Need advice on taking it to the next level

Joe85719

New Member
I've been doing the same 17 mile loop every other day for about 5 months. I'm up to 65 rides. I'm lucky enough to live somewhere where I have smooth asphalt the entire way with no stoplights or stop signs (or any interruptions) for the entire route, so it's easy to track my time and progress.

When I started I had very little experience with road bikes so I was slow at first. I recorded my time every time I went out. My first ride was about 70 minutes, and every ride after that I saw small incremental improvements.

The problem is this, here I am five months later and my last 10 rides were literally almost exactly the same time plus or minus about 20 seconds (down to 54 minutes now). I'm not exaggerating ether, the times are literally almost exactly the same every time....and keep in mind that every time I go on a ride I push myself as hard as I can, so clearly I've hit a wall.

I understand that there could be improvements with a better bike, aerobars, different clothing etc., but I'm not worried about that right now. My question is how do I improve my cardiovascular capabilities and power output if everytime I go out I push myself to the limit but there is no more progress? Would longer rides help? Hitting the gym and doing leg exercises? Something else? There's got to be something. The whole reason I went on so many rides was because I saw improvements every time and now that I'm not seeing those improvements I'm starting to lose interest...so any advice would be appreciated.
 

CXRAndy

Guru
Location
Lincs
To be fast, you need to base level of cardiovascular fitness. The general rule is to do 80% of your riding in Z2 and the remainder in Zone5 high intensity training.

Zone 2 is long steady rides. These will be 2 hours plus, leading upto 3,4,5 hours.

The HIT training is about riding well above your comfort zone to build speed, strength and the ability to recover quickly.

Use your Zone 2 to improve cadence speed. Having a higher cadence will help reduce leg fatigue in longer rides.

This book will help with proven expert advice.

View: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Training-Racing-Power-Meter-2nd/dp/1934030554
 

DCLane

Found in the Yorkshire hills ...
You've reached a plateau; basically you're doing the same loop time and time again expecting improvements. As posted above you now need to vary the ride and intensity. Combine the short ride with longer ones plus shorter rides at a greater intensity.

That's putting it very simply, with speed building from there.
 

cougie uk

Senior Member
You really need to change the way you ride. Smashing every ride is not the way to progress further. You need easier rides too. Maybe look at riding two laps a couple of times a week and doing one or two interval days.

Well done on the progress so far though.
 

Sharky

Guru
Location
Kent
How old are you? 35?
So far you have reduced your times by technique and application of effort, not necessarily by fitness improvements. Your body has taken a lifetime to get where it is now, so be patient. At this time of year with temperatures falling and the need to wear more clothing, your times will drop until the spring, but if you can keep going you will see improvements next year.
As others are saying, need to vary distance and routes, try sprinting for lamp posts and take your body into the "red zone".
Join a club and ride with better riders, this will extend your capabilities.

But be satisfied with a 17 mile ride in 54 minutes. That is almost timetrial/racing speed and a lot of seasoned riders would be happy with that.
 

Cycleops

Legendary Member
Location
Accra, Ghana
Sounds like you might enjoy adding a competitive aspect to your cycling so why don’t you enter some competitions? There’s plenty to choose from, time trialing, CX, Audax, that way you can chart your progress. Perhaps join a local club that organise events.
 
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Dan77

Well-Known Member
Location
Worcester
You're averaging 30km/h (19mph). I would be very happy with that. If you're riding a flat course it is less impressive though.

Take on longer rides and hills. Varying your route will also make it more interesting. I've only been riding just over 4 months and have ramped up my weekend rides to as high as 82km (51m). I'm nowhere near your speed but feel that those longer sessions have really made a difference. As I see it the commute basically gives me some baseline fitness and the weekend rides help me to progress. I will start indoor training soon and hope that will help me progress further.
 

wafter

Über Member
Location
Oxford
To go faster you need to be stronger so push yourself to the limit more / more often with high-intensity stuff (intervals?) in zones 4-5.

