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A few newbie questions

andy25andy25 Posts: 4
edited October 2015 in Road beginners
Dear all,

I recently got my first road bike (this summer) and have only accumulated around 900km in the saddle, so please bear with my (naive?) questions!

1) Improving performance
I consider myself a reasonably strong runner (36 min 10k / 1:23 HM), but am having some difficulty in getting stronger on the bike. In comparison, my bike times appear to be very slow. According to Strava, I typically output an average of just over 100 Watts of energy for a bike ride, with average speeds of ~23/4 km/hr. Are there any specific training plans that can be recommended to improve my strength on the bike?

2) Flats vs cleats
I know this subject has been explored quite a bit, so am not asking the benefits/negatives of each. At the moment I prefer flat pedals as I don't feel confident to be 'locked-in' to my bike. It appears that some falls will be inevitable if I change over to cleats, and I'm not too keen on that. My main questions are... are flat pedals really considered to be a huge negative for road bikes and are there any flats that can work well with road bikes? Also, can you recommend some road bike cycling shoes that work well with flats?

3) Dress code
What are some good quality cycling clothes? I have heard that Castelli make some decent apparel. And are team jerseys, etc. frowned upon? I really liked the GCN team jersey, but don't want to look silly.

Thanks in advance, Andy

Posts

  • 1) Improving performance
    I consider myself a reasonably strong runner (36 min 10k / 1:23 HM), but am having some difficulty in getting stronger on the bike. In comparison, my bike times appear to be very slow. According to Strava, I typically output an average of just over 100 Watts of energy for a bike ride, with average speeds of ~23/4 km/hr. Are there any specific training plans that can be recommended to improve my strength on the bike?

    Don't take too much notice of Strava. There are times on there where if most of us here were to quit our jobs and become full time cyclists, we still couldn't reach them. 14mph is perfectly respectable average speed (I would say that as most of my rides come back to that number ;) ).

    Intervals are the usual method of improving your performance. Other than that as a mate said to me, every time your censored hits the saddle you should be putting in 100% effort - I don't entirely buy that but he's quite quick so there's probably something in it!
    2) Flats vs cleats
    I know this subject has been explored quite a bit, so am not asking the benefits/negatives of each. At the moment I prefer flat pedals as I don't feel confident to be 'locked-in' to my bike. It appears that some falls will be inevitable if I change over to cleats, and I'm not too keen on that. My main questions are... are flat pedals really considered to be a huge negative for road bikes and are there any flats that can work well with road bikes? Also, can you recommend some road bike cycling shoes that work well with flats?

    It's a contraversial area, but most say that clipless pedals are going to help your efficiency on the bike meaning your foot is always in the correct place and you have better power transfer.
    3) Dress code
    What are some good quality cycling clothes? I have heard that Castelli make some decent apparel. And are team jerseys, etc. frowned upon? I really liked the GCN team jersey, but don't want to look silly.

    Thanks in advance, Andy

    Wear whatever the hell you like, I wouldn't wear team jerseys or GCN but that's just me. Wiggle do a good range of kit, look for dhb.
  • supermurph09supermurph09 Posts: 2,471
    Dear all,

    I recently got my first road bike (this summer) and have only accumulated around 900km in the saddle, so please bear with my (naive?) questions!

    1) Improving performance
    I consider myself a reasonably strong runner (36 min 10k / 1:23 HM), but am having some difficulty in getting stronger on the bike. In comparison, my bike times appear to be very slow. According to Strava, I typically output an average of just over 100 Watts of energy for a bike ride, with average speeds of ~23/4 km/hr. Are there any specific training plans that can be recommended to improve my strength on the bike?

    2) Flats vs cleats
    I know this subject has been explored quite a bit, so am not asking the benefits/negatives of each. At the moment I prefer flat pedals as I don't feel confident to be 'locked-in' to my bike. It appears that some falls will be inevitable if I change over to cleats, and I'm not too keen on that. My main questions are... are flat pedals really considered to be a huge negative for road bikes and are there any flats that can work well with road bikes? Also, can you recommend some road bike cycling shoes that work well with flats?

