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New to cycling; lots of questions

Jul 29, 2009
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After riding my mountain bike like a road bike for much of the past few years, I finally took the plunge and bought a road bike. And I got the bug. I've been on it every day since I bought it and love it. The next step is to turn it from a form of exercise into a more sporting experience. Over the next couple of years, I would like to work myself into the kind of shape and ability to engage in competitive racing before I get too old and need to resort to participating. Fun first, but it would be nice to make riding a little more interesting.

But a series of questions and I would be grateful for some advice. As a point of reference, I'm in my mid-30s, in pretty good shape (5'10", 195 pounds (88.5 kgs)—muscular frame) with strong legs from many years of soccer and good cardio from more recent workout regimens.

1. I plan to hook up with my local cycling club and participate in group rides and other events with a mind to entering a few races toward the end of next summer. The club also offers a few TTs (15km & 40km), etc., too. All good and the opportunity to learn from more experienced riders is crucial, but what kind of training/riding should I be doing on my own to supplement this? And how often should I be riding? For how long? Climbing? Flats? Both? On the same ride?

2. Spinning. As a total novice, I've been grinding big gears. I have the legs and lungs for it, but the more I've been reading, the more it seems as though I have this all backwards. On a couple of recent rides, I tried smaller gears and higher cadence, but I'm all over the bike and bouncing around like an idiot. I'm sure this takes practice (lots), but how to train for this? Just keep going? Also, given my size, am I better served working at a lower cadence? More Jan Ullrich than Lance Armstrong?

3. Climbing. I've been hauling a 30+ lb mountain bike (Montague MX) up some decent climbs (nearest good hill is 100m over 1.3 km, with incline getting up to just over 10%). I like the lighter bike, but I'm still getting used to the road bike position, etc. Are there effective ways of optimizing my climbing training? Just keep doing it?

4. The bike itself. After trying a bunch of different bikes at my local shop, I bought a CAAD 9 with Tiagra drive train. I've heard mixed things about Tiagra, but the price was right, and I decided that I could likely afford to replace parts over the long term more easily than putting in the first-time investment upfront. With that in mind, is there a high end for parts given the Cannondale frame? Is it crazy to think about top end group sets (Ultegra or even Dura Ace) for that bike? I suppose this sort of depends upon how serious I get.

Lots of questions: sorry to throw it all in one post. Thanks in advance for any and all suggestions.
 
Jul 16, 2009
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At 5'10 and 195 you won't be that great in the climbs. You really should look at getting into the lower 170's if you want to be competitive on the climbs (most people will say 150's or lower, but lets be realistic). Another good option would be to get to 185 and focus on sprinting, TT, and just being competitive in criteriums and flatter rides. I'm 6' and my goal is 185 and ride hard in the local crits.

My real contribution to your questions is for #2 Spinning. I was like you, and crushed a big gear for hours at a time. When I tried spinning the first few times, I bounced all over. Then a Pro Racer gave me adviced that he was given to learn how to spin. Get on a trainer (either one you buy or at a local gym), strap in 1 foot, place the other foot out of the way and in the smallest (easiest) gear, concentrate on spinning circles. Don't go too fast, just stay as smooth as possible. Do this, focusing on being smooth and pedaling full circles for 15 minutes, then switch feet.

Yes, you will look stupid, but after about 1 week of doing this, you will notice remarkable improvement on how fast you can spin without bouncing. It's based on muscle memory. The more you do it, the easier it will become until it just becomes a natural motion. After pushing a 50-60 cadence for years, i was able in 2 weeks of this training to push 80 rpm cadence in a lower gear at the same speed (18mph).

Give it a try.
 
Jul 14, 2009
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good luck in your new pursuit in road biking,First thing is don't give up on your mountain bike.The fitness and suffering skills you get while riding off road and very helpful in road racing.If you are already fit and have an idea of what your goal is you have a good head start.A racing club is a good place to start.Another critical part of your base is form.Get a indoor trainer and use it often.A trainer never takes the place of road or group rides but it will allow you to learn to spin circles and calm your upper body.At first you look like a rodeo cowboy trying not to get thrown from your bike.Learning to spin in the saddle is important to your progress.going from 90rpms to 125 is a skill that will pay you back the first time you use it in a race.Nothing feels better as a seasoned racer to have a new rider ask for advice,don't be afraid to ask the guy who wins your club race for tips.
 
