Just not improving?

MegGoesRiding
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Just not improving?

Postby MegGoesRiding » 5 May 2020, 4:39pm

Hi there,

I am new here so I apologise in advance if this is in the wrong forum.

So just a bit of background information I am a 25 year old female with a fairly decent bike (cannondale synapse which was about £1000 when I first bought it) and I use it to commute to work 3 times a week (Monday, Wednesday and Friday) which is a 5mile ride each way. I also use it on a weekend for 1 longer ride a week, often about 20-30 miles.

I am finding however that my speed is just not improving and I am stuck at about 10 miles per/hr which I can gather is actually pretty slow, concidering I have been doing this for around 6 months now. I just don't seem to be getting any better. I find myself really struggling up most inclines, my legs just don't feel strong enough and my cardiovascular fitness just seems a bit rubbish. I especially struggle on my commutes on a specific incline on the way to work and it just doesnt seem to be improving/ getting any easier.

Is there anything I can do to help? I know recovery is a very important part of training but I can't not cycle to work, it's my only way of getting in (I don't drive) so I feel like it could be this holding me back? Any suggestions would be welcome!

Thank you!

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531colin
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Re: Just not improving?

Postby 531colin » 5 May 2020, 6:25pm

First, don't worry about it. Any of it. You are out on your bike, which is a lot better than most folk.
If you are really pushing yourself then its nice to have the next day off to recover, but it was never "essential". (Back in the day, we used to do some hard rides at the weekend, and I used to cycle to work all week; like you, no alternative.) So don't worry about recovery, either.
The next bit will sound crackers, but bear with me.....get somebody to video you on your bike, from the side, as you ride back and forth on the road. Failing that, prop your phone up somewhere and make a video of yourself riding round a square, or car park, etc. Post the video here.
Lastly, read up my DIY bike fit stuff linked below my signature, and see how that compares to you on your bike.
There are lots of helpful people on this forum, and we will do our best.

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mjr
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Re: Just not improving?

Postby mjr » 5 May 2020, 6:41pm

10mph actually isn't bad for a 5 mile commute. Commutes tend to be gnarly, with junctions and traffic and places where it's good to be cautious, especially on a fast road bike, doubly so if your brakes aren't high-end. If I ride into the town centre on my road bike, it can be fast but then it can get hairy.

Also, how are you measuring it? With lots of trackers, you can boost your average moving speed by hammering up to every junction and slamming on the brakes (triggering the autopause), then sprinting away, but that's no way to ride because the first misjudgment on braking could put you in harm's way.

Are the speeds different on the longer rides? Have you any long flat quiet roads where you can test your cruising speed when it's not a headwind?

As well as Colin's idea of posting a video, you could (after lockdown) look for a group ride and ask them for pointers. You might get an idea reading around online now of what groups are likely to give useful advice and which are going to be full of idiots, like the one where I was told that my cycling is "no good to man nor beast" - but hey, it gets me from A to B and I enjoy it, so he can go ride his bike without a saddle! ;)
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Jdsk
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Re: Just not improving?

Postby Jdsk » 5 May 2020, 7:00pm

As above. You're doing fine and 30min twice a day is well into the range where there's good evidence for the benefits of exercise.

Get someone to check your position (could be us as above) and play with it a bit.

On the climb try different gears.

Doing the same ride every day should make it easier to see how those changes go.

Jonathan

MegGoesRiding
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Re: Just not improving?

Postby MegGoesRiding » 5 May 2020, 7:07pm

Thanks for your speedy replies!

I will attempt to get someone to video me in the next couple of days!

And its tends to be 10miles per/hr commute or longer rides and tbh I measure it by just dividing my distance by the times I don't have anything fancy, Haha! For example I did a 32 mile ride on Saturday and it took 3 and a half hours but I did stop twice for a snack and a back stretch!

I definately planned on joining a club before the lockdown but I was honestly worried that I would just not be good enough

Thanks!

chris_suffolk
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Re: Just not improving?

Postby chris_suffolk » 5 May 2020, 7:39pm

If there's a local CTC group in your area, would be worth making contact. The group in my area run different levels of ride aimed at different riders, and with the 'easy' ride 10 mph would be about the mark on many a day. It's also much easier with a group for a whole host of reasons, so would be worth a look.

