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Please help a newbie

Old 02-06-21, 08:34 PM
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tenniscyclist
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Please help a newbie

Just found this forum now and I'm relatively new to road cycling (I've ridden between 20-50 miles nearly 20 times in the past two years), but now I'm sold...ready and eager to buy a lighter, higher quality bike and ride 40-50 miles with a group twice a week or so. I have been cycling with a recreation-mindedgroup of about 20 of all ages...here's what happens: I hold my own with the group for about 30 miles (16-17 mph) but then my legs go...what was possible earlier in the ride is no longer possible...there's nothing left in my legs to hang with the group from that point on. Other than just riding with the group twice a week now and lagging badly after about 30 miles and having to tell a kind soul or two to continue on without me, is there anything I can do in the way of my own training/preparation to speed the process of being able to stay with the group for the final 15-20 miles? Thanks in advance.
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Old 02-06-21, 09:03 PM
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Originally Posted by tenniscyclist View Post
Just found this forum now and I'm relatively new to road cycling (I've ridden between 20-50 miles nearly 20 times in the past two years), but now I'm sold...ready and eager to buy a lighter, higher quality bike and ride 40-50 miles with a group twice a week or so. I have been cycling with a recreation-mindedgroup of about 20 of all ages...here's what happens: I hold my own with the group for about 30 miles (16-17 mph) but then my legs go...what was possible earlier in the ride is no longer possible...there's nothing left in my legs to hang with the group from that point on. Other than just riding with the group twice a week now and lagging badly after about 30 miles and having to tell a kind soul or two to continue on without me, is there anything I can do in the way of my own training/preparation to speed the process of being able to stay with the group for the final 15-20 miles? Thanks in advance.
From my perspective, you're probably really pushing for those 30 miles without realizing it, and exceeding your aerobic capacity. I love speed, and I'd push my heart rate into zone 4 regularly. The problem is that exercising at 80-90%of your max heart rate uses a different fuel than when you're exercising at 60-70%. The lower rates burn fat, which means you last longer, and since you're not creating lactate, you recover faster. My understanding is that if you train your body in the lower zones, your performance there will become more efficient, so you can go faster without exceeding that aerobic/anaerobic transition.
If you have a HR monitor, aim to just put time in at HR zone 2 a couple times a week. Don't focus on speed or distance as much as riding within that zone for an hour or half an hour. If you're riding outside or on a smart trainer, you should see improvements in your pace as your body adapts to burn fat more readily.

Last edited by Unca_Sam; 02-08-21 at 09:00 AM.
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Old 02-07-21, 12:31 AM
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Sounds to me like you're doing fine.
Staying with a fast group until you get dropped is great for training, but kind of sucks otherwise.
If you're interested in Just Riding Around or a social event as opposed to training, then find a slower group, possibly a "non drop" ride.
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Old 02-07-21, 12:57 AM
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Stay out of the wind. Thereís no shame in sitting in the draft to save some energy. Iíd rather have a rider sit on the back and make the whole ride with the group than have him burn himself out and get dropped 10 miles from home.
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Old 02-07-21, 02:50 AM
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If there are hills on the route, ease up instead of going as hard as you can. In general, don't burn your matches too soon, so no surging on the flats and especially not downhill (least efficient use of your energy).

Also remember to hydrate and fuel; at that avg speed and those distances you can't (yet) ride on stored glycogen alone.

For training outside those group rides, really any kind of structured riding (not aimless tempo) would be beneficial, as long as you adequately rest and recover as well to get the most benefit out of that training. No need to overthink that part.
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Old 02-07-21, 04:50 AM
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Sounds like it could be a fueling/fitness issue. But, since you're so new to cycling, I'd try to find someone who has a lot of cycling knowledge and ask for help. I'd also search out books that address the subject of nutrition and cycling training. When I got into cycling I bought a Greg LeMond book and it was very helpful.

https://nancyclarkrd.com/product/the...ts-food-guide/

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/...Training_Bible
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Old 02-07-21, 05:03 AM
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Originally Posted by tenniscyclist View Post
Just found this forum now and I'm relatively new to road cycling (I've ridden between 20-50 miles nearly 20 times in the past two years), but now I'm sold...ready and eager to buy a lighter, higher quality bike and ride 40-50 miles with a group twice a week or so. I have been cycling with a recreation-mindedgroup of about 20 of all ages...here's what happens: I hold my own with the group for about 30 miles (16-17 mph) but then my legs go...what was possible earlier in the ride is no longer possible...there's nothing left in my legs to hang with the group from that point on. Other than just riding with the group twice a week now and lagging badly after about 30 miles and having to tell a kind soul or two to continue on without me, is there anything I can do in the way of my own training/preparation to speed the process of being able to stay with the group for the final 15-20 miles? Thanks in advance.
Make sure you're riding conservatively, not putting in bigger efforts than necessary to hang with the group.

