1. The most important thing about buying a new bike is to make sure it fits. The only way you'll know if the bike is right for you is to size up the bike and make sure that the bike's geometry matches your body's geometry. Ask questions and do some research.
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2. If possible, try to find a shop that will let you demo the bike on real dirt. Five minutes in a parking lot won't cut it. You wouldn't buy a car without a real world test drive, and a bike should be no different.
3. Don't belive the hype. Just because your favorite rider or best friend rides a certain bike, that doesn't mean that's the best one for you. Have an open mind and be realistic about your needs and ability.
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Thread: how to keep up?

  1. #1
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    how to keep up?

    I've been riding for about 2 or 3 months now, beating the heck out of a Diamondback Overdrive 29er for about 7-10 miles a day 3 or 4 times a week on good fun intermediate-advanced trails (Blankets Creek, Olde Rope Mill & Sope Creek for anyone in the Atlanta area). I've made friends with a group of riders I usually end up riding with and they're teaching me TONS but man, they're fast sometimes. I can keep up great and even go ahead of a few folks in line for the faster downhill sections, but when we hit the long uphill rides, I run out of steam fast & can't keep up.

    So, I assume most of it is just conditioning...I have been riding since May & some of these guys have been riding since childhood. Part of it is probably my 34 lb diamondback vs their 19 lb carbon fiber gary fisher's, part of it is probably just technique & knowing exactly which gear to be in & which line to take when. I just switched from flats to SPDs & that did help considerably, especially on the more steady inclines when I was able to maintain speed like I was on flat ground, but I'm still the first to get exhausted in the group & the guy who starts lagging behind whenever we climb a big hill. What's the quickest way to get myself where I can keep up? Just keep on riding? Weight training? is it hopeless on a bike that weighs twice as much?

  2. #2
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    I'm in the same boat right now. Just started a couple of months ago and I'm in the Atlanta area too, but I've been riding at Harbins Park and Ft. Yargo. While I'm out of shape, I'm making definite progress and keeping up better. What I'm trying to do more of is riding in the neighborhood between trail rides. Hill repeats I think will help me tons. There's a nice longish, steady (but not ridiculous) hill on the main street through my subdivision and I'll do that several times in a row. Also, if you feel confident enough and you're not so equipped already, I recommend clipless pedals. Made a big difference for me, but I realize they're not for everyone.

    I look forward to tackling the trails you mentioned. What do you suggest I try first? As in, which one is easiest?

  3. #3
    It's all about the FSR!
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    Keep riding, and get some hard rides in that are in the 15-20 mile range. Do those at least once a week, and you will be surprised how much your body adjusts. All you can do from here on out is learn, and ask questions. Ask your riding buddies about shifting and climbing, and take that knowledge and use it.

  4. #4
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    My thoughts:

    1) Yes. Keep riding. You'll get stronger. 3 months isn't enough time to get the fitness your crew has.
    2) If you want to add some weight training I'd recommend pull ups and ab rolls. If you have access to a gym you could also throw in dead lifts.
    3) There is a technique to climbing that involves pulling slightly downward on the handle bars (hence the pull ups and ab rolls). It is difficult to explain over the internet. See if someone in your area does a mountain bike skills class, spend some $$ for a private lesson. Worth every penny. (or maybe one of the riders in your crew is good enough to critique you when you ride)
    4) if you haven't already bought and read Mastering Mountain Bike Skills do it.
    5) Your bike weighs a decent amount but you're still a newb. Don't get sucked into the "I need better gear to be a better rider" syndrome. It is a dangerous path that never ends. fitness and technique are 90% of the battle. If you don't believe me then just hang with an experienced single speed rider. You'll have a whole new appreciation for what the body can do.

  5. #5
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    Pedal, go to blankets creek derfinitely. There are several loops there, ranging from a nice flat beginner's 1 mile loop to an expert only suicide run of a downhill. If your skills are like mine you'll spend most of your time at blankets in dwelling & south loop, and you'll love em.my next fav is dope creek, but its the one with the lungbusting hills that inspired this post. I agree about the clipless pedals. Just got em Friday & I've seen a big difference in my last 3rides.

    Heavy & Michael, thanks for the tips. I'll definitely try a long ride once a week & more upper body & an work. Sounds like that book is worth looking into also. My theory on the bike weight is that I'll build more strength hauling 30 lbs up a hill than 20. I plan to hang on to this bike til at least through this season before sinking money into high end gear I don't need.

  6. #6
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    Lol, that's sope creek. Not dope. Good ol auto correct.

  7. #7
    fresh fish in stock...... SuperModerator
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    eat better.

    makes a world of difference.

    totally serious.
    Visit these 2 places to help advance trail access:
    http://www.sharingthepct.org/
    http://www.facebook.com/SharingThePct

  8. #8
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    Ride more, ride on hills, get a road bike or ride SS, and like CHUM said, pay attention to nutrition.

  9. #9
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    wut do you guys recommend to regards to diet?

