How so fast?
How do these people get so fast? In todays' race, I got passed again and again. Frankly, it was embarrassing. I just keep wondering - is there something about my bike that makes me slow? Or do these people ride like two hours a day? With a wife and two kids and one more on the way, I don't have much time to train - but I would like to be at least somewhat more competitive. I guess I could start to ride my bike to work, but then all of the Judges I work with would think I was crazy. But, I still love racing - I love having people watch me ride and having photos taken of me riding - even if I do finish back of the pack. What to do to get faster?
How to get faster?
Ride more. Did I already mention that?
I went on a group ride with my team a few weeks back. One of them, as he put it, is fat. He knows he's quite a bit heavier than anyone else on the team, but he has no problems with it. I was fully expecting to at least pass him on the climbs, even if I couldn't hold the wheels of the guys who race for Team ClifBar and stuff. But I couldn't hold his wheel, not on the climbs, not on the flats, and not even on the descents. I put it this way: this guy (the fat one) is at least five to six years older than me. That's probably five or six more years riding than I've been riding, too. So he has a lot more base riding than me, and he's obviously got much better technical skills than me.
Sometimes, I question the value of my content.
Ride everyday at least 1 hr and then mix in a couple of 3 hr rides a week. This after a year or 2 will vastly improve your speed.
15 hrs. a week done right for 3 or 4 years will make you fast if genetics are on your side.
Losing 10 lbs. anywhere (bike, bag, or body fat) will make you noticeably faster. After a certain age, nothing will.
The cyclist training bible (or mountain bikers training bible if you must) and training and racing with a power meter.
Then you can come back and ask your questions. But you won't have any.
The simplest answer is "ride your bike a lot" (E.M.) but its not a real answer.
The time crunched cyclist has many people claiming it helped them and might be your best bet.
Bottom line, lack of time to train is a big limiter and many a parent has had to come to terms with being a certain kind of fast. Reality Check, there will always bs someone faster. The whole point of the racing hierarchy is to raise competitors to the level at which they suck.
There is no secret. Go read a book so that you can filter through the heaps of ******** information and people protecting their egos you will be wading through on the Internet.
The fat fast friend of some guy doesn't exist. You can't be fat and fast. Get thin.
Lose weight. Get used to suffering. Ride your bike instead of doing all the other things you enjoy.
Or quit complaining about being slow and fold into society like the rest of the quitters out there.
The guys who are passing you don't care what their coworkers think about them riding to work.
If you want to get faster, you shouldn't either.
Well you have one good idea there. All my colleagues think I am insane for riding to work nearly every day no matter the weather, even though it is only a half hour ride along a nice bike path. They literally ask me every other day if I rode my bike to work again (!?) when I walk in with my helmet in my hands, even after 8 months they haven't wrapped their heads around the idea.
Originally Posted by Gazelem
Will riding to work make me a great racer though? No way, but it does get me five to six hours of ride time per week, which I can then build proper training time off of.
You gave us no info about your current training (or lack of). Are you just showing up at races and expecting to do well with just because you know how to ride a bike? This is like signing up for a half marathon trail run because you go hiking for a few hours every weekend, it just doesn't work.
As for MisterC's "hardcore" advice...no you don't need a power meter to be a decent amateur racer, plenty of people have done without it.
"ride your bike instead of doing all the other things you enjoy." I thought we did this BECAUSE we enjoyed it. If riding and racing become just another chore, you're either doing it wrong as an recreational rider or you've gotten so damn good at it that it actually is your job and you make money doing it (not many people here).
Oh, and it is not about the bike. A superfast cyclist is superfast on anything. 26, 29, gears, SS, etc. It does not matter.
Get mad at something.
I was doing my regular 15 mile round trip in roughly 1 hour 40'ish, some days a couple of minutes faster, some days a couple of minutes slower. Then one day I was treated unfairly at work and got home pretty steamed, got on the bike, yelled "to hell with them" and rode balls out (not literary ). Every time I started thinking about the idiots at work I rode harder and before long I could think of nothing but my heartbeat and breathing. I didn't care if I didn't conserve enough energy to make it the whole way round, used heavier gears, stood up more, gritted my teeth and kept pumping. I finished the trip in 1 hour 23 minutes, then had a laugh at that crazy way of riding.
The upside of going all out in a mad rage was that I discovered that I was able to ride a lot harder without hitting the wall too soon, so I started riding that way even on days where I wasn't angry. A couple of months later and I'm doing my round trip in 1 hour 12-15 minutes and still improving.