Make sure to feed appropriately throughout the ride. 50 miles at 16-17mph is a 3-hour activity. Some cyclists baulk at the importance of nutrition on rides that are short enough that they can "get away with" it, but if you're running out of steam, it's definitely something to look at. Endurance activity suppresses appetite, and endurance athletes often under-eat as a result. It's usually not a bad idea to be consuming as many carbs during an activity as can be comfortably stomached.

What tires are you currently using? It sounds like you're maybe trying to avoid upgrading your current bike, but tires can make a tangible difference and are always worth getting right. If you're currently using a beefy tire with a strong focus on lifespan and puncture protection, such as touring tires like the Schwalbe Marathon, try switching to something with a more performance-oriented design.

Last edited by HTupolev; 02-07-21 at 05:06 AM.
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Old 02-07-21, 05:59 AM
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Originally Posted by tenniscyclist View Post
is there anything I can do in the way of my own training/preparation to speed the process of being able to stay with the group for the final 15-20 miles? Thanks in advance.

Ride more, and ride more often.

I'd start out shooting for riding 5-6 days a week, even if just for an hour at a time initially.

No substitute for miles.
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Old 02-07-21, 06:03 AM
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Originally Posted by Unca_Sam View Post
The lower rates burn fat, which means you last longer, and since you're not creating lactate, you recover faster..

You're always creating lactate. Lactate is a fuel.

Not to say he's not ripping through his glycogen storage, but producing lactate is a good and necessary thing.
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Old 02-07-21, 09:14 AM
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I really appreciate the thoughtful and helpful responses from everyone who replied.

Originally Posted by Unca_Sam View Post
From my perspective, you're probably really pushing for those 30 miles without realizing it, and exceeding your aerobic capacity. I love speed, and I'd push my heart rate into zone 4 regularly. The problem is that exercising at 80-90%of your max heart rate uses a different fuel than when you're exercising at 60-70%. The lower rates burn fat, which means you last longer, and since you're not creating lactate, you recover faster. My understanding is that if you train your body in the lower zones, your performance there will become more efficient, so you can go faster without exceeding that aerobic/anaerobic transition.
If you have a HR monitor, aim to just put time in at HR zone 2 a couple times a week. Don't focus on speed or distance as much as riding within that zone for an hour or half an hour. If you're riding outside or on a smart trainer, you should see improvements in your pace as your body adapts to burn fat more readily.
Unca Sam, you are absolutely correct. I am pushing myself really hard for those first 30 miles. Itís likely that you have nailed much of my problem (Iím exceeding my aerobic capacity/thereby using the ďwrongĒ fuel). I will get a heart monitor, but Iíve basically been doing a form of what you said on an indoor spinning bike for an hour at a time a few times a week for a while (riding at what's probably close to HR zone 2). Probably just need to do it more(?)

Sorry if it's overthinking, but this newbie needs some specific clarification between what Rubiksoval and Surak said above (e.g., Rubiksoval's recommendation to ride 5-6 times a week for at least an hour...there is ďno substitute for milesĒ) and Surak's reminder about the importance of time to "adequately rest and recover"?

Iím just trying to have a very specific plan to start now so that in about 2 months(?) I might have a shot at hanging with the group for the entire 50 miles. Thanks.
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Old 02-07-21, 09:19 AM
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Originally Posted by tenniscyclist View Post
...........
Sorry if it's overthinking, but this newbie needs some specific clarification between what Rubiksoval and Surak said above (e.g., Rubiksoval's recommendation to ride 5-6 times a week for at least an hour...there is “no substitute for miles”) and Surak's reminder about the importance of time to "adequately rest and recover"?

I’m just trying to have a very specific plan to start now so that in about 2 months(?) I might have a shot at hanging with the group for the entire 50 miles. Thanks.
5-6 times a week might be too much for now, but 3-4 would help. Rest & recovery is important, But only 2 days per week is not enough to improve.
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Old 02-07-21, 09:45 AM
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It's took me more than a handful of years of riding to get to the point I can ride with others for 50 miles or more and not feel like I had to give everything I had to keep up. Don't feel ashamed if you aren't at the same level as those in the group that likely have been riding much longer than you.

You might look for groups that ride a slower pace or for not as long. Or just give yourself time. Time as in a couple years, not a couple months.

