Cycling 2014

88 MVP

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SoSH Member
Dec 25, 2007
258
WNY
I didn't see an existing thread for road cycling - anyone here a rider?  With the weather slowly warming up, I'm looking forward to getting off of the indoor trainer at the gym and out onto the roads.
 
I have been a very casual rider for the past two seasons - during the summer, I would get out a few nights after work and maybe once on the weekend for 30-40 miles.  This year I have decided to get more serious.  I used to do a lot of running, but for the past few years I've had a bunch of nagging injuries - shin splints and knee issues, mostly.  I'm hoping that by focusing on cycling I can avoid the injury bug and get back to a higher overall fitness level.  Of course, I also allowed a friend to convince me to register for the Pan-Mass Challenge this year, so I need to put in some major miles on the bike to be ready for that.  I have done a century in the past, so I have an idea of what I'm getting into, but the two-day ride is somewhat intimidating.
 
I'm currently riding on a Cannondale Six 13 that I was able to buy used when one of my co-workers upgraded to a newer bike.  It has stock Ultegra components (except for pedals) and a Reynolds wheel set.  Previously, I was riding with a basic toe-strap pedal, but I just went ahead and ordered a Shimano pedal set and cycling shoes.  The next purchase will probably be some new tires, as the existing ones could stand to be replaced.
 
What are you all riding?  Does anyone have a training program they would recommend, or any tips to prepare for longer rides and centuries?  Anyone else from SoSH riding the PMC this summer?
 

smastroyin

simpering whimperer
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Jul 31, 2002
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I ride a lot when I'm not renovating my stupid house and having it take over all my free time not that I'm bitter.
 
I ride a 2010 Trek 2.1 and am committed to getting 5000 miles on it before thinking about an upgrade.  That may or may not happen this year (I'm at 3800 miles and I get 1500-2000 per season normally but again, house)
 
You will probably want to try and get some two-day rides in yourself beforehand.  I'm not sure what your approach is going to be.  If you are planning on riding at a challenging speed, it will be imperative that you figure out recovery for yourself so that you don't push day one too much and end up having a miserable 80 miles on day two.  You therefore might try to do some back to backs on the weekend - grabbing a long distance on Saturday at your training speed and then seeing what you can do on Sunday.  Without any rest your legs will feel a lot different than they have if you've never done a two day ride before.  And of course all the other things to think about with long rides - saddle sores, etc.  
 
But the biggest thing is making sure you have something in the tank at the end of day one.  
 

Rovin Romine

Johnny Rico
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Jul 14, 2005
9,277
Miami (oh, Miami!)
I ride regularly.   I have a road bike, but am usually on a wide tire fixed gear.  I do about 5 miles a day on the weekdays (to and from work), 45 miles on Sat, and another 45 on Sunday.    
 
In terms of ramping up your activity, I'd echo Smas and work on back to back rides.  Get familiar with how your body reacts to the conditions under which you actually expect to ride.  The key is just like expanding your running range - be consistent in terms of getting out there and move incrementally towards your goal, going out a bit more each time.  
 
For longer, multiple day rides, consider going with wider (hence softer) tires.  It's slower and you burn more energy, but it's better than the jackhammer effect on your arms and back.  If you're stopping frequently for traffic, etc, there's really no point in race tires.  Even the jump from a 23 to a 25 is noticeable in terms of comfort.
 
If you have knee problems (I do as well) you'll want to make sure your bike is fitted to you correctly, and to stay in a gear that won't put undue stress on your knees.  
 
Lastly, if you have saddle problems, get a wide touring saddle with a cut out.  Again, once you adjust over a couple of rides, they make a huge difference in terms of multiple day comfort.  Also - Monkey Butt Powder!  Your friend for multiple day rides.  
 
That's all I've got for you - let us know how the Pan Mass goes.  
 

88 MVP

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Dec 25, 2007
258
WNY
That's a great point about making sure to work in enough back-to-back training days to figure out my limits as far as recovery after an intense and/or long ride.

