New to cycling - couple of questions and looking for advice.



Kraig

New Member
Jun 8, 2011
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So I've been a smoker for 21 years, am 6'1" tall and weigh 225 lbs (fat and out of shape), and just quit smoking and bought my first road bike on May 2. It's a 2006 Trek 1000 SL. I've never exercised, but I have a neighbor that's been riding for years. I remember my first few days riding I was able to go anywhere between 2-5 miles and thought I was going to die. I'm now up to 25-30 miles a day, 4-5 days a week. I absolutely love it! My biggest problem right now is that I cannot, for the life of me, average above 13mph! I do have some red lights that I know are affecting my speed, but is this normal? I really want to start on some group rides, but 13mph is not going to cut it. My neighbor says I'm doing good, but he's also my neighbor and I can't tell if he's just being nice or not. Also, my ass is killing me! I'm wearing the padded Canari shorts and have adjusted my seat a few times, so it's a little better now, but still not good. I can't imaging trying to go 60 miles like this. WIll I get used to it or do I need to start looking at seats? Anyways, I appreciate any help and advice I can get!
 

kdelong

Well-Known Member
Dec 14, 2006
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For the record, you are doing good having only been riding seriously and getting 25 - 30 miles in a little over a month. Good work on quitting smoking too.

You are going to have to build up your speed through a little light training just like the rest of us do. It doesn't come overnight. There is a training method called Intervals. You can search all through the training forum and find a lot of threads pertaining to intervals. In a nutshell, you need to find a stretch of road or trail that is fairly level and is several miles long. It also needs to not have any stop signs or traffic lights on it, and it helps immensely if there is little to no traffic on it. You just ride down it for a little while to warm yourself up. After you are warmed up, ride a pre-set distance as fast as you possibly can, a half mile to start is probably good. Push yourself to only about 90% of your maximum intensity because you do want to keep it up for the entire half mile. At the end of the half mile, slow down to around 50% of your max for about a half mile. Repeat this cycle of fast and slow about three times, then cool down. Do this twice a week. When you feel that you can increase your fast distance, do it. If you feel like you can decrease the distance during your rest periods, then do it. Don't do intervals on two consecutive days as you need time for your leg muscles to rest. Tuesdays and Thursdays always worked well for me. Anyway, you will notice an uptick in your average speed in about two weeks and should be able to sustain club ride speeds easily within two months.

To address your sore backside, it sounds like you need a different saddle. Once again, the forum is full of posts where someone's saddle is not a good fit for their posterior. What you need to do is start searching for the most comfortable saddle that you can find. Everyone is different so there is no one best saddle for everyone. Go to your Local Bike Shop(LBS) and tell them that you need a different saddle. Most bike shops have a program where they sell you a saddle. You try it for a couple of rides and if it does not feel comfortable, you take it back and they exchange it for a different saddle, and so on until you end up getting a saddle that is comfortable for you. Each bike shop's program is a little different so you need to talk to them about their saddle program before you start. You might also check some other shops in your area to see which has the best program for you. But after a month of riding 4-5 days a week, you would have been used to that saddle it it was a good one for you.
 
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64Paramount

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Jul 25, 2009
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+1 on KD's advice.

Kraig, you're doing very well. Kudos for quitting smoking! /img/vbsmilies/smilies/icon14.gif
 

DAL1955

New Member
Jan 20, 2011
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Originally Posted by Kraig .

So I've been a smoker for 21 years, am 6'1" tall and weigh 225 lbs (fat and out of shape), and just quit smoking and bought my first road bike on May 2. It's a 2006 Trek 1000 SL. I've never exercised, but I have a neighbor that's been riding for years. I remember my first few days riding I was able to go anywhere between 2-5 miles and thought I was going to die. I'm now up to 25-30 miles a day, 4-5 days a week. I absolutely love it! My biggest problem right now is that I cannot, for the life of me, average above 13mph! I do have some red lights that I know are affecting my speed, but is this normal? I really want to start on some group rides, but 13mph is not going to cut it. My neighbor says I'm doing good, but he's also my neighbor and I can't tell if he's just being nice or not. Also, my ass is killing me! I'm wearing the padded Canari shorts and have adjusted my seat a few times, so it's a little better now, but still not good. I can't imaging trying to go 60 miles like this. WIll I get used to it or do I need to start looking at seats? Anyways, I appreciate any help and advice I can get!
Kraig;

I've posted my story several times before, but 4 months ago I was where you are today, a little smaller, lighter, but equally fat and out of shape. I committed to get fit and faster. Unfortunately, there is no magic elixir or shortcut. At the point you are now, I found a local no drop ride through one of the LBS's here in Florida and went on one of their weekend 30 mile rides. During that ride alone, my average speed was a full 2mph faster than I was able to manage solo. Frankly I though I would collapse several times, but the guys on the ride kept a close eye on me and when they say I was struggling, they would slow and let me recover for a few minutes. Following this ride they had some advice:

1. Stay on the big ring. 2. Pedal faster. 3. You won't ever go faster than X unless your ride faster than X at least some of the time, go faster longer every time you clip in. The rest will come with time in the saddle.