How you fuel, how you ride while in the group, how you ride on your other days, rest and the other things mentioned here by others will make a difference. Even if you do everything else somewhat wrong, quantity of time spent on the bike will go a long way over the years.
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Old 02-07-21, 09:50 AM
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Originally Posted by tenniscyclist View Post
Sorry if it's overthinking, but this newbie needs some specific clarification between what Rubiksoval and Surak said above (e.g., Rubiksoval's recommendation to ride 5-6 times a week for at least an hour...there is “no substitute for miles”) and Surak's reminder about the importance of time to "adequately rest and recover"?
You can still ride and recover from bigger, harder rides, you just need to ride easily.

The problem is that you have so little miles, yet you're trying to do 50 mile rides. You could probably take 4-5 days off the bike to recover 100% from those 50 mile rides, but then again, you wouldn't be improving very much as you would if you get capable of doing more throughout the week and increasing the overall training load.

By riding more often, you get in the habit of riding more often. It's really not a big deal to go out and ride every day, but you have to be mindful of your intensity. If an hour a day is too much, then maybe 30-40 minutes one day, an hour the next, etc.

It's always tough in the beginning when starting something new. You jumped off into the deeper end with longer, harder group rides, but if you can already mostly handle that, it shouldn't take too long before you can easily handle the additional miles and finish the rides stronger.
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Old 02-07-21, 10:10 AM
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Once a week go for a hundred slow miles with a backpack loaded with three gallons of water and a couple sandwiches and sit as little as possible- just walk on the pedals.
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Old 02-07-21, 12:05 PM
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I read a scientific report a year or two ago about energy usage during aerobic activity. Specifically, they tested athletes on a cycling ergometer. The athletes rode at a set % of either max heart rate or FTP (I can't remember which) and then took tissue samples.

At rest almost all energy usage is supplied by free fatty acids and blood glucose. As aerobic output increased energy from the aforementioned sources stayed the same but the new energy sources were glycogen and fat from the muscles being used. Fat and glycogen usage increased until about 65% capacity. After that, fat usage tanked and glycogen usage soared.

In other words, if you are riding with fitter people it's probable you are using vastly more glycogen than they are so you will have to refuel while riding and they might not. Also, it's possible that your lactate levels increased to the point where you have to power down. The others are fitter and, therefore, better able to cycle the lactate they are producing. One is a fueling issue, the other is a fitness issue.

The glycogen issue is something that can be fixed quite easily. Eat while you ride. And don't wait until you are hungry. There's only so much carbohydrates you can process in an hour. A good estimate is 1g/min. The other is a fitness issue that just takes riding more and training better. Try some high-intensity intervals, for example.
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Old 02-07-21, 02:14 PM
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Originally Posted by guachi View Post
Eat while you ride. And don't wait until you are hungry. There's only so much carbohydrates you can process in an hour.
This is good advice.

A good estimate is 1g/min.
Most people are capable of processing well over 60g/hour. Optimizing carbohydrate intake requires planning and care though.
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Old 02-07-21, 04:50 PM
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Great link on carbohydrates. 60g/hr appears to be an achievable lower limit and 90+ takes some effort to mix sugar types and hydration and sodium intake.

I rarely do rides over 2.5 hours and when I do ride long i try to stick to 60g/hr because I really don't know how my gut will react.

For the OP, he's riding about three hours. So maybe he doesn't even need 60g/hr to get him through to the finish.
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Old 02-07-21, 06:52 PM
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I started road bicycling with a group in October. I was 66 at the time and fairly fit. I would give it everything I had and get dropped regularly after around 20 miles. The pace was 18-21 mph. Folks were nice enough to wait at a turn, and afterwards go a bit slower and I found it extremely frustrating.

I now am able to keep up, do lots of pulling and I’m not exhausted at the end of the ride.

What I did: Hydrated at the beginning of the ride and often. Ate a gel every half hour. Very short pulls. Concentrated on riding really smooth, in the draft of the rider ahead.

And rode 4 times a week. I think this was the biggest thing. If I couldn’t ride outside, I’d ride my wife’s Peloton, set with resistance as if I was pulling and did it for 45 minutes.

I also did one other thing. I bought a ‘nice’ bike and put on carbon wheels. Yeah, I know lots of folks don’t think it matters for your average rider, but I think it definitely helps.

I am now at the point where I don’t need to hydrate as much and I don’t eat gels. I do ride 4 times a week and often ride mtb with my son for a couple of hours once a week, too.

The guys that ride 3 times a week are now slower than me. The guys who ride 4 times or more are similar or faster.