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foxyrider
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Re: Just not improving?

Postby foxyrider » 5 May 2020, 7:46pm

It does sound very much like a position thing, saddle too low would be my guess, get the video and Colin the fit guru will sort that! But also, the gearing element is quite important, i see a lot of less experienced riders using the gears the wrong way round or trying to use them like a car - neither will do you or the bike much good! Imagine you are going for a jog, your feet will go up and down at a pace you are comfortable with, its the same on the bike, if its too slow it won't work well and if its too fast the same so change the gears so you are in a gear where it feels 'easy', this will vary depending on incline, wind etc so its not find one gear but find a comfortable 'cadence' to use in any gear.

Once we get your position checked it'll be time to look at other elements and how you can attain your goals.

good luck :D
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thatsnotmyname
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Re: Just not improving?

Postby thatsnotmyname » 5 May 2020, 10:10pm

MegGoesRiding wrote:Hi there,

I am new here so I apologise in advance if this is in the wrong forum.

So just a bit of background information I am a 25 year old female with a fairly decent bike (cannondale synapse which was about £1000 when I first bought it) and I use it to commute to work 3 times a week (Monday, Wednesday and Friday) which is a 5mile ride each way. I also use it on a weekend for 1 longer ride a week, often about 20-30 miles.

I am finding however that my speed is just not improving and I am stuck at about 10 miles per/hr which I can gather is actually pretty slow, concidering I have been doing this for around 6 months now. I just don't seem to be getting any better. I find myself really struggling up most inclines, my legs just don't feel strong enough and my cardiovascular fitness just seems a bit rubbish. I especially struggle on my commutes on a specific incline on the way to work and it just doesnt seem to be improving/ getting any easier.

Is there anything I can do to help? I know recovery is a very important part of training but I can't not cycle to work, it's my only way of getting in (I don't drive) so I feel like it could be this holding me back? Any suggestions would be welcome!

Thank you!


Your position may or may not be optimal, but that's beside the point. If you want to get faster, you have to invest yourself in something outside of the 'routine' that you are currently in. That's either going to involve more riding, or harder riding, or both.

Commuting is a great way of getting the miles in and I know a number of racers who use their daily commute to get in the majority of their weekly base mileage, something I used to do as well. But if you can extend your commute home, that would be a start. Ride 5 miles in, but ride 10 miles home, and do it at a higher pace than you are used to. My commute was 13 miles direct in the morning, but 30 miles indirect going home in the spring/summer, although I didn't cycle commute everyday. Injecting some variations of pace and effort into your riding will also help, rather than simply maintaining a steady 10mph.

Riding with a group at weekends might also help, especially if the standard of the group stretches you a bit in terms of both pace and endurance. Alternatively, go out alone on your 20/30 miler and just mix up the pace a bit and throw a bit of high intensity in from time to time.

There's lots of different ways of improving, but having a goal or objective would be a significant help. A local event, sportive, time trial or similar would be a good target to aim for. Except at the moment, cos there's nothing on, but hopefully you get the idea.

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NATURAL ANKLING
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Re: Just not improving?

Postby NATURAL ANKLING » 6 May 2020, 2:09am

Hi,
Apart from the goal bit and the longer ride home commuting :wink:
Forget all that above :P :mrgreen:
If you are not fit no amount of good tools and right technique will get you anywhere.
MPH means nothing with out measuring the effort, and effort will be low if you are not fit.
Time and effort for training / improving.

If you are fit then you will simply pass others with ease even on a three speed shopper :)

There's no gain without pain.....................................and that's the truth :!:

And if that puts you off then you need go no further.

I would get yourself a Heart Rate Monitor........you might already have one? today I would say that a Bluetooth heart rate strap and the correct app will suffice, not tried that yet but there must be an app for that, or buy a strap with a watch.
Then you can gauge how much effort you are putting in and build a basis for improvement.
Knowing that what your normal effort is will - tell you if you are working hard enough for improvement.

If you are not then you might well be standing still or even going backwards.
Whats not mentioned is breathing................you have to learn to breath out when you work hard to expel the Co2, not just puff in.
I find it easier to suck suck blow blow when you are working hard. In time with your pedal strokes.
Slow the breathing rate down when you start to relax and it will then come naturally and you wont think about it.

