledge.

"Improvement" is different for all of us. Some of us race at a very high level, so improvement may be the leap from Cat 5 to Cat 4 and so on. For some it's not getting dropped by the A group on a club ride. For some of us just want to get out and ride for hours on end to enjoy the sites, sounds, suffering and elation brought on by a satisfying ride.

I consider a major improvement in my riding this year the fact that I met so many local riders that I can easily meet up with. At times they push me to my limits. At times we just chat about cycling and life. And at certain times they waited up for me when I bonked and told them to just go on ahead. I still enjoy a good solo ride to clear my head and feel at peace, but having a local support network has been a huge "improvement" in my passion for cycling. It's not all about how fast you go; it's about the quality of the experience.
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Old 10-05-06, 07:16 AM
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Man, it's almost winter, isn't it? I'm looking forward to it a tiny bit because I know I need to improve on a few things. I don't have any huge goals left for the year and I recently failed a big goal of mine, so I've been looking ahead a little bit.

My main objective is to power up like Super Mario. I'm a distance kind of guy, and my legs wear out a lot sooner than my lungs do. I have more of a climber's type of body, but that does me no good here in Toledo. What I need to be able to do around here is hammer on the flats, something that just isn't natural to me. I actually plan on gaining weight (and not the fat kind ) this winter because I think that will help me, especially into the wind. I'm going to focus a lot on building strength probably from December to maybe the middle of February. Then I'll start working on the endurance again, but hopefully working at a higher speed than before.

Improvement to me is going to mean going faster on longer rides. I don't care how fast I can sprint, how fast I can do a short TT, or any of that stuff. I haven't set all of my 2007 goals yet, but I know 2 of them. 1. Solo century in under 5 hours. 2. Solo double in under 12 hours.
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Old 10-05-06, 09:37 AM
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Cycling and the goals that I make are the one thing that I do for myself and the satisfaction that I get from riding influences everything else that I do. My goals are all about becoming a stronger rider and enjoying the experience more. Since I don't have much time to train, most of the goals I write down have to make sense over a longer period of time. It makes sense to me at least that the first step in realizing your individual goals comes through recognizing some of the limitations we face, face the reality of everything and move forward/evolve from there.

"You are all Champions in your own way. That doesn't mean you have to be number 1 or be the best. Just do your best. If you aren't first, then make those people ahead of you break records by pushing them with your personal best. Consider for a moment what we achieve from athletics - the sheer fun of competing - the building of a healthy and alert mind and body - stamina, courage, perseverance, dedication, commitment, selflessness and most importantly, the will to excel." Unknown

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Old 10-05-06, 09:39 AM
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improvement for me is based on perceived effort. If, on day one, I do Ride X at a PE of 7, and on day 100 I repeat Ride X at a PE of 3, I consider that improvement.
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Old 10-05-06, 10:02 AM
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I find it more and more difficult to find goals, and I do believe you need goals in cycling. I've gone into a pretty deep funk since the BFNIC century because I have nothing to look forward to now.

I'm toying with riding a century every month for a year. I have until the end of November to worry about that one though. I will only need 6 more.

My son will be old enough to get in a trailer next year so now I am looking at trying to set personal records for rides with a trailer. Think a 1 year old can handle a century in a trailer???

If my job situation changes and everything looks OK I might even try next year to get down further in weight to 165-ish (lose about 15-20lbs) and look to pick up some crits nexts fall just for poops and laughs.

Hey it will give me something to work for....
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Old 10-05-06, 10:03 AM
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Originally Posted by woodcycl
For me, improvement really starts to make itself known when my recovery time at the top of a hill or after a hard sprint is noticeably shorter than any time in the past/current season.
+1000

I also am finding that the guys I ride with are no longer waiting for me. In fact, on Monday my regular partner ended up nearly 1/2 mile behind me on a long, gradual climb. My endurance, especially at the end of a ride is much greater than it has been. I'm also finding that I can stay in the bigring/smallring mostly all the time (other than hills of course) and that I can maintain 30 MPH on a flat for a mile or more. These are things I could not come close to doing just 3 months ago.
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Old 10-05-06, 10:04 AM
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Originally Posted by CyLowe97
It's not all about how fast you go; it's about the quality of the experience.
That is truth, brother...
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Old 10-05-06, 10:08 AM
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Originally Posted by CyLowe97
<snip>It's not all about how fast you go; it's about the quality of the experience.
I'm sure you'll probably also say its not about the size, but how you use it....





