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Looking for Improvement Suggestions

Old 08-04-13, 10:11 PM
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Looking for Improvement Suggestions

Vital Statistics? 6', 200lbs, 67 y/o. Gearing is 50-39-30, 12-30. Have ridden approx. 3000 miles/year over the last 5 years majority of which was on a tandem. I'm mostly riding my single now and looking to get stronger at 100K distance and simply able to ride a typical Century around here (Northern California). Over the last 4-5 months I've only been able to do about 300 miles/month with only 3 rides longer than 60 miles; most of my long rides are 45 miles or so. Typical long ride might have 50'/mile climbing.

My Marin 100K is my most recent effort. I felt pretty good up until the 40 mile point, but was definitely uncomfortable on the bike and experienced muscle fatigue during the last climb. I was bearing more weight on my arms and found it more difficult to hold my position: almost seemed like a loss of core strength was causing my pelvis to rotate forward. I didn't cramp during the ride but experienced some cramping of the small inner thigh muscles in the car on the way back. I believe I was adequately hydrated. A few weeks prior I had ridden an easy 100K, only 2000' of climbing, and averaged 16.0 mph so the additional 1800' of climbing really took its toll.

Here's what I think I've learned:
  1. I need to do more than 75 miles/week. On weeks without business travel I could easily ride >100 miles, but travel has been a bit of a problem. My longest ride should be closer to my current target ride, 100K.
  2. I need to go harder on my hard training rides. When I look at my average HR on this recent ride and the Strava Watts estimate on the climbs, I actually was going harder on this ride than a typical 30-40 mile training ride. This was also evident in the VAM which was 10% higher than I typically see.
  3. I need to think about how climbing is incorporated into my current rides. I've got one tough training climb that is 3000', but I don't think that represents the sort of stress that doing 3-4 medium tough climbs over 60 miles represents. I would like to avoid climbing intervals if I could, but I recognize the potential value
  4. I need to probably do some exercises to increase my core strength. My sense is that even if the legs are still capable, when the core goes the back. arms, neck and backside start to hurt.
  5. Normally, I drop Nuun tablets in my Gatorade, but I failed to do this. I don't know if it helps, but I'm going to try Endurolytes (again) on my next long, hard ride.
  6. Loosing weight wouldn't hurt

I don't know if this ride would have benefited from a lower gear. There were a few brief periods when my cadence got down to 70 or slightly below. I would definitely put an 11-36 on the back if I were attempting a Century with 6000+' of climbing in my current condition.

Any suggestions, observations, etc. would be greatly appreciated.

Last edited by rdtompki; 08-04-13 at 10:50 PM.
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Old 08-04-13, 11:28 PM
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Rick,

Yes to all.

75/wk is hardly keeping the legs fliud, it doesn't do anything to build any long term endurance. Sadly/Gladly my early season (Jan thru early Apr) are also not much more - 80 mi avg, because of skiing... But I'm glad to make the trade. Skiing does almost nothing for cycling ...
I don't really notice much improvement in cycling for the 60 - 80 mi rides until I start hittin 150 mi/wk. And if I end up on a 40ish mi hammerfest, if there are any late surges; I get shelled badly.

yes, go harder on the hard days, mix in really easy days as often as you need... Sometimes it takes more than 1 easy day to really recover properly. This past week I needed 3 easy weekdays, but had 2 really hard wkdays mixed in; and this weekend the legs felt great/strong and did 2 really hard 60_ mi days... Not allowing proper recovery is a problem we all have when we have time limits to our riding...

and on the easy days really focus on posture and pedaling. Even after so many years of knowing what poor posture does, I still find myself occassionally locking the elbows, hunching the shoulder and getting choppy on the pedals. Little things make a big diff. on a longer ride.

Unless you're heavily muscled, drop 25+ lbs - will make a big difference. I'm just a about 5' 10.5" these days (shrunk over an inch +). And I've noticed a huge improvement in everything in just getting back to the mid 160's (currently 164) down from 170 lbs. I'm targeting 160 for end Sept. and will expect a substantial improvement in my climbing.

I'd add - don;t ignore the upper body strength (along with the all- important core). One doesn't need to be a hulk, but over the years, from the 20's on, my best cycling condition has always been when I've had solid strength in the arms/shoulders and upper back; especially when climbing and riding at speed in a race or fast group.

A rider carrying some extra weight, who is generally also all-body strong, will do okay on most everything except maybe a long climb. But an overweight, soft rider, will not do well in anything, unless they're genetically, aerobically gifted.

Cycling aside, for the age considerations of you and I, continuing allround best health depends a lot on how much muscle we can maintain. It sesems pretty clear that as we age, and our bones/joints become more brittle; muscle becomes essential in providing the need 'suspension' & shock absorption to prevent injuries many elderly suffer.
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Old 08-05-13, 02:17 AM
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Originally Posted by rdtompki
Over the last 4-5 months I've only been able to do about 300 miles/month with only 3 rides longer than 60 miles; most of my long rides are 45 miles or so. Typical long ride might have 50'/mile climbing.
Another "yes" to your list.

Try adding an imperial century once a month to your collection of rides (see the Century-A-Month challenge in the Long Distance forum for motivation). Once you start doing 160 km regularly once a month, 100 km doesn't seem that bad.
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Old 08-05-13, 06:47 AM
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Thanks, all, for the feedback. I should have mentioned that I fall in the "heavily muscled" classification. One of my twin sons is a Cat 2 and he's basically 190 lbs, identical height and build as his dad (except for the weight). No doubt with some discipline I could get to 185. Once I retire (soon) I should be able to get the mileage up to 100-150 pretty easily. For now I'll have to focus on a longer long ride and let the chips fall where they may during the week. I can ride during the week when I'm not traveling since I work out of my house, but can't do much more than a 20 mile ride.
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Old 08-05-13, 08:15 AM
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You know what you have to do. I'm just a year older than you and have been working on keeping up with my betters ever since I started riding again at 50. Here's what works for me:

Weekend rides: I do one, 35-55 miles in the winter on tandem or single, just because the weather is not so great up here and because it's good to have an easy season. In the summer, I ramp it up from 60-100 miles on my single, or 60-80 miles on our tandem. These are all group rides with some riders faster than me or us. On my single, I ride at the front a lot, on the tandem at the rear a lot, same group.

