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Staying with the fastest group

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 
 Most of my riding is for fun and fitness. I'm not going to become a competitive level cyclist in this lifetime, But I will work hard and ride with a purpose. I also find cycling to be a great alternative to other forms of transportation and I would like to begin touring. I'm a motivated cyclist, but not a "A" type.

Group rides are very popular in Chicago and dozens of groups are riding every weekend. However, most groups are either too slow for me to improve my fitness, or way too fast. I can hang with the fast riders in a pace line up to about 24 mph, but above that it's almost impossible. Being a six foot tall Clydesdale who likes a more upright bike-fit does not allow me to draft as easily as the typical 160 lbs cyclist. It's like drafting at a NASCAR race while driving a SUV, I'm not as aero as these smaller riders. They sure love the draft I create, I can tell you.

Yesterday was the exception. I participated in the Waterford Factory Ride yesterday. The 63 mile route traveled from the Waterford Factory out to the Kettle Moraine State Park: http://waterfordbikes.com/now/news.php?newsid=234

After about 5 miles of warm up, I found myself with the fastest group. Most were avid cyclists, but not racers, from the Kenosha Bike Club. They ride these hills often. Not only does this part of Wisconsin have plenty of short-but-steep hills, but a brisk 15 to 20 mph headwind the first half of the route was a real factor. This group of about 15 had a 20 minute lead on the next group by the 10th mile. 

Somehow I managed to stay with this group the entire event. Most of the paceline travel was 21 to 26 mph. I had to work hard to stay in the group, but it was doable. The hills were another matter, I would drop from the middle of the group to the back on every hill. I could stay with the group for the first half of the climb, but the second half was murder. But I descended as fast as the fastest riders and I could close the gap and regroup. I did this about every 5 miles. It was demanding  .

We stopped at the 30th mile for water and again at the 40th mile for food. I was about 75% spent by the second stop. The group pulled ahead at about the 46 mile and I lost visual contact with them. It became hilly, I hit 40 mph on one downhill without really trying. Just when I was about to stop and check the map, I came across the group. They had stopped to help a rider who went down after touching a wheel. 

We were now within 5 miles of the start/stop, a group of 3 of us slacked off and rolled into the finish.

My computer data provided the following data: 63 miles in 3 hours, 21 minutes of riding time. Not my fastest ride this year, but the most demanding and the most fun.

post #2 of 7
That's great, Michael. Good job.

Power to weight ratio is what climbing is all about.  I trying to work both figures in that ratio, and it is definitely paying off.  The past week has seen every ride be well above what my personal bests were before the BTC.  As these have all been short time trials (19 and 30 mile courses), I've still got lots of ground to cover before I'm ready for my fast century. 

post #3 of 7
Thread Starter 
Hi Mike,

Congrats on the progress since BTC. It's fun to keep moving the goal posts each time an objective is met.

I have been focused on Century rides. A year ago a fast Century would not have been possible, now I'm working on staying with avid riders. I rode 240 miles in the last seven days. I'm really enjoying this.

I've been picking up training tips on the Long Distance forum at Bikeforums.net. Most of the riders train hard but are very down to earth when it comes to gear, fuel and pace. 

I've been interval training in an attempt to make-up for the lack of hills near home. I agree that it is a matter of power to weight ratio. I'm about 2/3 to my weight loss goal. losing the last 20 lbs will help.

Riding with this fast group yesterday was an epiphany. After every hill, I thought I was toast. However, I managed to recover and rejoin the group about 10 times. That kind of experience is golden.



Edited by WILDCAT - 7/19/2009 at 08:38 pm GMT
post #4 of 7
240 miles is a lot for a week.  Being able to keep up with the fast group after that mileage means your conditioning is pretty good.  Seems like you are pretty well along on your goal to ride a fast century.

That's also my goal for the Buffalo Classic in mid-September.  I'm trying to ride that in 5:45 of ride time.  After today's ride, that may be a bit ambitious, but I've got two more months, and this was my first long ride since the BTC.  I rode 64 miles in 3:50 -- there was 3300 feet of climbing in it as well.  I kinda ran out of gas half way into the one significant climb (8.5 miles to Jamestown at an average 3% grade, although there is a bit of 7% in there).  Perhaps I needed to fuel, but I suspect it was the residual effects of my interval training on Friday and Saturday.

My mileage is down quite a bit -- only about 140-160 miles a week.  My coach has me focusing on the interval training right now.  I did ride 3 time trials last week, all of them above 20 mph.  

Keep up the good work.

post #5 of 7
thats a decent time for 63 miles mike.

Part of the love for road biking for me is how fast and far you can go in short distance. I can leave my house after work and ride 60 miles well before its get dark. On twisty up and downroller coaster.
post #6 of 7
Do you use your standard wheels and tires from the frame you built up when you want to do faster riding?

Great job on your progress. Where I ride in the summer, there's a 14 mile loop that get's some good riders training especially on weekends. I stay in my big chainring and keep looking for faster riders and then just latch on as far as I can go. The other day, I rode with a mountain biker who was doing 23 on the road. Makes me feel like a wimp.
post #7 of 7
Thread Starter 

I just upgraded to 32 hole Mavic Open Pro rims. These are not aero, but are light & strong. If I get down to 180 lbs, I'll consider some shallow aero rims.

I also find a fast MTB rider doing 20 mph at times. Usually a strong rider on a 29er getting in a short ride (I hope). Humbling, for sure.


Edited by WILDCAT - 7/21/2009 at 11:30 am GMT
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