...for bike frames....right???
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Old 10-05-06, 10:09 AM
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improvement for me would be not fading so quickly taking pulls at the front. i'd like to be able to stay up there longer without having to resort to wheel sucking to stay with the pack.
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Old 10-05-06, 10:16 AM
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Harder, better, faster, stronger.
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Old 10-05-06, 10:22 AM
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we're talking about road cycling, not sex penguin. get your mind outta the gutter
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Old 10-05-06, 10:25 AM
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whoops
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Old 10-05-06, 10:39 AM
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This is a great question, I've been thinking about the same thing. What is next for me?

When I got back into this three seasons ago I really just wanted excercise, get out and ride. A long ride for me was 80k. I did that once and I did that at a fairly pedestrian 24kph. I didn't really have any desire for "faster", I enjoyed the distance and worked on the "longer".

Second season I had the "longer" down, rode a century sub-6 hrs (barely 5:57) at the end of the season. In the process I developed an appreciation for "faster", but didn't really train for speed. My average weekend ride was in the 40-50k range, with longs of 80k a handfull of times. I did one metric and one imperial century.

This past season I worked on the "faster" and "longer". I've upped my weekly rides to a minimum of 50k. Now it doesn't feel like a ride unless it's 50k. I've done 7 metric centuries and one imperial century. I've also set a goal every ride to have an average speed of 30kph, no matter the route. Sometimes I hit it, sometimes I don't, but I work for it every time. I was able to complete the same century this year in 5hrs. 20 mins (30.3kph). I feel the adrenaline rush every time I jump on the bike. I'm dissapointed if I don't hit my average. I work harder next ride to make sure I do.

Next year? Not sure. Nothing strikes me as a thing to work on. I'm not a racer, but I guess you can always get faster. With two young kids at home, I mostly ride solo but group rides to interest me (I do ride the occasional group ride, and am told I am skilled at it). A few years ago I never would have dreamed about racing, but now there is a spark there. Just not sure I have the personal time to spare.

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Old 10-05-06, 10:51 AM
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Originally Posted by Hipcycler
As for a more specific goal, I'd like to do my first 40-50 mile ride with an average of 20 mph. I've done a 50-mile ride with a 19 as my best.
That’s a great goal hip.

1) It's realistic at say 5-10% improvement.
2) It's measurable and quantifiable.
3) It’s not reliant on anyone else’s actions. Unlike “ If Joe trains with me I will...”

Once you know what you want, you have to figure out what it takes and what you are willing to trade for it.

Sorry for being so harsh before, but at least it got you reevaluating your goals. Progress really does stop upon satisfaction. So many people do things like go on a diet, lose 10lbs, get all happy about how they look (even though they have 25 more to go), and then revert back to what they were doing before. The same happens in training; people get some results then lose the drive. You have got to be hungry for it. There is a time for the rainbows, but only for long enough to get the person to believe they can do better.
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Old 10-05-06, 11:52 AM
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Originally Posted by Enthalpic
That’s a great goal hip.

1) It's realistic at say 5-10% improvement.
2) It's measurable and quantifiable.
3) It’s not reliant on anyone else’s actions. Unlike “ If Joe trains with me I will...”

Once you know what you want, you have to figure out what it takes and what you are willing to trade for it.

Sorry for being so harsh before, but at least it got you reevaluating your goals. Progress really does stop upon satisfaction. So many people do things like go on a diet, lose 10lbs, get all happy about how they look (even though they have 25 more to go), and then revert back to what they were doing before. The same happens in training; people get some results then lose the drive. You have got to be hungry for it. There is a time for the rainbows, but only for long enough to get the person to believe they can do better.
You DID get me thinking about this for sure....like today's ride....

Again, my usual 26....but I rode the middle portion in the wide, flats nice and hard in the drops, pushing myself to feel what it is like to go faster, work harder. Big ring....in the drops....90rpm....turning 23's on the way out with a cross to tail, and 20 on the way back with a cross to head.

REVELATION!

I have a HR zone set with 160 pbm as a max....over that and I'm in my red zone.
It dawned on me today....
I bet the only time I pushed into the red zone all season was in climbs or into big winds. Today, in the flats and working on speed, I pushed into the red zone. Duh! I should have been doing this speed work all along.

And so that's where next year's goals begin....
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Old 10-05-06, 12:06 PM
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As Lemond's quote states "It doesn't get easier, you just go faster" (or something like that).

