Cycling help and advice....

ray316

Über Member
Hi everyone l've just joined this forum and would like some advice about cycling. l have took up cycling after buying a 21 speed Vitesse sprint21 at christmas, at the moment l go out at weekends on it for about a hour and do between 13 to 14 miles. l have a Bells F20 computer on the bike which tells me my average speed is 13.7 mph and l would like to improve my speed with your help/tips....
l ride with the chain on the middle cog at the front and use mainly 4 or 5 on the back on flat ground and 3 at the back up hills and sit down all the time even up hills, l have no toe clips on the pedal at the moment... would this improve my performance.
l have tried using the small cog on the back on flat ground for a fair distance but find my thighs start to ache, my backside also aches while riding, will buying cycling shorts help to reduce the saddle aches.
Now 13 to 14 mph is not very fast so how can l get faster, and how the hell do these cyclists on tv and the even the ones l see on a sunday morning go so fast, what gears are they using and what are they doing what l could learn to do.... Help and advice please.
 

Rob3rt

Man or Moose!
Location
Manchester
1st thing, bear in mind your average may be including traffic light stops unless your computer has an auto stop feature. 14 mph is okay in traffic/when encountering lights.

Toe clips or spd pedals and shoes may make you a bit more efficient.

Shorts might help your sore backside, so might making sure the bike is set up right. Also just getting used to being in the saddle will come into it.

Push gears you can feel some resistance, I.e not spinning like mad with no resistance or not grinding high gears at a low cadence. Some people say spin 80-90rpm.


To get faster put in the base miles and build up your legs and aerobic fitness. Once you have established base fitness start to add in some interval sessions and hill sprints etc.

Try reading the cyclist training bible by Joe friel. It's very thorough, quite in depth too, not exactly light reading but its definitely a good place to start.
 

ASC1951

Guru
Location
Yorkshire
ray316 said:
how the hell do these cyclists on tv and the even the ones l see on a sunday morning go so fast..
Give it a chance, Ray, you've only been cycling four months!

Never mind the pro cyclists you see on the TV. They are physically different to the rest of us and cycling is all that they do.

As to the Sunday racing snakes:-
- they are probably on lighter and much more expensive bikes
- they have been cycling for years, so their bikes will be a perfect fit and they will have the kit that suits them
- they will be more 'cycling fit' than you. They may also have more general fitness, although that is not the same thing.

An hour a week may be all that you have time for, but I'm afraid it isn't enough to make a lot of difference physically. You need to be going out for three or four as long, preferably spread throughout the week.

The other important things are a) to make sure your bike is correctly set up for your physique and ;) to invest in some stiff shoes and something to hold them in place. Toeclips work, but cleats do it better. Bike fit and shoes/cleats may be worth as much as 10% each, although if you are zipping along at 14mph your bike position can't be too wrong.
 
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ray316

Über Member
Thanks for the replys and l understand what you are saying ASC1951, it's just that l would like to get up a bit more speed l would be happy with 16 to 18 mph. The speed and time l do on my same weekly route has not changed in 4 months and l would like to think l'm physically fit as l do exercise at home every night of the week for 30 minutes on a Aerobic Stepper plus do sit ups, press ups,and some rowing so the physical side l would have thought would be ok but obviously its not. Is cycling using different muscles of the legs and the only way to increase the speed is by cycling daily.....
 

Rob3rt

Man or Moose!
Location
Manchester
Averaging 16-18mph is quite fast for the average cyclist. An average of 16 is blazing compared to the average commuter I encounter on my route. Hardly any of them even scrape 18mph rolling speed.

Your weekly route may be part of the problem not your overall speed, lights drag averages down very fast on short routes. Just keep cycling, go hard every now and then, but dont go hard all the time.

Basically you need to make sure your legs and aerobic system are conditioned to cycling with some good base work, i.e. getting out on the bike more (go on the bike instead of doing this stepper thing and doing your pressups etc if cycling is your priority). Some people may need a year of base training before they cope well with hard intervals (speed and power training), others may require much shorter. If you begin intervals too soon then you can actually end up loosing fitness. Either because you end up hurting for days and not training(this is a very annoying occurance) or through over training, weakened immune system etc etc.

I think you would do well to read some stuff by Joe Friel or Chris Carmichael. They both seem to share similar philosophies on training from what Ive read and provide a good viewpoint on getting in your training despire other life commitments.

If you want to be fast, then you need to persue it, it wont just happen. Well it might but only to a certain point.
 

