Curious about my ability/potential

Curious Runner

New Member
Mar 20, 2011

I am a keen runner who has been forced into a large amount of work on the exercise bike by a nagging and yet undiagnosed knee injury. In the last few weeks I have been going on the exercise bike 5 times a week and doing an hour or so. This afternoon I tried going for the longest distance I could manage in 1 hour and managed 22.75 miles (I usually average about 2.45 minute miling). Afterwards it got me thinking given persistent impact injuries from running over the years, how would I fare in a sport where I seem to be able to do it injury-free i.e road cycling? I do realise the elite are probably a lot lot quicker but where would I place in a average local road race? How do times on exercise bikes, probably unreliable match up to times out on the roads?

My credentials as a runner are I ran sub 17 minutes for 5k last summer but I'm never able to string more than a few weeks decent training together so have never progressed to a decent club level in 5 years in the sport.

With some training you would place pretty highly in road races but road racing is a complex sport where road sense, tactics and luck are a major part where it can make or break your race. You could be the fastest climber in the race but if you don't time it right then you maybe left dangling off the back if its a sprint finish. Same goes if you're the fastest sprinter but don't make it over a hill with at least the front group.
Bike Handling and staying calm inside a group of 20 other bike riders is another important asset to learn.
Time Trialing is more a sport like running, where its mainly you versus the clock.
the world is full of potential.

none (probably) of us are going to the tour anytime soon . but you are really competing against yourself.

get out there and "just do it!". good equipment is always available used at reasonable prices and most cyclists are great people. even the racers.....

i ground my patella's into dust with track football and basketball, mogul skiing etc.

cycling is heaven to me, not much knee pain. can go as deep and hard as i can stand :) the pain is just delicious and liberating as when running! and you can do it more often without destroying your body.

i won't win any races at 55. my goal's are simple. don't finish last and surprise a few of the kids .

Only one way to find out... get a bike, get out there and start riding. You can definitely do a lot more hours on the bike than you can running (especially if you're injury-prone) and the nice thing is a lot of that fitness will carry over into running should you still want to do that.

Try all kinds of stuff -- hills, flat windy stuff, TTs (if you have some in your area), road races once you get some bunch riding skills and confidence. Highly recommend joining a local club and riding with them as you'll learn a lot more quickly, have people to ride with/against, and hopefully pick up only good and not bad habits. :)

Fwiw, road racing is equally about being fit for the constant surges and attacks as it is about general fitness. Picture a 5k running race where you are in a small bunch of a dozen guys and the ones in front keep sprinting off and forcing you to close the gap and catch them. If you want to be successful in road racing, you need to train to be able to handle those repetitive high-level efforts (which is why joining a club and riding with other people is a good idea).

TTing is a lot more like running in that it's a paced individual effort, you against the clock really. But being really successful at that means putting a lot of effort into aerodynamic equipment and research. Some people like it more than road racing though, as good results are less of a gamble and it's generally safer than riding with 50-60 people in close proximity.

It really depends on what you want to do, cycling has endless forms and challenges and opportunities, both long distances (like RAAM) and short (like sprinting on the track) and everything in between. Off-road, on-road, touring, racing, solo riding, group riding, etc. etc. etc. Just start riding, try lots of stuff, see what you like, train to get better at it, train some more, train some more...
As some have stated before there are many different aspects to cycling vs. running, in fact I would bet you would be surprised at how many muscles you will use that you have not really used when running. With regards to cycling vs. racing there are just as many differences, as some have said a racing is full of tactics and it certainly is not a steady paced effort by any aspect. I say if you have the ambition and the cash to get a bike, get one, find a club, and give it a shot, it is an absolute blast!! Be aware though that while cycling is less of an impact, cyclist are plagued by knee injuries as well, so make sure you get the correct pedals and GET PROFESSIONALLY FITTED.
Hi, thanks guys. Since my original post (this time last week) Ive done 5 days x 1 hour on the bike. First 4 varying between 23 and 23.5 miles without pushing too hard. Today I went for it from about 15-20 minutes in and did 24.75 miles in 1 hour. Seeing as I went through 10 mile in 26.10, the last 14.75 mile were in 33.50 which I am very pleased with. I have a series of physio appointments to determine state of my knee next week. My future plans involve taking up duathlon as long as my knee recovers!

