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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm pretty much a newbie to road cycling and I'm on my third week since I've bought my bike. I'm not overweight, (ok maybe a bit of excess on the belly, not extreme by any stretch), however I'm not extremely active, and hence my initial pace was pretty slow. My first few rides were about the 8-9mph range for about 10-15miles, and that felt like my legs and lungs were on fire, and I was suffering through most of it.

Now three weeks later, I know I've became stronger. My rides are still slow, but better at 10-12mph. I still feel like I'm suffering as I'm always trying to push myself and get faster.

Of course I know that training and suffering go hand in hand, however I would like to achieve a modest goal where I feel that I'm no longer a beginner and can ride a good average pace without feeling like my legs are burning and lungs are exploding so that I can enjoy a bit more and maybe have a conversation if I'm riding with others.

I see so many people pass me with seemingly effortless strength and endurance. I'm just wondering for all those out there, how long did it take you before you felt like you were able to cycle at least an average pace and can keep up with recreational enthusiast cyclist.

Oh, and if anyone of you has any advice on mentally being able to push through the burning pain as I climb that would be appreciated...
 

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I'm a newbie myself been riding for just over a year. Not sure of your size, weight and age but when I started I was very out of shape. My first ride was only 4 miles. I'm 46 now and was about 30 lb's over weight when I started. It took me about 3 months to get to where I could average 12 mph for 20 miles. In Oct of last year I had dropped 20 lb's and did a 62 mile ride with a 15.7 mph averaged. Oh and the only way it gets any easier is if you stop pushing yourself. To quote others here on the forum
"It never gets easier you just go faster"
Mike
 

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I'm a couple months short of a year into cycling now at age 56 and am starting to feel like I can do a decent job keeping pace with typical road bike recreational cyclists around here. I'm sure many can drop me when they want still of course. I've lost 30lbs, ridden 4500 miles including 1700 miles on the trainer this Winter, now 185lbs at 6' tall. I've missed close to one month of riding sprinkled throughout the time due to vacations and a cold one time.

The more you ride, the faster you will see improvement of course.
 

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Anyone that wants to ride faster, needs to ride with faster people. It sounds like you're riding alone and that's the toughest kind of riding. Nobody to talk to, laugh with and have fun with. Go to your local bike shop and find a beginners no drop group. From there you will learn lots. Then you can jump to a moderate 17 mph average group. Then maybe the racing guys will have you over and you'll jump up to their speeds. See, when you ride with a group you have the advantage of resting in the back of the pack, then taking a turn up front and pulling for a bit. It makes you stronger and you'll be riding longer and faster than you would if by yourself. Hey, I hope that helps. It's not how fast your speed improves, it's who your speed improves with that counts.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks guys, that's encouraging. I'm 39 right now at about 156lbs (5'7") and want to drop about 10lbs. I just want to have some realistic goals and expectations. I can't devote a huge amount of time to cycling, but I hope to be able to keep up with the average enthusiast/recreational cyclist with a commitment of a couple of times a week of cycling.
 

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Don't push too much through the burning, that's lactic acid building up in your muscles and the chemical warning your brain to stop, before any serious muscle damage occurs...

Becoming acclimated to cycling depends upon the following factors:

1) Your initial natural strength and potential (DNA).

2) Your intial physical condition.

3) How often you cycle and the type of cycling performed.

4) How often you train or exercise and the type of training or exercising performed.

5) Your diet.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Srode,

Yes, your correct, I am riding alone. I pretty much took up this sport without any other friends into it. I guess to some extent, I'm self conscious as I feel I'm not even at the pace of a beginner. I really don't want to ruin the ride for others when I can't keep up or they have to slow down because of me.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Zeet, I usually push myself on climbs right at that edge where if I push any harder I will need to stop. I'm always right at that highest level of stress where I can still sustain a ride and keep balance. I always need to focus my thoughts on small milestones to get to and tell myself to stay consistent and not over exert myself or I'll need to stop.

I wouldn't consider myself any kind of a natural athlete, but I am coordinated and can do most sports. However I am out of shape, working too much with too many burdens and responsibilities and not eating consistently or healthy for that matter. Not unlike most city guys. I guess cycling is one of my first steps to changing that lifestyle. Hopefully I can develop a passion for cycling which will encourage the other aspects of a healthy lifestyle.
 

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Zeet, I usually push myself on climbs right at that edge where if I push any harder I will need to stop. I'm always right at that highest level of stress where I can still sustain a ride and keep balance. I always need to focus my thoughts on small milestones to get to and tell myself to stay consistent and not over exert myself or I'll need to stop.

I wouldn't consider myself any kind of a natural athlete, but I am coordinated and can do most sports. However I am out of shape, working too much with too many burdens and responsibilities and not eating consistently or healthy for that matter. Not unlike most city guys. I guess cycling is one of my first steps to changing that lifestyle. Hopefully I can develop a passion for cycling which will encourage the other aspects of a healthy lifestyle.
JMO, but if I had to sum up my advice, I'd say (at present) dial back intensity a bit and notch up the frequency of your rides (build base miles). Then, after a period of time and discernible improvement, lengthen the rides and notch up intensity, both incrementally.

