Introduction, and Some Basic Questions

Discussion in 'Cycling Training' started by slothluvchunk, Feb 4, 2011.

  1. slothluvchunk

    slothluvchunk New Member

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    Reposting this here instead of in "Road Cycling."

    Hello all - I've been lurking here for a bit gleaning pieces of advice.

    I'm a Coloradoan who road a mountain bike casually (10-15 miles/week, easy to moderate singletrack) for several years, and then took about a decade off due to illness.

    The short version of my story is this:
    After 8 years on dialysis (most of my 20's, and into my early 30's) I received a kidney transplant last March. It's been a very long recovery, as just 5 months prior to transplant I found myself in emergency open heart surgery to replace a heart valve that had been destroyed due to an infection (unrelated to kidney disease - what can I say, some of us get all the luck).
    Anyway - I'm 33, and finally have a relatively "healthy" body again - at least in theory. The trouble is, I don't know what that means!

    I'm getting back into biking, and we're planning to do a couple of rides this summer to raise money for a specific organ-donation charity. One of those will probably be Elephant Rock here in CO, but the big one we're "training" for is RAGBRAI.
    We have a team together of several people, and are super psyched about going there, but I only have 6 months to get in shape, and am working hard to do it.

    My wife and I picked up a couple of used roadies, and we're loving them so far.
    I wound up with a several year old Cervelo Prodigy 9sp. double.
    I've got it on the trainer inside (Tacx Swing), and am riding every day. I'm trying to either spin easy (lower resistance on the mag) in a larger gear for an hour or so, or crank up the resistance, and push harder for 30 minutes or so - I seem to be able to do that on about "two clicks" of resistance, and seem to sit on the smaller ring for most of that.
    Here's the thing - I noticed a couple weeks back that the "small ring" here is a 42, so I'm running 53/42. Based on what I've read that shouldn't be what's on there, so I'm trying to figure out the least expensive way to "fix" this to better be capable of climbing (especially given that I'm making up for 10 years of relative inactivity, and life-sucking dialysis). My thinking is that I should get a 39 and simply swap it out, and then get a 9sp. 12-27 cassette for the rear. I'd love to go all out and get a SRAM Apex compact double, or something along those lines, but that's pretty pricey, and means replacing everything but the brakes - is moving to a 12-27 with the 39 going to make enough of a difference to increase my ability to climb some small/medium hills? I don't do any big mountain riding here, but we do have lots of hills, and RAGBRAI is also going to have lots of hills.

    My second question is regarding training.
    Is what I've described above a good starting place? Other than getting on the trainer and pedaling, I have no "program" that I'm following, other than that I try to go harder for a few minutes, and then spin for a few minutes. Does anyone have a basic training program that someone like me can follow to set specific goals, and see specific gains each week? I'd love to be ready to ride the Elephant Rock century in June - but that may be a bit far reaching. Is it possible to go from "I can ride 10 miles comfortably" to a tough century in 6 months?
    Any advice would be greatly appreciated for diet, miles/time in the saddle, and specific training programs (if anyone has something like that) to get me from being comfy in the saddle for a short ride, to comfortably climbing hills (they scare the hell out of me right now), and able to sit 60-70 miles a day in the saddle for RAGBRAI.

    Sorry for such a long first post - but I have so many questions, and am traveling blindly here through this world of "training." After being sick most of my adult life, I've never had to "train" for anything, because I've never been able to do anything.