Sometimes a good hissy fit is needed to set the bar a bit higher..
Yes. Depending on what you consider fast, 14 hours a week isn't out of the ordinary.
Originally Posted by Gazelem
I doubt it. Most of the lawyers I know ride, and they work for firms and large corporations (I know a judge who rides too). Because professionals can afford a sport like cycling I doubt you'll be ostracized. Commuting is a great way to get a base if you have family commitments. When you subtract out how long you would be driving, you really aren't taking much more time away from your family by commuting.
Originally Posted by Gazelem
I'm an attorney and work for the highest criminal court in my state, Texas, and ride to work maybe twice a week. The judges don't think I'm crazy; they probably don't even know I commute. Now if the stench of BO was obvious everytime I talked to them in chambers that would be a serious problem. You might as well get used to being embarrassed, as you call it. It happens. I race Cat 1 and have had my fair share of terrible races, especially lately. You could call them embarrassing.
Originally Posted by Gazelem
I was watching this goofy video where 2 regular cyclists win a chance to ride a mountain stage of the TdF and get support from Discovery channel team back in 2009. They are talking to Johan Bruynel about their traiing. One guy did about 60-100 miles a week, he was a skinny endurance type who did some local racing. The other guy was overweight and did about 30 miles a week commuting to work.
Bruynel was like, skinny guy, you don't ride enough to be fast, but you'll make it up the mountian.
Then he was like, overweight guy, you don't ride enough and you're fat, you're not going to make it up.
He was right, the big guy didn't make it.
I'm overweight and don't ride enough, but in the last couple years I've ridden alot more and lost 45 pounds and I'm alot faster, still way to slow to race though.
If they are training 2 hours a day, How much more training is it than you are currently doing ?
Originally Posted by Gazelem
I'm sure most of them have wives, kids, and jobs just like you. If you only did half that, is it still more than you're doing now ?
Bottom line is you need to ride more. The more you ride the better you'll do. Pick up the Training Bible. If you don't have a lot of time you'll at least learn how to make the most of it.
Gazelem, stick with it, train hard when you can, and set yourelf do-able goals.
I always measure the winners time against mine as a percentage, every year i try and get the difference smaller, and i do.
Mountain bike racing is an indivual sport. Enjoy it and the rewards will come!
You dont have to train 15 hrs a week to be happy with your results.
people are right about riding a lot. Having family etc makes it hard though.
Trying to ride every day is not practical with other responsibilities. I find 2 days a week will maintain conditioning. 3 days I'll get stronger, somewhat. 4 is better. Try to have a long day each week. I have a standing monday night ride. I go after work and come home late. I get 2-3 hours of ride time and that does a lot to build/keep endurance. On your shorter rides, push your intensity. Go hard, recover, go hard, recover. (intervals)
Time Crunched cyclist is probably a good option for your limited time. But, a lot of structure is challenging when beginning.
Oh sh!+ just force upgraded to cat1. Now what?
Best thing about an ultra marathon? I just get to ride my bike for X hours!
There's 2 distinct populations of mountain bikers: People who just sorta ride around and those who race.
I have friends who just sorta noodle around a few times a week and compared to them Im a world champion when it comes to speed and endurance. I can ride circles around these people!
But when it comes to racing Im lucky not finishing last (usually I dont finish last but Im certainly not in the top half of the field). The racing population are on a whole other level of fast......
Also, you have to consider that most people who race have been doing it for a few years. Most started off like you and I wondering what the h@ll was wrong with themselves and how everyone else was so fast.
Another thing to remember is what was said above, "There's always gonna be somebody faster than you."
I remember seeing that show......The super light custom team bike didnt help the dough boy much if at all....
Originally Posted by matty.g
I have a family, a 4 month old daughter, and I still get in as much riding as I want. Trick is ride first thing in the morning before work on the trainer, and then smother the wife and daughter and give them your full attention in the evening. Been getting in 9 hours a week and could get more if I wanted but I've only been riding a year. Did 300 hours last year, and per the MTB training bible I'm shooting for 350-400 this year. So far on track for a little over that actually.
Ride with people who are faster than you.....seriously!!
My take on it... and I'm no mtb racer, just my experience from my military days, running days, swimming days, and the one race I have done so far on a mtb ...
You have to understand your body.
You need to know what is hard work that will help you increase your fitness... and what is hard work that will injure you - your joints, connective tissue...
