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training advice for newbie?(19 posts)

training advice for newbie?nyedid
Mar 31, 2002 4:08 PM
Hi! I'm getting started road riding, and I'd like to be able to plan to start considering racing a year from this summer. even if i'm not going to race then, i'd like to be in that kind of shape with my riding. does anyone have any advice for a way to get started? should i do the base-building stuff? should i do a combo? i've been involved in competitive sports for a while, so i'm not a stranger to the idea of structured training-- i rowed for several seasons while in high school (college student now). thanks!
re: training advice for newbie?Mike-Wisc
Apr 1, 2002 8:54 AM
I'd suggest entering a few, or at least one, local road race. Many sanctioned races have a citizens category for raw beginners and long-time MIA's. Then after your race, or before it, hang around and watch the other groups. Also hang around the pit/parking area talking with some of the other riders. You'll learn a lot just by observing.

In the mean time you can start with a couple of books, but most people I know tend to only generally follow them and not use the books as concrete Gospel.

The Cyclist's Training Bible : A Complete Training Guide for the Competitive Road Cyclist. by Joe Friel. Velo Press; ISBN: 1884737218.

Bicycle Road Racing : The Complete Program for Training and Competition. by Edward Borysewicz. Vitesse Pr; ISBN: 0941950077.

There are other books out there, but these two will get you started. Now go have some fun.
get a copy of Friels "The Cyclist's Bible" (nm)ColnagoFE
Apr 1, 2002 9:20 AM
Find a local team to train withbrider
Apr 1, 2002 12:42 PM
THE fastest way to climb the learning curve for both training and racing strategy is to train with a racing team. If you're at a major college, there are going to be at least two near you. In the Seattle area there are about a dozen. Check with your LBS to get contacts for the teams, or you might be able to check online.
Find a local team to train with-- help finding one?nyedid
Apr 2, 2002 8:32 PM
Well, i guess i should have clarified who i am and where i am...maybe one of you can help me? i'm a male 20 year old college student in santa fe, new mexico: i go to St. John's College. my parents live in San Diego, California, where I will be returning in six weeks or so for the summer. I'll be working and riding a lot (hopefully). If anyone is from San Diego, or knows anyone there, or has any suggestions for riding in San Diego, I'd really appreciate it. i wasn't going to embark upon a heinous friel-style training program this summer. mostly i'd like to put in a huge number of nice southern california coast-highway miles to get comfortable with my equipment and figure out what my body likes and doesn't like. however, since i don't have experience, i was hoping to find some people to ride with this summer. so if anyone wants to mentor an eager new young cyclist, i'd be really grateful.
You're in luckMike-Wisc
Apr 3, 2002 6:26 AM
Next to Boulder Colorado the San Diego area is probably one of the most heavily pro-populated cycling training areas in the U.S., at least from my perspective. Good weather, relatively clear roads, good access to gear and shops and sponsors and a major airport.

I know there are some regular training rides up around Oceanside with a bunch of roadies and triathletes, and more around the north side of S.D. proper. There are also a whole bunch of regular road races, crits, and time trials in the area. I lived in SoCal for a number of years, and all you should have to do is ask around at a few shops and you'll find the rides. Don't forget to ask what the ride's tempo or pace is, and how the race fares out (uh, make that "ride", because sometimes the training rides will feel like a race only without the trophy at the end).

I also know that parts of New Mexico are also a sub-hub of cyclist's training regions. You should have little trouble finding races and groups once you get plugged into the cycling/racing world. You can also try looking at the USCF web page, I think they had links to approved race teams and clubs sorted by location.

When you go into a bicycle shop over there, do a quick look around. The more road bikes you see the better your chances are of finding a scheduled group ride. There are also a bunch of web-based discussion sites for California cyclist's, they have enough activity that they form their own local pages. A quick web search and bounce should get you to find them. If you have any problems post a reply and when I or someone else has time we'll do a little pull on the search engines for you.

Side note: in addition to Friel you'll also hear about the CTS training system, which is Carmichael Training System. Both Friel and Carmichael have web sites that someone will or probably already has posted a link to.

Hope this helps some. Have fun, and pedal smart.
Ignore Frielshirt
Apr 1, 2002 8:36 PM
I've said it before and I'll say it again. If you're a rank beginner (even if you're a super fit rower), trying to put together a Friel-type program your first year riding is a TOTAL WASTE OF TIME.

There are many, many things that you have to learn the first year of riding that are outside of the scope (below the scope?) of Friel's book. Your primary activity should be riding, learning the mechanics of efficient pedaling, riding, going on some (but not too many) group rides, riding, riding, and riding some more. Get a fit kit done at your local roadie-oriented bike shop. Go through a few saddles until you find one that's comfortable for three hours at a time. Ditto for shoes, pedals and helmet.

I agree with Mike-Wisc who says to enter a few Cat-5 races. No need to wait until next year. Get a couple under your belt to find out what's what.

