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Question for Merckx56(17 posts)

Question for Merckx56hairywinston
Aug 14, 2002 5:58 AM
Merckx56 I am a has been athlete that is trying to get back into sports. I have had one ACL reconstruction on my right knee, and one miniscus surgery done on each knee. Running hurts a little these days; however, cycling doesn't. I bought a road bike in June and have been trying to log about 150 miles or more per week. I have a good deal of muscle mass compared to most of the cyclists here, and I think that is what helps me on the sprints. Trust me, this is all leading somewhere. For some reason, I can't just play a sport, I feel the need to compete in it. I weigh 224lbs, however, I weighed 237lbs in June when I bought my bike. What kind of training do I need to do to be able to compete in a crit? I was going to race in one last Sunday; however, I decided to watch and just see how it all worked. I'm not sure if the Cat5's would have dropped me, but I don't think that I would have placed in the top 5. Please give me some ideas on what you think would be the best way for me to get ready for that kind of competition. Thanks in Advance for your time.
Butting in53T
Aug 14, 2002 11:23 AM
I know you didn't ask me, but what the hell.

You need a flat course, for starters. Not just somewhat flat but really flat. You need to eliminate the big climbing disadvantage for you to have a chance.

Next, realize that cycling is an aerobic sport. Your aerobic fitness is in no way related to your weight or BMI, although aerobic training often lowers body fat as a side effect. If you have been doing 100+ miles a week you must be improving your fitness. If you use a HRM you can confirm that you are training in a usefull HR range. (see Friel or one of the other training books for detailed HR training plans). You could also use one of the newer Polar HRMs to track gross fitness changes. My S410 has a test based on resting HR, my wife has an A5 that tests based on walking aerobically for 5 minutes. They tend to agree, generally. Such a test can give you feedback about your aerobic fitness improvements, which is what you need to hang with the local Cat. 5s (on a flat course!)

You have dropped 1.5 lbs per week since June, which is susatainable at you current weight. It won't be when you go under 200. Plan on 0.5 to 0.75 per week down to your target weight. Do you have a target for this year? What is your height?

To answer your question (What is the best way to prepare?)
Forget about muscle helping you in the sprints until a year from now. Your goal is to be there at the end, sprinting is for the guys that are finished worrying about their fitness (bike handling, race tactics, etc.) 150 mile per week since June qualifies as an aerobic base, so it is time to start your intensity training. Simple intervals at just below your boiling point (AT, LT, 90% of Max HR, etc.) would be in order. Starting at 1 minute each with 5 minutes recovery between. Work slowly up to 5 minute intervals with 5 minutes between. Of course, by then it will be winter, so rest up, keep away from the junk food, limit portion size and start a normal training plan in February. You could try to get in a late season crit or two before hybernation season to judge your fitness, but don't be discouraged, you only started training in June.

Best of luck to you.
Thanks for Butting inhairywinston
Aug 14, 2002 11:37 AM
Thanks for the information. I am 5'11" and I do not have a heart rate monitor. I have only been able to judge my progress by being able to fininsh my group rides ahead of the pack. But most of those guys will never be racers. I'll start with the intervals today. Can I do them every day, or do I need to stagger them? Thanks Again.
I guess I'll throw my 2 cents in...JSchneb
Aug 14, 2002 12:05 PM

53T pretty much hit everything on the money. As far as your interval workouts go, it depends on how quickly your body recovers from intensity. As a rule of thumb, though, allow at least 36 hours between your interval sessions for recovery.

Check out (it's basically an interactive take-off on Joe Friel's "Training Bible" series of books - while you're at it, pick up the book too). There's a forum on there where you can pose your training questions directly to their coaches.

No, I don't work for them or anything - I just think they're a great source of info for those who want to reach their racing potential!
A Dissenting OpinionJon Billheimer
Aug 14, 2002 1:17 PM
I don't know what Merckx will say, but I'll share another perspective. Three months' riding hardly constitutes adequate base from which to start threshold work in my opinion. You're just starting to bring your aerobic system online. Go ahead and throw in some brief, hard efforts occasionally when you're out riding, but basically keep on piling up the 150 mi. weeks for the balance of the season, and try to maintain about 100 mi. per week through the winter. Intensity should be moderate, in the approximate range of 70 to 75% max. heart rate. What you'll find over the first year is that you'll continue to increase your average cruising speed at these heart rates.

Go ahead and jump into an easy crit just for fun and experience--but keep it at that, fun! Since you're new to the sport I believe most professional coaches would tell you to spend your first year building base before going on to any serious, structured intensity work. You'll continue to build your aerobic engine for at least 3 to 5 years, probably more, and your aerobic base pretty much determines your probable ability to adapt to absorb high end training.
A Dissenting Opinionhairywinston
Aug 14, 2002 1:54 PM
Thank for the info. I live in Texas and our winters are pretty mild so I won't have too much down time. I really don't want to enter a crit until I am ready to place. I am one bad loser. I'll check out the thing too. Thanks
A Dissenting Opinionscary slow
Aug 16, 2002 12:55 PM
Fitness is one thing, but what everyone has not mentioned is getting the experience of racing in a pack. Positioning yourself in the right place at the right time is one of those things that you learn only with experience. We are all bad losers, but if you think you are going to place the first time out you may be setting yourself up for dissappointment.
A Dissenting Opinion53T
Aug 14, 2002 2:40 PM
What about the old saw: 1000 miles then start intensity?
Certainly his aerobic system will continue to improve over the next three years (I'm 39 and mine is improving), but why not add some intensity this year? If for nothing else, to help him get ready to try and hang in the crit.
A Dissenting OpinionJon Billheimer
Aug 14, 2002 5:23 PM
A couple of reasons. First, 1000 mi. is a minimum base recommendation. Primarily, though, this cyclist has only been riding about ten weeks or so and thus his body is still in its basic adaptation phase. Add to that the volume that he has been riding and any additional demands, such as those imposed by high intensity interval work, can create significant recovery issues which can actually slow his fitness gains. Our systems can only absorb and adapt to so much stress at a time.