You need to understand that some days you will be loving pushing yourself really hard, somedays you think you've seriously lost significantly in your fitness.
Those days when you fall short of your plans... maybe you'll figure out why, maybe you won't.
Don't let them take you down psychologically though.
Some days you just need to bag it all and head back home, or do something else for training that day instead of riding. For those disappointing days... I take what I can get, then concentrate on tomorrow being a better training day.
You can get real involved in your diet, or just eat what is considered basically healthy.
Understand what certain foods (and non-food junk stuff) do to you and your ability to work hard and increase your fitness.
Find what works best for you for morning meals, afternoon meals/snacks, and dinners.
Figure out how your sleep patterns affect the next day and your ride.
Definitely understand how stress from everyday life can affect your mental and physical being.
Some people do find they ride really well sometimes if they are just blowing off steam from a bad day at work... but that isn't a real good workout pattern for me to do on a consistent basis. Anger is a negative for the most part. If I can't focus on my ride, I definitely don't gain as much, if at all.
Learn about your bike and what makes it run smooth. Understand gearing and the terrain you ride.
Speaking of the places you ride...
Find the easy, moderate, and difficult trails you can access for riding.
Use them all... judiciously.
Familiarize yourself with one particularly difficult or technical (but not necessarily difficult for you) trail that you can ride over-and-over until you know so much about the trail, that you can start concentrating on your skills.
You can pump out all the miles you want just making it to the end of the trail, but if you are not sensing what makes the ride smooth, what gets you through those turns quickly and smoothly, what keeps you upright through the rocks and roots, and what gets you uphill without spending so much energy you're sapped when you do reach the top... then you probably won't advance as much as you could.
It's not just about being fast because you ride a lot... it's about understanding as many of the variables affecting you riding performance as possible.
Try different training tactics, toys (monitors, music...), a 'lucky' item, until you find ones that you really get something from.
Every once-in-a-while, take some time off. Take a week off.
I mean from working hard on your riding.
Let your body recover, your mind relax, and let your life experience something new for a change.
Far as I know... the only people who train full-time are the people who are truly dedicated to the sport enough that they do compete at higher levels, or just really want to be in that kind of shape.
Professional athletes are a mixed bag... some are sponsored and have resources available to them such as mechanics and trainers, along with higher caliber medical professionals to deal with minor and major injuries.
Some still work jobs outside of racing (sometimes outside the sport they compete in).
If you are racing for your own pleasure... don't beat yourself up over not being in the elite class of racers. Definitely enjoy what you are doing.
If you are letting your fantasies of what other people may think of you if you ride to work, bother you... you should really take a look at that obstacle.
It is an obstacle... one that you are placing directly in your own path.
I've done it, and still do it from time-to-time until I recognize it and deal with it.
If riding better is what you really want... you can turn it into a positive event in your life that you can be proud of, relish in, and not give a rat's asp about when other lesser minds try to shoot you down about it... even if in jest.
These are my own beliefs... not necessarily anyone else's... and not what I believe everyone should follow, unless they've fallen to my madman doctrine! bwahahahaha
Sounds like you care more about what people think than anything. Whether it be your judges or the people taking the photos.
If you are racing threes expect to be lapped by the elites. Its just inevitable.
You need more saddle time. Kids are gonna make it hard but you gotta ask yourself what its worth to you.
The truth is that you have given us no info about yourself to work off of so we cant really give you any sound advice at this point.
Raised in a Chicken-Coop by Chickens
Exactly. And furthermore, this is why I think these training threads are for trolling. Yes, my advice might be "hardcore" but I don't think it's wrong.
Originally Posted by Sheepo5669
So many threads where someone "wants to be fast". Well what the hell is fast? Where I'm at, "fast" is a commitment. It's giving up the late night drinking and sitting around doing nothing watching tv as well as the gardening and racquetball and writing down an aggressive plan and doing it.
"need" is a ridiculous word in cycling. But bike shops are full of things you don't "need" but sure do help. Power meters get a lot of disdain for whatever reason but then so should training books and anything else that purports itself training aide.
But whatever, forget power meters. I like giving advice and do try to help but I realize it's through my own lens of what it takes to be fast. Or to put it another way, what it would take to be faster than me.
The first question any coach would ask is, what do you want to get out of riding your bike? So that's THE question. Without an answer, what the hell are we talking about except what we all do to get the kind of fast that we either are or were.
Has skills-will travel
I couldn't agree more, to many people are thinking "The reason I'm slow is due to my bike" and then spend tons of $$$ and they are still slow. No 29er, full suspension, tire,... is going to make up for training!
