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  1. #1
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    Lack of fitness or the bike?

    I'm a 40 y/o male and love mountain biking, always have since I was 13, I certainly don't do it as much as I'd like to and more often then not when I'm out hitting the trails it's always the climbs that kill me. I probably get out once on a sat or sun a month if I'm lucky atm and ride with a group and it's the same story when ever I'm out, last to get up the hill, slowest of the group etc. This is really starting to get me down and even though my mates are cool and wait for me saying "it's fine" I'm really not cool with it and starting to not be happy when I'm out on my bike.

    I used to love it so much and just couldn't get enough but something's changed, probably old age!

    I'm not over weight, just a medium to small build of 5'8". Is it just lack of fitness, regular rides that's beating me with this or is it the bike or both?

    I ride a stock Giant Anthem X4 2012 but since getting my Anthem have always wondered whether I made the right choice.

    I love riding trail, Xc, Dh bit of everything really and seeing the lovely Santa Cruz, yeti's the way these All Mountain bikes are set up with the slacker head tube, shorter stem and wider tyres, could having a new bike like this improve my riding/fitness and make it more enjoyable? Or do I just need to get out on my bike more to increase fitness?


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  2. #2
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    You need to get out and ride more.

  3. #3
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    95% of the time......it is not the bike.
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  4. #4
    It's about showing up.
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    You need to get out and ride more.

    I've seen young men of college age who have a history of riding. They can not ride much or at all and just show up and hammer with the best of them. As you age that disappears. You have to work more to stay with the guys you ride with.
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  5. #5
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    Need to ride more. It's never the bike.
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  6. #6
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    If you're already struggling on the hills going from the Anthem to a bigger AM bike probably isn't going to help!

    Obviously riding more often would be the best bet, but if that isn't possible then try get in some cardio exercise of any form between rides.

  7. #7
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    Im not trying to sound rude or anything I was just curious if your bike is set up properly?
    Maybe it's a fit issue I'm no expert just wondering.

  8. #8
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    seat time.

  9. #9
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    Yep, once a month will never cut it if you want to hang with younger folks or those who ride more often. I ride 2-3 time a week at 51 and am about middle of the pack on most climbs.
    Sometimes, you need to go fast enough that the trail is a blur to find clarity. -- Wild Bill

  10. #10
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    Since I got back in the saddle (after 8 years) just over two months ago I have been increasing my fitness. My stamina is getting better. I'm feeling better and I don't need to rest all day long after the ride like when I first got back in the saddle. I'm learning the trail and riding loner. I still have rest spots along the trail but I'm improving there too. And I'm 59 y.o.

  11. #11
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    Try running, I was a runner first then did cycling and cycling is way easier than running

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jaxxx View Post
    Try running, I was a runner first then did cycling and cycling is way easier than running

    Try pedaling harder.
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  13. #13
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    Riding one Sat. a month, isn't going to build any sort of riding fitness at all. Better than nothing, but you're not really gaining anything. You have to establish a base level of fitness on the bike, then riding becomes more fun. It will take a lot more than once a month though... more like 1 hr, twice a week.

    The only thing a new bike might do for you, is motivate you to ride more... which will make climbing easier.

  14. #14
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    A bike can hold you back to a point if your ability is way above the bike you are riding. But that comes at a point when you are in excellent shape and you need say, a lighter bike for racing, something that's tougher because you are really hitting the trails hard and laying down some serious power, components are lower grade and can't handle your riding ability.

    But like already stated, vast majority of the time, the rider is the problem. That's just a fact. One time a month, you'll never gain any fitness with that amount of riding. Not bike fitness which is different from say running fitness or swimming or CrossFit or whatever. I've found that cycling is pretty specific and running or CrossFit while good for your fitness, doesn't translate well to the bike. It helps, but not enough that you can only ride once a month and expect to ride well, especially climbing.

    So in short, you need to ride more. Other stuff will help with cardio and overall well being, but there's no substitute for cycling specific needs.
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  15. #15
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    Re: Lack of fitness or the bike?

    It's you. Sorry.