That said averaging about 19mph over 17 miles is good for an amateur - I'd be very happy with that, although not to detract from your achievement but a lack of traffic / stops / hills would make this a fair bit easier. Regardless it sounds like you've made a good deal of progress as well as evidently having had good base fitness to start with.

Bear in mind that achieving further gains in speed will be increasingly difficult as your fitness (and hence power output) development is probably sub-linear (i.e. diminishing returns) while the aero drag that power is needed to overcome rises with the square of the difference in speed (i.e. you need double the power to go 1.4 times as fast), so the faster you get the more infintesimally small the gains will become.

From what you've been doing it seems you have an interesting and probably fairly unique dataset - it'd be interesting to see it plotted on a graph of mean speed (or time) against "ride count" - I strongly suspect you'll get a convincing reverse-exponential curve.

The other question to ask is what you hope to achieve in "taking it to the next level" - self-improvement / better numbers are all good but not to the detriment of your overall enjoyment and motivation. Eveyone loves to see that they're making progress / going faster, however we all also have a limit as to how much pain and disruption we're prepared to endure to achive such goals. While my fitness has definitely improved since I hit the cycling hard this year, personally my enjoyment comes mostly from just getting out so were I in your position I'd look for some longer more scenic routes and mix it up a little (the same route 65 times must have gotten bloody boring by now!).

One final thought - in riding as you are you're essentially training for strength; some longer rides, lower-intensity rides would temper your current fitness level with a bit more endurance and possibly balance out your capabilities a bit more.
 

T4tomo

Veteran
I'm amazed you've been out 65 times without thinking "where else can I ride to" or "where does that lane go?"

defo need to step up your distance & time on the bike to improve your bike fitness.
 
OP
J

Joe85719

New Member
Just to answer a few random questions..
- Yes it is almost flat. It's on what's called "The Loop" in Tucson which is about 100 miles of paved asphalt throughout the city that does not connect to the streets.
- I'm 47 urs old
- The weather here is about 65° in the morning and 100° in the late afternoon, so no bulky clothes yet.
- What am I training for? That's a good question. I don't really know. I guess I'm racing myself.
- Is doing the same ride boring? Not too boring. There's some beautiful scenery out here and it doesn't seem to get too boring for some reason.

Thanks for the great ideas everyone. I think I will mix it up with some longer rides and possibly see what group events I can get into, because now that a few people mentioned it, I think that might motivate me...and it would be a good learning experience. Where do you guys go to find local groups and things like that?
 

CXRAndy

Guru
Location
Lincs
Just to answer a few random questions..
- Yes it is almost flat. It's on what's called "The Loop" in Tucson which is about 100 miles of paved asphalt throughout the city that does not connect to the streets.
- I'm 47 urs old
- The weather here is about 65° in the morning and 100° in the late afternoon, so no bulky clothes yet.
- What am I training for? That's a good question. I don't really know. I guess I'm racing myself.
- Is doing the same ride boring? Not too boring. There's some beautiful scenery out here and it doesn't seem to get too boring for some reason.

Thanks for the great ideas everyone. I think I will mix it up with some longer rides and possibly see what group events I can get into, because now that a few people mentioned it, I think that might motivate me...and it would be a good learning experience. Where do you guys go to find local groups and things like that?
Tucson cycle clubs
 

Dan77

Well-Known Member
Location
Worcester
Yeah, much as I like the flat stretches, 17 miles of flat road isn't going to do a lot to help progress. I'm 43, overweight and hadn't ridden for 20+ years until 4 months ago but I reckon I could manage 100 miles if it was flat. Go find some hills and explore different, further routes.
 

mattobrien

Veteran
Location
Sunny Suffolk
Yeah, much as I like the flat stretches, 17 miles of flat road isn't going to do a lot to help progress.
I prefer training on flatter roads, I find it easier to get the power out for specific intervals without hitting a downhill and finding that I’m hitting 35-40mph just to maintain the required power. You don’t need hills to be good at riding up them, but proper training is what is required.

That said, I managed to get to being able to average a little over 22mph on a 24 mile loop before I actually started structured training. This was achieved just by trying to ride as hard as I could over the distance I was riding.
 
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