Originally Posted by Manicmtbr
Yeah, it is probably all about the bike.
Originally Posted by Gazelem
as others have stated, the secret to riding faster is riding more. at some point, you'll need to start riding faster, too, and you may eventually need a real training plan, but for now, more riding is the secret sauce.
commuting is awesome training. day after day, week after week- you will get faster. you will be happier. you may even save money.
as far as coworkers- if you're going to be a serious cyclist, you better get used to feeling like an outcast.
something about the west coast...it makes me wanna ride
I ride to work occasionally, and if I have a free morning, sometimes slip away for a ride with guys who have SGM, 1SG, CPT, MAJ, LTC, COL, etc. ahead of their names.
If I can do that, you can ride with some judges.
I am in a similar life position as the OP (2 kids, demanding job, blah, blah, blah). When my first daughter was born (5 years ago), I knew life would change dramatically. I gave some thought to what activities I was committed to and which we're the proverbial "nice to haves". This was really just a mental exercise because I knew going in that cycling was the thing that was non-negotiable. A lot of the other activities have fallen by the wayside but honestly, I don't miss them all that much. For my cycling is the thing and has been since I was a junior racer in the mid 80's. I have had to get more creative to ensure that I get enough hours in to be "competitive". I am lucky in that I work somewhere that has a hardcore "lunch ride". That coupled with a couple of MTB rides after work during the week and a longer ride on the weekend keeps me "in the hunt" anyway. I have found that small things like ensuring that your gear is ready and waiting and all in one place and your bikes are in good working order help to make sure that your available time is spent riding and not looking for a missing CO2 cartridge or rooting through the laundry pile for an arm warmer.
Originally Posted by ryguy135
I also have two young children and work shift work and my day shifts start at 7 am. I get up at 4 to 5 am and when I am working days I will commute to work 45 mins and when on a day off I will get in a one to two hour ride. On days off I am back in time to get up with the kids and it doesn't take any time away from the family. When the youngest one goes down for her afternoon nap I can jump on the trainer or hit the weights in the basement. A bike stroller hooked up behind the bike works good too. I can pull my daughter in the stroller to the park, let her play for awhile and then get back on the bike. Alot of times she will fall asleep for an hour plus in the stoller.
I am also following Friel's plan and am aiming for 350 hours. Once you adjust your schedule so that it works for you and your family you will be amazed at how much time you actually have to dedicate to riding.
Once-in-awhile racer here.
I am fast in certain situations, but I don't have the fitness level of riders who get more ride time. That's not to say I can't beat someone who is in better shape than me. Depends on the course. I've never finished above mid sport, though.
"Fast" is a sum of fitness, handling, and the course you are on. You can be in great shape and still be slow if you can't handle your bike in the given situation. Most racers of above average bike skill, however, would actually trade in some skills for more horsepower if they could (and I think some do, based on their "training" - instead of their "practicing"). Most XC courses are just not that demanding of technical skills. Of course, some are more technically demanding and it seriously mixes up the middle standings. To be really fast, you have to have the entire package.
On commuting: It kinda sucks if you don't have a shower at work, but you can still pack a bunch of baby wipes and deodorant and a change of clothes and go for it. Sprint off every light. Hammer every hill. Chase cars and buses. The duration is relatively (to a race) short, so intensity can be super high. Make it count. Get out of your comfort zone - a lot.
Mix up your rides between different trails, road, spinning low gears, mashing high gears, good climbs... there are so many aspects to "fast". And it doesn't happen in a week, or a month, or a year. It's a building process. But if you don't enjoy it, don't do it.
I hear a lot of people recommending to ride everyday. You need recovery to grow new muscle and repair existing muscle. I try to keep my training to 5 days a week.
OP in my opinion, if you want to get faster (for whatever reason), you've got to do two things; get a formal training plan and commit to your plan. If you don't do both of these, then you might improve some, but you won't get the results you are looking for.
At some point, a 2hr easy ride IS recovery.
Originally Posted by AC/BC
If anything, it does more for me than laying around. Gets the blood moving and flushes out all of the bad stuff that built up on the harder rides.
Hate to say it, but there are plenty of people who simply ride their bikes hard a couple of days a week, and get really, really fast. I've never followed a training plan, and it worked pretty damn well for me.
Originally Posted by bloodyknee
But, if you need a plan to help you organize your time on the bike, so be it.