And RR, "Monkey Butt Powder" is something I'll have to check out. There's a wealth of great product names for chamois creams and powders. I'm partial to "DZ Nuts," personally.
 

am_dial

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Jul 15, 2005
299
Western Mass
Awesome to see this topic -- I also used to run (XC and track competitively in high school, then recreationally off-and-on thereafter, but mostly off, since I too had nagging knee injuries from high school).
 
I got into mt biking casually about 10 years ago, went exclusively to singlespeed mt biking in 2010, then picked up a singlespeed road bike (Kona Paddy Wagon) a couple of years ago. Originally I intended it mostly for winter & mud-season training, or riding roads when the trails were too wet. Instead, I discovered I loved road riding so much that these days my mt bikes mostly collect dust.
 
Getting interested in Strava was also part of this shift, I'll confess: I checked it out because I had no idea how my SS road rides compared to the local geared riders, and stuck around because I discovered that not only could I hang with the geared riders, I could beat a lot of them. Now some have become riding buddies. Also, Strava's detrimental effect on the local trails was a kind of push away from mt biking, since I spent so much time on the local trails repairing them. Something like that or MapMyRide might help keep you motivated to put in mileage.
 
I rode 5700 SS road miles last year, and am aiming for 6000+ this year. For me, the key to building miles is getting out for rides of different lengths a few times a week, and focusing on different things: flat course, higher-cadence on one ride; hill climbing the next. Last year I had no mileage plan, only the goal to ride 144 times -- figuring I could average twelve rides a month. I have a flexible work schedule, so am able to do a lot of weekday riding, which helps. I always try to do at least one long ride (50-60+ miles) on the weekend, and another long one during the week if I can manage. But I'll do a 20 mile ride some days too. Totally agree about the need to do back-to-back long rides to see how your body responds.
 
My father has had cancer for a while, and my mother was diagnosed with it this winter, so I've been contemplating riding the PMC as well -- Sturbridge to P-town -- but the $5K fundraising requirement is a little daunting. We'll see.
 

GoJeff!

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May 30, 2007
385
Los Angeles
I'll second Strava. I don't usually care about social media or measuring my rides, but the combo of the two has been very effective for me in keeping my pace and effort up. I've ridden forever, but have definitely gotten in much better shape over the past year, mostly due to Strava. I primarily mountain bike, maybe 80% on a singlespeed, with the occasion road ride with my wife or to commute.
 

am_dial

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Jul 15, 2005
299
Western Mass
Hey 88 MVP -- how'd the PMC work out for you? And the training beforehand? Would love to hear your stories.
 
I didn't ride the PMC this year, unfortunately -- I could've handled the distance okay, but I need to plan farther ahead to handle the fundraising aspect of the ride for next year.
 

88 MVP

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Dec 25, 2007
258
WNY
It went really well, thanks!  The weather on Saturday afternoon was brutal - cold and rainy, especially for the last 25 miles or so.  Despite the rain, the weekend was a blast.  I would definitely do it again.  The fundraising aspect was definitely the bigger challenge for me.  I still have a ways to go to meet the minimum, but I have some time left to get there.  
 
As far as training, I got up to about 80-90 miles for my weekend long rides and worked in one or two weekends of back-to-back 50+ rides to make sure I would be ready.  The training paid off, as I was not nearly as sore as I expected to be the Monday after the event.  I'm pretty hooked on riding at this point.  I'm going to keep up the training schedule for the most part, and I might look into buying another bike to use for commuting to work.
 

pockmeister

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Jan 4, 2006
372
London, England
Just to add a little to this topic - I'm a social road cyclist in the UK, and completed the Ride London-Surrey 100 yesterday (the professional Classic followed most of the same course after the sportive).  Although it wasn't quite the planned 100 miles due to the effects of Hurricane Bertha - they had to reduce the route to 86 miles and remove the two main climbs (Leith Hill and Box Hill) because the descents would probably have been rivers leading to a large number of crashes.  About 20,000 people took part in the event, all on closed roads through the centre of London and Surrey.  Horrifically wet weather, but a fantastic experience.  I made it round in a bit over 6hrs, having spent a good 20 mins fixing a puncture in the worst of the rainstorms.
 