    Look for ways to shoehorn in more riding. I used to commute by bike. A recent move nuked that, but I ride during lunch once in most weeks, and almost always ride on both weekend days. I also run, and often I add a second midweek ride in the evening.

    Obviously we all scale our amounts of riding by priority and time. But I don't think working out less than three times a week is really even maintenance-level, and you're seven years older than me.

    I do think one of those times a week can be something else. For example, I think I get away with running twice a week because I ride a lot. And I think going for a run mitigates that I'm sacrificing a ride for one of them.

    I find routine very helpful. If I go on a lunch run because it's Wednesday, I'm a lot better about them than if I'm always deciding whether or not I feel like them. My lunch ride is easier - I enjoy it more - but I still have to shuttle my things to work. (My old bike is waiting for me there.) So sometimes, that's a "because it's Tuesday" ride, though also something i very much enjoy once I'm out on trails, in the middle of my work day. Evening rides take some discipline, and it starts to be hard to stay on top of other stuff if I insist on two evening workouts.

    If you decide to make a change, ramp up over time and listen to your body.

    Otherwise, I dunno. People seem to be happy collecting bikes and going on rides with about 50% time spent actually riding.
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  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by jamie g View Post
    ......I probably get out once on a sat or sun a month if I'm lucky atm and ride with a group and it's the same story when ever I'm out, last to get up the hill, slowest of the group etc..... Is it just lack of fitness, regular rides that's beating me with this or is it the bike or both?.... Or do I just need to get out on my bike more to increase fitness
    OK, trying to think how to put this so it's not rude or condescending.......It's lack of fitness......how'd I do?......

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by jamie g View Post
    ....I probably get out once on a sat or sun a month ...
    Yes, definitely lack of fitness. I was the fastest I ever was on a bike when I was 40 years old so age is no excuse.

  18. #18
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    Lack of fitness or the bike?

    Well what a response! Thanks guys. And no, nothing rude mentioned. I just needed to hear advise from experienced riders like yourselves.

    I always thought fitness was where it's at and now I know and kind of understand better, so thanks to everyone for your great advise.

    So, if fitness is the key here, regarding pedals, would it also help if I used clipless? I mean currently I use flats and always have done for that matter but have always been curious as to what clipless would be like. More upstroke as well as down?




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  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by jamie g View Post
    regarding pedals, would it also help if I used clipless?
    I sense a troll at work. Freakybro signing out

  20. #20
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    Yeah with any cardio, and bike is no exception, you need 3x week or more. 30 minutes to an hour.

    Clips will help climbing to some degree as you can get power 360 degrees around. So it will just burn you up that much faster.

    But sounds like you may be looking for shortcuts. There arent any.

  21. #21
    Token Hillbilly
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    I'm 41and have been out of riding for the last couple of years and was stunned at how quickly I'm getting my chops back. I try to ride MTB twice a week (one slow for technical, one fast for fun), twice a week on the road (whatever speed the group feels like that day), and run at least once for 5k (twice if I have the time). I joined a bowling league for my night off lol. Being married with 3 kids make scheduling all of this interesting sometimes, but I try to do the runs at night late and ride the weekend with my wife and/or kids to do my slower technical stuff. Either way, it's the saddle and run time that's racheting my ability quickly. We can still do what we did 10 years ago, you just have to remind your body of that more.
    Trying to win hearts and minds, but willing to stomp them if necessary.

  22. #22
    I Tried Them ALL... Moderator
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    The only Rx for your issue....is to simply ride LOTS. Have oatmeal with a banana sliced in it, or berries. This is perfect slow-release energy for you. Start practicing with hills and time yourself up them. Track your progress. Repeat.
    "The ONLY person who needs to race.....is the entrant"

  23. #23
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    You need to ride a LOT more. You don't even have to do it on the trails. See if you can get 5 to 10 miles a a few times a week on the pavement near your house. Anything will help.

    There's no replacement for time in the saddle…even when Lance Armstrong was doping he still had to practice.

  24. #24
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    Re: Lack of fitness or the bike?