Being the competitive type that I am, and as a former professional tennis player, I knew how to work out and develop aerobic fitness. I hate running, and my wife suggested the local gym and their cycling classes. I cleaned up my diet and started with one a week, some time hooked to a stationary trainer and a ride on the weekend. In week 2 I bumped the classes to 3x per week with the ride on the weekend, and now I go 4x per week and ride on the weekend. 3 months in, I completed a 60 mile ride at 17.8mph, 2 weeks ago, I completed a metric century (68 miles) at 18.4, and last weekend we did 42 miles at 19.3 mph. I did no other work in the gym except for some core strengthening work. Leg strength will be developed if your push yourself in training. The high cadence work in the gym helped develop my pedal motion and my aerobic systems. The standing higher resistance work helped develop my legs.

You do have to be somewhat careful in spin classes and ride your own workout, but the group mentality causes you to work pretty hard, and sometimes the scenery is pretty good. Here in FL, there really aren't hills to speak of unless you travel north, and spin classes tend to have much more out of the saddle work that you will experience on a road ride. Keep your butt in the saddle and press on. The standing work is actually sort of a recovery cycle for me. All this work translates to about 150 miles a week outside based on calorie burn numbers I have tracked.

The long and short of my experience is to develop your aerobic fitness and the rest will follow. When you can no longer wear yourself out on the stationary bike in an hour, its time to take that time a ride at similar intensity outside for longer periods. You are doing great for the time you have invested, up the intensity, find some folks to ride with and move on to the next level.

Regarding your butt, that too shall get better. Take the advice above and demo a few different saddles and see what type provides the most comfort. A big part of the soreness at first is just something you have to endure. As your legs get stronger and can support more of your weight, there will be less pressure on your rear end; as your core strength improves, there will be less pressure on your hands. My butt still hurts minimally and I seldom get numb hands any more.

Good luck to you

DAL
 

Kraig

New Member
Jun 8, 2011
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Wow, you guys are great. I really appreciate the advice and encouragement, and DAL, you really gave me something to look forward to. I'm currently working on my diet, still eating too much but I've switched it over to much healthier foods, no more Popeyes fried chicken ( I really miss it! ) My legs are constantly sore, so I'm hoping that's a good thing and that I'm doing what I'm supposed to. I'm in the Dallas area, so my goal is to be able to ride and finish Hotter N' Hell in August. If I can complete that, I may actually be able to talk the wife into letting me purchase a shiny new bike!

One question for DAL, though. Stay on the big ring? Really? I live on the middle! I've run on the big one a few times and it's fine until I get to an incline, then it's over. I start wheezing and sweating and there's snot everywhere. It's really gross! But, you're doing much better than I am so I will heed your advice. I'm fortunate enough to be able to get out and ride every day ( hit the road at 5:30am and back in by 7:30 to get ready for work ) so I'm hoping to be able to stay out of the gym. I really don't like those places, my love handles are easily intimidated.

I'll start looking at new seats next week. I've been eyeballing a few, I'll just have to make the plunge and test one out. I guess my last limiting factor is my pedals. I'm riding on standard and not clipless. I've got the clipless pedals in, but my first pair of shoes didn't fit, so I should have the correct size by next week. Hopefully that will help a bit.
Anyway, I really appreciate the feedback and after reading this I'm ready to get on the road! Thanks again!

P.S. - My arms keep going numb when I'm riding. Especially my left arm and hand. Usually starts around 10 miles and never really stops. What gives?
 

DAL1955

New Member
Jan 20, 2011
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Originally Posted by Kraig .

Wow, you guys are great. I really appreciate the advice and encouragement, and DAL, you really gave me something to look forward to. I'm currently working on my diet, still eating too much but I've switched it over to much healthier foods, no more Popeyes fried chicken ( I really miss it! ) My legs are constantly sore, so I'm hoping that's a good thing and that I'm doing what I'm supposed to. I'm in the Dallas area, so my goal is to be able to ride and finish Hotter N' Hell in August. If I can complete that, I may actually be able to talk the wife into letting me purchase a shiny new bike!

