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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am a 39 y/o male who started cycling 2 years ago. In my first year I did 1 XC beginner race which I won and one sport race which I placed 7th (of 23) with a stupid crash that cost me probably 2-4 places. I also competed in the 24 hours of Moab...where I did 4 laps. My goals for my second year of racing are to compete in 4-5 XC races and 2-3 endurance races (individual 6-8 hour and team races). I would like to compete in Sport Class this year and do well. Also to just get stronger riding my bike in general.

Until about 2 months ago I was a 1-2 day rider a week with running and occasional swimming thrown in. Currently my goal is to ride between 9-10 hours a week (finding it hard to meet that much time). I have been gradually increasing my hours riding over the last several weeks to about 10 hours this last week (cut out cross training). I think that 10-12 hours would be max I can do.

Training currently consist of 1 3.5 hour group road ride on weekend that is pretty fast (at least to me!) 1-2 mountain bike rides from 1-3 hours as well. A road ride (not every week) which has not included intervals yet of about 2 hours. And if time crunched I will try to do back to back spin classes for a total of 1.5-1 3/4 hours where my heart rate routinely reaches my LT for much of the classes. Last of all I do about 2 days a week (i know I lazy) of core work.

The mountain bike rides vary from fast (when I ride with self or fast friend) to cruising (when with slower friends). The non- group road ride is steady pace usually with at least one really good climb in it where I am at LT whole climb (15-20 min or so)

I know that this I am just starting my third year of riding but I feel that is no excuse for not trying to get better as fast as I can. I would appreciate any suggestions or criticisms as to how to become a better rider and racer.

Thanks in advance for your input...this forum has been extremely helpful.
 

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Looks about right to me but I'm no expert either.
actually pretty close to my weeks during the summer- 10 or 12 hours per week is fine for a cat2 imo. I'd start working in some intervals as it gets closer to racing- maybe start with 5x5's in addition to the longer 15min climbs.
 

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Be sure to rest so your body can reap the benefits of all the work you are doing. You can't put in 10 to 12 hours each and every week without burning out. At least once a month cut those hours in half for a week and do easy rides that week.
 

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Tough Question.

Long Answer Skip to last Paragraph for a short version

You are not really doing anything wrong your just at the level where the competition starts to get fierce and and you really see a difference between people who train with a purpose and people who just ride fast. If you want to progress beyond the front half of the sport pack you either need to have picked your parents correctly, or train with a purpose. If you want to progress beyond the front part of the expert field you have to do both.

I would suggest that you work with a coach in some fashion if you are serious about racing. There are many options out there. You can't beat having a local coach that you can ride with occasionally and meet with on a regualr basis but someone who has the knowledge and experience you are after can be expensive. Probably 500 ish a month

A less expensive option is to have a coach develop a plan for you maybe in 4 or 8 week blocks and then check in with them before the begining of the next block. Also Check out www.lwcoaching.com. Lynda has some training plans already constructed for like every imaginable application. These plans are a great way to get some structure and a great foundation for a self-coached athlete.

Whatever you do I would sugesst getting Joe Friels Cyclist training Bible as well as Performance Cycling by Dave Morris. The Bible is in my opinion one of the most complete writings on cycling training ever written. The Idea of training you weaknesses and racing your strengths is too important to ignore and no plan unless developed specifically for you is going to address your specific strengths and weaknesses. The down side of that is its alot of information so it takes time to sort through. Performance Cycling by Dave Morris changed the way I train on the bike more so then any other writing. Its a pretty simple quick read that makes clear suggestions on what type of training you should be doing and when.

Short Answer.
You are making alot of mistakes. If you want to get Faster you need to train with a purpose. Its not just about hours and riding hard. Recovery Timing and Honest sef-assesment are critical to improvement. Consider hiring a coach or become well read on the topic.
 

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Pedalfaraway said:
Long Answer Skip to last Paragraph for a short version

You are not really doing anything wrong your just at the level where the competition starts to get fierce and and you really see a difference between people you train with a purpose and people who just ride fast. If you want to progress beyond the front half of the sport pack you either need to have pick your parents correctly, or train with a purpose. If you want to progress beyond the front part of the expert field you have to do both.

I would suggest that you work with a coach in some fashion if you are serious about racing. There are many options out there. You can't beat having a local coach that you can ride with occasionally and meet with on a regualr basis but someone who has the knowledge and experience you are after can be expensive. Probably 500 ish a month

A less expensive option is to have a coach develop a plan for you maybe in 4 or 8 week blocks and then check in with them before the begining of the next block. Also Check out www.lwcoaching.com. Lynda has some training plans already constructed for like every imaginable application. These plans are a great way to get some structure and a great foundation for a self-coached athlete.