    3) Dress code
    What are some good quality cycling clothes? I have heard that Castelli make some decent apparel. And are team jerseys, etc. frowned upon? I really liked the GCN team jersey, but don't want to look silly.

    Thanks in advance, Andy

    1. Ignore the wattage from strava as it's usually complete garbage. (unless you are using a powermeter). I'm sure with your running fitness the improved performance will come as you spend more time on the bike. Learning things like cadence, pacing etc will have a dramatic effect there, I'd just enjoy riding your bike before thinking about training plans.

    2.Ditch the flats, if your worried about falling off, don't be. The chances are if you do fall off it won't be because what you are trying to do is difficult. Pretty much everyone has fallen off at a junction having not unclipped, it's usually just pride that's hurt. Being clipped in will probably give you a performance increase as well because you won't be losing power like I'd think you would if using trainers.

    3. Castelli are great, I'm not a fan of team jerseys but wear what you like (apart from baggy shorts and t-shirts :roll: :roll: ) if people want to turn their nose up, let them, it's your money. Brands like Polaris, DHb are good quality for not much money.

    Keep pedaling.
  • fat_catfat_cat Posts: 560
    1. You've clearly already got a good level of fitness, so think that performance wise you need to concentrate on technique and cadence. Try and spin the pedals at a good rate 85 -90 RPM is a good place to start. With your running background from a cardio vascular point of view you should be able to manage this, and it will put less strain on your quads and glutes.

    2. Go clipless - you won't regret it, and yes, like everyone else I've fallen off when forgetting to unclip, but only damaged my pride.

    3. Get some cycling specific kit at whatever price points fits your budget. I'd avoid team kit myself, and similarly yellow / polka dot / rainbow jerseys, but ultimately it's your choice what you wear and I wouldn't give a toss what anyone else thinks, it's their problem.

    Good luck, and keep riding, it's very addictive.
  • andy25andy25 Posts: 4
    Thanks for the tips and insights from everyone. That's very useful.

    It seems that everyone is recommending to go clipless. I guess this would help with the power output, too, by the sounds of things.

    Any suggestions/recommendations for shoe and pedal combinations would be much appreciated. I think they have to be compatible with each other, right? I would prefer shoes that I can walk in normally as well, where possible...

    PS: Is unclipping pretty easy?
  • ForumNewbieForumNewbie Posts: 1,664
    Thanks for the tips and insights from everyone. That's very useful.

    It seems that everyone is recommending to go clipless. I guess this would help with the power output, too, by the sounds of things.

    Any suggestions/recommendations for shoe and pedal combinations would be much appreciated. I think they have to be compatible with each other, right? I would prefer shoes that I can walk in normally as well, where possible...

    PS: Is unclipping pretty easy?
    Yes, it's easy unclipping but practice when stationary before even going out on the road. I'd recommend getting MTB SPD double-sided pedals and shoes as much easier to clip-in to when starting off rather than road SPD-SLs. And with MTB SPDs, you can walk in them.
  • Monty DogMonty Dog Posts: 20,614
    For endurance, speed and strength simply ride more - cycling uses different muscle groups from running so it still takes a bit of adaption to get used to it.
    You won't generate more power with clipless pedals and shoes, but you lose a significant amount of energy bending flexy shoes. SPD pedals and shoes can be bought for very reasonable money if you shop around - Shimano RT32 shoes have recessed cleats for SPD 2-hole cleats.
    Make mine an Italian, with Campagnolo on the side..
  • A few other comments:

    Yes, there are a ton of training programs for cyclists. I started off using the workouts in Chris Carmichael's books (especially the "Time Crunched" book, since I am in fact crunched for time...). They will help you get a good base, as will Hunter Allen's training program - but that one is pretty serious for a beginner. Technique will help, but a structured program will get you to the same level as your running more quickly.

