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Seriously Unfit newbie to road Bikes

elbowselbows Posts: 11
edited November 2011 in Road beginners
I am a 45 year old who has bought a carrera road bike as a start to getting fit. I currently smoke(which i am planning on stopping on Monday!!) and have the usual drink when i can. I am 5ft 8in and weigh 12st 12. i am looking at trying to get fit (and relieve huge amounts of stress in my day job - doctors orders).
I have been on the bike about eight times in the first four weeks of purchase which includes a level trail of about 10 miles. I have also bought a turbo trainer to ensure i can carry on training when the weather is poor.
The question is - when i am on the turbo trainer i can ride for up to 45 minutes at a high level of cadence 90 - 100 with no problem. When i go on the road i suffer big time especially when i encounter a hill!!!
Would it be worth concentrating on my overall fitness using the turbo trainer before i attempt riding on roads?
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  • my advice would be to continue doing a bit of both - especially the outdoor stuff (weather permitting). Hills always hurt but hurt less the fitter you get!!

    For me cycling is about being outdoors - can't stand turbo's but then I never liked gyms much either. Each to there own!!

    Good luck and keep at it!
  • nochekmatenochekmate Posts: 3,460
    You cannot beat road miles and there will be plenty of censored weather ahead when the turbo can be used. Just keep riding and you cannot beat sunny autumn days like we had today.
  • elbowselbows Posts: 11
    Two days ago i thought i was David Millar and started to climb a relatively small but longish hill.
    I made it about one quarter up the hill, being up in the pedals which wiped me out in a matter of minutes!!! Should i have tried to cycle up this hill in a different gear sitting down or what? It sort of demoralised me instantly that i could not get up this hill without giving up!!
  • jgsijgsi Posts: 5,027
    I'd certainly use the road when possible to keep it real, letting you know that bike fitness is a whole ball game in itself.
    You need to be able to replicate somehow that on the turbo, but generally creating a solid base level of fitness might take you well into the 2012 year.
    Don't worry about hills at this stage, work at being able to stick at it on a bike.
    If you panic and rush things you run the danger of giving the whole thing up.
    As a smoker you have a double whammy that your CV system is effectively knackered, so allow another few months for that to gain some semblance of normality... if you continue to train.
  • the_fugglerthe_fuggler Posts: 1,228
    elbows wrote:
    Two days ago i thought i was David Millar and started to climb a relatively small but longish hill.
    I made it about one quarter up the hill, being up in the pedals which wiped me out in a matter of minutes!!! Should i have tried to cycle up this hill in a different gear sitting down or what? It sort of demoralised me instantly that i could not get up this hill without giving up!!

    Pacing is one of the things I find hardest with cycling and running. Too much too soon being the main problem. Definitely worth trying to start more slowly in a lower gear and staying in the saddle. The temptation is to really attack it from the start, which is fine if you can keep it up or know it gets flatter for a bit so you can catch your breath, but not so good if you're relatively unfit (as I am) and there are no breaks.

    Personally, I tend can maintain a better speed sitting while climbing, but if I'm struggling or need to give it a bit extra then getting out of the saddle can help.

    Most importantly, keep at it. You'll feel blummin' good when you get to the top. And you'll find pacing a lot easier once you've climbed it once. Being familiar with the terrain makes it a lot easier.
    FCN 3 / 4
  • elbowselbows Posts: 11
    Thanks for the replies - I am determined to get fitter and to give up smoking, which until i started riding realised that i cannot continue if i want to get fitter and enjoy cycling like i did when i was in my teens.
    I will take your advice and get out on the road more as it is definetly more real compared to training on a turbo.
  • WoodywmbWoodywmb Posts: 888
    Keep a diary. Take it easy. One target at a time. Gradually increase your mileage but over a longer period. You might only increase the distance by 0.5 mile in a week but think how much more that is after a year. You need to maintain the motivation - that's the hard bit. Use this forum, cycling magazines and the quarterly Fitness publications from Future to keep you focussed. Record your cycling efforts in the diary and look back every month, not every day. This is a programme for life. It took you many years to get where you are and where you don't want to be. It'll take many more years to redress the balance. But the good thing is you have done the hardest bit - by taking this first step. You are at a key stage in life - 45 and 13 stone - to best appreciate how some new thinking and health changes can improve your future. Best of luck ... and print out these early words of encouragement - and your own opening post - and paste them into your diary.
  • markos1963markos1963 Posts: 3,724
    Well done on making a start. We've all been there, wheezing and struggling up what looks like Mont Blanc to us but is in fact a slight bump to an experienced rider. Just take your time and warm up gently for a couple of miles before upping the pace and when you hit that hill just focus on a nice rythym turning the pedals over smoothly in a low gear right from the bottom of the climb. When you get stronger you can work on powering up the hills on the big ring :wink:
  • js14js14 Posts: 193
    I know the feeling when it comes to hills: you can always stop, get your breath back and your pulse rate down and then continue up to the top. The day will come when you can make it up in one go. The experts say the way to build strength and speed is interval training, where you alternate going fast/flat out for one or two minutes followed by going slowly to recover for a longer time. Going at a steady pace will gradually build up your overall fitness and endurance but eventually the improvement will tail off.