The second reason is that it is already late in the season. One needs a minimum of six weeks, or two microcycles, of interval work to create a performance effect, so continued base training with some spontaneous, unstructured intensity will probably produce equal, if not better, fitness improvements. The risk/benefit ratio is simply not there to justify adding in structured interval work at this point.

For all of you who like to refer to Joe Friel's work, he recommends a minimum of one year, and preferably two years, of base work prior to embarking on a structured, race intensity program such as that outlined in The Cyclist's Training Bible. The reasons are simply that a strong aerobic and neuromuscular foundation needs to be laid to properly absorb and benefit from high intensity work. Otherwise one can create chronic recovery and overtraining problems which will tear you down rather than build you up.
A bit much53T
Aug 16, 2002 9:41 AM
There is undoubtedly good scientific data behind Friel's position, but it is unrealistic. Can we expect to get new racers into the sport if they can't use modern training methods until they ride around for two years?

And another thing, two 6-week cycles to see a training effect? I'm sure its true in some finite number of cyclists, but I consistently see a training effect three days after riding 50 miles with the wrong group (the fast guys). I suspect I am not alone.

The fear of a Cat5 who works full time developing a recovery and overtraining problem is very, very remote. I would have to retire and send my kids to college before I ever had time to overtrain. I wonder if Friel ever had kids?
A bit muchJon Billheimer
Aug 16, 2002 10:15 AM
One microcycle is three weeks. Each to hiw own with respect to interval training, I guess.
Probably no science!Wayne
Aug 16, 2002 11:23 AM
Nobody I'm aware of has ever tracked athletes logitudinally from novice to experienced racer (whatever that is, 5 years?). That's why coaching is so valuable, all you have to go on is your own and others experience. Almost all science that is out there on endurance training is either on people exercising specifically for the study or on experienced competitive athletes. And very little, if any of it compares alternative methods of getting fit!
Easy to overtrain if over 40 and a first year rider(nm)hrv
Aug 16, 2002 12:16 PM
Easy to overtrain if over 40 and a first year rider(nm)53T
Aug 16, 2002 2:22 PM
That burning feeling in the legs, and lack of oxegen to the brain and stabbing pain through the upper back is not over-training, it's under-fitness.
sorry, i was on vacation...merckx56
Aug 16, 2002 1:27 PM
the wife took me to a conference with her in florida.
I am in the same boat as you, albeit a bit smaller boat!
if you are watching what you eat and riding 150-200 per week, the weight will come off. now granted, it won't happen tomorrow, but it will happen.
i started back on the bike after college and weighed around 210, i'm 182 today, as of 7:30am. most of what i lost was fat and i have lost a bit of my upper body mass. you will find that once your body has lost what it can, on it's own, your weight will stay the same. your body will change, but the weight will remain constant.
if you have a decent sprint, then crit racing is probably what you should concentrate on. bigger guys usually do better in crits simply because of the bulk and the ability to come out of a corner. this will take us to my next point. if you want to be competitive in a crit, you must race them.
our tuesday ride/race is a crit style shindig. we have it in an office park. if there's one of these close to you, that has actual corners (not just big sweeping turns!) , go there and practice turning and accelerating out of the corners. this is what cat5 racing is all about. the race will brake hard into the corner and sprint out. it's the nature of the cat5 beast!
the rest of the bunch here are correct in saying that you probably need a bit more base, depending on how fit you were to begin with, and some serious intensity work. doing intervals sucks, i won't lie to you. if done correctly, you should be wasted aferwards. if you can do two a week, you're lucky! if you can do three a week, you're not riding hard enough on your hard day(s)!
when i do intervals, i do 'em once a week, because after number ten, i want to go home!
people suggest different thing but i have been doing 2:00 minutes on and 4:00 minutes off for ten cycles when i do intervals. this is not a beginner workout.
try to do a minute on, and four off at first. jon billheimer got me going on the 30/30 workouts and the really work. 30 seconds on and 30 seconds off. it keeps your hr very high and keeps you around you LT. i try to do it for 15 minutes straight. it's very painful!
overall, you have to really race a crit to see what it's like. watching can give you an idea, but plans go out the window when the race starts. you may get shelled, but everyone does in their first race! it's a right of passage.
don't get discouraged! use it to drive you on!
Thank You Allhairywinston
Aug 18, 2002 2:20 PM
Thank You for taking the time to help out a newbie. I will start the intervals this coming week, and I will be glad to share with you how my progress goes.
Thank You Allurwhaturide
Aug 21, 2002 6:51 PM
.... "one bad loser" is not the way to approach a bike race as bicycle racing is a cruel mistress that will break your heart at least once (a month).
So ride to make the voices stop and learn from your mistakes