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  1. #1
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    How's my fitness and what am I ready for?

    I got into cycling several years ago, but have been riding more consistently this year. I do my usual 27 mile ride 2-3 times a week. One thing that I've noticed is that after my ride I am NOT exhausted or spent as I used to feel previous years.

    I'm 5'7" 165 lbs. and in my late 40's.

    Here's a snapshot of my typical rides:

    Time: 1:40
    Distance: 27.2 miles
    Max Speed: 36.19 mph
    Avg. Speed: 16.18 mph
    Avg. Cadence: 71 rpm
    Max. Cadence: 107 rpm
    Max heartbeat: 168 bpm
    Avg. heartbeat: 144 bpm
    Calories: 1,122
    Ascent: 1387.8 feet

    Since this is a coaching forum what should be my next level or goals?

  2. #2
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    I'm not a qualified coach (and not many people here are). My credentials are that I'm faster, older (much) than you and have been in the sport far longer.

    You didn't say what type of riding you do. Is it all steady state? You didn't say what your goal is. Do you want to get faster? If so, then you need to train faster. You need to ride "Intervals" - periods of hard fast riding (faster than 16.18mph) mixed with periods of recovery. Whole books have been written on the topic and to condense it down to two sentences would be a waste.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike T. View Post
    I'm not a qualified coach (and not many people here are). My credentials are that I'm faster, older (much) than you and have been in the sport far longer.

    You didn't say what type of riding you do. Is it all steady state? You didn't say what your goal is. Do you want to get faster? If so, then you need to train faster. You need to ride "Intervals" - periods of hard fast riding (faster than 16.18mph) mixed with periods of recovery. Whole books have been written on the topic and to condense it down to two sentences would be a waste.
    I posted my Garmin stats to give an idea of my riding. 16.18 mph is attributable to about 6-8 mph on a 6-7% grade over about 1.5-2 miles. Of course, I also do 36 mph on a descent on the same grade. On a relatively flat road I can do 21-22 mph. I've also noticed that I'm stronger on the latter part of my ride.

    I do mix my ride with sprints. Obviously, I do want to raise the average speed to 18-19 mph. Subconsciously, my mind thinks that I might run out of energy so I don't really push hard in the first half of my ride. At the same, as we know, the first 7-9 miles is tougher due to lactic acid build up and whatnot.

  4. #4
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    Speed uphill and especially downhill means nothing as we don't know what effort you are putting out. I don't know if you're ready for books like The Time Crunched Cyclist as even it gets quite deep & involved. Have a look at the RoadBikeRider.com site. In the archives is a ton of general training info that will give you an idea. The "paid" part of the site ($25/yr) will give you access to much stuff on many topics - from qualified coaches too.

    You'll probably have to get quite involved to raise your average to 18-19mph.
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    Everything above, up to that blue line, is IMO IMO.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike T. View Post
    Speed uphill and especially downhill means nothing as we don't know what effort you are putting out. I don't know if you're ready for books like The Time Crunched Cyclist as even it gets quite deep & involved. Have a look at the RoadBikeRider.com site. In the archives is a ton of general training info that will give you an idea. The "paid" part of the site ($25/yr) will give you access to much stuff on many topics - from qualified coaches too.

    You'll probably have to get quite involved to raise your average to 18-19mph.
    Thanks for the references. I'll definitely check out the book.

  6. #6
    A wheelist
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    Another thing - at RoadBikeRider.com you can buy and download all kinds of e-articles and e-books that contain much good info on many topics.
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    Mike T's home wheelbuilding site - dedicated to providing Newby wheelbuilder's with motivation, information and resources.

    Everything above, up to that blue line, is IMO IMO.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike T. View Post
    Another thing - at RoadBikeRider.com you can buy and download all kinds of e-articles and e-books that contain much good info on many topics.

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    Good advice from Mike T.

    One other step you may want to do is benchmark your current fitness level with a threshold test. If you can measure power, it's FTP (funtional threshold power), for heart rate, it's LTHR (lactate threhold heart rate).