  10. #10
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    Combining Chum and AZMnts' Advice...

    Eating better and riding more will help. In addition to that what many of the riders in your group have that you lack is a base cycling fitness level.

    It's kind of a strange thing, base fitness. Basically, its your body's ability to maintain itself while cycling at a certain level and it's based on what you've accomplished in the past.

    If the longest you've ever ridden is 10 miles, that's your body's suffering threshold. If you get a couple of 30-50 mile mountain bike rides under your belt, you'll be able to keep up better with the group. Get a road century in you and you'll keep up all the better.

    I've ridden in a lot of places, all over the world. And I've learned to never judge a book by its cover when it comes to riding in groups. I've had my ass handed to me several times by old, fat cyclists. But their base cycling fitness was significantly better than mine.

    And now that I'm an old, fat cyclist, every once in a while I'll hand some young whippersnapper his ass.

    All of this is a really long way of saying riding not just more, but longer will dramatically improve your base.

    Cheers,

    Ken
    JPark - 3.5- don't listen to dremer

  11. #11
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    Don't get discouraged by the speed differential. The best way to get better is to ride with people who are faster than you, so consider yourself lucky to have a fast group and just keep chasing them

  12. #12
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    I've been riding for about 3 seasons now and I get faster every year. It takes time for your body to adapt. It will take you years to get to your steady state potential fitness. Not to say you can't make huge gains in one season but most of us don't ride enough miles nor do we work a training plan enough to do this. If you ride a couple hours or more a week you will keep getting faster if you are pushing yourself.

    Your bike only weighs 5-10 lbs more than a higher end bike. That's significant but not the difference unless you are riding long distances or if you are doing more than 1000 ft of climbing per ride.

    Your body weight makes a difference as bike weight does. Its easy to be in great shape but still carry 25 lbs of extra fat that does nothing but weigh you down. If you are over 12% body fat or so then work on loosing fat. Its a much cheaper approach than buying a lighter bike.

    Someone mentioned eating better. Eat a good high carb meal about 60-90 minutes before you ride. Almost all noobs neglect this and they are spent 45 minutes into the ride because they haven't eaten in 4-6 hours. If you ride more than an hour then take something with you to keep fueled. Goo's or energy bars and electrolytes in your water. Also, drink a liter of water right before you head out for a ride. That's one less liter you'll need to carry in a pack and it will get hydration started early.

  13. #13
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    As mentioned, nutrition and diet are things that are commonly overlooked but make a big difference.

    I think I'm a very similar boat here though. I ride a 34lb K2 FS and my friends ride 25lb hardtails on singletrack. I am not in as good of shape as any of them but I keep up pretty well. The things that really help me:

    1.) Keep up momentum- if your skills/trails allow; accelerate on the downhills, carry more momentum through the turns.
    2.) Find your cadence- find a pedaling rythm that works for you. Staying in the saddle and keeping a gear where you can maintain 80-90rpm can make a big difference.

    This may not be new to you but it has helped me.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by tshulthise View Post
    I've been riding for about 3 seasons now and I get faster every year. It takes time for your body to adapt. It will take you years to get to your steady state potential fitness. Not to say you can't make huge gains in one season but most of us don't ride enough miles nor do we work a training plan enough to do this. If you ride a couple hours or more a week you will keep getting faster if you are pushing yourself.

    Your bike only weighs 5-10 lbs more than a higher end bike. That's significant but not the difference unless you are riding long distances or if you are doing more than 1000 ft of climbing per ride.

    Your body weight makes a difference as bike weight does. Its easy to be in great shape but still carry 25 lbs of extra fat that does nothing but weigh you down. If you are over 12% body fat or so then work on loosing fat. Its a much cheaper approach than buying a lighter bike.

    Someone mentioned eating better. Eat a good high carb meal about 60-90 minutes before you ride. Almost all noobs neglect this and they are spent 45 minutes into the ride because they haven't eaten in 4-6 hours. If you ride more than an hour then take something with you to keep fueled. Goo's or energy bars and electrolytes in your water. Also, drink a liter of water right before you head out for a ride. That's one less liter you'll need to carry in a pack and it will get hydration started early.
    The trail that I ride most often with this group climbs about 700 feet over the course of 7 miles, according to my Runkeeper app, and if I had to guess I'd say that's about accurate, with about 4 long steep climbs and some gradual ascents throughout...and of course the same number of downhills to make up for all that work.

    That's a good point that losing fat is cheaper than buying a lighter bike...and has all sorts of other benefits too. All the guys in our group tend to be within about 5-10 lbs of each other, we all hover around the 200 mark. But now that you mention it, the girl who is pretty much right at my skill level everywhere except I'm faster on long downhills & she's faster on long uphills is probably 70 or 80 lbs lighter than us...hadn't even considered that before but she's hauling a lot less weight up those hills!