Jul 29, 2009
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Thank you both. I suspect getting down to anything below 185 is probably pretty unrealistic given age, frame, and lifestyle (active but three kids). And I'll try the spinning technique along with plenty of spinning over the winter. Thanks for that. And, no: no giving up on the mountain bike. :cool:
 
Jun 16, 2009
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Just on the frame question, Cunego won the '06 Giro on a CAAD8, and the CAAD9 is lighter and stiffer. I'd say you've over done it once you've added $5000 worth of wheels... Look up CAAD's on http://www.starbike.weightweenies.com and see some of the things people have done with an alloy 'dale.

Seriously, for a 'trying my hand at racing' bike for someone who'll do better in sprints than climbs you couldn't get a better frame (IMHO).
 
Jul 1, 2009
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Steampunk said:
1. I plan to hook up with my local cycling club and participate in group rides and other events with a mind to entering a few races toward the end of next summer. The club also offers a few TTs (15km & 40km), etc., too. All good and the opportunity to learn from more experienced riders is crucial, but what kind of training/riding should I be doing on my own to supplement this? And how often should I be riding? For how long? Climbing? Flats? Both? On the same ride?

2. Spinning. As a total novice, I've been grinding big gears. I have the legs and lungs for it, but the more I've been reading, the more it seems as though I have this all backwards. On a couple of recent rides, I tried smaller gears and higher cadence, but I'm all over the bike and bouncing around like an idiot. I'm sure this takes practice (lots), but how to train for this? Just keep going? Also, given my size, am I better served working at a lower cadence? More Jan Ullrich than Lance Armstrong?

3. Climbing. I've been hauling a 30+ lb mountain bike (Montague MX) up some decent climbs (nearest good hill is 100m over 1.3 km, with incline getting up to just over 10%). I like the lighter bike, but I'm still getting used to the road bike position, etc. Are there effective ways of optimizing my climbing training? Just keep doing it?

4. The bike itself. After trying a bunch of different bikes at my local shop, I bought a CAAD 9 with Tiagra drive train. I've heard mixed things about Tiagra, but the price was right, and I decided that I could likely afford to replace parts over the long term more easily than putting in the first-time investment upfront. With that in mind, is there a high end for parts given the Cannondale frame? Is it crazy to think about top end group sets (Ultegra or even Dura Ace) for that bike? I suppose this sort of depends upon how serious I get.

Lots of questions: sorry to throw it all in one post. Thanks in advance for any and all suggestions.

Long rides high pace, Alone or with 1-2 others, low but not no tourque, hill after hill, comfortable bike and position, time.

I've been riding on the road for over 30 years. Personally, I love traveling miles from home, seeing places from a perspective you don't get in a car.

Today I compete in Olympic distance triathlons also being a former swimmer.

