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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
As a new road rider I'm trying to increase my mileage but I'm having a hard time with it. My expectations might just be to high but I feel like I should be seeing more gains. I have had fantastic cardio gains but my muscles are getting left behind. So I'm looking for some training ideas that might help me out!!!

I ride between 50 to 80 miles per week depending on how much time I have. At least one 30 to 40 mile road ride, a second 20 mile road ride and 10 to 20 miles on the mountain bike. Cramping has only happened on the road bike even though the mountain bike rides are longer duration and much steeper. Road rides average 90ft of climbing per mile. Mtb rides vary between 150ft/m to 250ft/m. Average heart rate for either is around 160bpm and my max is 192. I never really go above 188bpm and thats just in short bursts.

The cramping was probably a diet problem which I have fixed these past two weeks. The big problem now is muscle fatigue going beyond 35 miles on the road. I made it to 40 once but pushing past 35 on a consistent basis has been difficult.

My thys feel like they do the vast majority of the work. Maybe I have other muscle groups that are to weak? If so I don't know which muscle groups to work or what exercises to do besides squats. I do tend to get some lower back pain as my thys start to feel tired if that might be a hint toward anything.

I did do interval training over the winter on rollers but haven't done any structured training since spring started.
 

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Muscle endurance training that is part of the plan I'm on is low cadence standing intervals for 20 or 30 minutes at a time which I do on the trainer. Around 50-60 RPM and Tempo power or HR. Same thing sitting works well but you push the higher end of Tempo power then most likley and keep your HR in Tempo. Starting out at 20 minutes standing was tough, I started shorter and took a week to work up to it. Not for back to back workouts, but 2 to 3 times a week is manageable with a day of other work or rest between them.
 

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You're riding pretty hard for a long ride. You could probably ride further by pacing yourself better until your fitness improves.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
You're riding pretty hard for a long ride. You could probably ride further by pacing yourself better until your fitness improves.
I was a little worried about hearing that! At 160bpm I don't feel like I'm working that hard but I have a difficult time getting my average below 160. I can do it but its like I'm just coasting around town. If its going to help me improve I'm willing to do it.

I'm beginning to think having more strength will make climbing easier. So it will help lower my heart rate. I just don't know if that line of thinking is correct.

I never thought about standing intervals but I have a perfect route to try it. I'm trying to stay off the trainer but it is an option if actual riding doesn't work out.
 

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As a new rider, just ride. It takes me around 1,000 miles at the beginning of each year to start to feel good on the bike again. I have been riding for about 20 years and a lot of miles.

90 ft per mile is a lot of climbing. It will be difficult to substantially increase mileage with that much elevation.

"Strength" in the lift a heavy weight context is not the issue. The idea is learning to push the pedals for a long duration of time. Until you are pushing huge power, the actual pressure on the pedal is relatively small.

FWIW, I don't think three rides per week (2 road, 1 mtb) is enough to see much gain. I would shift to riding more often with one long ride and several shorter rides each week. If work/life prevents rides during the week, doing just 45 minutes to an hour on the trainer during week nights goes a long way.

Also with as much climbing as you are doing, I would shift your thinking from distance to time. Time also helps to account for riding on the road and mtb. Distance/speed don't matter. TSS, Kj, ATL, CTL, and the like matter - but you are not ready for that.
 

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Compare your position / measurements / cleat settings on each bike. I'm gonna guess they are slightly different. Sounds like the mtb might be closer to "optimal" for your current fitness / flexibility.

Here's an experiment - why not put slick tires on the mtb, pump em up to 75psi, and go for a 40 mile road ride... see how you feel...

I've done plenty of long hard rides on both my road and mtb, and yes I've cramped on both, but, it's slightly different on each bike. Is it a difference in position, or riding style / pace / effort? My suspect is more position, since I ride hard on both bikes.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
As a new rider, just ride. It takes me around 1,000 miles at the beginning of each year to start to feel good on the bike again. I have been riding for about 20 years and a lot of miles.

90 ft per mile is a lot of climbing. It will be difficult to substantially increase mileage with that much elevation.

"Strength" in the lift a heavy weight context is not the issue. The idea is learning to push the pedals for a long duration of time. Until you are pushing huge power, the actual pressure on the pedal is relatively small.

FWIW, I don't think three rides per week (2 road, 1 mtb) is enough to see much gain. I would shift to riding more often with one long ride and several shorter rides each week. If work/life prevents rides during the week, doing just 45 minutes to an hour on the trainer during week nights goes a long way.

Also with as much climbing as you are doing, I would shift your thinking from distance to time. Time also helps to account for riding on the road and mtb. Distance/speed don't matter. TSS, Kj, ATL, CTL, and the like matter - but you are not ready for that.
I don't even have 1,000 miles on my road bike yet so I guess I'm just being impatient. Riding on public roads (albeit low traffic country roads) still makes me nervous so most of my rides are on top of a mountain range with almost no traffic. I have some routes mapped out that should be around 50-60ft/m of climbing. I'm trying to get on a group ride with some experienced friends who know the roads and traffic patterns first.