    It sounds like you're in much better shape than when you first started and timing yourself over a familiar route and assessing your post-ride exhaustion definitely gives a general sense of progress. The problem with speed as a metric is that variables have a big impact on results, i.e. wind, elevation, traffic, etc. With a benchmark that measures max sustainable intensity, you eliminate some of the "noise" you might experience with speed measurements (especially if done on an indoor trainer) and get better sense of your output capability.

    Once you know your threshold, you can use it to establish appropriate workout targets, the kind outlined in most training plans. And you can retest yourself in an objective and repeatable manner each month to monitor improvement.
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  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by joeinchi View Post
    Good advice from Mike T.

    One other step you may want to do is benchmark your current fitness level with a threshold test. If you can measure power, it's FTP (funtional threshold power), for heart rate, it's LTHR (lactate threhold heart rate).

    It sounds like you're in much better shape than when you first started and timing yourself over a familiar route and assessing your post-ride exhaustion definitely gives a general sense of progress. The problem with speed as a metric is that variables have a big impact on results, i.e. wind, elevation, traffic, etc. With a benchmark that measures max sustainable intensity, you eliminate some of the "noise" you might experience with speed measurements (especially if done on an indoor trainer) and get better sense of your output capability.

    Once you know your threshold, you can use it to establish appropriate workout targets, the kind outlined in most training plans. And you can retest yourself in an objective and repeatable manner each month to monitor improvement.
    True all that, but for most of us mere mortals, a test of our true power (Watts output) isn't a possibility. What is reasonable is what you mentioned - timing one's self over a set route and the keeping of recorded data for this. Yes, as you also point out, the noise from many variables has an impact, but this also is a fact -

    The more data you amass, the less relevant the noise becomes. Heck, from time and/or average speeds over a set route, you can even average that data when you have enough of it and then you really start to see the truth.

    For instance, I have data recorded for a few benchmark rides (5?) that covers years. It could be stored in an Exel file but I'm a child of the pencil & paper era. Weekly, monthly, seasonally, there are swings in recorded times but total them and average them over, say, a year and you can easily see how much faster (or slower) you are from last year, or five years ago. Lots of my data goes back 30 & 40 years and that's the depressing stuff. Old age isn't kind to your power output. But hey, I'm light-years better than almost all Walmartian pensioners.

    So IMO Megetrio should find his favorite out & back or circular route or three (I have a hilly one and a flattish one as my main ones) and ride them often (weekly, monthly?) and record his times. He should do an honest effort (no stopping to snap pics or smell flowers; no freewheeling) and while he will see fluctuations in times & average speeds, the averages of those rides doesn't lie. He will see whether his chosen training routine is effective or not.

    Of course he can't do this for every ride and the benefits of "progressive overload" (ie: Intervals and rest) have to be tapped for any real gains to be made above the normal rapid early rise for any Newby.

    Finding the balance of overload and adaptation (rest) is the key.

    We can have fun doing this.
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    Everything above, up to that blue line, is IMO IMO.

  10. #10
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    What are your goals?
    If it's all about being a better cyclist you need to lose some weight. If we're talking general fitness that may or may not be the case.

    I know average cadence stats don't necessarily tell the story but if 71 is close to how you typically ride that could use some increasing.

  11. #11
    tlg
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mergetrio View Post
    Since this is a coaching forum what should be my next level or goals?
    I didn't think coaches make goals. Shouldn't you make your goal and then ask for coaching to get there?

    IMO doing the same 27mi ride would get boring. A goal could be to explore new rides.
    A goal could be doing your 27mi ride faster.
    A goal could be doing longer rides. 40mi. 60mi. 80mi.

    But since you asked... I thin your goal should be all of the above.
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  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike T. View Post
    So IMO Megetrio should find his favorite out & back or circular route or three (I have a hilly one and a flattish one as my main ones) and ride them often (weekly, monthly?) and record his times. ...

