Getting faster on the bike

@Coach_Theia Thanks for the response. Not sure if this is the best place to share but here goes. I’m very frustrated after yesterdays ride. I rode with two ladies (a little younger but not very) who only started riding last year and were either about my speed or less (i’ve been riding for five years) last summer/fall. We’ve been riding similar miles and two of us did the same training program for three months from November last year on our indoor trainers. That is the first winter I’ve ever consistently trained. I’ve even lost weight since then and have also been doing a fitness training (resistance) program over the last three months. Yet I could not keep up with these ladies. In the end they averaged 16 mph while i averaged 14.4 mph. They had to keep waiting for me which I hated. Yes I’m competitive by nature but I’m more upset that I feel like I haven’t made any progress in the last year. I did RAGBRAI last summer so I have the endurance, but I am very disappointed that I haven’t made any improvements in speed. What am I doing wrong? I’m destined to ride alone at this rate…

I’m finding already that these workouts Are pulling some of my best efforts out of me. Which I think I was lacking with some other plans I’ve done. If I’m not being challenged some, I tend to get bored!


@Kriddley I understand your frustration. Improving strength and speed on the bike is a result of a combination of things. Obviously I don’t have insights on what you and the other two ladies have been doing on a daily/weekly basis for the past 6-12 months, so I can only speculate. Here are some thoughts:

  • When people first start riding, they see quick gains. Anyone going from doing zero to something will see improvements in their performance. And they tend to continue to see relatively fast gains for the first 2-3 years in the new sport as long as they are consistent and keep pushing themselves. They don’t even need a fancy training program (or even a training program at all if they push themselves). That is true regardless of age.
  • Experienced riders who have already built endurance need to develop their power training zones (although I’d argue it’s best to develop these zones right away, like I did). Riders who have only done endurance tend to have a “unizone”, meaning, they can ride at the same power/speed for long periods of time, but have no “range” or “top-end” (capacity at threshold, VO2 Max, explosive zones). I see this very often- people who have been riding endurance for years (sometimes decades) but never developed the other power zones and therefore have reached a plateau.
  • You mentioned that you did a training program last year for 3 months. That is a very small amount of training in the span of 5 years. It takes months (even years) of consistent training (as in several days/week) to see improvements in experienced riders. Consistency is KING.
  • Everyone is different and respond to training differently. Not to mention, some people can do more, while others need more rest. It’s a common mistake to think that riding more = more gains.
  • You mentioned that the three of you have been riding similar miles, but that does not mean you have been doing the same efforts.
  • In addition to training, other things that have a big role in performance are nutrition, rest/recovery, and sleep.

Please read this post - go to the subheading “The Experienced Cyclist”

Then check out this post about training zones and speed.

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@Coach_Theia Thank you SO much for this detailed response. Now I know what I need to do. Still a little frustrated but need to let that go…

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