    You sound pretty motivated but it might help to set a target to aim at for 2012 so that you can keep going through the winter. Why not choose something an event such as the Etape du Tour and tell all your friends and family: that way the potential loss of face will force you to stick to the schedule :wink:
  • markos1963markos1963 Posts: 3,724
    JS14 wrote:
    I know the feeling when it comes to hills: you can always stop, get your breath back and your pulse rate down and then continue up to the top. The day will come when you can make it up in one go. The experts say the way to build strength and speed is interval training, where you alternate going fast/flat out for one or two minutes followed by going slowly to recover for a longer time. Going at a steady pace will gradually build up your overall fitness and endurance but eventually the improvement will tail off.

    You sound pretty motivated but it might help to set a target to aim at for 2012 so that you can keep going through the winter. Why not choose something an event such as the Etape du Tour and tell all your friends and family: that way the potential loss of face will force you to stick to the schedule :wink:

    Intervals are indeed a good way to improve speed and power but you need a good base. For the OP at his stage the best course would be to work on base endurance through this winter and then start to add in interval work in the early spring.
  • jgsijgsi Posts: 5,027
    JS14 wrote:
    I know the feeling when it comes to hills: you can always stop, get your breath back and your pulse rate down and then continue up to the top. The day will come when you can make it up in one go. The experts say the way to build strength and speed is interval training, where you alternate going fast/flat out for one or two minutes followed by going slowly to recover for a longer time. Going at a steady pace will gradually build up your overall fitness and endurance but eventually the improvement will tail off.

    You sound pretty motivated but it might help to set a target to aim at for 2012 so that you can keep going through the winter. Why not choose something an event such as the Etape du Tour and tell all your friends and family: that way the potential loss of face will force you to stick to the schedule :wink:

    A more realistic target would be a simple club 10 in April 2012... turn up pays yer 2 quid and ride with a number on your back not your bike.
    (are all new cyclists obsessed with sportives..?)
  • I took up cycling 4 years ago to loose weight I was almost 17 stone I ahad to start with 5 mile rides I was on a MTB then I graduaully built up to 8,10, and then 15 when I was going for lomger rides which took in some testing hils I had to walk up them. This went on for 18 months until I finally decided today was the day for aparticular hill I made half way which suprised me as I had never done so before,so I went for the next half and made it to the top. You can't get over that feeling when you concur a hill tha has made you walk it for the last 18 months. I can now climb that hill on the big ring on the MTB and big ring on the hybrid pretty soon I will ba able to big ring it on the road bike.

    I am now 13 stone 9lbs and can cycle 60 miles although my raar end goes numb i can cycle evry hill I found in my area it all takes time keep increasing your distance odn't worrry if you have to walk up a hill it will come eventually. You don't say what gears you are running it may be a cassette change may help. By the way I am 56years old and I also cracked 20 miles in less then one hour recently.
  • You'll really fell the difference when you pack the fags in, I was a smoker for 19 years and used to MTB a lot but after an hour I would be a wheezing mess, I have been off the fags now for 6 months 1 week and 5 days (not that I'm counting) and my fitness levels are so much better.

    The only downside for me was the weight gain I put on nearly 2 stone in the first 8-10 weeks hence why I bought a road bike but now I can happily do 40-50 miles rides and I get out on my bike as much as I can.

    Good luck with it especially with the smoking its a beast to conquer but once you have done it you'll be amazingly happy with yourself. (Polo's helped me through it)
  • napoleondnapoleond Posts: 5,983
    Don't get disheartened. Don't worry about pacing, intervals or anything. You are at the stage where just getting out and riding your bike is going to get you a lot better.
    I was in your position a few years ago, last year I won a season long club TT competition and scored points in races.
    I've since sacked the racing and am back to riding just for fun and fitness.

    Have a look at the Turbo Training Beginners thread in the road beginners section for tips on turbo training.
    Twitter - @NapD
    Strava - Alex Taylor (sportstest.co.uk)
    ABCC Cycling Coach
  • PigtailPigtail Posts: 424
    Don't think about speed, or even hills too much - just concentrate on building your distance - a little at a time.