In the winter I did ride by time instead of mileage. More or less because it got to cold beyond one and a half hours. I'll get back to trying that in this warm weather.

Part of my reason for trying to push my mileage is some goals that I set to reach in fall. Since they are goals I don't expect to reach them but I'm not going to lay over and give up. One ride is an 86 mile loop with 9,000ft of climbing. Another more amitious one is all 105 miles of Skyline drive here in Virginia.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Compare your position / measurements / cleat settings on each bike. I'm gonna guess they are slightly different. Sounds like the mtb might be closer to "optimal" for your current fitness / flexibility.

Here's an experiment - why not put slick tires on the mtb, pump em up to 75psi, and go for a 40 mile road ride... see how you feel...

I've done plenty of long hard rides on both my road and mtb, and yes I've cramped on both, but, it's slightly different on each bike. Is it a difference in position, or riding style / pace / effort? My suspect is more position, since I ride hard on both bikes.
I prefer flats on my mtb. I let my feet settle where ever they feel comfortable which is usually slightly forward of mid foot. I have the cleat position set as far back as possible on my road shoes which is close but not quite to my position on flats. The mid foot position is much easier on my calfs but I don't think that should be nessisary to avoid cramps.

I like the mtb with slicks experiment. My mtb tires are tubeless so I'm not sure if I want to dismount them and make a huge mess with Stan's everywhere. If I still have problems in a few weeks I'll try fitting some slicks on the mtb and see how far I make it.
 

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For the road rides, have you worked on cadence? I am now working on maintaining a cadence of 80-85.

That, plus lots of "time in the saddle."

There are two things: you can get muscle strength, or good cardiac fitness. You can pick up muscle strength fast - like within two weeks - but cardiac fitness - to see it in heart rate decrease for a given length of ride - will take a while.

You can judge your cardio by BPM, but the real test will be when your body is so fit that it carries on at 160BPM for hours.

You can carry on at a certain pace, and pay attention to when your heart rate goes up, or your speed goes down - you are getting to your limit.

The limit is defined by strength, by cardiac fitness, by how well you have fuel to burn (i.e., you will flame out quicker if you ride on an empty stomach), and on hydration - if you get dehydrated, heart rate will really go up - you have lost water volume, and the heart has to pump more to get same circulation, since there is literally less blood - by volume.

As you get more fit, dehydration happens less. But also, you do the same amount of work with much less energy - your body has tailored itself to carry out the expected routine with less energy.

If you hit some fitness level and want to stay there, then good. But this is where cross-training, or keeping it mixed up, or varying your rides, comes in.

Some people get bothered that they master a workout, then they get in shape and end up burning fewer calories, then after a while of using less energy to do the same work, they can see that on the scale.

This is why you can see some older guys who can carry out amazing physical feats, but they have a pot belly. They are so acclimated to that kind of effort that they are efficient at it/ their body is fine-tuned for it.
 

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I'd do some intensity. One of your rides, just crush up every hill or roller you can find. Thrash yourself. Go for KOMs or do sprints against dogs or something.

You have to push your limits.

And yes, it hurts, it's uncomfortable, and it can downright suck pushing past your limits. That's what makes it a sport and a competition. You have to approach it as another hurdle to get over.

Believe me, every one suffers. Everyone. But the body adapts. You just have to push it hard enough to make it adapt.
 

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I was a little worried about hearing that! At 160bpm I don't feel like I'm working that hard but I have a difficult time getting my average below 160. I can do it but its like I'm just coasting around town. If its going to help me improve I'm willing to do it.
That just takes time and miles. I remember early on. I was a cat 3, but my hr was always skyhight. At one point I was riding with another cat 3 just chatting (he was, at least) and his hr was in the 120s and I was in the 160s.

His easy was a lot harder than my easy because I just didn't have that aerobic foundation.

Slowly, over the years, though, my hr had some drastic reductions and I eventually reached a similar level of "easy".

But it took tens of thousands of miles.
 

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I never thought about standing intervals but I have a perfect route to try it. I'm trying to stay off the trainer but it is an option if actual riding doesn't work out.
And I wouldn't. Low cadence intervals are a total waste of time (unless maybe you're training to ride up some mountains in your big ring). Fatigue is not biomechanical. Your inability to keep pedaling is a result of your lack of fitness and aerobic foundation, not the result of a lack of leg strength.

Improve the aerobic foundation. That's your limiter. Leg strength is not a limiter in cycling.
 

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And I wouldn't. Low cadence intervals are a total waste of time (unless maybe you're training to ride up some mountains in your big ring). Fatigue is not biomechanical. Your inability to keep pedaling is a result of your lack of fitness and aerobic foundation, not the result of a lack of leg strength.
Your opinion on low cadence intervals and strength training contradicts well known trainers and plans used by well known tour cyclists. Maybe not needed if he is only riding flat courses, but 30-40 miles isn't long if it's a flat course and it's not what he described either.
 

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Lets look at this issue from another angle.
What is your food intake on/off the bike, have you lost any wt during this training?
I propose you are running out of food.
 