    - Goonies Never Say Die
     
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  2. daveryanwyoming

    daveryanwyoming Well-Known Member

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    - Yes, you can simply swap out the small chainring from your current 42 to a 39 tooth version and or install the 12-27 cassette to give yourself lower gearing for hills. A compact crank doesn't require swapping out all components, you can generally just swap the crankset and then lower the existing front derailleur to compensate for the smaller big chainring of the compact. Cranksets(with their associated bottom brackets) are interchangeable between brands (not necessarily true of cassettes and rear derailleurs) so you can go with a SRAM, Campy, Shimano, FSA, or any other compact crankset without having to change out derailleurs or the cassette. Depending on the bike you 'might' need to swap the front derailleur but only if you the bike has a braze on mount and your derailleur can't be adjusted low enough to minimize clearance and ensure good shifting on the compact crankset. If that's the case consider a SRAM front braze on derailleur as it's drilled with two mounting holes so that it can be mounted very low for just that reason and it will shift just fine with a Shimano or Campy front shifter.

    - Training is a big subject and there's plenty written on this site and elsewhere on the topic. But to get started mostly work on consistency as in four or five riding days per week. Try to get at least half an hour to an hour per session and work up to at least a few longer sessions per week as your fitness improves. In general longer sustained efforts are better than short intense efforts for building up your base fitness so I'd try for twenty minutes to half an hour where you're breathing deeply and steadily but not dying over short burst style interval work. But basically just ride regularly and over time extend both the time and intensity of your rides as your fitness improves.

    -Yes, riding a century with six months of training is a reasonable goal. You probably won't set any land speed records but if you ride consistently between now and then, take care of nutrition and basic health, increase ride duration sensibly (e.g. 10-15% per week max increases) and work up to longer rides you should do fine.

    Good luck,
    -Dave
     
  3. slothluvchunk

    slothluvchunk New Member

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    Dave,
    Thanks a lot for the input.
    I guess I just haven't seen 9sp. compact double setups, so I was assuming that to move to a compact double, I'd also have to upgrade to a 10sp. setup, which I assumed would mean replacing FR, DR, shifters, chain, etc.

    Glad I can just throw in a new chain ring and cassette to open up the gearing a bit. I've been trying to stick with 10-15% gains max, per week - so I'll continue on that schedule. Thanks again.
     
  4. daveryanwyoming

    daveryanwyoming Well-Known Member

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    You can run a 10 speed crankset with a 9 speed drivetrain. It works fine.
     
  5. slothluvchunk

    slothluvchunk New Member

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    Oh - that makes sense. So, same RD, adjusted FD, and a compact-double crankset/BB up front. Same shifters and chain?

    That sounds like another viable solution.
     
  6. daveryanwyoming

    daveryanwyoming Well-Known Member

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    Yep, that's it. Here's a good link to information on drive train compatibility across different generation groups: http://www.sheldonbrown.com/speeds.html

    -Dave
     
  7. slothluvchunk

    slothluvchunk New Member

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    You've inspired me - I think I might write up a quick Flex app for Android that allows one to create a custom training schedule based on x% increase per week over x weeks to event. Probably only useful to me... lol

    Looking for some basic charts around, just to give me something visually to be looking at, and working toward, but I really appreciate your 10-15% advice - that seems to be what I keep reading.
    Looks like if I can find a relatively inexpensive compact-double crank, and a 12-27 cassette, I'll be thrilled - otherwise, I'll look for the cassette, and a 39T.
     
  8. bgoetz

    bgoetz Member

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    Glad to hear you are in good health and making the right steps to stay that way!! I don't really have any training suggestions different than Dave, he actually answers all of my training questions, so....

    I do have something to add regarding your gearing. Now I don't know your current fitness level, weight, etc., but from what you have described and the fact that you live in Colorado, a 53/42 crank is certainly not the way to go, I would venture a guess that that gearing would not work for most people on this forum on any type of significant hill. Even a 53/39 will make things tough unless you use a 12/27 cassette (I personally use this combination), even that may be difficult depending on the hill. Most people in your shoes are going with a compact crank (50/34). A compact would give you a good range of gearing for what you are looking for and are looking to do, assuming you have a 12/25 cassette you may want to swap it out for a 11/25, but would not necessarily have to.