Save Friel for next fall. Hell, even Friel himself says his book is useless for a novice.
But you can use it as a guidehrv
Apr 2, 2002 9:03 AM
Started riding last August, got into the late fall/winter group ride thing, then got Friel. At the time, it seemed like way more than I wanted to digest, so I didn't look at it again until recently.

Now, almost 2 months later, I'm using it as a guide and next fall plan on starting the structured program (hopefully about 10,000 miles from now!). The key concepts to appreciate now from this book, which are repeated in this board, are:

1. Base, base, base. LSD (long slow distance). You must put in many easy miles right now. No question. Get into this habit now. The greater the foundation the more you can pile on intensity later. I didn't, and I suffered big time (overtrained, time off of riding - sucked). Get a hr monitor and get your LT by riding all out for 30 minutes, flat road, and taking your average hr for the last 20 minutes. Then use the zones from Friel to find out what base, tempo, etc. is. If this is too hard, then just ride for now and don't push yourself harder than where you can't carry on a conversation or sing.

2. Build up gradually. Friel says 10% - 15%. If you're comfortably going on 30 mile rides one week , don't do 50 the next. If you're doing 10 minute intervals one day, don't do the 1/2 hour of the same type of interval the next time. Your body will perfom best under this approach. Is that how you where taught in rowing?

3. Weight training. Get those legs strong and pulverize those pedals! Sounds like you probably know what's going on here, though.

4. Rest/recovery are when the gains are made, including sleep and diet. Eating junk food? Sorry. That's history.
Your diet is at least as important as how you train.

Of course, none of this is rocket science. It's just common sense. The best coach is yourself and what your experience teaches you so try different approaches and see how they work for you. Good luck!

Apr 2, 2002 10:46 AM
I suggested the books I did as a preliminary guide of sorts, which is also why I said most people don't follow their plans religiously. For a rank beginner the books will give them something to look at as the season progresses, as long as they keep their reading of them on a light skimming level. I probably wouldn't recommend a beginner to really get deep into a Friel-type program until maybe their third year of solid racing, by then they will have some idea of what off-season workouts are all about, some idea of what peaking for a specific race or time-frame is about, and some idea of why certain things are recommended over others. What the books do well is to provide some background for the beginner so that when they are talking with other racers they will have a source to refer back to in order to gain a better understanding.

The first year should be the equivalent of a wading pool where the object is to not drown. The second year can be one where the beginner has spent a minimal amount of off-season training to build a reasonable base to work from for the next race season, but without much emphasis on peaks or double peaks. Basically, year one is to just get exposed, and to maybe sort out the riding gear a little bit. Year two is for planning for some cat.5 races, with maybe a goal of moving up to cat.4 either in the Fall or the following Spring, all depending on his/her local race schedules and on their personal goals. Prep for year three of racing can and probably should include planning for a main seasonal peak to learn how one's body reacts to long-range conditioning.

For instance, I'm an older rider (mid-40's), been cycling all my life pretty much, but never had much interest in racing although I've rode with roadies and did well on their training rides. Last year I picked up a track bike to play with, but a motorcycle crash in July pretty much fouled up this winter's training regimin (rearended by a pickup, the pickup won). Otherwise my goal would have been the Master's meet at Marymoor in August. Instead I'm back at year one, get experience, race only for experience, get in track time, maybe enter a few Wisport citizen road races, and then next winter will be the semi-hardcore full base-buildup.

For the person who started this thread, it sounded like he/she was college bound, or already in college. Which means he/she is still fairly young with a resiliant body to match. For them I'd agree with others to find the local college team and get acquainted, maybe volunteer as an aid at the races for them, work the feed station (which is really appreciated by most teams since nobody wants to catch and pass water bottles). Get exposed, get some citizen racing in, then decide in the Fall if he/she wants to crank out a Winter training regimin to prep for a Spring introductory racing season. Who knows, they might be the next Lance or Mercx, or they might instead decide to do RAAM, or maybe they just want to ride their bike and not worry about the hassle of competitions. But getting some exposure is the only real way to know for certain.

Had a few fresh inches of snow here yesterday and today. Looks like the road bike will stay hanging on the wall for another week or so. Bummer. Take care, race well, spin smooth, and ignore the old guy ( he's not fast, honest, heh heh heh). ;)
Hey Mike-WiscWannabe
Apr 3, 2002 11:28 AM
Do you ride with a group now that is familiar with the Wisport cit races? I was thinking of trying a few of these this year too, until I realized they may be harder than a cat 4/5 race as everybody starts together... I dunno. The group I ride with here in WI is an ABR club and affiliated with WISport. These guys are strong, strong.

Andy (in Wisc)
Hey Mike-WiscMike-Wisc
Apr 3, 2002 12:20 PM
Nope, this year is going to be pretty much a raw start-over for me, so no group/team/club affiliation. It looks like the Wisport races are probably cat2-5 caliber riders, with the cat2 level riders basically hiding out from the USCF stuff for awhile until they recover from injuries or wait for a team slot to open up (at least that's my myopic view). I thought there used to be a Wisport rule that you couldn't hold a USCF license for their races, with an exception for trackies but I'm probably wrong.