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good song by Cake, Going the Distance :) It takes time, be patient and it will come. Keep riding...Mix it up, do some rides were you just concentrate on your cadence. try to go 85-90 rpm without bouncing. Don't worry about your speed. Just go with the terrain. It's a good way to pace yourself.
 

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Your opinion on low cadence intervals and strength training contradicts well known trainers and plans used by well known tour cyclists. Maybe not needed if he is only riding flat courses, but 30-40 miles isn't long if it's a flat course and it's not what he described either.
So I'm wrong, then? Please explain why. Very interested in the physiological mechanisms that allow one to produce more power at a relatively "normal" cadence after pedaling very slowly for a while.
 

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Not sure where the pedalling very slowly for a while comes from, maybe I missed something in the post.

Power is a function of RPM and torque. Torque is a function of strength. With more strength, you can develop more power at the same rpm. Its physics. If you are stronger, you don't have to get as deep into the red to generate the same power at the same RPM and you can be more efficient.

He's climbing 90 feet per mile, that's quite a bit for a newer cyclist - I doubt that's going to be spinning up the hills unless he's got a triple or or 11/32 cassette, so he's going to need to get stronger to be able to develop the torque. Grinding up hills at low cadence when you aren't strong enough putting you into Zone 5 or higher is a sure fire way to burn out the legs quickly.
 

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Not sure where the pedalling very slowly for a while comes from, maybe I missed something in the post.

Power is a function of RPM and torque. Torque is a function of strength. With more strength, you can develop more power at the same rpm. Its physics. If you are stronger, you don't have to get as deep into the red to generate the same power at the same RPM and you can be more efficient.

He's climbing 90 feet per mile, that's quite a bit for a newer cyclist - I doubt that's going to be spinning up the hills unless he's got a triple or or 11/32 cassette, so he's going to need to get stronger to be able to develop the torque. Grinding up hills at low cadence when you aren't strong enough putting you into Zone 5 or higher is a sure fire way to burn out the legs quickly.
Pedaling at 50-60 rpm is pedaling slowly. That's what you're talking about.

Strength is not a limiter in cycling. Guarantee the op can stomp on the pedals and put out 500-600 watts for a few seconds even after 30 miles.

It's an AEROBIC sport. Your power output is dictated by your body's ability to use and deliver oxygen to your working muscles as efficiently as possible.

What you're talking about with going into the red and such is a result of aerobic conditioning, not "strength". I guarantee an Olympic Match Sprinter has more strength in one leg than most of us have in two, but he for damn sure would be dropped on any meaningful hill by a decent racer when he "goes into the red". Now how could that be if he has so much strength? Because of the aerobic aspect.

Specifically trying to ride around at a low cadence under the pretense of doing some workout is totally silly and a waste of time when there are actual specific things he can do that will be beneficial.
 

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40 miles at 90 feet per mile? That's 3600 feet of climbing. There's not much room for flat roads on a ride like that. So you are probably doing most of the ride at a low cadence and pushing hard on the pedals.

Long rides are all about spinning an easier gear, and riding efficiently. And your body adapts to the long efforts, even after a year of riding.

Do whatever it takes to get on those group rides. That sounds great. I push way harder to hang onto a fast group climbing a hill than I do solo. And I can also recover in the draft. It takes maybe 30% less power with a few drafting riders in front of you. Group rides are such a blast.

And low traffic country roads are good for riding, as long as they aren't all curves, which makes it hard for cars to pass. Try using a rear blinker even during the day. Ride near the right tire track, to make the cars move over to pass you, and you'll get fewer punctures there, too.
 

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Pedaling at 50-60 rpm is pedaling slowly. That's what you're talking about.

Strength is not a limiter in cycling. Guarantee the op can stomp on the pedals and put out 500-600 watts for a few seconds even after 30 miles.

It's an AEROBIC sport. Your power output is dictated by your body's ability to use and deliver oxygen to your working muscles as efficiently as possible.

What you're talking about with going into the red and such is a result of aerobic conditioning, not "strength". I guarantee an Olympic Match Sprinter has more strength in one leg than most of us have in two, but he for damn sure would be dropped on any meaningful hill by a decent racer when he "goes into the red". Now how could that be if he has so much strength? Because of the aerobic aspect.

Specifically trying to ride around at a low cadence under the pretense of doing some workout is totally silly and a waste of time when there are actual specific things he can do that will be beneficial.
I wasn't really advocating riding around at low cadence aimlessly, don't think that is what I said. Standing intervals in a specific HR / Power zone and cadence is what I would recommend. Sure, anyone can produce high watts for a few seconds after 30 miles, but I'm pretty sure what he is talking about is not the inability to pedal hard for a few seconds when his legs are tired riding on a course with 90 feet of climbing / mile. Yes, cycling is an aerobic sport obviously. A couple suggestions if you want to get the point I was trying to make and perhaps missed, around how this fits in a training plan - google standing intervals, google Force reps Joe Friel.

From my personal experience, I certainly believe these types of intervals have substantially improved my ability to climb and to ride long distances as well based on results this year when I included them in my training.
 
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