Newbie hello and question

by notfastenough   October 27, 2011  

Hi, just registered today. I've just bought myself a new road bike (carbon, SRAM Apex) with a view to spending more if I'm still interested/hooked in 12 months time.

So, can someone suggest a good book or other tutorial on improving bike fitness? I'm only currently getting out once or twice a week, plus a fair amount of core conditioning to build up my flaky lower back.

Current tactic is to warm up with about 25 mins easy spinning, then alternate between 90% effort and recovery riding for about half an hour, then finish (last 15-20mins) at about 80-85% (as much as I can manage to sustain, anyway) - oh, and a couple of minutes cool down.

I'd like to aim for some sportives next year, and would like to attain an average (solo riding) speed of maybe 21-22mph.

Thoughts/comments? (Un)realistic?

Cheers.

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over longer sportive distances eg 100miles 20 mph average is a fast amateur group pace and getting on for very fast (regular racer) solo pace.

17-18mph would be more realistic beginners target if you ask me. Two bike sessions and one core excersices sound like a great base fitness build. im not the person to ask about intervals etc.

My advice is once you are comfortable with handling the bike and doing 15mph avg over 30miles or so get in a club and do your riding with them, its by far the fastest way to make progress.

ps dont worry about the bike, once you are group riding its more likely you wont feel worthy of what youve got! (always happens to me! ive got carbon/105 cannondale as my first road bike (about 18 months ago) and i had been mtb'ing for 10 years before that)

posted by titusrider [26 posts]
27th October 2011 - 16:08

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Yes that's a pretty high average speed, given that most sportives of even say 100km will include a fair bit of climbing.

26-28km/h would be a pretty decent time, unless you are doing it in an organised group working together. And I would think cycling twice a week would be a minimum to do that - try to get out a bit more, even if it is shorter rides.

I know people who have used The Time Crunched Cyclist and found it good for preparing to do an event, but it isn't (I'm told) something that you would sustain.

If you're just talking about getting enough fitness to decently get around a sportive then a couple of training rides like you're doing and a club ride each week would be all you need.

abudhabiChris's picture

posted by abudhabiChris [529 posts]
27th October 2011 - 16:33

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I wouldn't get to hung up on the average speed thing, terrain, wind, fatigue are all going to come into play.
as mentioned above riding with a club if possible is one of the best learning experiences. Not only will you gain fitness but you'll learn how to ride efficiently in terms of gears, braking and cadence plus the most important thing you'll learn how to ride in a group. In my experience of sportives that is something a lot of riders lack the ability to do and some are just down right dangerous.
This time of year is all about base miles, long steady hours in the saddle to gain stamina and strength. Once you've planned your events you can then start upping the intensity from Feb onwards replicating the type of terrain your likely to be 'racing' on.

Ride your first sportive as training, this will highlight your strengths and weaknesses without putting too much expectation on yourself.

most of all though enjoy it,

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stuke's picture

posted by stuke [313 posts]
27th October 2011 - 16:51

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At this time of year most articles I've read suggest that longer rides at lower intensity (but not pootling) is a very productive thing to do - creating the base on which you build extra speed. If you want to be good at long rides the first thing to do is long rides. Find some riding partners through a club or bike shop. Some people are happier riding solo but don't dismiss the incentive of riding with others. Bear in mind that now, when it's cooler and the daylight hours shorten, is not the time to wear yourself out with too many intense sessions.

I like this site, the owner is a keen cyclist and has a very intelligent take on cycling:
http://cyclinginfo.co.uk/blog/cyclo-sportives/training-for-cycle-sportives/

Also have a look at these:
http://www.bikeradar.com/fitness/training/archive
http://www.britishcycling.org.uk/cyclosportive/article/sp20110127-Start-...
You can of course modify any plan to fit your circumstances.

While recording times for a regular route or loop can help track your progress I wouldn't focus entirely on targetting a particular speed.

Simon E's picture

posted by Simon E [1965 posts]
27th October 2011 - 20:50

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I got a couple of book last year on Amazon:

The Long Distance Cyclists Handbook (http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/0713668326)

Training Techniques for Cyclists
(http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/1594860521)

As far as I can remember they were both ok reads, though specifically the latter sounds more like what you're looking for. They've quite informative but frankly its mostly common sense.

If you haven't already I'd suggest getting some kind of computer. It sounds to me like you're going to be very interested in your stats, my Garmin 500 (with added cadence sensor) is brilliant in that respect. It tracks all your rides so you can see improvements over time. I have heard it said that the best measure of performance is a power meter, so if you have a spare grand lying around....

As regards clubs, I've had trouble there. The clubs local to me either seem to be a bunch of old boys going for a quick ride and ending up down the pub for the afternoon, or clubs that are only interested in competition. I'd look for something in between although from what you say possibly the latter will suit you?

I've done a couple of sportives this year through http://www.ukcyclingevents.co.uk. Whilst they stress that the sportives are non-competitive (I now realise this is for insurance purposes) they do offer gold, silver and bronze medals depending upon your time. All I will say is that the kind of speeds you're talking about would probably get you a gold medal (I'm sure you could see this on their site if you looked hard enough - I think about 25kmh is generally the cut-off between silver/bronze), so I'd possibly agree with other people that you might be being a tad optimistic. But of course that depends entirely how fit you are already.

Pete

PeteH's picture

posted by PeteH [159 posts]
27th October 2011 - 22:25

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Thanks for all the replies, loads of info there. Re-reading my post though, I didn't word it very well - for one thing, I meant to say that I want to reach 21-22mph average for a sustained blast on my current (relatively flat) 20-30 mile rides. Clearly, over 20mph for several hours would be a rather bigger ask, and as pointed out, is rather irrelevant once hills, wind etc on a sportive are taken into account.

I should probably provide a little more background; this isn't my first road bike, but a combination of pedalling-related knee pain, work commitments and a local cycling club which didn't agree with me conspired to put me off and I sold my bike. Fast forward 15 years and Podiatry is quite accessible, so my knee pains have yet to resurface thanks to orthotic insoles. However, I mention this lot because I'm hesitant to find a club again. I'm also pushed for time, so a 6-hour day out with a 1-hour cafe stop on a Sunday is out of the question. That said, if anyone can point me in the direction of a small friendly group in Manchester that ride early at the weekends and would welcome a friendly but inexperienced addition to their number, I'll certainly take a look. Exercising in a group is always more enjoyable, and the experience, as pointed out, would be invaluable. I'm only really intending to compete against myself though Pete - I would also be looking for something in between the polar opposites you mention.

Thanks for all the links as well - some of the articles/blogs have good training tips etc. I think I'll continue to do what I'm doing on a weekend morning, get in some easy evening rides to add some miles, then in Spring use the Bike Radar article on getting out after work as a guide (thanks Simon E). I do have a computer, as suggested. It's a Polar that I bought used from a colleague, although I'm struggling to get the cadence sensor to work. If I had a spare grand lying around I'd be reading this page on an ipad, never mind using an SRM! Big Grin

Right, best I crack on and get my core conditioning work done. Thanks everyone for the warm welcome!

Last night I would have considered trading a very loud baby for a really nice bike.

posted by notfastenough [3198 posts]
29th October 2011 - 9:45

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