It's becoming the "must do" event in the UK - massively over-subscribed and up there with the London Marathon in terms of coverage.  A huge thrill to finish on the Mall in front of Buckingham Palace, after battling through some of the wettest weather I've ridden in!
 
http://www.cityam.com/1407672675/prudential-ridelondon-2014-pictures-cyclists-battle-bertha-rainstorm
 

am_dial

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Jul 15, 2005
299
Western Mass
Excellent -- those are some pretty great rides for both of you. Glad to hear you've gotten hooked, 88 -- and congrats on finishing the PMC. And Pock, the rain in those photos looks insane. I hate riding in rain -- give me 20+ mph headwinds any day.
 
I've done a bunch of long singlespeed rides (75+ miles, which in western Mass usually means 4500'-5500' of climbing), but still haven't managed to fit in a century this summer -- and since my summer's almost over, I have to get going on that.
 
Did you sign up for Strava or Ride with GPS or anything like that as a training motivator, 88?
 

88 MVP

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SoSH Member
Dec 25, 2007
258
WNY
Initially I was using MapMyRide, which seemed to work reasonably well, but I switched to Strava last month and I think I'll stick with that. So far as I can tell, both apps are about equally accurate as far as the GPS mapping and speed estimates go, but Strava seemed to get better battery life and the social features (comparative segments, etc) are a bit more robust and intuitive. MapMyRide has a similar segment feature, but the scoring is based on some unintelligible formula. The only downside to switching is that there doesn't appear to be any easy way to migrate my prior workouts, so Strava doesn't have my complete riding history for the summer. MapMyRide did have a lot of sponsored challenges too, so if you're into that I would recommend it. The one during the Tour de France was pretty cool - an online race to 500 total miles and a challenge to complete the full tour distance.

Also, I guess I'll throw this out there - PMC fundraising is still ongoing, so if anyone is interested in making a donation to the Jimmy Fund, shoot me a PM.
 

am_dial

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Jul 15, 2005
299
Western Mass
I've been using Strava since 2012 -- it's definitely been a factor in how much I ride. I actually uploaded some pre-2012 rides that I'd recorded via Cyclemeter using the .gpx files from CM. Strava lets you upload files in batches of 25, if I recall, so if you can export your MMR rides into .gpx or .tcx or whatever else Strava accepts, you should be able to upload them to Strava pretty painlessly.
 
I use a Garmin edge 500 to record my rides, and pair it with a cadence sensor (since I only ride SS, it's kind of amusing) -- the data's still not perfect, but far more accurate than when I used to record it via my iphone.
 

pockmeister

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Jan 4, 2006
372
London, England
So it's nearly end of the cycling season, and I'm finishing it with a trip around the Harrogate Sportive on Sunday.  http://www.mapmyride.com/routes/view/434485864
 
It's 116km, and follows a bit of the Tour de France route through the Yorkshire Dales, but also adds in a particularly infamous climb up Park Rash, which is described eloquently by the Guardian:
 
"The first and most obvious act of cowardice in Tour de France 2014 stage one will happen in Wharfedale, when the peloton sweeps over the bridge at Kettlewell. At this point any self-respecting cyclist turns right up Cam Gill Road for the brutal masterpiece known to cyclists as Park Rash(bit.ly/1nmoTjU), a climb of 303m in little more than 2km.  Outsiders could be tempted to think that here is a neat short-cut to catching the Tour in two places – Kettlewell then Middleham. But take care: this is a monster. You would be well-advised to stop in Kettlewell for a final espresso with lots of sugar before continuing. A short, nasty hill gives a mere taste of pleasures to come, then you see the valley end in a vertical cliff, up which some idiot has built a tarmac road at gradients that officially hit 25% but seem steeper"
 
http://www.theguardian.com/travel/2014/apr/18/yorkshire-tour-de-france-cycling-hill-climbs
 
I'll report back on how it goes...