Whatever you do I would sugesst getting Joe Friels Cyclist training Bible as well as Performance Cycling by Dave Morris. The Bible is in my opinion one of the most complete writings on cycling training ever written. The Idea of training you weaknesses and racing your strengths is too important to ignore and no plan unless developed specifically for you is going to address your specific strengths and weaknesses. The down side of that is its alot of information so it takes time to sort through. Performance Cycling by Dave Morris changed the way I train on the bike more so then any other writing. Its a pretty simple quick read that makes clear suggestions on what type of training you should be doing and when.

Short Answer.
You are making alot of mistakes. If you want to get Faster you need to train with a purpose. Its not just about hours and riding hard. Recovery Timing and Honest sef-assesment are critical or improvement. Consider hiring a coach or become well read on the topic.
Great post!! Harsh but true.

It seems it doesn't take a whole lot to do well in Sport. Looking back at my old calendars, my training was pretty inconsistent when I was getting podiums.

Looking at my calendars racing Expert, it's pretty damn full and fairly structured; and all the planets have to line up perfectly to get the very seldom lower end podium.

I just wished Eddy Merckx was somehow delivering mail (or milk) in my neighborhood in the late 1960's:D.

Also, I have a real decent local coach this year for $225 a month (An early Christmas present to myself). This seems like a pretty average price. After 2 months of training, I find the whole experience pretty excellent.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Forgot to mention----first XC race is Feb 14th....so coming up soon!

And thanks for the replies. Keepem coming!!
 

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HAve you consideres strength training on top of all your rides? I know that its been great for me. Ive been riding for about 3 years myself and found that I would cramp and get really tired in my musles long before my breath was having trouble during races. With some more muscle power this have helped a lot. www.bikejames.com have helped me..

(sorry for any lousy english)

regards ole
 

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I find it weird that the guys recommending paying $225 to $500 per month for a coach haven't even mentioned getting a power meter and checking out Andy Coggan's book. If you're going to make the serious plunge, that is the way to do it.

Okie Dokie, I think you are going about it the right way. You're upping your volume, you're including a tough road ride, you're doing a variety of rides, and you're doing some injury-prevention in the form of core exercise. If you are doing this consistently, you're already way ahead of the game. In terms of long-term improvement, think in terms of stepwise progression, don't radically change your program just because you read some article or blog. Yes, do some research, vary your program, get enough rest, etc etc.

BTW notice that the guy who claims you are making a lot of mistakes didn't mention a single one, he just recommends reading books and spending money.
 

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Rockefoten said:
HAve you consideres strength training on top of all your rides? I know that its been great for me. Ive been riding for about 3 years myself and found that I would cramp and get really tired in my musles long before my breath was having trouble during races. With some more muscle power this have helped a lot. www.bikejames.com have helped me..

(sorry for any lousy english)

regards ole
Oh no, PLEASE don't start this debate again.
 

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ibexbiker said:
Oh no, PLEASE don't start this debate again.
Not much controversy in the phrase: "strength training". Because it also includes on the bike strength work (high torque, low cadence stuff).

I only use the phrase "strength work" now, because it could mean so many things.

I'm not even going to mention the word you're thinking of, but it starts with a W........and it's not "work".
 

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Poncharelli said:
Not much controversy in the phrase: "strength training". Because it also includes on the bike strength work (high torque, low cadence stuff).
Low-cadence big-ring training is not strength training, and hasn't shown itself to be superior to normal-cadence training.

http://home.earthlink.net/~acoggan/setraining/
[T]here seems to be no reason to believe that this form of training would be superior to training at a normal cadence, since the latter 1) already results in significant recruitment of type II motor units, at least if the intensity is high enough (i.e., ≥ functional threshold power, 2) better fulfills the specificity principle, and 3) minimizes the risk of injury.
 

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flargle said:
I

BTW notice that the guy who claims you are making a lot of mistakes didn't mention a single one, he just recommends reading books and spending money.
I mentioned several mistakes. 1. No training structure. 2. No mention of personal strengths/weakness 3, Recovery.

Secondly I did advocate spending a ton of money. I shared with the poster that I believe good coaching is valueable to progression in almost any sport. I mentioned options that range from 500 per month for personalized coaching where a coach guides you through workouts, to prebuilt training plans that cost 200-300 if you buy the build peak and race plans. I reffered him to information that would allow him to build his own training plan for less then 50 dollars.
 

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Thats Racing

Poncharelli said:
Here ya there. I know, it's a lot of cash.

So I will be at a crossroads at the end of this season. With all this hard work and money and no race success.........then what? Golf?
Then you try again next year. Golf is even more expensive. At least you don't have to pay a daily use fee to ride your bike.
 

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Okie Dokie:

You aren't too far from where I am now or where I was last year. One thing that stood out: 3 years riding experience is fairly short. It seems that a loosely structured program could be ok at that level. I have ridden for 5.5 years and am embarking on my third year of using a program...