Arch

Married to Night Train
Location
Salford, UK
Rob3rt said:
Averaging 16-18mph is quite fast for the average cyclist. An average of 16 is blazing compared to the average commuter I encounter on my route. Hardly any of them even scrape 18mph rolling speed.
Now that I'm back on my light summer hack for commuting, I'm managing to get up to 18mph on the way home (and 16 on the way in, must be ever so slightly uphill). That's pushing myself - I'm hoping to get faster. But my average is much lower - the best it got to last year was 14 on a single long ride, and it was mostly 12ish...
 

ASC1951

Guru
Location
Yorkshire
ray316 said:
l would like to get up a bit more speed l would be happy with 16 to 18 mph. The speed and time l do on my same weekly route has not changed in 4 months and l would like to think l'm physically fit .....
That sounds like plenty of general exercise, although cycling does have specific demands on thigh and stomach muscles.

The Vitesse isn't state of the art, tbh, but it's not a lumbering wreck either, so you should be able to get a few more mph out of it. Some suggestions:-
- first, make sure the saddle height and reach are correct. Have a look here, for instance http://sheldonbrown.com/pain.html and there are a shedload of fitting links here http://www.cyclemetrics.com/Pages/FitLinks/bike_fit_links.htm
- second, try building up your aerobic efficiency by pedalling in a low gear. Most beginners over-gear i.e pedal too slowly in too hard a gear
- third, get some stiff cycling shoes and cleats. This needn't cost a fortune - Lidl and Aldi do acceptable shoes for about a tenner and you can get new SPD clones for £25ish
- fourth, have the tyres pumped up to the max allowed on the sidewall. 100 -110 psi is typical and you can only get that in there with a track pump or a very good quality frame pump: most frame pumps don't get above 75-80 psi. It's impossible to go quickly on soft tyres.

I would find 16-18 mph very acceptable. My average on a rolling 100 miler was 16 mph in my 50s but is no more than 14 mph nowadays.
 
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ray316

Über Member
Thanks again for some good advice, maybe thats where l'm going wrong by using a high gear alot wanting and thinking l will go faster in a high gear but then l get a lot of thigh aches.
Would using a low gear so me down though as l would have to work twice as hard to get the same speed .
ACS1951 you mentioned cycling shoe at lidi/aldi for about a tenner.
What do l need with the shoes is it cleats.Do l need the right ones for the shoes and how much do these cost.
What about the pedals what sort do l need and how much do these cost.
Best places to buy these.
Sorry for all the questions but l don't know about all these items mentioned it's all new to me....
 

Rob3rt

Man or Moose!
Location
Manchester
Shoes come with one of 2 cleat fixing arrangements, mtb (mountain bike) style and road style or both. You need to choose a pair of clipless pedals or shoes then select the same configuration for the other item, i.e if you choose pedals 1st, buy the shoes that accept cleats that suit the pedal. If you buy shoes 1st (I'd advise this since they can last years so it may be better to have the shoe best suited to you and buy pedals to suit, they last so long that replacing the pedals in a few years time if you need to wont bother you all that much) then buy pedals to suit the shoes you have.

Example,
If you buy a pair of Northwave road shoes which only accept road cleats, then go and buy a pair of mtb pedals which require mtb cleats, they wont be compatible.

If you buy northwave road shoes and some shimano spd road pedals, they will require spd road cleats hence will be compatible.


Most cycling shops sell these, and can advise you, evans cycles is a big chain, they were very good when I bought my road shoes. I dont know what sort of cleat the lidl shoes accept though.

Shoes can last years, so dont feel forced to buy shoes to match the pedals, get the shoes you like the fit of best and pedals suited to them.


Dropping down a gear wont make you work twice as hard for the same speed, since you will be increasing the number of strokes, but applying less force per stroke. How long do your thigh aches last? To what extent do they ache?

You thigh ache could be contributed to by the possitioning of the seat too, if its not quite right.
 

Globalti

Legendary Member
Read lots about bike fit and don't be afraid to experiment with your position. A tiny change can make quite a difference to your efficiency.

Agreed with others, for an amateur a good average is 15mph on a hilly ride.
 
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ray316

Über Member
Dropping down a gear wont make you work twice as hard for the same speed, since you will be increasing the number of strokes, but applying less force per stroke. How long do your thigh aches last? To what extent do they ache?

You thigh ache could be contributed to by the possitioning of the seat too, if its not quite right.
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Hi Rob3rt, my thighs only aches for a hour or so after the ride the same as my backside. The saddle is set up level and the height of the saddle is set up so that when l have a pedal at the lowest position(6 "o " clock ) my knee is only slight bent from the fully straight postion. l know l need cycling shorts withs padding for the saddle aches(will this stop the aches).what do l look for in good cycling shorts and costs..
 
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