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Why am I soooo bad?

Old 07-08-20, 07:03 AM
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Wrecks24
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Why am I soooo bad?

So I started road biking about three months ago and I know that I suck, but I have been riding these local shop rides. I cannot keep up with the main group for the life of me, the ride is 25ish miles, mixture of "elite" type riders, women and older dudes. I even struggle to maintain speed with ALL of them. I am 43 and retired from the Army so its a little bit of ego. My bike is a Carbon bike with Ultegra gear set, so I know its me and not the bike. Now, I don't have the option of riding everyday to build up as I have a job and I also have two kids that are involved in sports and other activities that take up much of my free time. I just want to be able to hang with at least the majority of the riders. Any advice for a new guy?
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Old 07-08-20, 07:23 AM
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Persevere. Be confidant that your fitness will improve. A 25 mile ride is short enough that you don't need to worry too much about pacing yourself. You should be a wet noodle when you are done. Be careful in the heat, hydrate, be safe and keep your distance in a group. If you cause a wreck by trying too hard you'll never live it down.
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Old 07-08-20, 07:26 AM
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I'd just keep at it. It takes a while for the body to adapt to cycling and gain the specific strength you need to be efficient.

It can be a little confusing if you see people who look less fit dropping you, but it happens. They've just put in the work.

Are you drafting behind other riders? That saves a lot of energy.

My other tip would be to do some high intensity work in the limited time you have to train. Go up and down a big hill as many times as you can, as hard as you can once a week.
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Old 07-08-20, 07:49 AM
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I highly recommend intervals. Best way to increase endurance in a short amount of time. Go to bed early and wake early to do your bike workouts.
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Old 07-08-20, 07:56 AM
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It's all about fitness and three months is not enough time to get the fitness you desire to hang with the group. I'd recommend continue hanging in tough, as group riding is a quick way to get speed.

With a difficult schedule the fastest way to get fit is to do structured workouts and intervals.

Whatever fitness you might have carried from your time in the Army is not specific to cycling and you've reached an age where muscle fitness is sports specific, so you are essentially starting from scratch.

Hang in there !, it gets better over time !.
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Old 07-08-20, 07:57 AM
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It can take a long time to build up endurance levels. Losing weight is one of the key factors that I found.
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Old 07-08-20, 08:01 AM
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My advice is this: patience and perseverance. I was a college football (QB) and baseball (SS) player. When I began cycling in my mid-30's I expected to do a few rides and be fit. It doesn't work that way with cycling. It takes a longer time to come to fitness. And, then there's the issue of technique. There's a lot to learn and it will take time. But, you will get there. Along the way try to learn something new every ride. It might be about your bike or shifting technique or climbing or the course. It's endless and that's what I like about it. And, most important, enjoy the ride.
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Old 07-08-20, 08:03 AM
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Originally Posted by Wrecks24 View Post
So I started road biking about three months ago and I know that I suck, but I have been riding these local shop rides. I cannot keep up with the main group for the life of me, the ride is 25ish miles, mixture of "elite" type riders, women and older dudes. I even struggle to maintain speed with ALL of them. I am 43 and retired from the Army so its a little bit of ego. My bike is a Carbon bike with Ultegra gear set, so I know its me and not the bike. Now, I don't have the option of riding everyday to build up as I have a job and I also have two kids that are involved in sports and other activities that take up much of my free time. I just want to be able to hang with at least the majority of the riders. Any advice for a new guy?
Get a training plan. You will not get fast just riding around or trying to keep up with a faster group. That won't be difficult enough to stress your fast-twitch fibers to force training adaptations, but will be hard enough to recruit them taking load off your slow-twitch fibers so those don't adapt either.

Do a better job with your schedule. 7-8 hours of sleep and 9 working leave 7-8 for other things.

Park a trainer in your living room and spend an hour a day on it following your plan when not riding outdoors. Six hours a week is a minimum to be in decent shape and you need ten to get close to your genetic potential.