    You could always look into a triple, but it may be difficult to setup, depending on the group you have you may even need to swap out the shifters, which if you get to that level you might as well change the whole group and go with SRAM Apex.
     
  9. sitzmark

    sitzmark Member

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    Heart warming to read your post SLC. You've certainly had a lot of "luck" thrown your way - nice to know you've persevered and are now able to become more active. Takes a lot of mental fortitude to get to where you are now - congratulations! Everything from here on will be "a piece of cake" ... relatively speaking. :)

    A century sounds a little daunting, but having been in the same position (less the health challenges) a couple of seasons ago, I can say it isn't all that bad if you prepare with a modest degree of discipline. I focused on riding and getting comfortable with time in the saddle. Not any special focus on nutrition, but I have a reasonably healthy diet anyway - not big on fried foods or "junk food". As mileage increased and I pressed harder, I found that my body would demand more food than normal, but not "heavy" foods ... lots of salmon, tuna and other fish dishes, along with pastas. PB&J, bananas, and fruits for quick snacks, etc. Kept it pretty simple for ride nutrition - bottle of gatorade and a nature valley bar. For rides up to an 1 - 1.5 hours unless it's really hot I generally don't take anything with me. Best to listen to your body and do whatever is comfortable in that regard - erring on over hydration and energy is obviously better than shorting your body. I chose to "push" my body on short rides to perform under adverse conditions, which seemed to help on longer rides. Basically I mentally broke my century ride into 4x25 mile sections. I got to a point where 25 miles was my base training ride and very comfortable - mentally and physically second nature .. just "OK I'm going to go ride for an hour and 15 or so". I knew there would be rest stops every 25 or so on the charity ride, so conditioned my body to go 25 -35 and then refuel. Sometimes I'd push it to 40 - 50, figuring that if I was reasonably comfortable with 50, then on event day refueling/hydrating every 25 would be a "luxury". Not advocating this training idea, but it worked for me. Serous cyclists/nutritionists would find great fault with my regiment I'm sure.

    My first century I did "hit the wall" around 80-85 miles and had to raid my carried stash of NV bars, even though I had downed a bunch of PBJ quarters, bananas, etc at 75.. I had never ridden greater than 75 miles in a day at that point and was in uncharted waters. There was one final rest stop around 90 miles, where I refueled again and was good to go for the remaining 10. I felt it at the end of my first century - beat and weak legged, but felt good having accomplished the goal. The second time (last year) I had a better point of reference and didn't burn out so much in the final going. Actually was very "fresh" at the end. Still had difficulty with a moderate hill around 65 miles in - can't figure out why because it isn't particularly steep or long, but it got me both years. Other hills I genera ll pulled ahead of the pack of riders I was with, but that hill drops me to the back for some reason. After that I would get back on form. So a puzzle to figure out, why my performance has taken a hit at that same location/ 2x now.

    I couldn't match the vertical (6,500ft+) around my training area that I knew was part of the event in the "mountains" of Maine, but could easily put together training rides that had 500ft of gain per 10 miles. So I was training at 1,250-1,500 feet of gain over 25 miles, which was in the ballpark of the 6,500ft/100mi event total. I looked for every local hill I could find to add to my training routes. They are short, max 12-14% grade. The event has a couple of 16-18%+ grades, but longer, so first sights of those on event day was an "Oh $#%!" moment. Second year I knew what to expect and they were no big deal.

    My first year I trained on a converted mtb (triple crank) and had a range of 50/38/28 and 12-32. I never used the 28 ring in training, but did drop to 28/30 when approaching the first major hill on event day. Spun myself silly at first before jumping up to a 28/26 or so, then didn't use the 28 ring again. Having the wide range of gears the first year was mentally "safe" knowing that I could spin my way out of just about any fatigue induced situation. That experience under my belt, I switched to a compact crank on my road bike for training the second year. All training done with 50/34 and 11-23. My goal was to only use the 34 ring for starting from a dead stop. Later into the season I decided to use 34 on grades greater than 6-8% to increase my cadence. I swapped out the 11-23 for an 11-28 on event day so I had an 34/28 combo if I needed to "throw in the towel". Not having a lot of experience, the low gear bail-out option both years gave me the confidence I needed to push my pace for the ride. Depending on where you train in Colorado and where the events are, your training and event challenges may be similar. If living in/around Denver, your terrain is fairly "flat" until getting up into the foothills.