    Definitely go clipless, and yes you will get more power with good technique. Clipless help eliminate the flat spots in your pedaling cadence, and while you can approximate it with flats, clipless are still more efficient. I personally recommend road pedals (Look, in my case), but others are correct that if you're walking around MTB pedals and shoes are helpful. Am a fan of Time Attack pedals for MTB, and regarding shoes I REALLY like the new Shimano heat-moldable shoes for both road and MTB. Not cheap, however...

    And finally, I really like Louis Garneau gear - not super-expensive, but works really well. For jerseys, Primal Wear has some great and slightly crazy jerseys, which are fun. We use Craft for our team kit, that also works really well.

    Good luck - and welcome!
  • jamie77jamie77 Posts: 102
    I think the most important thing about recreational cycling is you have to enjoy it & not worry so much about power. :D

    Go clipless you wont regret it. You may have to go into a store & try some shoes or check the reviews 8)

    I personally wouldnt wear a team colour but i do like like the GCN jersey. Castelli are very slender fitting so you need to go for a larger size than normal. :oops:

    ENJOY :D
  • andy25andy25 Posts: 4
    Thanks for the insights and advice, much appreciated.

    Been looking at the Shimano 105 SPD pedals and some Dhb shoes; a combined investment of £75...

    I went for a ride today and 'imagined' I was clipless, and practised some clipping and unclipping motions (dry land swimming anyone?). I felt I would be okay to be wearing lipless, to be honest.

    Is it okay to cycle with one foot slipped in and the other not for any period of time, when initially becoming confident with clipless? It may not be necessary, but would give me a confident boost when starting out.
  • Thanks for the insights and advice, much appreciated.

    Been looking at the Shimano 105 SPD pedals and some Dhb shoes; a combined investment of £75...

    I went for a ride today and 'imagined' I was clipless, and practised some clipping and unclipping motions (dry land swimming anyone?). I felt I would be okay to be wearing lipless, to be honest.

    Is it okay to cycle with one foot slipped in and the other not for any period of time, when initially becoming confident with clipless? It may not be necessary, but would give me a confident boost when starting out.

    OK, one more thing about clipless. Practice in grass (where it doesn't hurt to fall over), and clip in and out endlessly until it becomes automatic. You'll know it has become automatic when you pedal to a stop, wait for the bike to start tipping over one way or another, then react by successfully unclipping THAT foot :)

    Cheers
  • ForumNewbieForumNewbie Posts: 1,664
    Thanks for the insights and advice, much appreciated.

    Been looking at the Shimano 105 SPD pedals and some Dhb shoes; a combined investment of £75...

    I went for a ride today and 'imagined' I was clipless, and practised some clipping and unclipping motions (dry land swimming anyone?). I felt I would be okay to be wearing lipless, to be honest.

    Is it okay to cycle with one foot slipped in and the other not for any period of time, when initially becoming confident with clipless? It may not be necessary, but would give me a confident boost when starting out.

    OK, one more thing about clipless. Practice in grass (where it doesn't hurt to fall over), and clip in and out endlessly until it becomes automatic. You'll know it has become automatic when you pedal to a stop, wait for the bike to start tipping over one way or another, then react by successfully unclipping THAT foot :)

    Cheers
    Alternatively, to be safer I always unclip before I stop with the same foot (my right foot). I just find it easier than getting into a panic trying to unclip as the bike is tipping over.
  • jamie77jamie77 Posts: 102
    Being clipped in isnt the problem whilst you are riding its when you come up to junctions or lights. Just make sure you are unclipped usually with your left foot first 8)
  • Alternatively, to be safer I always unclip before I stop with the same foot (my right foot). I just find it easier than getting into a panic trying to unclip as the bike is tipping over.

    No, the idea is that you PRACTICE reacting, then the times that you don't have an opportunity to unclip / stop on your right side, you still don't fall over :)

    Cheers,
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