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How to get more speed...

tdh37tdh37 Posts: 8
Looking for some positive encouragement here on how to improve...

My problem is that I took up cycling two and a half years ago in my early fifties with the goal of getting fitter and healthier. Later on I thought it would be nice to do a few sportives so that I had some goals to aim for. At first I was just happy to finish but now I want to improve my times and what I see is that they are not improving. I finished my first 60 mile sportive two years ago at an average speed of around 24 km/h (mixing my units). Since then the best I've managed is another 60 miler at around 27 km/h, and a few longer distance sportives at 22-23 km/h.

This year I've tried to train better during the winter rather than waiting for spring in the hope of seeing an improvement. So full of confidence, I started the new season last week and I finished a hilly 95 mile sportive with about 1500m of ascent practically in last place at an average speed of 25 km/h (under 16 mph). What was even more disappointing was the fact that half the field averaged 32 km/h (20 mph) or more and the top riders averaged 37 km/h.

What can I do realistically to go faster and get up to that average speed of 20 mph? More years on the bike? More training? A different sort of training? Like many others, I'm limited to at most a couple of short training sessions during the week (and in a good week!) and maybe one longer ride at the weekend.


  • danlikesbikesdanlikesbikes Posts: 3,898
    First thing to think about is were you on your own when you finished practically last & were the faster riders in a group and therefore getting an advantage.

    Intervals are pretty good for getting your speed up & as you mention hills would suggest some hill repetitions. As for riding on the weekend have you considered joining a club, as you could be out with other cyclists and doing distances & possibly speeds that you could not do on your own. I think you should find that it does not take years to get your speed up but you need to add some structure to what your doing. You could also consider racing in the LVRC league as a good training session, it like all other forms of racing is hard but you will soon find your fitness gets better.
    Pain hurts much less if its topped off with beating your mates to top of a climb.
  • jimwinjimwin Posts: 208
    It depends on where you live. I assume a reasonably flat area given the speeds you quote. If so, then time trialling is a good way to get competitive and hard training. If you get those speeds in hilly areas (Pennines, Devon/Cornwall, Wales etc.), then the speeds you quote are good. But to improve, you'd need to train specifically on hills because that is where you loose the most on your overall speed.
  • inseineinseine Posts: 5,781
    In that one évent, and if I understood you right, I sounds like you need to learn to get into a group that is appropriate for your abilities. Following wheels in a group that is faster than you will be great training and get you a better time.
    25 is a good speed over that distance if you were on your own. You could easily get that up to the high 20s by riding in a group.
    Personally I'd call it a fairly flat event with those stats so you should be able to hand onto the wheels.
    Your training should evolve faster work so you don't get left behind at the start when they all set off like scolded cats.
  • One ride on the weekend and two short sessions mid week is going to see your fitness plateau.

    To improve fitness further you will need to:
    - increase frequency of training (more days/week)
    - increase overall workload (combination of duration and intensity) a little each week for a few months
    - not have long periods of no training

    If that's not possible, then some gains can be made by introducing a little more intensity into the rides you do do, but really, for a beginner with pretty limited training miles behind them I don't really recommend a lot of that sort of riding.

    So if you really are not able to engineer the opportunity to do more riding, then I suggest enjoying what you can do, and not to be unrealistic about your performance at such events. Enjoy the fact that you'll likely be healthier than 95% of everyone else and smell the riding roses. You might have finished last, but you are well ahead of everyone else that didn't bother.

    The other aspect is learning to ride well with others, and again that takes time and practice with some experienced cyclists.

    Set appropriate goals for the riding you can do.
  • tdh37tdh37 Posts: 8
    Thanks for the helpful suggestions. My ride had four Strava Cat. 4 climbs in the first 50 km, which put me in last place. I caught up with a small group later but after 10 km or so I decided to try and go faster. They caught me up about 8 k later on a 1 mile, 130 m climb. After that I stayed with them for most of the last 50 km, ambling along at 125bpm, but they got away on the last Cat. 4 climb 5 km from the end and finished a minute ahead of me.

    The idea of going out with a group is good one. The problem for me is to step up from my modest speed to a group that averages 28 km/h or faster on its Sunday morning run. (I tried it a couple of times last year and I got dropped after 20 miles or so.) Still, I should give it another go.
  • rglinianyrgliniany Posts: 753
    I know a man who could sort you out :wink:

    wrong forum? i'll get my coat............... :lol:
    It's a boy , It's a boy , I Shouted Running Into The Street With Tears Running Down My Face.....

    That's The Last Time I Holiday In Thailand

    URL Pinkbike
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