    This 15 week schedule was given to me for event prep. I started riding early in the season, so by the time I hit E-14 I was comfortably riding at more miles/ride, but followed the general concept. A key is tapering miles before the event. I suspect my training is far from ideal, but I post it as an example of a regiment that got me through my first century pretty comfortably.
    [​IMG]
    P.S. I should note that among the "goo crew" who practice sophisticated performance nutrition, gatorade and NV bars is tantamount to junk food, so ....
     
  10. slothluvchunk

    slothluvchunk New Member

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    @bgoetz: Thanks a bunch - I think if I can find an affordable compact double, I'll try to go that route. The more I'm reading, and the more I ride, the more I think a 53/39, while suitable to many, may not give me the comfort level I need.

    @sitzmark: Thanks a bunch for all of the free advise - that's really helpful. We're still looking at a few weeks of snow/cold here (hit -33 WC two days ago, but were back up over 40 today), so I'm limited to my indoor mag trainer right now. I may follow a similar schedule to the one you've posted here, and try to transition from doing this indoors to outdoors once the weather is better. Not knowing how a mag trainer's resistance stacks up against real riding (other than knowing it doesn't follow a cubic curve similar to real riding) I may need to add a few weeks to ramp pup outside, but I think this weekly gain is doable.

    Anyway - thanks again for the advice - I'm happy to hear anything else people are willing to throw at me regarding diet, or other training techniques.
     
  11. EllaJane

    EllaJane New Member

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    http://cycling-cleats.blogspot.com/
     
  12. sitzmark

    sitzmark Member

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    SLC .. happy to share some of my observations/experiences with you since I too have recently navigated the typical "new to more serious cycling" issues that everyone goes through when starting out. We all start at different places, but the general path is somewhat predictable. In my case a group of 25 or so riders came together to form a team for the charity ride we decided to support. None were hardcore cyclists, but some were occasional riders. We trained on our own and together on occasion. Many of the same issues came up that you are raising ... what bike, what gearing, what training schedule ...

    With regard to gearing, I have found a compact works great for me. Provides a lot of flexibility - 50/34 can be easily swapped out for 52/38 by loosening/tightening 5 bolts and adjusting the FD. Rear cassettes are an easy switch to adjust for expected variations in terrain. Two negatives for a compact crank are that it is hard to push above 45mph with a 50/11 combo when you get a chance to sustain a downhill pitch and a 52 tooth chainring (110m) can flex more under heavy load. Neither issue is a big deal for me, since I am a recreational rider.

    If your bottom bracket is in good shape, you'll reduce your cost of swapping to a compact crankset by utilizing the BB that is already there. Octalink compact cranks float around on eBay and other locations, so even that "standard" still has a relatively inexpensive option for you. If you have an external BB, then staying "in brand" means you can slide the old crank out and slip a compact from the same company in. A torque wrench and common tools are typically all that is needed. Changing the BB is best done with special tools.

    Training and performance will be a bit of a moving target. I think your century ride is first and the tour later. I didn't do any cycle specific training before either season of training for my century rides, but I am riding a CycleOps 300PT this winter and finding it far more challenging than actual riding - mentally and physically. If you're pushing yourself and find the indoor challenge difficult, my guess is that you'll quickly progress once you break free from the trainer. Once outside, there will be ongoing challenges to adapt to ... wind, heat, etc. Just about the time I start consistently hitting my ride objectives, the temps will start topping 90 and heat induced fatigue makes hitting the same objectives a challenge yet again. Something to keep in mind for both of your organized rides.