I probably ride less distance than others I know, but am far stronger. Why?
1. I start the season w/30 miles/ride, then 40, then 50, then 60, then 70, then 90. Up the ladder each week. One of these long rides a week, spare your family and leave at 6AM. The road at that time is quiet (i.e. safer), the scenery sublime. I get a 25 ride or two in during the week, usually afternoons for those, so only about 100 miles per week at most. Also no stopping. Carry what you need. I'll carry 4 bottles like a domestique and maybe some food on long rides. Spare the excuse to stop in the gas station for a "break". That's the whole point of long rides, burn in.
2. I ride alone or with one other guy, a lot of solo though. I love the think on the bike, but for training, sitting in the group being carried along is a waste of time. I could ride 500 miles a week that way. Even with my training friends we don't line up, no drafting.
3. For routes, I look for quality road surface, low traffic/less traveled, and hills. People plan routes to avoid hills. I'm in New England and there is a hill every mile if you want it. I balance that with travel distance. Here a lot of climbing for a ride totals 50 ft/mile cumulatively. 35 is a "flat" ride around here. 100 is self torture. I have rides with all those profiles. You have to build up time on the bike early and your legs are weak, so distance and 35 is better. Then I graduate to 50 and 50, then 70 and 50, and then 50 mi and 100. My 25s will have stretches of 100, hill after hill on top of eachother - repeats. You'll become a monster. You also need some stretches in there where you can do some TT work, good stretches near threshold. An olympic tri uses a 40 km TT, sandwiched of course between a swim and run.
4. Speed, early training overall with these profiles 16-17 mph. As I am in mid 17s, I crank up distance and hills. When it starts peaking, I'm doing 18s for 70 mi with 3500 ft of climbing. It feels literally like a motor is attached somewhere, It's indescribable, coming home from a ride after 4 hours, chockoblock with hills and feeling like it's nothing.
5. Cadence. The human body is not a high-torque machine in aerobic phase. Mashing gears will leave you empty 50 miles into a 70 mile ride. Nor should you spin and climb at 5 miles/hr. Find gears that get you 10-11 mph when you are pushing, but winding, but you can also mash if the grade is 12-15 %. Same on the flat, should be power on both up and down strokes, but not mash - in tri's I'm always passing the mashers on flat and hills, someone has taught people to push big gears for speed and it's slow and wears you out. My low gear is 39-25, but I typically use 39-23 or 21. Also mix it up on hills out of the saddle. Shift up, work out of the saddle, shift back down and wind/push.
6. You need a bike you're comfortable on. Get consultation on position and set up. Get it right from the beginning. You are training muscles in that position for that position. That's going to be your set up for the next 30 years. My bikes have changed, my set up has never (blessed with lots of flexibility). That's the last thing, time. Look at local triathlon results and ask why do 40 year-olds dominate the top placings of local races? I feel I get stronger every year. You build strength in specific areas year on year. I feel stronger every year. I have hill climb times to prove it. Give it time and the body will transform.

One other good tip is use something like a Map My Ride to know your routes. None of these give good elevation, often off by 50% or more. Use google earth to judge the biggest hills on the route (stuff over 70 or 100 ft), add those up to know what you've got.

Observe good nutrition (not fanatical) and you're weight will naturally drop. Also all the same advice on recovery (carbs withing 30 minutes of getting home) good rest.

Also on your comment about 185...I'm lighter and stronger than when I was married, am 10 years older than you, have 3 kids, am 6'3" and am lighter than you are now. Paaleeezzze, no excuses. Follow this, give it a few years, and you'll look back on that comment and laugh.

Best of luck and enjoy.
 
Aug 1, 2009
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Steampunk said:
After riding my mountain bike like a road bike for much of the past few years, I finally took the plunge and bought a road bike. And I got the bug. I've been on it every day since I bought it and love it. The next step is to turn it from a form of exercise into a more sporting experience. Over the next couple of years, I would like to work myself into the kind of shape and ability to engage in competitive racing before I get too old and need to resort to participating. Fun first, but it would be nice to make riding a little more interesting.

But a series of questions and I would be grateful for some advice. As a point of reference, I'm in my mid-30s, in pretty good shape (5'10", 195 pounds (88.5 kgs)—muscular frame) with strong legs from many years of soccer and good cardio from more recent workout regimens.

1. I plan to hook up with my local cycling club and participate in group rides and other events with a mind to entering a few races toward the end of next summer. The club also offers a few TTs (15km & 40km), etc., too. All good and the opportunity to learn from more experienced riders is crucial, but what kind of training/riding should I be doing on my own to supplement this? And how often should I be riding? For how long? Climbing? Flats? Both? On the same ride?

2. Spinning. As a total novice, I've been grinding big gears. I have the legs and lungs for it, but the more I've been reading, the more it seems as though I have this all backwards. On a couple of recent rides, I tried smaller gears and higher cadence, but I'm all over the bike and bouncing around like an idiot. I'm sure this takes practice (lots), but how to train for this? Just keep going? Also, given my size, am I better served working at a lower cadence? More Jan Ullrich than Lance Armstrong?

3. Climbing. I've been hauling a 30+ lb mountain bike (Montague MX) up some decent climbs (nearest good hill is 100m over 1.3 km, with incline getting up to just over 10%). I like the lighter bike, but I'm still getting used to the road bike position, etc. Are there effective ways of optimizing my climbing training? Just keep doing it?