Last edited by Drew Eckhardt; 07-08-20 at 08:37 AM.
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Old 07-08-20, 08:13 AM
  #9  
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Give it time.

I borrowed my BIL's Trek 1100 to start out riding. Like only 10mi a time in the neighborhood. I thought I'd take it with me for work a few times that I had a week at a time down in Greenville SC. Greenville SC has that nice trail system. It also has Paris Mountain.

I had done maybe 35 to 40 on the flattish greenway there a few times, still feeling totally destroyed.

I decided to try the mountain. It's "only" like 800 feet or so. LOL! I had to stop three times on the side of the road just to sit and pant. A roadie going up the mountain was even concerned and almost stopped when he saw me! This Trek 1100 had a triple on it also. Pretty sure the easiest gear was a 32/28. Not quite 1:1, but close.

I kept at it. A year later it was our last work visit down there. I went at the mountain again. But this time I was doing a climbing workout where I went over and back twice. So climbed it 4x for the workout.

Just a year made that huge difference. You can do it. Patience. Have fun!
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Old 07-08-20, 08:30 AM
  #10  
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When I was much younger, and hadn't been riding much for a few years, I got caught by a shop ride. It was fun to hang with them for a while, and then I started going to the shop for the start. The first time I did that, I got dropped after a couple of miles. They would typically do 50 mile rides in almost exactly 2 hours. When I finally managed to stay up, it turned out that just about everyone got dropped at some point. I remember one ride where there were 2 of us at the end.

Nowadays, most clubs have rides grouped by ability. I would try to find rides like that. The lowest level rides are usually "no drop."
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Old 07-08-20, 08:32 AM
  #11  
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As said in several posts above, more time and miles. Your body is undergoing changes, such as building muscle and adding mitochondria to cells. You might try adding some protean to your diet.
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Old 07-08-20, 08:38 AM
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As others have said, intervals and hills.


I was in your exact same position this time last year. I likewise have time constraints, my commute to work is 1 hour each way and I work 10 hour days so 12 hours. Also to muddy the waters some I got Lyme disease, was diagnosed first week of September so that took me off the bike for about 8 weeks, right in time for the winter shutdown.


So again intervals and hills. If you have hills locally get some times (use Strava or other app?) and try to do better every time you do the same hill. I was riding a hill close to my house last fall it took at least 10 tries before I finally was able to ride up it (8% grade, 0.7 miles long) without getting off and walking. But my first time making this was just about the time the leaves were turning color and I hate the cold. But I didn't want to lose what tiny little progress I had made so went searching for a solution. The solution had to accomplish two things, first allow me to train at odd hours when I'm not working and doing other family things and second keep me off the ice and snow and warm inside the house.


To cut to the chase what worked for me and my schedule was an indoor fluid trainer. At the beginning of last winter I couldn't hang with an easy 25 mile group ride on even small rolling hills. So I set my mind on using the winter off-season to really get on it. I put a smart trainer in my family room, got a subscription to Zwift and made a commitment. The first week on Zwift was just as hard or maybe even harder than outside group rides. Zwift puts a lot of stats in front of you and there are group rides and so forth so at first my ego and legs were still in the toilet. But I did make a commitment and drug my sorry butt downstairs and logged in and rode. Rode more and again some more, between mid November and mid May I put in over 3000 virtual miles and climbed about 270,000 virtual feet.


This was just as as painful and difficult as my group rides but I did it on my schedule and during the off-season. The result: Little old Tom is now smoking guys that only last year smoked me. I have completed 6 solo metric centuries so far this year and many other group rides. I do multiple laps around the hills I walked up just last fall. A hilly 25-30 mile ride is just a thing I do with no fuss, I just do it. Everything about bicycling has changed for me.