    Finding the balance of overload and adaptation (rest) is the key.

    We can have fun doing this.
    Yes, any method that is objective and repeatable would serve as a good tool to monitor progress. And your point about the diminishing significance of "noise" is well-taken.

    While power might be out of the reach of most recreational cyclist, Mergetrio already rides with a heart rate strap. So getting an anaerobic threshold value (commonly referred to as LTHR) might be worthwhile as it provides an objective benchmark, the basis for structured training and is simply a matter of going all out for 20 minutes and noting his average heart rate. Threshold would be 95% of the average.

    Regardless of which way he goes, your suggestion to keep things fun is right on the money and what keeps us riding.
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  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by tlg View Post
    I didn't think coaches make goals. Shouldn't you make your goal and then ask for coaching to get there?

    IMO doing the same 27mi ride would get boring. A goal could be to explore new rides.
    A goal could be doing your 27mi ride faster.
    A goal could be doing longer rides. 40mi. 60mi. 80mi.

    But since you asked... I thin your goal should be all of the above.
    Right. I should set my goals. At the same time, I do need another "voice" to help set my goals even if the goal is as simple as going faster and further. In fact, all of you are helping me to fine tune my goals.

    I guess the key point in asking all this is that I finally find myself confident and fit to do more.

    YET, here's a key disconnect that you folks may help me with. After my 27 mile ride (I do take a 10-15 pit stop and grab an espresso) with the 2nd half being tougher (with a stretch of 1.5-2 mile with 6-7% grade) I do find myself not exhausted. I equate this to the fact that my heart is in much better shape than my overall power output that goes to both speed and cadence (?).

    So, my next goal may be to increase my overall strength that would go to higher cadence and speed. I'm generally comfortable around 80-82 (on flat areas), but would like to get to 85-88.
    Last edited by Mergetrio; 07-17-2015 at 07:36 AM.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jay Strongbow View Post
    What are your goals?
    If it's all about being a better cyclist you need to lose some weight. If we're talking general fitness that may or may not be the case.
    I was around 168 over winter. Play USTA tennis during cold months. Now, my weight fluctuates between 162-165. I do plan to get to 160 by the end of summer and try to stay there.

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    Quote Originally Posted by joeinchi View Post
    Good advice from Mike T.

    One other step you may want to do is benchmark your current fitness level with a threshold test. If you can measure power, it's FTP (funtional threshold power), for heart rate, it's LTHR (lactate threhold heart rate).
    How is this done?

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mergetrio View Post
    YET, here's a key disconnect that you folks may help me with. After my 27 mile ride (I do take a 10-15 pit stop and grab an espresso) with the 2nd half being tougher (with a stretch of 1.5-2 mile with 6-7% grade) I do find myself not exhausted. I equate this to the fact that my heart is in much better shape than my overall power output that goes to both speed and cadence (?).
    So, my next goal may be to increase my overall strength that would go to higher cadence and speed. I'm generally comfortable around 80-82 (on flat areas), but would like to get to 85-88.
    I think one of your goals should be a non-stop ride. I've always been allergic to stopping for any reason and have quit riding with clubs that insisted on a mid-ride coffee stop. Bahhh. I'm out there to ride.

    If you can't do 27 miles without a stop, then do 3/4 of that with no stop and work up to the 27. Say 20>24>27. That's a measure of progress. And do short periods of riding at your intended cadence. It would be nice for you to get to 88-90 so do some two to five minute efforts at 90 and then back off. Repeat.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mergetrio View Post
    How is this done?
    This video contains a very good explanation of various test protocols. With heart rate training, the benchmark is based on your avg HR for a 20-minute max effort. 95% of that avg is your anaerobic threshold, aka AT, LTHR of FTHR (functional)