    Pace and intensity are more critical to me than actual distance. If you attain a daily training level of 25-50 miles at a certain pace, then you can probably ride your 1-day century at a similar pace, maybe less 1.0 - 1.5mph average. Your sustained range/pace on back to back days may be 75% of that (estimate)? My experience is that I can ride at 75% of my normal training pace for 60-70 miles and not feel like I've ridden at all. Just saddle time with little effort and could do it "forever". That said, I haven't done multiple back to back days at 75% because I'm usually back at training intensity the next day(s).

    Hopefully you'll get more sage advice from experienced touring cyclists and from the RAGBRAI organizers. If there are other participants local to you, try organizing a few group training events together.
     
  13. slothluvchunk

    slothluvchunk New Member

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    Awesome advice - thanks a lot sitzmark.
    I think I am going to move forward with a compact double. If I understand you correctly, I can move to another ultegra or shimano crank without replacing the BB - either way though, it seems to be a "doable" conversion, as I previously thought I'd have to swap everything to make this move.

    Any advantage, to swapping out the cassette after the switch to compact? I'm running an 11-23 9sp. right now - would 11-25 or 12-27 be a "wider" range with the compact, or is that not done?

    Thanks again to all of you for the free advise.
     
  14. daveryanwyoming

    daveryanwyoming Well-Known Member

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    Folks run 11-25, 11-27 or 12-27 cassettes with compact cranks all the time and it's a great way to extend your low end gearing quite a bit.

    If you like to wind it out fast on long descents or in tailwind conditions or you race then stick with an 11 tooth small cog on your cassette, but for general riding, touring and training a 12 is still quite a bit of high end gearing. A compact 50 tooth big ring driving an 11 tooth cog is actually a bigger gear than the 53x12 that many folks run as top gearing.

    Basically the only downside to the compact along with say an 11-25 or 11-27 cassette is that the individual gears are spread a bit further apart but it's a pretty good tradeoff IMO and gearing steps are still typically tighter than the 7 or 8 speed setups we used to run for hilly rides.

    One other thing, you may or may not need to change out your chain after making the swap. You want to make sure you've got an appropriate amount of chain slack if you accidentally cross chain into the 50-27 combo. You shouldn't really ride this gearing combination, but it happens sometimes when you're not paying close attention and you want to make sure you have enough chain on the bike so the derailleur has room to travel and doesn't bind up or worse break under heavy load when cross chained big-big. You'll probably be just fine as you're going from a standard big ring to a 50 tooth big ring which gives you a lot more slack to work with but then you're going from a 23 tooth top cog to a 25 or 27 so it all depends on how the previous owner cut the chain, definitely worth a check.

    -Dave
     
  15. swampy1970

    swampy1970 Well-Known Member

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    TA do a 38 tooth inner chainring that'll fit if you want something just a tiny bit smaller than a 39. A little price but exceptional quality.

    The only distributor of TA rings is Peter White cycles:

    http://www.peterwhitecycles.com/chainrings.asp

    Specialites TA Hegoa 38, 39 or 42 inner chainring in Silver or Black (130mm bolt circle) $ 70.00

    38 is the lowest you can go on a 130mm bcd crank.

    Take a look on eBay and see what's out there. A couple of years back when I was looking for a triple I picked up a not too fancy FSA chainset for $15. Worked perfectly fine for what I needed. There's some compact cranks on there for cheap right now - and some that are "buy it now" for about $60 for the Shimano Compact R600, with 34/50 rings with BB. Not in showroom condition but they'll work fine.

    $90 gets you a set of 105 compact cranks - http://cgi.ebay.com/SHIMANO-FC-5650-105-CRANKS-CRANKSET-170MM-170-COMPACT-/400181226833?pt=Cycling_Parts_Accessories&hash=item5d2ca8ed51
     
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