    Quote Originally Posted by jamie g View Post
    So, if fitness is the key here, regarding pedals, would it also help if I used clipless? I mean currently I use flats and always have done for that matter but have always been curious as to what clipless would be like. More upstroke as well as down?
    I love my clipless pedals. But people spout a lot of myths about them.

    They keep my foot in the same place on my pedal. That's it.

    Whenever someone bothers to study it, they find out that pulling up is bizarre and strong riders don't really do it. Just reduce the weight on the back pedal, so it's not fighting the front pedal as much. Which may sound like a semantics thing, but if there's still a little weight on the back pedal, a clip doesn't effect power transfer.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  25. #25
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    Well, I have one of those nice light Santa Cruz carbon framed, shortie stemmed, slacker head tubed, wider tire'd rigs and yuh know what? The climbs still kick my arse! I wish I had the time to get out more to increase fitness but all kinds of things get in the way!!

  26. #26
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    Obviously, more saddle time is the fix. If it's because you can't get to the trails, then jump on a treadmill or elliptical a few times a week and do some interval training to build up your cardio. Google how to determine your max heart rate and develop a challenging 45-60 minute workout. After a couple months, I bet you will see a noticeable difference.

    I agree with posters above that it most likely isn't your bike. I'm 48 and ride a few times a week, but a family friend who is almost 60 with a 20 year old bike, still regularly beats me on some of the steepest local trails. He brags about how old his tires are and how he hasn't serviced his bike in years! I think he'd be even faster with a newer bike, but I don't tell him that.

    It takes time to build up the endurance, so just stick with it!

  27. #27
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    Dude 40 is not old. You need to ride a lot more. once a month is not gonna get you in good riding shape.

  28. #28
    Anytime. Anywhere.
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    I'm 56 in 2 weeks and have in and out of good shape quite a few times. Never totally out but had difficulty climbing when out. An Anthem is a good bike and you are not overweight. You just have to exercise whenever you can. I know it's not easy finding time but it's the only way. I have a riding buddy who is not as fit as I am but I love riding with him. He is 50, has a great attitude, lots of skill, will try almost anything, is not afraid to suffer, and usually only gets out to ride twice a week. When he does ride there is always a big climb involved and he is finding them easier. He has got into better shape with riding twice a week but it's slow and the rides are hard. 3 hard rides a week and he would be much better but he is too busy. Try and find time at least 3 times a week.
    I got some bad ideas in my head.

  29. #29
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    +11ty - Ride more. Commit to riding more. Find a club, group ride, friends that will drag you out, etc....

    Each time you ride, push your lungs (and legs) just a bit further than the last time you were out. Also, focus more on YOUR cadence and what YOUR body is telling you than the person in front of you's pace. You will never become a better rider unless you find your physical limits and push them.

    Being able to lead the group you are currently struggling to keep pace with sure would feel awesome, huh? You can do it!

  30. #30
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    High intensity interval training for the off trail times.
    3 high-intensity workouts to burn fat and increase fitness :: Men's Health

  31. #31
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    Hours on the bike will solve most of your problems.

  32. #32
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    Lack of fitness or the bike?

    Quote Originally Posted by Berkeley Mike View Post
    You need to get out and ride more.

    I've seen young men of college age who have a history of riding. They can not ride much or at all and just show up and hammer with the best of them. As you age that disappears. You have to work more to stay with the guys you ride with.
    Total copout. If you work to stay in shape, just like the young ones, theres no reason why, at 40, you should be falling behind. At 35-40 or so, your red blood cells capacity for oxygen is at its highest. There's a reason why all the top endurance athletes are around that age.

  33. #33
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    Lack of fitness or the bike?

    Get a cheap road bike and ride it during the week after work. Helps me a lot and I'm 47

  34. #34
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    Lack of fitness or the bike?

    Ride alone and enjoy it.

  35. #35
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    Lack of fitness or the bike?