I'm not trying to sell you or anyone else anything I'm just repeating what worked for me. I wanted to exit last winter with some real riding skills and endurance, I did that and more, way more. And I did it on my schedule. The main thing is I stuck with it and because of all the hard work, time and pain suffered I don't want to lose it so it just feeds on itself and when I achieve one goal I add a new one to the list. You don't have to do it on a trainer and using a virtual program but if you have time constraints and you want to get a lot better you need to put in the time/effort. An indoor fluid trainer was perfect for me, it allowed my to get on the bike 5 or 6 days a week, every week whenever I could find the time and regardless of the weather or available sunlight. But again, intervals and hills, one way or another.
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Old 07-08-20, 08:48 AM
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Thanks guys. I do use Strava and I always try to beat my times. I live in East Tennessee so we have some hills for sure. At first I was OK with being the "slow guy" on rides, but now I am getting a little frustrated and trying to stay positive as I do enjoy riding. I have noticed that if I stay in the group it is easier to maintain, but its when you fall back and try to play catch up that is killing me. I usually ride with the front group for the first several miles at about 18-19 mph average, but once something gets me off track and I fall back, i'm screwed. I do realize that I just need more saddle time and I am trying. Thanks for the tips.
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Old 07-08-20, 09:23 AM
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Like others said, intervals are vital to gaining real fitness.

Don't expect to keep up with elite riders when you're only 3 months in though, regardless of training.

Eventually you'll realize that, unless you're Chris Froome, there will always be folks out there who can rip your legs out of their sockets.

Just try to enjoy the sport and focus on personal improvements.
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Old 07-08-20, 09:44 AM
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Build up your base through solo rides (varying intensity and intervals) as many have said, and perhaps find a slower group to ride with for a while. While getting spit out the back of your current group ride isn't fun for you, it also isn't fun for the group as they slow down to get you back on. Part of the challenge is to find a group that fits where you are, you can always move up to a more challenging group when your fitness/endurance is there.

Group rides can be tough, I used to do a ton of them. Today most of my riding is by myself and at least for me, my enjoyment of cycling has increased dramatically as a result. I've lost the social aspect of riding my bike, as I learned that a group doesn't really add anything to my time on the bike. This aspect is different for everyone, as we all have different motivators to get out there and ride and different goals while we are doing it.

Last edited by mprince; 07-08-20 at 11:18 AM. Reason: spelling
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Old 07-08-20, 10:07 AM
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For a lot of those guys, fitness is their hobby. They may be playing soccer or ultimate or racquetball or lifting weights three times a week and eating a diet plan and so on and so on. Or they may just be gonzo for bikes and doing hundreds of miles a week. Even though they are not professional elite athletes, you are not going to keep up with them if this is something that you do once a week.
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Old 07-08-20, 10:09 AM
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I'm 39, I only have a 1 hr riding window per day. I ride like **** in that very limited time. So I ride everyday, 7 days a week. Everyday, I'd feel tired sick and my quick dry outfit dripping wet after coming home but able to quickly recover.

But in just one month, my muscles have grown visibly bigger and almost pacing the cars on the road. I never take protein supplements, just my usual diet of meat and vegetables everyday and calcium supplements.

Things I do that seems to help:
- stretch your leg muscles in regular intervals during the ride - on the bike, while moving! stretch you leg straight while sitting on the saddle and ball of foot on the pedal, that means bending your ankle to have a straight leg. One leg at a time (crank arms in ~12:00 and ~6:00 position
- While you do the above, you can also use your back muscles to lift your torso and take the weight off your hands (to improve the flow of blood to the hands and otherwise, give it a rest and avoid numbness or pain) This can significantly improve comfort on long rides, especially if you're in an aero position. Better comfort can significantly improve your performance, more importantly, your speed!
- After riding, whenever you had the opportunity, massage all the sore muscles on your legs.

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Old 07-08-20, 10:15 AM
  #18  
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Just enjoy the ride.

Don't worry too much about gaining strength, it will come if you put in the hours.

If it doesn't? Than just enjoy the ride. It is not like you are letting someone down if you can't keep up.