In the first year I read Friel's Training Bible (highly recommended, I'm re-reading it now) and made myself a modest program, but didn't really know what my limiters were, how to categorize my races, select the proper workouts, etc. I STILL don't understand many of these factors. I do know that my first year attempting a structured training program was plagued by non-compliance. That is, I started out very rigidly following the structure and eventually just ended up riding whatever I was used to. Essentially, I began training my strengths and racing my weaknesses, rather than the opposite.

Last year (2009) I was better off and learned a lot from my races and the training process. Still ended up bagging the program by Summertime. Mostly because of mental fatigue and other life stresses. After some down time I was refreshed and got back on the program at a macro-level, I did some base followed by building, etc. But I was having fun not recording every detail of my workouts. Then I wanted to look back on what I did and there were huge gaps in the data, I started re-recording in earnest! Still doing it today, but at an appropriate level of detail for my needs.

Now I feel confident that I know what my limters are and what races will require of me. Still have many many more questions than answers, though. Moving up to Expert will be a HUGE shift and I'm sure that I'll continue learning thoughout...

What can one learn from my experience?
1) A program is only a small part of the equation - you also need to follow it and know when to schedule breaks.
2) Even a basic macro-cycle structure will help (e.g. BASE->BUILD->PEAK->RACE), choose your rides on what each of these phases seeks to accomplish.
3) Get to know yourself. And give it time, failure can teach as well as success!
4) A coach could probably get you there quicker (I am extrapolating here).
5) A power meter would be nice for intervals and data collection and analysis (extrapolating again).

Happy Training!
 

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Poncharelli said:
Here ya there. I know, it's a lot of cash.

So I will be at a crossroads at the end of this season. With all this hard work and money and no race success.........then what? Golf?
People will spend $6K on a bike to go faster but won't get a good training plan or an evaluation done by a sports physiologist...the latter probably the most profound thing I've done for my cycling.

I'd suggest to at least hire a coach as a consultant to create a plan specifically for you, and if they don't ask about your nutritional habits when you talk to them, find someone new.
 

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flargle said:
Low-cadence big-ring training is not strength training, and hasn't shown itself to be superior to normal-cadence training.

http://home.earthlink.net/~acoggan/setraining/
[T]here seems to be no reason to believe that this form of training would be superior to training at a normal cadence, since the latter 1) already results in significant recruitment of type II motor units, at least if the intensity is high enough (i.e., ≥ functional threshold power, 2) better fulfills the specificity principle, and 3) minimizes the risk of injury.
Good data there.

Wonder why all the experts prescribe these workouts then? (Carmichael: MuscleTension Intervals, Powerstarts. Friel: Force workouts (esp. F3) As well as the current coach).

It's probably because there are situations in racing (especially here in Utah road and mountain races), when you don't have sufficient gearing (low RPM, high torque) to pedal at a normal RPM. With these drills, you at least get that practice in your legs.

Even the first climb at Deer Valley XC Norba race, you're grinding like hell in your granny.

So it's probably good to get that experience in your legs. Riding all the time at a narrow range of RPM is probably not good either.
 

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Poncharelli said:
Good data there.

Wonder why all the experts prescribe these workouts then? (Carmichael: MuscleTension Intervals, Powerstarts. Friel: Force workouts (esp. F3) As well as the current coach).

It's probably because there are situations in racing (especially here in Utah road and mountain races), when you don't have sufficient gearing (low RPM, high torque) to pedal at a normal RPM. With these drills, you at least get that practice in your legs.

Even the first climb at Deer Valley XC Norba race, you're grinding like hell in your granny.

So it's probably good to get that experience in your legs. Riding all the time at a narrow range of RPM is probably not good either.
On the road MuscleTension interavls are there patially for historic reasons. Road gearing has changed dramatically over the past 20 years. When I started road riding people poked fun at me for my baby gears (I had a 39-23, everyone else used a 42-21). With those gears you better be able to turn low cadence. Nowadays with compact gearing and 10 and 11 speed cassetts you can actually turn a decent cadence on most climbs.

For MTB MuscleTension interavls are of great benifit because most people climb at quite a low cadence (70 is about average). Nothing like training like you race.
 

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For the OP.

If you are in your first year of training for racing. Keep it simple.

Ride four times a week for about 2hrs, maybe on the weekend go longer if you have the time. Try and do a fast group ride that pushes you once a week. When race season comes do as many races as you can.

After you have done that for a year maybe two then start to look into some specific training plans for racing. Maybe even talk to a coach.

At this stage of your racing career you are going to learn a ton of stuff just from regular riding. The way I look at it is a training program is not benifical until you have at least 1000hrs of riding in.
 
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