Also,I think you should stop focusing on others and their abilities and keep in tune with YOU by rereading what you posted above (some of your questions are answered there).

That's what's gonna build cardio endurance and lessen the lactic acid buildup. Takes time (definitely more than three weeks), but with consistent effort, improvements will come.
 

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Don't push too much through the burning, that's lactic acid building up in your muscles and the chemical warning your brain to stop, before any serious muscle damage occurs...
Uh, no. Lactic acid is a fuel not a cause of pain. Everyone used to think this because elevated LA levels were concurrent with pain but this is not the case.

And in order to do "serious muscle damage" you would have to exert yourself enormously - it's called rhabdomyolysis and the OP is not even vaguely approaching that level of intensity.
 

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I'm pretty much a newbie to road cycling and I'm on my third week since I've bought my bike. I'm not overweight, (ok maybe a bit of excess on the belly, not extreme by any stretch), however I'm not extremely active, and hence my initial pace was pretty slow. My first few rides were about the 8-9mph range for about 10-15miles, and that felt like my legs and lungs were on fire, and I was suffering through most of it.

Now three weeks later, I know I've became stronger. My rides are still slow, but better at 10-12mph. I still feel like I'm suffering as I'm always trying to push myself and get faster.

Of course I know that training and suffering go hand in hand, however I would like to achieve a modest goal where I feel that I'm no longer a beginner and can ride a good average pace without feeling like my legs are burning and lungs are exploding so that I can enjoy a bit more and maybe have a conversation if I'm riding with others.

I see so many people pass me with seemingly effortless strength and endurance. I'm just wondering for all those out there, how long did it take you before you felt like you were able to cycle at least an average pace and can keep up with recreational enthusiast cyclist.

Oh, and if anyone of you has any advice on mentally being able to push through the burning pain as I climb that would be appreciated...
Red, don't compare yourself yet with others. You're better than YOU were - you said that. Look how far you have come. You've just been at it for three weeks! Can you imagine where you will be in another three weeks? Three months? Three years?

You think you have it tough? At least you're improving! What about us poor slobs who have been at it for years - we're slowing down! I've been doing this sport for 51 years and I now ride an average of 4.5mph slower than I did 33 years ago - and I still try as hard. I did 25 miles almost flat out today and I'm about 15 minutes slower than I used to be. So how would you like to try harder and go slower every year? At least you're improving. Give some thought to those who can't. What was your whine again? :D

And BTW - if you're hurting as much as you say then you need to back off. Trust me - it will come but it won't be overnight. Be patient and rest lots.
 

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Uh, no. Lactic acid is a fuel not a cause of pain. Everyone used to think this because elevated LA levels were concurrent with pain but this is not the case.

And in order to do "serious muscle damage" you would have to exert yourself enormously - it's called rhabdomyolysis and the OP is not even vaguely approaching that level of intensity.
Uh, no. Lactic acid IS the exact cause of the burning sensation felt during muscle over-exertion. Pyruvate, breaks up into the anionic form of lactate and the cationic hydrogen ion. The presence of the hydrogen ion is what reduces the PH level and causes the acidic environment for the cells.

Also, I've already mentioned to the OP that he shouldn't try to push through the burning sensation too much. That's only because we all have varying thresholds for lactic acid muscle tolerance, before tissue becomes overwhelmed to the point of actual toxic cell damage via acidosis. The burning sensation caused by the lactic acid causes the brain to receive a message which says either, "Stop!" or "Slow down!". This in turn causes the person to arrest the activity within that particular region of the anatomy. Subsequently, this pause of action then, allows more time for oxygen to be distributed into the formerly oxygen depleted area.

I think what you're referring to Kerry, is a phenomenon known as DOMS (delayed-onset-muscle-soreness). This condition used to be attributed to lactic acid accumulation within muscles. However, recently lactic acid has been proven not to be the culprit with respect to DOMS. With DOMS, soreness is generally felt a day or two, after overt muscle exertion.

