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Need help on becoming a better cyclist(11 posts)

Need help on becoming a better cyclistOnly300
Jul 11, 2001 6:46 PM
I have just started riding and find a 10 mile ride with a lot of hills difficult. I averaged about 14mph riding into the wind (the average includes the time where i had to slow down for stop lights). The problem is I ride at 18 mph on the flats, go fast on the decsents but go real slow on the climbs (around 9 mph).

How can I become a strong, consistent rider? I want to be able to do a half century in a few months. What do I have to do to achieve such a goal?

re: Need help on becoming a better cyclistLC
Jul 11, 2001 10:56 PM
Keep riding alot! You can add some more miles, but you should slow down when you do so.
Get some clipless pedals if you don't already have them.
Drink water before, during and after the ride to help you recover.
If you can barely walk the next day, then back off on your miles/hills.
re: Need help on becoming a better cyclistDutchy
Jul 11, 2001 11:47 PM
Good advice. Stop for a food break before you get hungry, this will let you ride further. If you start to feel fatigued, stop for 5-10 mins drink some water, stretch, eat, then continue. Believe me, when you start riding you might think stopping is cheating, but if you want to ride 50miles you will have to take a short break, to make it to the end. As you get fitter and stronger you will learn when your body needs a break and when it doesn't. Gradually build up the miles. If the half century you want to do is hilly, you might find that you won't have enough strength in your legs for the last 15miles if the ride is only a few months away. It takes time to be strong enough to ride a road bike over 50miles of hills (at a good ave speed), 6-9 months at least ,depending on your personal schedule for riding and previous level of fitness. If the 50 is flat then you shouldn't have too much trouble. The best way, is to get some good miles on the flat to build up fitness/aerobic capacity then gradually add more hill roads to your rides. Eventually you will be fit enough to tackle hills only rides. Good luck.
PS. Always stop your clock at traffic lights. Everyone does. It gives a better indication of your "rolling" ave.
re: Need help on becoming a better cyclistGrinder
Jul 12, 2001 5:16 AM
One way to get more muscles is to sprint and rest(coast) on the flats. Just keep adding miles on each ride. 50 will seem easy (well almost) in no time.

You can try slowing down on the flats to conserve energy for the hills or just keep going the way you are.

After you hit 20 miles 10 will seem easy, 30 and 15 will be a piece of cake, 50 and you will wonder why you posted and then 75 and 50 will be no problem.

The first year I ever bike seriously I did RAGBRAI and people were astounded that I could ride 80 in one day. I just worked my way up to it and before I knew it 50 was a short ride.
For training on climbs . . .DCW
Jul 12, 2001 6:38 AM
set a target speed that seems a little high and keep it as long as you can before you blow, then spin to the top. For example, if it's a hill that you can maintain 9 mph, then ride it at 12 for as long as you can. If you ride the same routes a lot, you can measure your progress as you increase your speed on familiar climbs. Just as longer mileage will soon seem more comfortable, so will higher speeds on the climbs. Your power will be increasing dramatically.

Technique can be very important also. Especially on shorter climbs, take your downhill speed into the climb, stay in the big ring (trying to keep your speed as high as possible) and shift to maintain your cadence until you need to get out of the saddle. If you bog down out of the saddle or it's a very long climb, shift to the small ring as you sit down. Then shift as you need to keep your cadence. At this point, go for the target speed you have set.

One last thing: Pain lets you know that you are alive, and you know that climbs can be painful. It's a good thing, but don't overdo it. You can injure yourself.
For training on climbs . . .TomS
Jul 12, 2001 12:20 PM
Another thing I do on climbs (at least on solo rides) is play a little game with myself where I try as hard as I can to stay above a given speed, rounded off, for as long as possible; and if I miss it, I'll drop down 1mph. Like if I'm approaching the hill at 18.5 mph I'll try to keep above 18.0 as long as I can, as soon as I hit 17.9 I let myself back off and then keep above 17 as long as possible.

I've found that works well for me because it's sort of a "dyamic" goal, so I never feel like I've failed and should totally ease off, but there's always something to shoot for.
Good idea . . .DCW
Jul 13, 2001 4:09 AM
That's more or less what I was suggesting, at least for familiar climbs. On my regular rides, I categorize the longer hills as "x or y MPH" hills, meaning what speed I can keep or exceed all the way up. Every few rides, I bump that number up by two mph and see how long I can keep it at the higher mph. For example, in the past six years, since I returned to the road, I have improved on one 1/2 mile hill from 14 up to 22 mph and getting close to doing 24.
Some of my riding buddies, who are otherwise in good shape, never attack climbs. And they never go up any faster.
increased distance & saddle time. hill repeats. rest.Haiku d'état
Jul 12, 2001 7:28 AM
can't vouch for intervals, i don't do 'em (yet).

to ride farther successfully, ride farther in training. doesn't matter how fast. if you take breaks, take SHORT ones. eat and drink on the bike. grinder says coast--this may work for G, but not for me. coasting makes my legs stiff. i prefer to soft-pedal if recovery is needed. for me, riding longer distances with little or no breaks finds me coming back a few days later 25% faster and stronger, at least seemingly, and pushing my limitations a little farther down the road.

one of the most overlooked factors for longer rides is saddle time and the effects of long periods cycling on your butt and upper body (shoulders, arms, neck, back). the way to acclimate to extended time in the saddle is--you guessed it--extended time in the saddle.

doing hill repeats (not to mention losing weight off my big butt) is the single most helpful method i've found for my "climbing" abilities. that, and riding a hilly (mountainous) century this year, which really gave me some perspective. i have to ride ~7 miles from the house to find even a semi-hill, so i rode through the winter on a slightly inclined road one block over, doing sprints in the big ring for as long as i could, down the road, then back up. guess these were quasi-intervals.

rest--including (1) days off the bike (and no gym, weights, walking/running or grass cutting, either), and (2) a good night's sleep--is underrated.

good luck, and don't obsess about speed. it will come. work on distance and saddle time!
took me the wrong way - my bad . . . . ..Grinder
Jul 12, 2001 7:54 AM
by coasting I didn't mean not using your legs. My fault. Coasting for me I guess means soft-pedaling.

I certainly agree with saddle time. For me distance is not a factor (although my intake of tyanol increases as my knees age). It's how long my bones can stay on a bike.

My wrists are the biggest problem and one thing I do is put the backs off my hands togather to stretch the tendens the OTHER direction when they get sore.
riding more = go faster?Dog
Jul 13, 2001 5:43 AM
I was sort of plateau'd earlier this year. Just couldn't seem to improve my climbing. I went to a "camp" and did 470 miles in four days (along with a lot of good prep training ahead of time). Over the next month, I was keeping up with people I could not even come close to before; I felt like superman. I set a personal best in a double century. Hmmm. A connection? "Ride more = get faster?" Could it really be true?

Yes, ride more, but increase your mileage at a comfortable rate, and rest when you hurt. Don't ride at the same speed all the time, though. Keep some variety of hills, flats, and intervals, including pushing youself beyond what you think are your limits from time to time.

Thanks for the help! (nm)Only300
Jul 12, 2001 11:33 AM