4. The bike itself. After trying a bunch of different bikes at my local shop, I bought a CAAD 9 with Tiagra drive train. I've heard mixed things about Tiagra, but the price was right, and I decided that I could likely afford to replace parts over the long term more easily than putting in the first-time investment upfront. With that in mind, is there a high end for parts given the Cannondale frame? Is it crazy to think about top end group sets (Ultegra or even Dura Ace) for that bike? I suppose this sort of depends upon how serious I get.

Lots of questions: sorry to throw it all in one post. Thanks in advance for any and all suggestions.

Couple of quick suggestions. As people have pointed out already, at 5'10" weighing 195 lbs is going to put you at a pretty severe disadvantage when you start going uphill. However since you're fairly new to serious road riding, I wouldn't be too worried about that (especially if you're in good shape, and that extra weight is mostly upper-body muscle instead of fat). If you're doing the kind of riding you'd need to be doing in order to start racing a lot of that weight will come off as long as you aren't also hitting the gym.

It's a very very good idea to get hooked up with a club and to do some group rides. Riding in a group adds a whole new dimension and there are lots of things to learn that are essential to know (drafting, pacelines, etiquette, cornering with riders near you, etc) in order to do any race that isn't a TT. Most group rides still aren't quite the same as racing in a pack, but at least you'll have something to start from. When you're comfortable with your strength and ability to ride around other people without being a safety risk, you might ask around and see if there is a weekly training ride that the local racers do to go out and hammer on each other. Something like this could be a good way to check out a race-like environment.

As far as spinning goes, different people have different styles and what works for Lance might not work best for you. That said, it's still not a bad skill to work on since it will help you develop a more fluid and efficient pedal stroke. The thing that works for me is to think about wiping mud off the bottom of your shoe at the bottom of each stroke (you DO have clipless pedals, right?). Getting a nice fluid stroke takes some work, especially since it's kind of tough to start using your hamstrings.

On to climbing: Climbing is where your weight is going to hurt you the most. Really the only way to get better at it is to do a lot of it. And at least for me, it's always where it takes me the longest to feel strong. So don't be discouraged if you start hammering the flats but still struggle on the uphills. As the saying goes, hills never get easier, you just go up them faster.

And for your bike, what you have sounds like a good enough bike to find out if cycling is a sport you're interested in getting into. I wouldn't worry about buying an expensive lightweight groupset or wheels until you know for sure that you're hooked.

Far and away the most important thing when you're getting into riding seriously is to make sure that what you're doing is FUN. If you find you enjoy going out for 40 mile cruises with a lunch stop in the middle, there's nothing at all wrong with making your cycling MO. There are plenty of ways to enjoy the sport without racing, so don't approach your rides by saying "I MUST become a racer." That's a step in the progression of a road cyclist, but not the only step.
 
Jul 29, 2009
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Thanks for all the advice and encouragement.

In terms of weight, it would be great if cycling proves to do the trick. I'm not carrying very much fat at all, but haven't been under 180 since I was 18, before my chest and shoulders filled out. For years, I've been doing high aerobic workouts and light weights and high reps. And eating well, though not fanatically. For what it's worth, after our first two kids I ballooned up to 225, before coming back down to my "fighting weight."

And my climbing strength and endurance might be better than I may have inferred in my original post. No: I don't expect I'll ever be much of a goat, but I'm able to handle longer climbs without to much strain (though I'm hoping with time and practice, I'll improve).

The biggest challenge, really, seems to be getting comfortable with the spinning and developing better technique. Just ride, I suppose.
 
Jul 29, 2009
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Over the last month, I've been making some good progress. I'm much stronger on the bike and tackling good hills with relish. I actually really look forward to the climbs. The weight is coming down very slowly, but I haven't made weight loss as much of a priority as simply riding and working on technique. I figure if I get around to shaving my legs for next season, that will shed about five pounds, right? (Right??).

A couple of follow-up questions: I've been shooting for about 100 kms a week over two, three, or four rides (depending on work, family, etc.). As I mentioned, I'm enjoying the climbing, and have been working on my spinning on the flats. On flat and mild inclines, I can manage a pretty comfortable 95-100 rpms. In a lower gear, I can get up to 110-120, but then I'm still bouncing. I also feel as though there's little to no torque. Keep working at the higher cadence or try to develop more strength and endurance to raise the cadence at the higher gear?