Speed on an exercise bike does not relate to speed on a real bike. Power numbers are reasonably transferable.

200w for an hour is reasonable for a beginning local racer (Cat 5). 250w for an hour is reasonable at the state level. Those numbers should get you to the finish with the bunch.

I don't buy into the follow the surges race plan. I am more of the bring friends who will work with you plan.
Hi again,

Update to say a reputable physio was completely stumped by my knee complaint and Im still unable to run. Apart from first 6 days of April where I lost motivation, I have been back on exercise bike daily the last 8 days or so and regularly doing 2.30 minute miling over various distances between 30 and 65 minutes. Tonight I did 24.9 miles in an hour and want to buy a bike so I can start out on the roads. How shall I go about this? What equipment do I need other than the obvious = bike. What's good for a beginner?

Lot's of good bikes out there, probably best to visit some local bike shops to see what they've got and to get an idea of what fits your budget. There's no one perfect brand, it's a lot like asking what car you should buy, depends a lot on your budget and interests. The good news is that the bike industry is pretty competitive so within a given price class the overall build and component quality tends to be similar. IOW, decide to spend say $800 on a new road bike and you won't see tremendous variation from brand to brand though you might really like the way one looks or feels when you test ride it.

In terms of getting started you should figure out where you plan to do most of your riding, as in on roads and paved paths, off road on trails or maybe a combination as well as what kind of riding as in commuting, general fitness, maybe longer day tours or perhaps you have an interest in competing or doing fast group rides with a local club. Based on that you can narrow things down to a road bike or mountain bike or maybe a cyclocross bike which can be very versatile first bikes as they run fast with road tires or handle a lot of dirt and gravel riding with knobby tires mounted but aren't as expensive, heavy or slow as full bore mountain bikes designed for really technical off road riding.

Spend some time on Google Maps or or to get an idea of preferred bike routes in your area, that might help you narrow down what kind of bike you should focus on. If there's a ton of good road riding or perhaps extensive forests with trail systems or maybe a long gravel rails to trails that you'd like to use for fitness riding it might help with your decision.

Always test ride a bike before purchasing and make sure the shop spends time fitting you to a well sized bike. If they won't let you test ride (ideally more than a spin around the parking lot) or they don't spend some time fitting you or have you try different sized bikes or seem intent on 'convincing' you that a bike that feels too big or too small is actually perfect then it's time to check out other shops.

Once you pick out a bike you'll also want at least the following:

- Helmet
- Patch kit and pump or CO2 inflation system
- Some cycling shorts
- Water bottle or two plus bottle cage(s) for the bike

Other useful accessories include:
- Dedicated stiff soled cycling shoes
- Clipless pedal and cleat system (many new riders hold off on this till they're more confident with basic riding and it's a good idea to practice clipping and unclipping in a very safe place like a big grassy field or empty parking lot before taking them on the road)
- Cycling gloves
- Cycling jersey's to make it easy to carry food on your rides
- Extra clothes if you want to ride very often

Start by visiting some shops to see what they have. Very good used bikes come up all the time on Craigslist or ebay but unless you really know what you want and what size and can do some basic bike maintenance that can be a risky route for a beginner.

And especially if road riding and or organized day tours or even racing appeals to you then ask around at the shops to learn about local bike clubs that are open to new riders. That will really speed up the learning curve.

Good luck,
Curious Runner,

provided you've got the bike well fitted cycling is likely to be an injury free experience as it is for most people, you may not look back, except perhaps in the winter when i find a run can be more apetising (cycling over 20mph puts one hell of a cold wind in your face compared to running).

even if you were the fittest runner in the world you wouldnt even get close to your potential as a cyclist for some months. the aerobic fitness will cross over, but the muscle usage patterns are different enough to take some time for adaptation.

i had a look for one of those "estimate your vo2max from running time" formulas. i found vo2max = 125 - 3.6 - X where X = 5k time in minutes. with 17 mins that gives you 63.8. multiply that by your weight (let's say 75 kilos as an example) and you're on 4785ml/min. now if you could sustain 75% of that at your threshold heart rate (a conservative figure), and had a typical cycling efficiency of 23% (long story), you might be putting out 285 watts. all highly theoretical but that would make you a decent rider.

one the other hand, the best way to train for road cycling is to go road cycling, and the best way to know how good you are is to also go road cycling, so best get on with it!

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