One question for DAL, though. Stay on the big ring? Really? I live on the middle! I've run on the big one a few times and it's fine until I get to an incline, then it's over. I start wheezing and sweating and there's snot everywhere. It's really gross! But, you're doing much better than I am so I will heed your advice. I'm fortunate enough to be able to get out and ride every day ( hit the road at 5:30am and back in by 7:30 to get ready for work ) so I'm hoping to be able to stay out of the gym. I really don't like those places, my love handles are easily intimidated.

I'll start looking at new seats next week. I've been eyeballing a few, I'll just have to make the plunge and test one out. I guess my last limiting factor is my pedals. I'm riding on standard and not clipless. I've got the clipless pedals in, but my first pair of shoes didn't fit, so I should have the correct size by next week. Hopefully that will help a bit.
Anyway, I really appreciate the feedback and after reading this I'm ready to get on the road! Thanks again!

P.S. - My arms keep going numb when I'm riding. Especially my left arm and hand. Usually starts around 10 miles and never really stops. What gives?
Kraig:

As your core strength improves, there will be less pressure on your hands, less numbness, switch hand position frequently, and shake them out to help circulation once in a while before they get numb.

Regarding the big ring,middle etc. Not sure what you r gearing is, but you should ride where you have room to shift the rear gears up or down for mild terrain changes AND spin the pedals at 85-100 RPM. If the big ring puts you into the largest rear gear for normal riding, then stay in the middle ring.

Your comment about leg soreness sort of confirms what I was thinking. From the day I started riding again, my legs have never been more than slightly sore. Since I had ridden a lot all the way through college, I knew to spin fast, not push hard. Most beginners pedal too slow a cadence and too high a gear. They push too hard because they don't have the aerobic fitness to spin fast and they end up with sore legs. Once you get your cadence meter fixed try this. Establish your normal speed without looking at the meter. Once you are at speed, look at it. My guess is that it will say 60-70 rpm. Shift to a larger rear gear until you have to spin at 85 to hold the same speed. Hold that rpm for a few minutes and shift to one gear smaller and hold the 85 rpm. Hold that rpm for a minute or two and check out your speed! All this pertains to riding on the flat. Hills are another matter entirely and I have to travel to find them, so I usually don't have anything much bigger than an overpass to worry about.

DAL
 

Kraig

New Member
Jun 8, 2011
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Thanks for the tip. As of right now I don't have a cadence meter. My old computer, a Cateye 8, didn't work so well so I pulled it off and just use MotionX on my iPhone. It's been great up until the mention of cadence, so now I guess I'm looking at an Astrale 8, unless you have a better suggestion.
However, on my ride this morning, I tried to focus more on my spinning and less on my pushing and everything seemed to go much smoother. As for riding on flat terrain, I don't have too much of that around here. On my first half of the trip I have 3 fairly steep grade hills that kick my butt. On the 3rd and steepest, my buddy rides up, then circles around and comes back down, then rides up again so he doesn't get bored waiting on me. He doesn't even breath hard! It's a little ridiculous! I keep catching myself wanting a cigarette, then I ride up that darn hill and am really glad I quit.
Anyway, thanks for all the input. I really appreciate the time!
 

DAL1955

New Member
Jan 20, 2011
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I personally like and use the cateye computers. I have the V2C, which does speed and cadence.
 

An old Guy

Member
Feb 12, 2011
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I just checked and the local bike club here has one ride with the average speed below 12mph and one with average speed between 12 and 15mph. These are no drop rides. You might wind up riding with only a couple people at the end but you will not be alone. I am sure you can find local club rides that will help you.


You seem to have a good friend who will ride at your pace. Ride with him. Show your appreciation.

---

About gearing and your limit of 13mph. I suppose you are limited in your speed by your cadence. If you shift to a higher gear (smaller cog on the back), you might increase your speed. Over time your cadence will naturally (or with some effort) increase and that will also increase your speed.
 

Kraig

New Member
Jun 8, 2011
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2
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I'll check out that V2C, DAL.

old Guy, I actually wound up talking to a customer today who told me about a local club with some slower, no drop rides. I'm definitely going to check that one out. There are several clubs here in the area, just some that are harder to figure out due to poorly designed websites. I definitely ride with my neighbor every chance I get. I get up at 5am every weekday just to ride 13 miles to work with him, then I turn around, come home and get ready for work. He just doesn't ride on Fridays and he rides on Saturday while I'm at work. I know he enjoys those rides because he can actually go at his normal pace. I am going to see if I can talk him into a 40-mile ride on Sunday, as I've actually got a weekend day off.