    Also make sure you use your gears!

    When I started I had this idea that I should be in a high gear all the time - which was hard work. One of the biggest improvements I have made is changing down as things get slightly harder - like a small incline and maintaining my cadence. Try your hill at a steady pace in your lowest gear on your saddle - no need to stand up at this point.
  • How far is it to work? Commutting is the simple way to get fit and relieve work related stress you arrive on a high with endorphins rushing through you and you depart and the endorphin help wash away the daily stress.
  • kayo74kayo74 Posts: 299
    Good luck with the fitness plan, I'm not a big fan of gyms on the road is much better but with the weather getting worse and the darker evenings soon upon us I do go to spinning classes at the local gym and they really help over the winter months. Plus it has really helped on my fitness overall. Just keep at it!!.

    Jay
  • Hills are always hard. I think the problem newbies have is that they try to maintain the same speed going up the hill as they do on the flat. When going up hill its inevitable you're going to slow a bit. Don't worry about this and just concentrate maintaining a comfortable cadence in a gear that isn't too hard.
  • Hills are always hard. I think the problem newbies have is that they try to maintain the same speed going up the hill as they do on the flat. When going up hill its inevitable you're going to slow a bit. Don't worry about this and just concentrate maintaining a comfortable cadence in a gear that isn't too hard.

    this is true and there seems a be a mentality that you have to get upa hill in one go. Stopping and resting and getting your breath is all part of training too.
    The dissenter is every human being at those moments of his life when he resigns
    momentarily from the herd and thinks for himself.
  • js14js14 Posts: 193
    I was half joking when I suggested the Etape as a target :) . When I took up cycling, my objective was to complete a long distance sportive in my first year. Finally I managed a 110 miler, with 1800m of climbing, 8 months after taking up cycling. But of course, as the others have pointed out, the target can be whatever motivates you, getting up a particularly steep hill in a certain gear, covering a distance in given time, reaching a target weight...
  • ALaPlageALaPlage Posts: 732
    Whatever target you can set for yourself has got to be good if it motivates and drives you on. Whether thats getting involved in local club TT's, a Sportive or charity event it gives you something to aim for and a sense of achievement when you get there.

    I had a 20 yr gap from cycling and getting back into it 3 yrs ago I signed up for the London to Paris with AMR. It kept my focus on following a training plan to build up fitness, lose weight and develop the stamina to comfortably cycle 100 miles in a day. Lost 3 stone that first year and really got bitten by the cycling bug of my youth.

    Worth looking into what options you may have for a target and then go for it.

    Lots of great advice on here and for me the key thing is to stick with it. Hills never get any easier the fitter and stronger you get - you just get up them and a little quicker and easier than the time before. A local short but steep climb took me 7 weeks of Sunday rides on it before I finally reached the top in one go and no stops - a great feeling when I did it. Even now it still hurts going up it but I can do it without even thinking that I need to stop at any point up it or once at the top.

    Stick at it and enjoy.
    Trek Madone 5.9
    Kinesis Crosslight T4
  • daviddbdaviddb Posts: 11
    The diary thing that someone mentioned is a really good idea - you need to know how many days a month you are actually getting out there , how many miles you are doing. It sort of reinforces the regularity of taking exercise and the reasons, valid or not , for taking a couple of days out.

    Some people like to start a blog for that reason.

    Good luck
    2011 Rose Pro-SL 3000 Roadbike
    2006 Lemond Alpe d'Huez broken
    1997 Marin Sausaulito Urban bimbling/Shopper
    1980s Orbea project
  • Stck with it and don't get disheartened just manage expectations. I am your age weighed 14& a half 6 weeks ago made decision to get my first road bike for 27 years & got it two weeks ago. I have lost a stone most of this in last 2 weeks by getting out on the bike as often as I can. Mapped out an 8 mile course I doody nights & have already taken 4 minutes of my first time I did it, others are still passing me is if I am not moving but I look at my times each few days & see a slight improvent which is progress for me. I have a goal & will get there but realise it won't happen overnight as much as I would like it to, get a cycle computer it will help you focus on small milestones, most of all enjoy the rides & the benefit they are doing you
  • elbows wrote:
    I am a 45 year old who has bought a carrera road bike as a start to getting fit. I currently smoke(which i am planning on stopping on Monday!!) and have the usual drink when i can. I am 5ft 8in and weigh 12st 12. i am looking at trying to get fit (and relieve huge amounts of stress in my day job - doctors orders).
    I have been on the bike about eight times in the first four weeks of purchase which includes a level trail of about 10 miles. I have also bought a turbo trainer to ensure i can carry on training when the weather is poor.
    The question is - when i am on the turbo trainer i can ride for up to 45 minutes at a high level of cadence 90 - 100 with no problem. When i go on the road i suffer big time especially when i encounter a hill!!!
    Would it be worth concentrating on my overall fitness using the turbo trainer before i attempt riding on roads?