I’m a B rider with aspirations of keeping up with the A guys, who maintain a pace of around 25 mph with periods up to 27, on the Saturday ride. I can last about halfway, before getting dropped. Sound familiar?
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Old 02-07-21, 09:01 PM
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Thanks to everyone who responded. I learned a lot from your posts.

I have enjoyed pushing myself hard to attempt to stay with the group, but I guess I never really had a chance to keep up given their level of comparative cycling fitness. I ate a banana, some almonds, and hydrated during rides but I will be sure to be mindful of eating more. Per guachi's post, I am probably using more glycogen than the other experienced riders.

My game plan: Ride in HR zone 2 every other day for at least an hour. Per Unca_Sam's post, if I train my "body in the lower zones, your performance there will become more efficient." I'll try to be patient, ha, which won't be easy for me, but hopefully this approach will eventually bring about the changes I need to stay with the group over 50 miles.

And then I read the post below from BCAC. Congratulations...good work...it seems for you it was about leaving no stone unturned on fueling, getting on the bike at least four times a week, and a new bike.

Originally Posted by BCAC View Post
I started road bicycling with a group in October. I was 66 at the time and fairly fit. I would give it everything I had and get dropped regularly after around 20 miles. The pace was 18-21 mph. Folks were nice enough to wait at a turn, and afterwards go a bit slower and I found it extremely frustrating.

I now am able to keep up, do lots of pulling and Iím not exhausted at the end of the ride.

What I did: Hydrated at the beginning of the ride and often. Ate a gel every half hour. Very short pulls. Concentrated on riding really smooth, in the draft of the rider ahead.

And rode 4 times a week. I think this was the biggest thing. If I couldnít ride outside, Iíd ride my wifeís Peloton, set with resistance as if I was pulling and did it for 45 minutes.

I also did one other thing. I bought a Ďniceí bike and put on carbon wheels. Yeah, I know lots of folks donít think it matters for your average rider, but I think it definitely helps.

I am now at the point where I donít need to hydrate as much and I donít eat gels. I do ride 4 times a week and often ride mtb with my son for a couple of hours once a week, too.

The guys that ride 3 times a week are now slower than me. The guys who ride 4 times or more are similar or faster.

Iím a B rider with aspirations of keeping up with the A guys, who maintain a pace of around 25 mph with periods up to 27, on the Saturday ride. I can last about halfway, before getting dropped. Sound familiar?
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Old 02-08-21, 08:59 AM
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I edited my post to include a link with more info. There's a grain of salt to go with it, since the science of nutrition and metabolism is still being researched.
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Old 02-08-21, 06:57 PM
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Thanks, Unca Sam. Makes sense to me. There are no shortcuts but I want to be as efficient as possible to get to where I want to be.
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Old 02-10-21, 08:03 AM
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At this point, it's really about riding more. Rubik is correct. I remember being in your boat when I first started riding years ago. Trying to do 1 or 2 rides a week didn't work. I needed to be riding 5-6 days to build up my endurance to hang on with those longer rides.
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Old 02-10-21, 01:26 PM
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How much elevation are you doing? For me doing 40-50 miles within 16/17 mph is no problem with 2,000 ft of elevation, but change that to 4,000 ft and I would struggle to hang with the group. Granted i'm old and fat.
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Old 02-10-21, 03:48 PM
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Thanks for the responses. I get it about riding more...in addition to riding at least every other day, it should help a little bit to get a new, lighter bike (elevation is not an issue). I am new to all of this but hopefully I can find an endurance bike available soon in the $2500-$3500 range.
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Old 02-10-21, 04:04 PM
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Originally Posted by tenniscyclist View Post
Just found this forum now and I'm relatively new to road cycling (I've ridden between 20-50 miles nearly 20 times in the past two years), but now I'm sold...ready and eager to buy a lighter, higher quality bike and ride 40-50 miles with a group twice a week or so. I have been cycling with a recreation-mindedgroup of about 20 of all ages...here's what happens: I hold my own with the group for about 30 miles (16-17 mph) but then my legs go...what was possible earlier in the ride is no longer possible...there's nothing left in my legs to hang with the group from that point on. Other than just riding with the group twice a week now and lagging badly after about 30 miles and having to tell a kind soul or two to continue on without me, is there anything I can do in the way of my own training/preparation to speed the process of being able to stay with the group for the final 15-20 miles? Thanks in advance.
I am glad youíre focusing on training rather than equipment. I think that is probably the right approach. I have found with the time gradually working on training allows me to do most of the group writing abilities. Also donít be afraid to askPeople in your group for suggestions. They may say things like ďI keep my tires pumped up to maximum for the flats and reduce for hillsĒ.
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