During the week, I ride my rollers on Tuesday, either FastPedal or one-legged pedaling intervals with some Z1 warm up and cool down, all seasons. Wednesday I'll do an hour of Z2 on the rollers, no matter the season, just to save time. Thursday we'll either go to spin class or out on the tandem for 20-30 miles, or out on my single for 50. Friday, a short Z2 on the rollers, 30'-45', or nothing depending on how I feel. Saturday nothing, Sunday the group ride.

On the group ride, I'll do some LT work all year, but ramp it up in the summer with hard efforts on every climb, trying to hit as close to LT as I can, depending on how long the ride is and how I judge my survival ability. I'll also do some hill sprints and anaerobic hill efforts say from May on, gradually increasing as my fitness nears its peak. In the summer, if I can walk at the end, I could have gone harder. I go for total depletion, but try not to bonk, doing my 250 cal/hr. On the tandem, Stoker has a higher LT than mine, but holds my HR so she can stay with me all the way.

I measure my work ability by charting my morning resting HR and HR after getting up and standing for 2 minutes. It's pretty obvious when I can go and when I need more rest. 10 beats up from usual on the standing HR is a take-it-easy or rest signal until it goes back down.

I'm 66", 152 lbs. now, having lost 10 lbs. since December. I lost it by eating smaller portions. I ate much less Monday-Thursday, especially less carbs but held protein steady, then reversed that and ate much more carbs Friday and Saturday, holding the fat down, getting ready for Sunday. I have low blood sugar issues when I get hungry off the bike, which I solved by taking NOW Super Citrimax (garcinia cambogia) when in the low calorie part of the week, but not during the carb loading phase.
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Old 08-05-13, 08:36 AM
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For us oldsters I've found (good) gym classes that target core are very efficient, and even better if you spin afterwards. If there isn't a good class, take the core routine out of a course like PX90, I've copied one over to my smartphone. Spinning is the bomb if you are on a difficult schedule, you can use 24er fitness (cheap) spin room at all crazy hours if you need to. For climbing, I found running regular 5Ks (treadmill) has made my legs and cardio a good deal stronger. I've taken one afternoon/eve a week to do a serious work-out, two hours gym work then head to the spin room where I spin for an hour before the class starts, work aggressively doing intervals, pyramids. I haven't done any long rides in a while, I have no idea how my endurance may have changed, but I do know my HR was dropped pretty dramatically and performance up hills has never been better. In a word, cross-train.
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Old 08-05-13, 10:14 AM
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Originally Posted by rdtompki
Thanks, all, for the feedback. I should have mentioned that I fall in the "heavily muscled" classification. One of my twin sons is a Cat 2 and he's basically 190 lbs, identical height and build as his dad (except for the weight). No doubt with some discipline I could get to 185. Once I retire (soon) I should be able to get the mileage up to 100-150 pretty easily. For now I'll have to focus on a longer long ride and let the chips fall where they may during the week. I can ride during the week when I'm not traveling since I work out of my house, but can't do much more than a 20 mile ride.
I can relate to the 'travel' side of work. I had a lot of years with a heavy air travel schedule, for lengthy periods (1 to 3 wks long). And also had a few years when auto travel was really high (60k+ miles) That was tough. I'm glad I made the change... Certainly in your case, close to expected retirement, you just gotta work through.
I'm pretty lucky now, I work fulltime, but bike commute and can set my own hours when I want. I have a short commute and then can jump on the bike after work to 'unwind' in a more sportly fashion.

Do those 20 mi rides as often as you can. It's a great way to just unwind.
I've made it a point to do almost all 'recovery' on the bike, and if I need a bunch of recovvery day rides, so be it - I don;t stress not having the 'workout'.
There's that other thread about 'junk' miles. I don;t think they exist. All miles are great miles, especially when the time could be frittered away doing something less beneficial. For us in California (most good weather areas) it's really easy to trade time from something else and get on the bike. I totally understand that many areas are very weather dependent, but we don;t really have that.

Anyway, just cheerleading, cause you already have the plan.
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Old 08-06-13, 06:07 PM
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Originally Posted by FrenchFit
For us oldsters I've found (good) gym classes that target core are very efficient, and even better if you spin afterwards. If there isn't a good class, take the core routine out of a course like PX90, I've copied one over to my smartphone. Spinning is the bomb if you are on a difficult schedule, you can use 24er fitness (cheap) spin room at all crazy hours if you need to. For climbing, I found running regular 5Ks (treadmill) has made my legs and cardio a good deal stronger. I've taken one afternoon/eve a week to do a serious work-out, two hours gym work then head to the spin room where I spin for an hour before the class starts, work aggressively doing intervals, pyramids. I haven't done any long rides in a while, I have no idea how my endurance may have changed, but I do know my HR was dropped pretty dramatically and performance up hills has never been better. In a word, cross-train.
I also cross train and lift in the winter. I stop cross training ~April-May and stop lifting at the end of May. I tried it both ways, don't get any benefit from doing that during the season, when time on the bike is the thing. I saw definite benefit from following Friel's periodized lifting plan during the winter, going to maintenance around the end of March.
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