I've not yet joined any group rides, largely because of my busy summer schedule. But when a group ride advertises that it will ride 40-50 kms @ 30+ kph, what does that mean? Is that an average speed for the whole ride or is it the average speed on the flats? I ask because where I live is surrounded by a 100m+ escarpment, which means there's always going to be some hefty climbing involved, and the difference between an overall average and a flats average is going to be substantial. What does the average speed advertise?

Re. speed: if I want to think about participating in some racing next year and am working on technique and will join some group rides first, what kinds of speed should I be expecting? For the most part, I can train on my own, and I'm feeling good on the bike (and really enjoying it), but what kinds of speeds should I be targeting for flats and 6-10% grades uphill in order to belong in an amateur race? I don't have wild pretensions of winning, but I'd like to finish respectably in some local crits (perhaps a 40k TT) and maybe work toward finishing next year with a century race or two.

Thanks again!
 
Jul 23, 2009
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There's nothing wrong with 95-100, focus on that and get smoother and stronger at that speed, if you are going higher try taking the next gear. Anything faster is beyond requirements unless you end up on the track. Your power output falls off very quickly when your pedalling gets rough, so dialling it back a few rpm and being very smooth will always be much better over distance.
 
You didn't ask about this, but far too many bicyclists put this way too low on the priority list, probably thinking they already know enough: learn how to ride safely and effectively in traffic.

It's not rocket science, but there is more to it than most cyclists, even many experienced cyclists, realize. You can take a class, or read a book like Cyclecraft or Effective Cycling (the latter is dated in terms of equipment, but the traffic cycling stuff is great).

Hint: It's not about assuming you're invisible; to the contrary!
 
Jul 29, 2009
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Ninety5rpm said:
You didn't ask about this, but far too many bicyclists put this way too low on the priority list, probably thinking they already know enough: learn how to ride safely and effectively in traffic.

It's not rocket science, but there is more to it than most cyclists, even many experienced cyclists, realize. You can take a class, or read a book like Cyclecraft or Effective Cycling (the latter is dated in terms of equipment, but the traffic cycling stuff is great).

Hint: It's not about assuming you're invisible; to the contrary!

Good point. Actually, I've been riding in traffic for years; it's the road bike that is new...
 
Jun 16, 2009
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Steampunk said:
I've not yet joined any group rides, largely because of my busy summer schedule. But when a group ride advertises that it will ride 40-50 kms @ 30+ kph, what does that mean? Is that an average speed for the whole ride or is it the average speed on the flats? I ask because where I live is surrounded by a 100m+ escarpment, which means there's always going to be some hefty climbing involved, and the difference between an overall average and a flats average is going to be substantial. What does the average speed advertise?

I'd consider a 30kph group ride as 'moderate/ intermediate'. If you can average 25kph by yourself you should be easily able to sit on a 30kph group (the group might sit at around 35-40 on the flats but if the paceline works that doesn't require too much effort). At that sort of advertised distance and pace the group should be friendly and supportive, so even if you can't hold the wheels for the whole ride first time, you'll be welcome back the next week.

An easy way to work out if your ready to race or not is if you can sit comfortably with that sort of group and then go for a hills ride for 'dessert' .
 
Jun 2, 2009
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One more thing

You're going to be riding in groups as a racer-to-be so absolutely go purchase Racing Tactics for Cyclists by Thomas Prehn. This book is so much more than racing. It is all the about the dynamic of riding with other people. I see so many people on group rides who think they know how to ride a paceline because they saw it on the TV. But they don't. They are dangerous and difficult to work with, i.e. ride with. They mess up rotations and can shut down an earnest chase group. Then if you try to correct their misunderstanding of the logical processes of group riding - well, you don't try - it's too involved. Plus people get defensive when they think they know what they're doing already and you tell them otherwise. Get the book. Everyone will pleased to have a knowledgeable rider in the group. This advice may apply to more people here than the OP.
 
Steampunk said:
Good point. Actually, I've been riding in traffic for years; it's the road bike that is new...
Lots of people have been riding in traffic for years and still

- Think you have to be careful when riding next to parked cars (instead of NOT riding close enough to parked cars to care if a door suddenly opens.. tracking at least 5 feet away from them).