I was looking at the ABR site this morning and see they have a Wednesday night track series in Kenosha. Looks like USCF on Tuesdays and ABR on Wednesdays. Haven't fully decided what I'll do this season, might just go "practice" on the track with the fixed gear instead of actually racing to get my legs back, then next year I can take a crack at it.

I'm really looking at the Willard WIsport race in a few weeks, thinking about it since I'll be up in that area anyway, but still too early for me in the season. I could just go and count water bottles and follow the pack dust at the rear, sort of run as a course sweeper. (Maybe I'll dangle a broom off the back :).)

This weekend I may ride out to either the road race in Waterloo or the crit in Madison as a spectator. My former LBS sponsers one team and is a member/sponser of another team (both USCF, one possibly ABR) that I was thinking of joining next year if the knees hold up. Knees take a very gradual base buildup to prep for a season.

The Wisport series has both road races and TT's, and are supposed to be fun in nature. The packs are supposed to form up fairly well at the start into sub-packs, so even if you get blown out of one mass there should be another one along shortly to link into. Then there's always the picnic'ers back in the dust just out for a ride and getting some introductory experience who are always good to ride and train with during a race if you're having an off day. I'd say go for it and enter a WIsport, and don't worry about the clubbers in the lead. The Whitewater race is supposed to be fairly fast for an early season race, supposed to be a bunch of riders using it as a pace gauge to see where they are in their schedule trainingwise.

Oops, this got kind of long and I'm rambling again. Gotta go.
Hey Mike-Wischrv
Apr 3, 2002 12:54 PM
Where are you? I lived in Madison for 17 years , currently in Oregon , originally Brooklyn, NY! Used to watch Eric Heiden (my hero from my speedskating days) and the 7-eleven team race around the Capital Square. Yellow Jersey still in business?

Sorry to change topics, just nice to hear from other cheeseheads.

Hey Mike-WiscMike-Wisc
Apr 4, 2002 5:48 AM
Oregon city in WI or Oregon the state???? :)
I'm originally from Oregon the state, then up and down the west coast, now in Wisconsin north of Milwaukee about 20 miles or so. Been here about 5 years now, but will probably head back westward in a few years to either Washington or western Colorado. I think the Yellow Jersey is still around, but don't get out to Madtown much, Budget Bike is still booming and expanding though. And with the Ironman triathlon in September in Madison I think all the local bike shops out there should see some increased business, along with the running shops.
Apr 4, 2002 6:46 AM

I'm in the Madison area, used to ride with YJ when I was in college (didn't race for them). Yeah, Andy still has his shop open on State St. but things have changed A LOT down there.

Hey Mike-Wisckrishna
Apr 3, 2002 6:46 PM
Hey - if you end up going to the Waterloo race, look for the guy way in the back riding a Croll. I plan on watching the first race & racing the one on the 14th.

Apr 3, 2002 6:43 PM
I'd say give Wisport a try. It is true that they are on par if not harder than a cat 4/5, but that's only if you stay with the lead pack. As Mike said, the races usually split into several groups & you can always find one going your pace.

Some of the earlier season rides draw a good number of liscenced riders (esp Bluemounds) but usually there's only a couple in any give race. I disagree with Mike on the composition of riders -- its a broad mix of older (40+) ex cat 2/3 riders and 30-50 something working types who don't have the time to put in the training for USCF. These folks tend to race Wisport year after year leading to a strong sense of camaradrie.

I rode Wisport last year & this year will do a mix of USCF & Wisport...

I've had Friel's book for about a year now, and I'm justbill
Apr 3, 2002 1:05 PM
starting to understand it.
The thing that I was missing about the book was that I thought that I was going to be a pre-packaged recipe for how to be a better cyclist. It isn't. What Friel's book does is to demonstrate over and over for each aspect of your performance that what you see is what you get, and, in order to get, you have to first see.
It's really an extended argument that (a) cycling is an aerobic sport, so you need to build an aerobic base in order to go hard; and (b) whatever skill or aspect of performance you want to develop, you have to develop it by going really, really hard in that dimension of performance. So, if you want to climb, you've got to climb really, really hard for short bursts that you then extend. If you want to go fast, you have to go really, really fast for short bursts that you then extend. If you want to be able to build lactate tolerance, you have to go anaerobic for longer and longer bursts. And, in order to go really, really hard, you (a) have to understand that you cannot physically or mentally remain in peak performance going really really hard indefinitely mid-training session, mid-week, mid-period, or mid-year, so you "periodicize," and, in order to periodicize, you have to get enough rest mid-training session, mid-week, mid-period, and mid-year. Friel then helps you break down aspects of performance, including climbing, sprinting, time-trialing, endurance, etc., so that you can direct your efforts to what you want to be able to do.
See? What you see is what you get. There is no magic to training, but there has to be a point.
Excellent overview!!! (nm)shirt
Apr 3, 2002 4:45 PM
Great summary Bill! nmLen J
Apr 3, 2002 4:52 PM