You actually need to recover by doing easy rides in between. That's why in the Tour they go out for a 50/75 mile spin on the rest days to flush and heal the legs.
Originally Posted by AC/BC
My daughter is doing homework, son crashed on the couch , wife busy working on the computer- I just got out for a quick 20 miler on the road. Not that I'm fast but that's how I try to get faster with wife and 2 kids. Aint always easy but you can get the miles in. Their not always fun MTB miles but they payoff when I do hit the trail.
No doubt this works for some, but based on what I'm reading, this isn't the route for him. Hey if you gifted and can get the results you want with a couple of rides a week, then go for it, otherwise, get some direction and follow it, otherwise you're just wandering around without a map of the whole forest.
Originally Posted by Le Duke
I think he meant riding 5-7x per week but only riding very hard for 2 of those days, and not doing highly structured workouts. As long as you don't go too hard on the "not hard" days that will actually work very well. You have to be able to listen to and understand your body's needs, though.
Originally Posted by bloodyknee
Not getting discouraged is the first step. Unless your genetically gifted and in great shape, your not going to just join a race and be good.
Only after you have put in the time I have put in, gained the experience I have experieced, put the same amount of miles in I have put in, will your bike and your weight help you beat me in a race.
Until then, me and others like me are going to pass you (stay ahead of you). But when a new guy starts up, and he goes to that start line for the first time like you did one day not so long ago, he will be you and you will be me (get it?).
Ride, ride, ride and ride. Learn how to fix, maintain and upgrade your own bike. Then ride it some more.
Ride on the road, ride on the trails, ride over anything that you can ride over (curbs, tree stumps, rocks, you name it).
Give it time, it will happen, and when it does you will only want to train that much harder and ride that much more.
People ask me all the time "who beat you up"? I tell them "a tree". They just look at me funny....
Yep. I rode every day I could, which was basically any day that wasn't below 0 degrees Fahrenheit, and allowed me to bundle up and ride in my unheated garage on the trainer. Even with booties and toe warmers, my feet are the weakest link.
Originally Posted by tommyrod74
If I was exhausted or sick, yeah, I took the day off. But you don't get anywhere if you take a day off every time you have to suppress a yawn in the mid-afternoon. I think I had a streak of over 200 straight days at one point.
And, eventually, an "easy" day on the road bike becomes a 2-3hr ride at 20mph on flat terrain.
Last edited by Le Duke; 01-18-2012 at 02:46 PM.
actually the main thing on the tour rest days is to stop the body going into full on recovery mode. after 2 weeks of massive efforts if you let it the body will just shut down. when you need to go straight back into another week of those massive efforts again the next day you have to keep moving otherwise you'll be straight OTA the next day.
Originally Posted by Spinning Lizard
that's not to say that there isn't benefit in riding to speed recovery, just that it isn't the main reason why they do it in the tour. anyway, don't base your training off the pros whose situation is so much different to the OP and i expect 99% of us on this forum.
if you're short on time then it may be that you're better off having an off day than doing a recovery ride. instead of taking an hour or 2 for that recovery ride take care of some other things in your life so that the following day you are able to get in a good ride with genuine training benefit - the key to riding fast is riding fast, the slow recovery rides help after that but if you don't end up able to do the fast rides you won't get anywhere.
recovery rides work for some, not so much for others. partly because some people really can't spare the time so in the big picture it works out detrimental, most often because you don't/can't make it easy enough. eg here its very hilly and windy so it can be very difficult to maintain an easy effort without coming to a standstill!
He wanted to know how the fast guys get fast. You will not be fast without putting time in. If you are putting the time in to be fast as a pro the you will need recovery rides after hard rides to get fast. Recovery rides work for all guys CAT 1 and above. If you race CAT 2 you are not fast. (Disclaimer) Sorry for all slow people that are offended or think they are fast.
Originally Posted by pk1
PK advice is OK for someone that wants to be faster, but not for the other 1%.
i have to agree with some of the other posters that you might be a little too concerned with what other people think of you, so if you are too self conscious to ride to work, during your routine training rides, you need to form some sort of metric to measure your improvement against. so if there is a routine trail you ride, time some control runs, and on successive runs, try to beat that time. every time you can beat that time, try to beat your new time. on the rides that you cannot beat that time, take note of what hindered your speed, like having difficulty through technical sections, riding the brake too much on downhill sections, or simply running out of gas. then find solutions to help you improve these weaknesses. then just expand on this principle for all of your rides.
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