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  18. #18
    tlg
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mergetrio View Post
    YET, here's a key disconnect that you folks may help me with. After my 27 mile ride (I do take a 10-15 pit stop and grab an espresso) with the 2nd half being tougher (with a stretch of 1.5-2 mile with 6-7% grade) I do find myself not exhausted.
    A 10-15min stop on a 27mi ride is excessive. You have to re-warm your legs. In fact stopping at all on a 27mi ride shouldn't be necessary. You don't need food and you should be able to carry enough water.
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    Quote Originally Posted by joeinchi View Post
    This video contains a very good explanation of various test protocols. With heart rate training, the benchmark is based on your avg HR for a 20-minute max effort. 95% of that avg is your anaerobic threshold, aka AT, LTHR of FTHR (functional)

    Will check it out! Thanks!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike T. View Post
    I think one of your goals should be a non-stop ride. I've always been allergic to stopping for any reason and have quit riding with clubs that insisted on a mid-ride coffee stop. Bahhh. I'm out there to ride.

    If you can't do 27 miles without a stop, then do 3/4 of that with no stop and work up to the 27. Say 20>24>27. That's a measure of progress. And do short periods of riding at your intended cadence. It would be nice for you to get to 88-90 so do some two to five minute efforts at 90 and then back off. Repeat.
    I'll try that next time sans espresso. Again, not tired after my first 14.5 miles, but I do enjoy my cup of espresso - discipline!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jay Strongbow View Post
    What are your goals?


    I know average cadence stats don't necessarily tell the story but if 71 is close to how you typically ride that could use some increasing.
    +1. 71 seems pretty low. Ideally you should be higher. Spinning in the upper 80's and low '90s can help keep your legs fresh for longer rides.

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    Quote Originally Posted by tlg View Post
    A 10-15min stop on a 27mi ride is excessive. You have to re-warm your legs. In fact stopping at all on a 27mi ride shouldn't be necessary. You don't need food and you should be able to carry enough water.
    +1 on that, too. On most of my long rides my first stop usually isn't until 27 miles or even longer. So another goal might be to build up to longer rides. Why not train for a century?

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    Your goals are really vague. Have a concrete one or two bur overall why are you cycling? That is what is paramount. If it's to stay fit them I think you are. If it's to be competitive then enter some events or fast rides and try and hang on as long as possible. What events have you entered? An event in the future will motivate you to ride more. You like espresso, cool. Reward yourself BUT only if you better your last months time or up average cadence e.t.c. I don't ride with other cyclists except in events but can still find plenty to motivate me to push a bit more.
    I have a hilly gran fondo coming up and I hate hills. I'm overweight, but training for the event has forced me to focus and make smarter nutritional choices.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike T. View Post
    True all that, but for most of us mere mortals, a test of our true power (Watts output) isn't a possibility.
    Nope.

    Used wired PowerTaps can be found for $150. A brand new 4iiii crank arm meter is $400.

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    The most important metric in a ride is vert ft/mi. Your ride was 51 ft/mi, which is not really hilly, it's one of the flatter rides around my territory. I record all my rides in a simple excel spreadsheet and vert ft ascent/mi is hugely important. Now that's all comparative. Because it seems like all the plotters can be off by 30% or even more(that vert asc not distance). But if you use the same plotter everytime(like mapmyride, plotaroute, strava, garmin etc), then you can compare rides of similar ascent feet and distance.

    What should be your next goal? Try to beat previous PR's for your routes. Get in more miles/wk, take longer rides and if you live in the snowbelt, eek out as much road as you can before it gets cold. I know that's what I'm going to do. Another goal, if available, get in those 70-90 ascent ft/mile rides. Then, you'll be feeling like a BEAST, like I have been lately.

    I agree with you on not feeling spent after a ride. That's a good feeling. Tues I did 40 hard 80 ft/mile and felt fine all evening after the ride. Sat I'm doing 72 mi to my moms house and my wife will take the car, then i have 4 more hrs of total driving and a dinner out, a long day, hoping i won't notice the ride. But it's a fairly flat(for me) 50 ft ascent/mi and 1,000 ft total loss of elevation. On the road - the up is everything for taking it out of you, that and "bad road".

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