Set yourself a goal, sportive, or maybe go for a 60 - 100 mile ride on your own, eventually.
There's nothing better than a confidence booster in achieving milestones.
But remember you need to do at least 40 minutes continuous effort to start, and try to work up to 2 and then 3 hours non stop.
Once you can sustain 3 hours non stop any distance is then achievable.
Good luck.

P.S. good ergonomics on a bike may look uncomfortable but aren't, what might feel comfortable at a laid back pace will probably be inefficient............so its suffer baby at the start :) You are the right age of course.
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mattsccm
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Re: Just not improving?

Postby mattsccm » 6 May 2020, 6:49am

I am going to play devils advocate and be harsh. What you are doing is fine but as you are young and obviously not unfit maybe you just are not pushing hard enough. Could your levels just be as expected by a normal human and not actually enough to create much of an improvement? IE all you are doing is maintaining a decent fitness level which most people don't. Those are rides I would expect you to be capable of anyway. Harsh bit finished.
I bet if you pushed the distances you would be pleasantly surprised actually. Try that instead. Also really push yourself on you weekend rides. Don't worry about the club. Most will be glad to see you and if they are not, try another. Talk to some now, maybe join their Facebook group. I bet you'll be fine and not the slowest in most groups.

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531colin
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Re: Just not improving?

Postby 531colin » 6 May 2020, 7:10am

Meg
I apologise about the wannabee racers.
As I said at the outset, you are out on your bike which is better than most of the population.
You don't need to eat raw steak and razor blades for breakfast and race to and from work glaring at the road in front of your wheel.
Its perfectly OK to go for a nice bike ride in the country....horror of horrors, I actually take time to stop and look around, and listen to the birds.
Yesterday I heard songthrush, yellowhammer, chiffchaff all within a mile of each other, as well as all the normal "boys in the band" which I can hear from my garden and every hedgerow. Also saw a pair of hares. Loads of bluebells, greater stitchwort, the wild garlic is OK from a distance.
This used to be the Cyclists TOURING Club.
Lets get you comfortable and efficient on the bike first, then you can think about going further or faster, if its what YOU want to do.

reohn2
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Re: Just not improving?

Postby reohn2 » 6 May 2020, 7:58am

531colin wrote:Meg
I apologise about the wannabee racers.
As I said at the outset, you are out on your bike which is better than most of the population.
You don't need to eat raw steak and razor blades for breakfast and race to and from work glaring at the road in front of your wheel.
Its perfectly OK to go for a nice bike ride in the country....horror of horrors, I actually take time to stop and look around, and listen to the birds.
Yesterday I heard songthrush, yellowhammer, chiffchaff all within a mile of each other, as well as all the normal "boys in the band" which I can hear from my garden and every hedgerow. Also saw a pair of hares. Loads of bluebells, greater stitchwort, the wild garlic is OK from a distance.
This used to be the Cyclists TOURING Club.
Lets get you comfortable and efficient on the bike first, then you can think about going further or faster, if its what YOU want to do.

Well said!
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thatsnotmyname
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Re: Just not improving?

Postby thatsnotmyname » 6 May 2020, 8:35am

Might be worth the OP clarifying whether she wants to improve her bike fitness (as the thread title implies), or if she wants to become an ornithologist.

bogmyrtle
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Re: Just not improving?

Postby bogmyrtle » 6 May 2020, 9:19am

Try pushing yourself for short distances within your existing rides. Use markers like telegraph poles and allow yourself time after each 'sprint' to fully recover your breathing and for your leg muscles to relax. As time goes on (and you will need to be patient) you should be able to put in more of these faster bits and/or extend them.
At the same time don't forget to appreciate the main attribute of cycling which is the wonderful countryside and it's flora and fauna.
A bike does more miles to the banana than a Porsche.

thatsnotmyname
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Re: Just not improving?

Postby thatsnotmyname » 6 May 2020, 9:54am

531colin wrote:I apologise about the wannabee racers.


Try to get the terminology right, Colin. I started racing in the early 90s and retired about 5 years ago, so I'm not a 'wannabe' - I'm a 'has-been' :lol: