Total Newbie Starting Question

Discussion in 'Cycling Training' started by jpwkeeper, Aug 24, 2004.

  1. jpwkeeper

    jpwkeeper Member

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    As a complete newbie to cycling, how would you esteemed gentlemen recommend I get going? I'm getting two very different schools of thought here:

    1. Start out very short for 4 weeks (3 miles or so) 3x per week, then add 1/2 mile every other week, keeping the cadence high (80-100).

    2. Start out longer, but easier effort and gradually increase the cadence over time.

    One person told me "Just go a lot longer and ride at a higher cadence" which is physially impossible, since at a high cadence I'm already at my limit. The bike I'm on is geared very easily (like an 15-year old 10 speed, which is exactly what it is), and on the hills (you guys would call them bumps) I'm already in the easiest gear, so I've got nothing left to trade in the Cadence/Effort equation.

    Should I bite the bullet and ride longer, but at a lower cadence and try to build cadence over time, or should I ride shorter at a higher cadence and try to build distance over time?
     
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  2. skwanch

    skwanch New Member

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    Just ride. 3mi is a ridiculously short ride - pointless, IMO. Even at a *very* slow pace (ie. 12mph), that's only 15min or so . . . if you're really riding that slowly, and are at the point where a 15min ride is a challenge (and there's nothing wrong w/ that - we all gotta start somewhere), then it's waaaaaay too early to be thinking about cadence. Just get out and ride for as long as you enjoy it, and ride a cadence that feels comfortable. Over time, you'll figure out what's the 'right' cadence for you. As your distance increases, you'll have the experience to know whether a shift in pedaling style is appropriate or not.

    FWIW, regardless of what your friends may have told you, there isn't a consensus on what the 'right' cadence is. Ullrich and Armstrong both have *very* different cadences, and they're both world-class cyclists. Much is made of Lance's higher cadence, but that's what's right for Lance, not necessarily what's right for the whole world. But of course, everyone wants to ride 'like Lance' and tends to emulate him regardless of how appropriate it may or may not be to do so . . .
     
  3. Scoffin

    Scoffin New Member

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    I'm new to cycling as well and have not yet bought into the cadance talk. I read a few threads and checked mine. In high gear I'm around 60-70, but that was a 1 time check. I think that depends on the gearing of your bike as well. Sounds like you need some taller gears. I started out with a 7.5 mile commute and after a week that was not enough. I still do the 7.5 in the morning, but gradually increased the ride home to 14 miles, then to 20 with some moderate hills at the end. After 2 months I'm feeling I'm ready to stretch that 20 mile to 30 miles.

    You'll shortly find out that 3 miles is nothing (unless it's all up hill) and that you will start to treat the first 3 miles as a warm up period. I stretch a little bit before I jump on the bike and take an easy the first couple miles, then start to lay into it for the rest. I suggest you throw a computer on that thing so you have some way to measure if you are getting better or not. I travel the same routes every day. I keep track of ride time, average speed, and weight.

    I think it will do you some good to go on short rides from the get go and gradually increase the distance as you get more comfortable with your abilities as well as trusting the bike will get you back to where you started.
     
  4. jpwkeeper

    jpwkeeper Member

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    Ride like Lance:eek: ? Lance Boil maybe. No, I focused on the higher cadence because (a) many people in this forum recommeded it and (b) because higher cadence focuses more on Cardio rather than Legs, which is what I'm trying to work on.

    However, I've taken your comments to heart. I rode today, same 3.5 miles as before, but I lowered my target cadence from 80-90 to 70-80. I found I was much more often in much bigger gears than before, which also foced me to focus on pulling with my back leg while pedaling. I managed to shave 28 seconds off of my time and I wasn't hurting quite as bad when I finished.

    Unfortunately, after Friday's ride I have to turn my ride over to the bike shop for a tune-up. It's really old, although a nice bike for its day, but it's been in someone's garage for many years. The rear gears are drifting badly (I have to reach down to the end of the drop, wher the shift lever is, and re-adjust the gear every 10 seconds to stay in the same gear). But when it comes back I'm going to try adding a full mile to my ride and see what happens. Part of my problem could be that the worst climb of the ride is right at the very end (like I said, a roll for you guys is a climb for me) and it's a heavily traffic-ed intersection, so I always have to stop and/or maneuver around cars, which kills my momentum for the rest.
     
  5. jon_stewart

    jon_stewart New Member

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    I'd say there's nothing wrong with starting short distances, but increasing them reasonably every time. I started a month ago at 10K (HaHA!) but am now near my target distance of 80K, training 3 times /week.

