Realistic goals for newbie

Nomen Posts: 5
edited May 2008 in Road beginners
Hi, the name's Carl. I'm new to cycling (and this forum) and could need some help. Specifically with setting some realistic long-term goals.

I invested in a new bike a few months back and was struck by how good it felt to get out and just, well, ride, compared to my old pile of rust. :) It's not a racing bike, I guess it could be called a hybrid or touring bike. Lacking a car I use it when I go shopping, I bring the dog in a trailer when I wish to train it somewhere else than near home etc, however I don't mind if this means it is more work intensive than a race bike. I'm not after competing against others, only against myself.

Not counting the handful of miles I use it for transportation most days, I try to get out for more intense rides four or five days a week. Being 33 years old, sitting in front of a computer most of the day and not having done any real exercise for many years I try and restrain myself and go easy. Also, I've had problems with my knees in the past and want to give them time to adapt. I usually take a 6-8 mile quick ride or a slightly more relaxed 15-18 mile ride, always after ten minutes of easy warm up. Yesterday I did a 13 mile course in an hour and ended with a pulse of 135 bpm. (Hey, don't laugh, I'm more or less a couch potato! ;))

I'm still trying to find my limits, to see how long and hard I can ride while not being too tired for another run in one or two days. I figure that ought to give better results than riding with constantly tired leg muscles, not to mention being more enjoyable. Or am I wrong there? As far as I remember muscles need time to recuperate after exercise so any growth and adjustments has time to take place, at least for a beginner.

Now for the real question. I'm thinking it would be nice to have some long term goal to aim for, and that that might make the training more focused, and more fun to in that extra effort. Right now I don't have a goal, I'm just experimenting, having fun, and trying to improve little by little. Problem is, I have no idea what a realistic goal would be! I realise it is difficult, if not impossible, but I would really appreciate it if someone could at suggest in what ball park I could realistically aim for in, say six months from now. For example, a time for a 40 mile ride.

All the best,



  • OldSeagul
    OldSeagul Posts: 574
    It's good to have a long term goal, but it's also useful to have something to aim for if you achieve that goal; I've promised myself that when I get my weight down to 14st I'll buy myself a sub 18lb road bike. The only 'training' I do is to cycle to work the long way (about 6 miles uphill) and cycle home the short way (2 miles downhill).

    You could work out a ten mile route and then time yourself. Then try to beat your time every other day by a couple of seconds (use a cycle computer). Keep a note of the times on a sheet of graph paper stuck to the wall, which will give you encouragement when you look at it. Make it your long term goal of doing the ten miles in less that 30 minutes within six months. Promise yourself a special treat if you achieve it.
    The people who turn their swords into ploughshares, generally end up working for the people who kept their swords!
  • huggy
    huggy Posts: 242
    Maybe do 15 miles 3 times per week, then at the end of the month do a 40 miler. Or, try and get your times down, aim for 10 miles in 35 minutes. You'd be hard pushed to do a sub-30minute on a tourer when you are fairly new to it.
    See if there are any clubs in the area - you could train to be able to do one of their 50 miler routes or something like that. I wouldn't set huge goals as you'll feel you're not improving, maybe things like saying you will get 2 minutes off your times, or something like that, is what you should be aiming for.
  • ma123
    ma123 Posts: 87
    Hi ive been cycling for 8 Months myself and at the start I was doing 10 - 15 mile rides once a week for a couple of weeks, I then went out twice a week for about a month, then eack time I went out after that I added 5 miles onto the ride.

    I find making sure that you eat and drink enough is important also increases in training have to be gradual.
  • bahzob
    bahzob Posts: 2,195
    I was going to suggest taking part in a sportive (which is a ride involving several hundred to several thousand people over a course that may be 200km+ but usually also has short route options).

    Then noticed you were from Sweden which is good and bad news.

    Good news is it has one of the biggest events going, with a flattish 150km route option that you should be able to do.

    Bad news is that its quite soon and so may be filling up fast. But worth checking out, if not this year maybe 2009 (when if you feel like a challenge you could opt for the 300km option)

    Sure there are other sportives happening in Sweden but afraid not sure where.
    Martin S. Newbury RC
  • sloboy
    sloboy Posts: 1,139
    Vatterundan woul dbe a brilliant long term aim, but depending how much time you have to ride, it may be a multi year goal (it certainly would be for me).
  • feel
    feel Posts: 800
    when i started riding again i was constantly setting myself little goals and timing myself. It was really good seeing improvements. However, my only target now is to ride as often as possible :D . Whatever you choose - good luck and ride safe.
    We are born with the dead:
    See, they return, and bring us with them.
  • Rich Hcp
    Rich Hcp Posts: 1,355
    I strted doing ten miles gradually increased, so I do 15 miles in the week and 30 or more at the weekends

    In the winter I'll do 10-15 miles when I can...

    You'll soon bild up.