    Hi Elbows, don't get hung up on cadence as a measure of fitness. It all depends what gear you're in and how much resistance is on the turbo. Without these two variables known, cadence is meaningless.

    If you want take a scientific approach to your training, invest in a HR monitor and be prepared to do some testing to find your HR "zones". Get a book on cycling training. Perhaps something by Chris Carmichael.
  • NavrigNavrig Posts: 1,352
    Keep it simple.
    It is too soon to get caught up in training techniques, heart rates and cadence. Just get used to the bike and getting as much exercise time in several sessions each week. You can vary the quality when you can cope with the quantity better.

    Plan ahead and introduce variety.

    Try to have set times when you will exercise and follow through on the commitment.
    Plan your routes so you know the challenge that you face on each outing or turbo session.
    Give road a higher priority - it is very easy to get off the turbo and have a cup of coffee but if you are 12 miles from home and feeling knackered you still have to cycle those 12 miles home.
    Vary your route such that the killer hill doesn't happen at the same time during each ride. That way your body will more quickly adapt to climbing.

    Maximise the time for mental training.

    If you want to de-stress by exercise then practice emptying your mind of work related stuff and concentrating on your surrounding - particularly on a road ride.

    Then, when you are up to it, use the time to think through what is causing the stress and think of ways to manage and avoid it. Just avoid using a HRM during these sessions as the figures will not be representative of the exercise effort. They will probbaly be higher as a result of thinking through work issues.

    Enjoy.



    PS And give up the fags.
  • wakouwakou Posts: 165
    JS14 wrote:
    I know the feeling when it comes to hills: you can always stop, get your breath back and your pulse rate down and then continue up to the top. The day will come when you can make it up in one go. The experts say the way to build strength and speed is interval training, where you alternate going fast/flat out for one or two minutes followed by going slowly to recover for a longer time. Going at a steady pace will gradually build up your overall fitness and endurance but eventually the improvement will tail off.

    You sound pretty motivated but it might help to set a target to aim at for 2012 so that you can keep going through the winter. Why not choose something an event such as the Etape du Tour and tell all your friends and family: that way the potential loss of face will force you to stick to the schedule :wink:
    Surely a bit ambitious for a 45 yo unfit, recently a smoker??? I am in a similar situation, and if I can complete the "Dunwich Dynamo" next year I will be very pleased with my progress. An "etape" = the stuff of dreams (or nightmares!)
    "I had righteous got my wheel backmost from a fettlin' at the LBS and was hunt transport to equitation it. As it was Refrigerated in the AM......"
  • wakouwakou Posts: 165
    Where do you live Mr Elbows? If you are in the SE England, do you fancy the Dunwich dynamo? It is a nice target to aim for, it is IIRC in late June next year, due to the olympics.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dunwich_Dynamo
    "I had righteous got my wheel backmost from a fettlin' at the LBS and was hunt transport to equitation it. As it was Refrigerated in the AM......"
  • elbowselbows Posts: 11
    Thanks for all the replies and support. I did not imagine the number of replies i have had and all the great information / motivation i would recieve.
    I live in Cardiff, South Wales and am looking forward to the coming months trying to improve my fitness.
    As stated in my original post, I am stopping smoking fron tomorrow but i am a little worrried that the weight might start piling on over the next few weeks / months.
  • northpolenorthpole Posts: 1,499
    I'm no expert, that's for sure.

    When I started out I took a very simple approach to try and cover some distance without blowing up.

    If I were starting out now, I would definitely get a simple bike computer with a heart rate monitor (unless you already have one for running or other activity). Try and set a limit within which you are comfortable and don't allow yourself to go much beyond it. That way you might find you can go further with what may feel like much less effort. Particularly useful on those deceptive stretches of road which look flat but grind the legs out of you.

    The other thing I would strongly recommend is to find a pal to go out on the road with - someone of similar fitness levels as yourself. Can make the whole cycling thing much more enjoyable.

    Best of luck.

    Peter
  • EurosEuros Posts: 17
    +1 for getting a heart rate monitor and Chris Carmichael book, look on amazon plenty on there for only a few quid. It may be a bit old but very good. only after 4 weeks i could see the benefit. Went up to Pentyrch today, i'm sure you know it if your from Cardiff, couldn't believe how much easier it was even after only follwing the programme for 4 weeks.
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