BTW, thank you for your service.
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Old 07-08-20, 10:29 AM
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Wrecks24
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Thanks Again guys...I guess its just a hard pill to swallow that me being a career Army Soldier getting beat down by college age girls...lol and they do beat me down. But I will keep my head in the game. I know I have improved since first starting so Iam sure it will get better.
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Old 07-08-20, 10:37 AM
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Originally Posted by Wrecks24 View Post
So I started road biking about three months ago and I know that I suck, but I have been riding these local shop rides. I cannot keep up with the main group for the life of me, the ride is 25ish miles, mixture of "elite" type riders, women and older dudes. I even struggle to maintain speed with ALL of them. I am 43 and retired from the Army so its a little bit of ego. My bike is a Carbon bike with Ultegra gear set, so I know its me and not the bike. Now, I don't have the option of riding everyday to build up as I have a job and I also have two kids that are involved in sports and other activities that take up much of my free time. I just want to be able to hang with at least the majority of the riders. Any advice for a new guy?
use altitude training, blood doping and stimulants. that and some very hard work should do.
genetics also play a role.
😄
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Old 07-08-20, 10:38 AM
  #21  
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On top of miles, intervals and perseverance, I might suggest getting some lights and do early morning rides. With family and work evenings after work can mean cutting into family time. There is something to be said about the peace and solitude at 4:30 in the morning. That said, that has my running time since sometime in the 2000's. Nowadays I commute by bike when the weather is dry and then ride after work a couple of days per week. Needless to say, no kids at home nowadays!! I don't group ride, but pass up an occasional rider when I am out, so not doing too bad at 55.
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Old 07-08-20, 10:39 AM
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Learn to follow a wheel safely. Draft the group till you get dropped. Don't give up, next time try to stay with the group a little longer. Eventually you'll be able to keep up. Just my .02.
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Old 07-08-20, 11:33 AM
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Originally Posted by Wrecks24 View Post
Thanks Again guys...I guess its just a hard pill to swallow that me being a career Army Soldier getting beat down by college age girls...lol and they do beat me down. But I will keep my head in the game. I know I have improved since first starting so Iam sure it will get better.
FIRST OFF -- THANKS FOR THE YEARS Our son just retired from Army after 24 years.

SECOND -- DITCH the Army ego. You are human and require different conditioning to hang in with others. The trainer suggestion is great since you can hop on it and still be with family.

THIRD -- Some sort of schedule to improve, whether home grown but better still one taken from a book, is ideal since it will provide direction for the incremental improvements that leads to strength and endurance. Perfecting TECHNIQUE or RIDING FORM is not to be underestimated. Energy wasted due to bad form slows one down.

FOURTH -- ENJOY THE RIDES AND HAVE FUN
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Old 07-08-20, 11:36 AM
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First of all, thanks for your service. Just stick with it, everyone starts from the beginning. Stick with whatever training plan you pick. You’re in this for you, not to impress others. I learned that a long time ago, both for training and racing. There will be good days and bad days. As long as you’re progressing and enjoying the miles, that’s what matters.
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Old 07-08-20, 11:56 AM
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Iíll second (or fourth or fifth) the recommendation for structured training, i.e. intervals. A trainer and training app (TrainerRoad, Sufferfest, even Zwift) can make it even easier and more time efficient to get in that training.

But the important thing to understand is what you need to work on. Many people, myself included, have your experience and think they need to become faster. But it is not about speed, it is about sustainability and recoverability. To stay with a group, take turns on the front, and especially to catch back on after the elastic snaps, you need to be able to put in repeated hard efforts, recover in short order, and do it again. There was an interesting article on CyclingTips analyzing the power output of top pros. The conclusion was that they did not necessarily have a higher power output than other riders, but that they could put the pedal to the metal over and over and over again. Thatís what you need to train yourself to do. Plenty of good info here and elsewhere on good workouts, but the basics are simple: go hard, rest, repeat.
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