    Giving it Large
  • Nomen
    Nomen Posts: 5
    Thanks for the ideas all of you. I will aim to ride a specific route once a week with the goal of always finishing faster than last week, and more long term I intend to do 10 miles in 35 minutes the coming fall. (If I can do it in 30 minutes, then that's great, but I'm not sure how realistic that is).

    Vatterundan would be neat, but that will have to wait a year.

    This other day I realised just how important it is to not be too intense. I had trained every other day for a couple of months but was forced to take it easy for two weeks. The only rides where the occasional errands etc. First real ride after this resting period I did a route significantly faster than I had before, and I can't say I felt super exhausted afterwards so I don't think it was because I made a bigger effort. I already knew the importance of rest theoretically, but this was the first time I actually experienced it so clearly.
  • meagain
    meagain Posts: 2,331
    Gradual is I think the key. And if you really don't feel like pedalling, don't - it's easy to destroy your enthusiasm by making it feel a task rather than a pleasure. Chasing miles for the sake of is not the name of the game!

    Good luck and ENJOY!
    "Cancel my subscription to the resurrection."
  • bahzob
    bahzob Posts: 2,195
    Good luck. Post back from time to time to let us know how its going..
    Martin S. Newbury RC
  • hodsgod
    hodsgod Posts: 226
    I always used to keep a record of times I did on certain routes, just to see how I was imjproving. Or even look at the average speed on your computer.
  • If you have a lot of charity bike rides in Sweden you can use these to set goals. Unlike a sportive there will mostly be other leisure riders, some fitter and some fatter, and they will be better suited to your hybrid/tourer bike. You can go at your own pace with no measure of success other than sharing the pain with like minded cyclists all the way to the finish. There will be rides aimed at everyone from near beginners to long distance experts. Pick one that is achievable but a bit longer than you normally ride, say 50km, to add that element of challenge. Then, having achieved it once, you can use your regular ride to repeat that distance and make the next charity ride a bit longer still and so on.

    If you have a local social cycling club (not a racing chain gang club) it could be worth joining once you can feel confident of covering the distances they use for their club rides. It helps to keep motivated to cycle with company, especially on long rides.

    If you are a competitive type with the need for speed - start adding that in only when you've got your base fitness and endurance sorted. Even then for most training you need to ride at a speed which you can still hold a conversation at.
  • Nomen
    Nomen Posts: 5
    Short update for those interested. Setting the goal at doing 10 miles in 35 minutes this fall turn out to be too easy. Did 10 miles in 36 minutes yesterday without putting in a 100 % effort. Medium wind, but a circular route so there was no "cheating" by having the wind from behind all the way. Can't help but wonder what time I'd make on a proper road bike half the weight of my current hybrid with internal-hub gears and flat handlebars!

    Have found that I prefer not to focus on beating a particular time while I ride. That seem to stress me out and almost gives poorer results than if I just ride as fast as I feel comfortable with and afterwards look at what time it happened to be. Bit weird.

    Another good thing is that I now feel comfortable with doing 25-30 mile rides, i.e. I'm not completely spent afterwards even though I've held a reasonable pace. I know it's not very long compared to what many on these forums seem to do regularly, but it's a big step for me as it vastly increases the usefulness of the bike as a means of transportation for me.

    Besides the 10 miles/35 minutes goal this fall, I also had some thoughts of aiming for a 65 mile ride, without time limit, just doing the distance. In light of the above perhaps I should try for 100 miles instead?

  • Personally I find distance goals both more rewarding and more achievable than speed goals. If I can cover a greater distance, that makes cycling more practical for me as a means of transport, and so I cycle more. But being faster doesn't really do me any good at all, since I'm not interested in racing these days. That's just my opinion, of course.

    I think a hundred miles is a good goal to set yourself but in my experience you need to train regularly at substantial distances (e.g., > 50 miles) to be able to do it without hurting yourself. For my part, I simply don't have time to train at those distances any more -- I have too many work and family commitments. You might have more free time, of course, which is marvellous.

    So these days I don't really have any goals at all. I just try to get out on my bike every day for an hour or so, and gradually increase the distance I can get from my house in that time.
  • guinea
    guinea Posts: 1,177
    Set hard long term goals and some easier short term goals.

    You will quickly eat through your short term goals, so keep pushing and eventually you'll complete the hard ones.

    Reward yourself on completion of every achievement.

    A year ago the idea that I could be as fit as I am am now would have been a stupid notion. I commuted rarely on the bike. Now I cycle 250 miles a week and have completed my hard goals of riding Alpe d'Huez and Ventoux.

    My next hard goal will probably be the Marmotte, or something equally daft. My shorter term goals will be to complete some sportives this year.
  • andrewc3142
    andrewc3142 Posts: 906
    The standard first major goal is evens, ie 10 miles in 30 mins (obviously 20mph). As you found, getting to 17mph (approx 35mins) is easier than it appears, but it does get progressively harder to shave off the remaining 5 mins. Keep at it, though, and you'll get there, at which point you can probably reward yourself with a road bike ....