- Think bike lane stripes make cycling safer.

- Do not habitually (automatically, without even thinking about it) take the lane whenever 1) the lane is too narrow to safely share, 2) there is an obstruction or narrowing up ahead, 3) approaching an intersection even if the lane is wide, or 4) preparing to turn left and merging across lanes, etc., much less understand and appreciate all the reasons for doing so.

- Do not know how to properly, safely and comfortably merge across multiple lanes in fast/busy traffic using signaling and negotiating (see youtube.com/CyclistLorax for videos of this).

- Don't understand and appreciate the value of learning to use a rear-view mirror.

But, maybe you do.
 
Jul 11, 2009
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My advice is not to over think it to much, Your obviously going to have some good bike handling skills from MTB and your current road riding, just get out there. Buy a heart rate monitor and get out on those bunch rides as see how your body reacts or just get into a low grade of racing. What’s the worse that’s going to happen?

No matter how bad you are there is always going to be a grade for you. Im not sure if your in The States/Aus/UK but here in Aus there is A,B,C,D,E grades for local and interstate races and the US goes from Cat 1-5 (or something like that) youre going to fit in there somewhere. The best method for learning is doing, racing at a beginners level is not rocket science, you don’t need books, just some race time.

And you might want to consider a new groupo for your CAAD 9 (which is one of the best value for money race frames going around). Tiagra is OK but will not last very long under hard racing and training. Ultegra is a very good value for money, race worthy group.

Lastly with your size concentrate on crits and flatter races, you should be able to put out plenty of power in a kick. If you want some specific sprint training exercises I'm more than happy to post some up and I'm sure that plenty of others can as well.
 
You need to ride pretty much every day. Though, when you get overly tired, don't hesitate to rest. But don't rest off the bike for more than a couple of days, or else the motor might get turned off. Rather rest "on" the bike by taking some shorter and easy paced rides.

And remember that you train to be able to race, not the other way around. So don't always go out attacking everybody all the time on the group training rides. Your body is like a candlestick, when the wick burns out so do you. If you are really strong, then just going hard in the group will start to make a selection, but it's better to always save something for the real races. Your workouts, depending on the time you have and how well you recover, should be between 2.5-5 hours

At the same time you'll need to increase intensity in your workouts as the season progresses and as you get in better shape. Sometimes this may mean on your own in an interval workout, to build resistance and enhance recovery between hard efforts. That's what it's all about on the races. Being able to follow the attacks (or make them) repeatedly, stretching the elastic till it snaps and you are in the break or out alone. Interval workouts focus on these kinds of situations and efforts.

But always leave enough time to recover, after such workouts, and a little gas left in the tank. You only want to lay it all out, so to speak when it counts, that is in the races.

Of course climbing workouts are necessary if you plan to race in the hills or mountains. Here too you want to press on the gas enough to suffer in your workouts, without burrying yourself. If you have a 1k hill at 6-7-8%, you can also do intervals in a low gear (53 x 13) at 40 RPM's to build up some power (like 10 times up), then finish off your workout with a high cadence spin up a longer climb (3-5 K) at like 90% threashold. It burns, but you'll start climbing faster.

Of course, nothing prepares you better than the races themselves and stronger riders who will make you suffer to stay on their wheels and test your mental tenacity.

Learn who your competition is, be smart, watch and mark the strong guys and learn from them. Winners will also show you how to win. They are your main textbook sources, the race your cycling school. And remember that often a race is decided near the end, even when it seems as if a break is going to make it to the finish. Be ready to burry yourself and never, never give up in the heat of the battle. If you are not willing to do that, then play ping-pong instead. It may not always work out (though sometimes it will), but at least you won't have regrets. The worst thing after a race is if you have regrets, and know you chickened-out by not giving it your all at a crucial moment. If you did, but didn't get a high placing anyway, then you will probably be paid back at the next races with one or even a win.

And keep it fun. Never loose sight of the proper place cycling should have in anybody's lives who aren't doing it as their livelyhood. I mean Iv'e seen marriages ruined because of cycling. So it will help if you can get your significant other involved in some way.

Just my 2 cents worth and good luck.
 