For me, improvement is putting forth the same effort and getting up a hill or finishing a loop in a shorter time.
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Old 10-05-06, 12:08 PM
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Originally Posted by blue_nose
As Lemond's quote states "It doesn't get easier, you just go faster" (or something like that).

I totally felt that this year. Every ride I felt the same exhaustion, but time would generally improve, or I would get to the top of a climb faster.

f
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Old 10-05-06, 12:16 PM
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"Heart Monitor Training for the Compleat Idiot" might be a good reading selection as well.
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Old 10-05-06, 12:17 PM
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Its interesting to see how Floyd Landis and his goals of improvement have changed. Heres an article from Fox Sports~

Landis won't rule out possible Tour return


After two trying months marked by doping allegations, an assault on his reputation and his father-in-law's suicide, Floyd Landis doesn't wish for a stirring comeback so much as the simpler things in life.

At this point, he'll take a good night's sleep, free of pain.

To reach that goal, Landis had hip-replacement surgery last week.
With his rehab under way, the 30-year-old won't rule out a return to competitive cycling and the Tour de France. As much as resurrecting his career, though, he wants to feel good again.

"Things have been up and down for me," Landis said Monday in an interview with The Associated Press. "I'll be happy when it's a little more simple. I'll get through it though. I have a strong family. We're all being tested. Right now, this hip is something for me to focus on, something positive to focus on."

He had endured three earlier operations on the right hip, injured in a 2003 training crash, to keep him competing over the years, including this summer's winning ride through France — a victory derided by Tour officials after a positive doping test.

Soon, the pain became too much.
He underwent a state-of-the-art procedure, in which a metal cup was inserted into his damaged right hip socket and a metal cap was placed on top of a small stem that was inserted into the top of his thigh bone. The cap was then fit into the cup, and they combine to work as the new joint.

Sometime next week, Landis will begin riding the stationary bike — the first major step in his rehabilitation process. In three weeks, he expects to be released to do anything he wants.

And in a year?

"We're moving forward with the idea that he will be back and be competitive," said Landis' personal physician, Brent Kay.
Landis looks at the bigger picture.

"A year from now, I see myself as the same human being I am now," he said. "I care about other people. I love my family. I'd like to race my bicycle again.
"I know how I did it," Landis said of his Tour win. "I did it clean. The accusations against me are unfounded. I hope the world gets to see that. But I'm going to remain myself no matter what, and that's the most important thing."

During this forced sabbatical, Landis spends a good deal of time working on his defense for his doping case, which is coming up in the next few months. His legal team is expected to argue that the tests that found an abnormal epitestosterone-to-testosterone ratio are faulty.

Landis' attorney, Howard Jacobs, wants the arbitration hearing to be made public, and the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, which will prosecute the case, has said it will agree.

Landis said he thinks a public hearing will be his best chance to have his side heard. He said officials at the International Cycling Union (UCI) and World Anti-Doping Agency have prosecuted his case in the press.

He blames the UCI for the cycling's public-relations problems and says many who run the federation only want to stay in the good graces of the International Olympic Committee in hopes of advancing their careers there.
"I'm not hopeful this sport can be fixed as long as UCI is running it. That's all I can say," Landis said.

He did not, however, lump USADA with those he believes have tarnished his reputation and that of his sport.

"Apart from my side, USADA has been the one group that has followed the rules, done everything properly," he said.

It gives him hope that he'll get a fair hearing in front of an arbitration panel. His reputation, to say nothing of his Tour de France title, hangs in the balance.
Meanwhile, he continues his rehab with the hope that a victory in the case could lead to other victories, and maybe another winning ride down the Champs-Elysees.

"Hopefully, my career will go on, and I'm going to do my best to get there," Landis said. "But obviously, there are more important things."

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Old 10-05-06, 12:19 PM
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Inproved overall fitness/health was one of main goals when I returned to regular riding this year. So continued weight loss and then improved average speed. Luckily by doing more of the first will help the second. And as a more material goal, I would like to a get new high end bike.
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Old 10-05-06, 12:22 PM
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Originally Posted by timmhaan
we're talking about road cycling, not sex penguin. get your mind outta the gutter

I thought he was talking about Rock Star energy drinks.
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Old 10-05-06, 12:26 PM
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I've been thinking about getting metal legs over the winter. It's a risky operation, but it would be worth it.
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