    Glad I started this thread, everyone's been really helpful so far! Cadence, diet, ride length, all sorts of things to start working on that won't cost thousands of dollars.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by spsoon View Post
    Don't get discouraged by the speed differential. The best way to get better is to ride with people who are faster than you, so consider yourself lucky to have a fast group and just keep chasing them
    I definitely feel lucky to have a fast group to chase. There's no doubt that in the few weeks I've been riding with them I've grown TONS as a rider & learned a lot. Just want to get up to speed as fast as possible so I don't feel like I'm holding them back & they let me keep chasing 'em.

  16. #16
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    This may be oversimplified but practice at your weaknesses. If you are weak at hills then ride hills. Lots of them. Once you feel you have that down then start doing intervals. On a hill go hard for 15 seconds then pedal normally for 30 seconds. Repeat 3 times As you get better you can extend the times and the number of intervals. The times may vary but you get the idea. This works. Training is hard but does work. Not necessary but a heart rate monitor helps me keep my heart rate in the zone i want it in for different types of rides(base building, power building, etc...) This is more advanced training but maybe something to shoot for. Good luck.

  17. #17
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    Concentrating on your breathing helps a lot. For me I take deep, slow breaths rather than huff and puff fastly. Huffing and puffing seems to whip my ass...breath slow and deep while pumping.

    Lastly, don't worry about being a hero..... When I went for my first group ride I said screw it....I'm not going to try and pass or try to look cool....I sat back and watched everyone else and gave myself an idea of what pace to ride in. See, I always wondered how fast people ride those trails and riding alone I never knew, but riding in a group it gives you an idea of how fast to take it. Now I can go beyond their pace and keep up in the top 4 if I want... However our group leader is an animal....the guy is 50 something and noone can get around him....he is amazingly good shape. I'm happy though that I am only 4 spots behind him on a freakin DB Response lol.....

    Take it easy, man.... breath deep and don't worry about beating THEM up the hill....just worry about beating THE HILL, for now

  18. #18
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    Ganymede, sounds a lot like me. The guy who usually leads our group does it on a single speed rigid 29er and never even seems winded. He's a total beast. Nicest guy on the trail too, he's always helping me find a good line, adjust my bike, fix stuff as I break it. Its not at all about beating him, its about beating the hill fast enough that he doesn't get bored waiting at the top.

  19. #19
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    You are not used to the pace they are riding, that's all. Even if they are only go 10% faster than your normal pace. If you have been riding at your threshold trying to keep up with the pace that's 10% higher would be the quickest way to send you to the red zone. It's quite common for people who's new to the sport and ride alone most of the time.

    Now that you know the pace when you ride alone just keep it at or above that pace, the next time you ride with them again you'll be just fine. I do group ride at least once a week usually twice, one with faster/better rider and one with slower rider. I learn from the faster group and set the pace for the slower group.

    Have fun.

  20. #20
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    get out on that bike and ride. truly its that spimple keep riding you will improve. also count yourself lucky to have friendsto ride with and that are willing to teach you, remeber to listen and watch what they are doing. if nothing else ask them how to keep up.

  21. #21
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    I had an epiphany today while I was out riding...clipless shoes don't just magically make you more efficient, you have to actually put an effort in on the upstroke too. Who knew? I think I've started to figure out the technique onw & it's making a huge difference. So obviously conditioning and diet and longer rides and interval rides and all the other great advice in this thread will continue to improve things, but as far as baby steps go...wow what a difference a clip makes! making a conscious effort to pull my left foot backwards & up the back of the stroke while my right foot pushes down & forward like normal makes a world of difference. I even climbed a hill today that 2 of the more experienced riders in my group Monday had to walk up. Too bad I was riding solo & couldn't show off!

  22. #22
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    Yes clipless are known to do that! The point of a clipless pedal is not to keep your foot from falling off, but to facilitate a "pull stroke" as well! I would concur you are lucky to have found a group to ride with that you can learn from, and won't intentionally smoke you every chance they get. As far as fitness goes, it will come...it just will. Ride a lot, try to "spin" for long steady distances, and try to slow your breathing, like others have mentioned. When you are ready, hit those climbs in a higher gear each time. Push down, and pull back on your bars with a decent amount of upper body strength, and scoot forward onto the beak of your saddle. Most of all......have fun riding, and don't worry about what folks on forums say!

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill-E-BoB View Post
    Ganymede, sounds a lot like me. The guy who usually leads our group does it on a single speed rigid 29er and never even seems winded. He's a total beast. Nicest guy on the trail too, he's always helping me find a good line, adjust my bike, fix stuff as I break it. Its not at all about beating him, its about beating the hill fast enough that he doesn't get bored waiting at the top.
    Subs like my buddy Will. He'll do Dwelling in 18 minutes on his SS 29er, but will gladly slow down and help another rider improve. I usually stay on the Holler, but I'll occasionally knock out a lap around Dwelling in the mid-20s on my jumper.
    All of the true things I'm about to tell you are shameless lies.

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