References:
Why does lactic acid build up in muscles? And why does it cause soreness?: Scientific American

www.livestrong.com/article/355647-acid-buildup-in-the-muscles/

www.ideafit.com/fitness-library/exercise-overexertion
 

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Have you had a recent physical? at 39 and at your weight, IMO you really shouldn't be struggling at that kind of pace for 15 miles so that anything feels like it is on fire? Anyway, I think push away if you are in the clear. I do think finding friends who will push you will help, and I love hill climbing as it makes me work without the choice that I have on the flats. living in the Wasatch helps. I dunno if you are riding a decent bike? If you are, enter an event, maybe sign up for a 50 miler. That is great motivation. I think everyone should do an hour a day of cardio though, so get out and ride more. You do need to push yourself, that is when you make progress. Now I am trying to run more and the screaming in my head never seems to stop for that, on my bike, I don't hear that at all.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Have you had a recent physical? at 39 and at your weight, IMO you really shouldn't be struggling at that kind of pace for 15 miles so that anything feels like it is on fire? Anyway, I think push away if you are in the clear. I do think finding friends who will push you will help, and I love hill climbing as it makes me work without the choice that I have on the flats. living in the Wasatch helps. I dunno if you are riding a decent bike? If you are, enter an event, maybe sign up for a 50 miler. That is great motivation. I think everyone should do an hour a day of cardio though, so get out and ride more. You do need to push yourself, that is when you make progress. Now I am trying to run more and the screaming in my head never seems to stop for that, on my bike, I don't hear that at all.
No, I haven't had any physical, although my cardio has never been very good. I had quit smoking about 5 months ago so that might contribute to my lack of physical fitness.

I should clarify that it's really not as a bad as I make it sound to be. My first few rides were difficult even on moderate hills. Now those hills don't pose a problem. The more I ride, the more I challenge myself on hills that I would previously be scared with. Granted the hills I climb are would still be considered easy for most riders. The last ride that kicked my butt last saturday was probably about 2% climb over 5km.

Ultimately, my short term goals are to be able to cycle around any of the city streets without any hesitation.

I don't have a heart rate monitor, but I'm pretty familiar with my stress levels, so I would guess that I'm somewhere around 75-85% steady when I'm trying to climb. I don't think I should push beyond that level of stress right now, which is why I haven't felt comfortable to ride with others as I don't think I would be able to keep up.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Mike, wow... 51 years, that's very impressive. I'm sure if I ride for 51 years starting now.... I'd definitely be slower... I would be 90... and probably eating from a straw. However, thanks for the perspective. I'm one of those impatient guys that wants to push and see results. Since I know this character flaw... I wanted to get some realistic expectations of the results I should expect.

Oh and don't take the whining as though I don't enjoy the sport. It's not really a complaint. I'm addicted to this, and enjoy it immensely. I always look forward to riding.
 

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Maybe you should get yourself a good HR monitor , and you gave up smoking 5 months ago (that is awesome BTW) so you are well on the way to reversing that by now. I disagree about the push though, I would never get anywhere if I stayed in a comfort zone, the fitter you get the harder it is to get into the higher HR zones, but when I was heavy and unfit, any actual cardio put me there. I don't even have the 75% HR zone in my HRM as that is recovery and as I count cardio calories (dangerous, I know) I know that the low HR is not a work zone for me. I am not sure what you mean by stress awareness, but I have no ability to work with perceived exertion, for example, I need rock solid info. I don't have a good mental handle on physical exertion. I think that is pretty common.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Maybe you should get yourself a good HR monitor , and you gave up smoking 5 months ago (that is awesome BTW) so you are well on the way to reversing that by now. I disagree about the push though, I would never get anywhere if I stayed in a comfort zone, the fitter you get the harder it is to get into the higher HR zones, but when I was heavy and unfit, any actual cardio put me there. I don't even have the 75% HR zone in my HRM as that is recovery and as I count cardio calories (dangerous, I know) I know that the low HR is not a work zone for me. I am not sure what you mean by stress awareness, but I have no ability to work with perceived exertion, for example, I need rock solid info. I don't have a good mental handle on physical exertion. I think that is pretty common.
I do intend to get a heart rate monitor, I'm still researching which cycle computer to get that will give me the right information. What I meant by my awareness of my stress level is that I have an idea of the heart rate I'm pumping even without a monitor. I've done some cardio work outs in the gym with heart rate monitors so I know how I feel when working at that 75-85% max heart rate level.
 

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I agree with others, you have to push yourself to force the body to change. Riding in your comfort zone is not particularly helpful, at least not for increasing the pace of improvement. You do need to be careful for a while not to overexert to avoid injury though. My understanding is the longer the cardio workout the better the impact on the system. The 2nd hour of a workout is much more helpful than the first. Riding only a couple times a week will limit your rate of improvement if they are shorter rides. I'd try to push so you are doing 1.5 hours minimum each time you are out. Read about HR zone training and getting a HR Monitor will help out a bunch too.

Having recently quit smoking, your rate of improvement may be much faster than others with the same amount of training time. Congrats on that accomplishment, I know from personal experience that is one of the hardest things imaginable to do! (I quit 13 years ago) Cycling will help you stay quit too.
 

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I'm always right at that highest level of stress where I can still sustain a ride and keep balance.
If by "always" you mean every time you ride, you're going about this the wrong way. The body needs some time to repair itself from training stress. Alternate hard riding with easy riding and you will see much better results much quicker. I know it sounds strange, but riding easy (slow, relaxed, no hills, no hard efforts) is not easy. Your mind tells you that you're wasting time, but you're not.
 
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