Jun 2, 2009
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Right, you don’t need books. Just spend time in races. Learning by making mistakes is a good way to learn but not the quickest. Why spend three or four years learning it the hard way when you can read about it in three or four hours? A $13 book is going to benefit you more than a new gruppo and HR monitor. Certainly from a cost analysis as races require entry fees and gruppos and HR monitors are not free. I’m not dismissing the importance of these items but merely illuminating comparative benefits. How many races do you want to pay for just to make mistakes for the sake of learning? Those who dismiss the value of reading a book and being ‘schooled in the field’ as a solitary learning source have good intentions I am sure. But the situation exists that what you learn in the beginners’ races or at the Wednesday night rides may not be correct. Since you are aged mid-30’s, you will be able to race in the Open Masters’ field at some events, which is arguably the best classroom there is. Still, the book will help immensely and is suggested as a valuable supplement to your new endeavour.
In summary, every race is a learning experience. Build upon a ready foundation of knowledge rather than waste time building the foundation by trial and error.
 
Jul 29, 2009
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Max Cadence said:
Right, you don’t need books. Just spend time in races. Learning by making mistakes is a good way to learn but not the quickest. Why spend three or four years learning it the hard way when you can read about it in three or four hours? A $13 book is going to benefit you more than a new gruppo and HR monitor. Certainly from a cost analysis as races require entry fees and gruppos and HR monitors are not free. I’m not dismissing the importance of these items but merely illuminating comparative benefits. How many races do you want to pay for just to make mistakes for the sake of learning? Those who dismiss the value of reading a book and being ‘schooled in the field’ as a solitary learning source have good intentions I am sure. But the situation exists that what you learn in the beginners’ races or at the Wednesday night rides may not be correct. Since you are aged mid-30’s, you will be able to race in the Open Masters’ field at some events, which is arguably the best classroom there is. Still, the book will help immensely and is suggested as a valuable supplement to your new endeavour.
In summary, every race is a learning experience. Build upon a ready foundation of knowledge rather than waste time building the foundation by trial and error.

I didn't think of these bits of advice as being mutually exclusive (and ordered the book through my local bookstore). I have no problem with reading and doing at the same time (okay: not quite the SAME time). I'm managing a very comfortable 32-35kph on the flats at the aforementioned 95-100rpm without having to really push myself; since I've never ridden with a group before, I wasn't sure how much of a difference to energy/speed riding in a group would make. Here in Ontario, the season is winding down and work is picking up, so I'm really looking at next year in terms of racing.

As for categories, I'd rather be pushed in a tougher category than be comfortable. I'll be 35 in December, so assume that would make me eligible for Masters events.
 
Sep 5, 2009
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Hello guys,

I'm new to cycling. I have never ride of cycle. I have my own bike. I like to ride on it. Some one told me that I have to do cycling every day. But I think that I can't do cycling because I feared about my legs. I heard that cycling can damage the legs and it is little bit harmful if you make it daily. I confused about it. I also want to ride on cycle. Can any one give me proper guidance? :confused:
 
Jul 14, 2009
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Ingrid, for the most part cycling is very good for your legs when done properly. Seat height and pedal position can be set up at a shop so you don't start out with a position that can cause injury. Men and women have different widths in pelvic bones not very much but a good saddle(seat) is very important for comfort and bike fit. Cycling(race training) requires good habits . High RPMs will take care of any injury from pushing too big a gear, that may cause a strain or worse. Simple, if you can't spin the gear then downshift until you find the highest gear/spin ratio. The two most important things to prevent injury are the ability to see and stop. Helmets,hats,glasses,headbands,camelback style packs, can all hinder your vision so that you will not see everything you can. If you choose to wear a backpack while riding make sure it is loose enough so that your torso can rotate so that while trying to look behind you your field of view is at least 180 degrees. Water bottles are still standard. Going to a spin class at a gym can help you keep fitness when work and weather don't permit you to ride on the road. Getting a junk bike to get food and a drink is always a good idea,the more time you spend on two wheels as you begin will pay off,riding in snow and light rain will also build skills and confidence in beginning racers. Most everything I have told you can be learned from involvement in a good racing club with a mix of members.If you pick a club where people are too busy to help, move on.