    Quote Originally Posted by Axe View Post
    Ride alone and enjoy it.
    +1


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  36. #36
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    There's no substitute for time in the saddle. I've found that if I ride twice a week, I pretty much maintain whatever fitness level I'm at. If I can get out three times a week, I improve, if I can get out four times per week, I really improve! But no matter what, I have to push myself. It's never just a leisurely ride for me. Oh and I'm 52.

  37. #37
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    Lack of fitness or the bike?

    Guys. Thanks so much for all your comments. It really has answered my questions around fitness and inspires me hugely to get out on the bike, more! Cheers from Australia 😊


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  38. #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by jamie g View Post
    inspires me hugely to get out on the bike 
    sadly i ride all the time and i still kind of suck on the hills. My full squish bike is 27 pounds so i'm thinking about building a 26 in chinese carbon hardtail to come in under 20. I will take any help i can get.

  39. #39
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    Quote Originally Posted by jamie g View Post
    I'm a 40 y/o male ....when I'm out hitting the trails it's always the climbs that kill me. I probably get out once on a sat or sun a month if I'm lucky atm and ride with a group and it's the same story when ever I'm out, last to get up the hill, slowest of the group etc. ... Or do I just need to get out on my bike more to increase fitness?
    I just turned 40 a couple weeks ago and I ride 3-4 times a week. I do pretty well on most climbs, but there are always some that kick my butt on climbs. Sounds to me if you are riding once a month your fitness will be down. I ride with guy in his early 40's. He is quite fit as he is a runner, but is building his leg strength. He rides a few times a month and while he is getting stronger I can easily out climb him and out pace him on the flats. However we did a 5k run and few months back and he pulled away in last 2k and I had nothing for him as I was already pegged. I did run my best 5k ever, but his faster on the run. He is convincing me to a half marathon soon. I need to train more on my running to pull it off.

    Anyway point is I believe your issue is biking fitness. It may not be related to being overweight or even a poor cardio fitness, but simply a lack of leg strength. The only way to really build that up is to put miles on the bike. I tell my friend this and I think he understands, but given his time constraints he still does alot of running.
    Joe
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  40. #40
    Fat-tired Roadie Moderator
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    The nice thing about having some difficulty on a bike that's not brilliant about a given task is that you can have some doubt as to whether it's you or the bike.

    The bummer about a bike purpose-built for a task is that it removes any doubt.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  41. #41
    because GIANT
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    OP, as everyone sez, you just ain't riding enough


    literally all you need to do to see gains, is ride at least 30 minutes every day (really, you can stop after 30 minutes) and just easy peasy. do this for 2 months straight and you will feel your old kung-fu start to kick in, and if you are destined to get fast, it'll happen


    seriously, just dedicate 30 minutes a day to moving your legs around in circles it will all fall into place and you'll have a base set up to lay some pain down with

    now tell me you can't scrape up 30 minutes daily to do a no-sweating-allowed easy spin


    you can cheat by doing leg presses or squats (3 x as many as you can do in a minute) twice a week instead of 30 minutes riding

  42. #42
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    High Tech retail motivation = buy a fancy new bike you will ride it a ton more!

    (kidding....just ride as much as you can, get a trainer and ride it early or late night for 45 minutes at a time twice a week if you can't get outside to ride0

  43. #43
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    Quote Originally Posted by AndrwSwitch View Post
    The nice thing about having some difficulty on a bike that's not brilliant about a given task is that you can have some doubt as to whether it's you or the bike.

    The bummer about a bike purpose-built for a task is that it removes any doubt.
    except that after i come to this realization on my new 17 pound carbon wonder bike i can keep hope alive with the idea of the new 12 pound trek road bike

  44. #44
    Fat-tired Roadie Moderator
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    LOL, that's true.

    I love that people can now walk into a shop and walk out with a bike that's too light to be raced internationally.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  45. #45
    I like turtles
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    I feel this is somehow related to wheelsize, bar width, or frame material.
    Geologist by trade...bicycle mechanic (former) by the grace of God!

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  46. #46
    Rod
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    Quote Originally Posted by Axe View Post
    Ride alone and enjoy it.
    quoted for truth
    There is not much choice between rotten apples.

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