    On the subject of cadance, I would say adjust your gearing and go for Min 80 rpm. The more riding I do, the higher the cadance I can maintain, and feel comfortable with. Now at 90 RPM.

    For me, higher cadance also protected my knees from overuse, and that would be the main reason for encouraging people not to grind in lower gears.

    Hope this helps
     
  6. jpwkeeper

    jpwkeeper Member

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    I appreciate the responses, guys. Really, in a forum where most people are talking advanced topics, it's nice to know that some of you are willing to talk to a newbie about topics like this.

    I think the main problem is that I'm a bit atypical in that my legs are much stronger than my cardio. Although I do play sports, what I do is literally all anaerobic, so my aerobic system is starting totally from ground zero.

    The problem is that 80RPM is too high for me right now. A 15 minute ride at around 85-ish is all my lungs can take and I'm completely blown, but 2 hours later my legs were completely fresh. I paid too much attention to the high-cadence banter and not enough attention to what my body was telling me.

    I also found that lower cadences pushing bigger gears at this stage really made me focus on my pedaling action and keeping it smooth.

    I think I'm going to take my bike to the shop for some much-needed re-conditioning, and when I get it back I'm going to start over riding lower cadences for longer periods of time and try to work my way up to the faster spinning. My heart and lungs need to stand before they can fly. No doubt the cadence will come.
     
  7. jon_stewart

    jon_stewart New Member

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    I think there are lots of newbies (including me) on the forum. I'm sure you know the old chinese proverb (I'll paraphrase) "No such thing as a stupid question, just a stupid person" (I'm a teacher, I love that one!)

    On the other part, I think you're absolutely right about training in a way that suits your body's current conditioning... Generally good advice may be generally good for the general population, but generally bad for individuals:D

    PS I envy your legs, particularly your knees!
     
  8. trekryder

    trekryder New Member

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    I'm definitely no expert but I think you're on the right track. I've thought about the whole cadence thing as well and so far I spin fairly fast but I'm using what is comfortable for me. I'm sure these guys know more about the topic than I do but, even though I eventually want to race, I tend to lean toward what is more comfortable for me. A good friend who is an ex-racer compared my riding style to Ullrich. I tend to use the big gears more. I try to spin when I can but when it's time to crank it out, I hit the big gears and power through them.

    I also have legs that are much more developed than my cardio capacity so I feel your pain. I have to work on developing the endurance to keep the power up.

    Whatever you choose, make sure it's comfortable and you enjoy it.
     
  9. tmyersmsp

    tmyersmsp New Member

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    I am also no riding expert. I think that any good coach will tell you that everyone is different, and will improve with different techniques. First, don't worry about speed/m.p.h. Second, find courses you like and are of varied distance and terrain that keep your interest.

    In general, a mid-distance of 8-18 miles is a good starting distance.

    Most new riders have no idea what to do with their gears, let alone cadence. Start by keeping a good pace/cadence/tempo ie something you can keep (by using your gears) going up or down hill. Don't get bogged down going up or spin out of control going down. Most of your rides should be at a steady tempo/cadence/pace. Varying your rides with some days at a steady tempo and some at a faster tempo will help with your aerobic/anaerobic training. Or alternately, vary some rides with sprint and tempo paces for specific distances.

    This should get you started.
     
  10. dallasbikr

    dallasbikr New Member

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    Best thing you can do is to ride in an area away from traffic, lights, stop signs, etc. If you have a park or lake that would be great.

    You would be amazed at the number of people that can ride 5 miles around a lake and not realize it. Take those same people on a 5 mile ride where they know the distance ahead of time, and they bonk.

    Just concentrate on getting your "cycling muscles" going...legs, heart, back, lungs. All contribute. As you go, you will naturally want to increase your speed, or distance, or cadence, etc. Your body will tell you what its cool with.

    I started riding again a month ago. Almost killed myself going three miles. I just now got back from a 19 mile ride...not that big of a deal. :)

    DallasBikr
     
  11. closesupport

    closesupport Banned

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    why is it a short ride. i at time put my bike in the smallest of the triple and the largest of the rear cog and i pedal like a mad man and within 2-3 minutes my legs feel sore like i have just rode 10 or 20 miles. isn't that what he means by increase cadenance the gradually increase to a larger gear and complete the same, when you can spin them all then go for longer rides, but its certain that when you get onto your second ring you'll be able to cover 10 or 20 miles or more, without feeling the same degree of fatigue.

    working with RPM oposed to time and distance.
     
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