why am i such a carp cyclist?

I am principally a runner, but currently not allowed as have shin splints :o(

Therefore trying to find other things to fend off the boredom and insanity.

I've been doing a fair bit of swimming, and thought I'd dust sown the old bike and do a bit of cycling.....

but I'm SO rubbish. I (obviously mistakenly) thought that with a decent level of basic fitness and endurance that I'd be a bit better than I am, but I am incredibly slow - not much faster than running to be honest. I'm constantly being passed by other cyclists (even the fat unfit-looking ones on rusty old bikes).

Demoralised :o(

OK some of it might be the bike - MTB etc, but I don't think I can blame it all on that.

Is there anyone else out there who started out really slow and is now half decent, or should I give up right now??!


  • virtually everyone starts off being slow! the more you do, the better you'll get (ok, so you might plateau, but not to worry for the moment). simple as. cycling and running use different muscle groups anyway so while the CVS base might be there, the neuromuscular adaptation won't. same with carpet bowls, bog snorkelling or pretty much any other sport. persevere.
  • The bike appears to be all about practice, a bit like marathon training you need to get the miles in. Getting passed by others may mean nothing they may have just come out and be fresh and on a short fast run. I would suggest you persevere. your running will benefit from the additional training the bike gives you.
  • how long have youbeen riding ? Dont forget that the old fat cyclists could have been riding for 40 years !

    Slick tyres pumped up harder may make a big difference.

    Stick at it !
  • Speed is relative, if your just beginning you need to just concentrate on enjoying yourself. The more you cycle the better youll get but as with running gains only come with consistancy.

    Those riders you see passing you may of been riding for years, they'll have the benefit of greater muscle adaptation and aerobic fitness suited specifically to cycling. Also the bike (weight etc) and technique can make quite a difference.

    If your riding a MTB they are a lot lot slower and harder to ride than a lighter road bike would be, especially if you have knobbly tyres, and even harder on roads if you have suspension as that can absorb some of your effort.

    Lance Armstrong said something along the lines of 'the 3 best ways to get better at cycling are.. ride your bike, ride your bike, ride your bike'.

    As for technique, concentrate on spinning as opposed to grinding hard gears, keep your pedal RPM (cadence) above 80 (ideally 90) wherever possible. Plan ahead so if you see a hill coming get into the right gear at the bottom and spin into the hill, i.e. get your pedals spinning.

    As I said to begin with, speed is relative, as long as your putting in what would be considered effort for you and enjoying yourself then dont worry. Road bikes will go faster (3-4mph) than a MTB for a given effort but so what.

  • bog snorkelling - that sounds great ergo!

    Cougie - have owned a bike for 18 months but never used it other than for short trips into town/ to gym/ to work.

    I guess I just wrongly assumed cycling and running would be more transferable...

    I had my VO2 max tested on a bicycle recently - it was astonishingly low (about 33 ml/kg/min), despite my running times predicting something like 49-50 ml/kg/min. I guess that's all part of the same cycling rubbishness.

    will go and pump up the tyres!
  • stick with it - i found it really hard at first then i brought a really good, expensive bike and now i'll i'm ace!

    no not really i just kept on working at it like the rest of us and now i enjoy it...well not always.

    Today was really hard because of the wind, but on the whole i find it really rewarding.

    C'on K9 release the armstrong in you ;-)
  • Carpet bowls!

    So all this crown green training ive been doing has little crossover benefit?

    What about trampolining?
  • B-Barlist - yes MTB with big knobbly tyres.

    and yes, it sadly does feel like I'm putting in the effort. Did a 33 mile cycle today - and I'm totally knackered
  • yes it was very windy - maybe that made it harder and slower?
  • K9 - it does seem the leg muscles used are different between running and cycling, but your running base should mean you can transfer to cycling quite quickly - so give yourself a programme of building up the miles and speed just like you would with running.

    Definitely agree that kit can help too - narrow, slick tyres help - and they need to be pumped up as hard as they say is allowed - worth buying a good pump as well as slicks... Also apparently it does help if the tyres are yellow?!

    Then there are also ways to improve your cycling body position, even on an MTB... I don't know much about that but I'm sure someone will be along with some advice...
  • thanks Hollywood.

    Definitely need to improve if I'm ever to do that ironman?!

    ....best get out there and do more miles.
  • Quick question (in pretty much the same position as you K9)......when people say spinning......do they mean be in a lower gear than you think you should be so you have more RPM? So that you work on getting your legs to be able to cycle fast?

    Sorry if that is a stupid question.
    *puts on dunces hat*
  • hey don't know vo2's of 33!

    ajh - yes spinning is pedalling at say a cadence of 90-95. it's more economic, puts less stress on your knees and your muscles will recover quicker too. also means you can accelerate quickly and launch an attack out of the bunch on a mountain stage if you have to :-)
  • don't know - i mean don't know low vo2s :-0
  • ......and launch an attack out of the bunch on a mountain stage if you have to?

    Good grief
  • Cheers Iron JD.

    Heading off to the mountains just now :-)
  • K9 - im a rubish cyclest ... slow than most people i have ever cycled with ... but still managed an IM

    so just stick at it,
  • k9 - i just remembered urban road runner, a very good runner, (also an accomplished cyclist in his youth too) had a much lower vo2 on the bike than he expected. he just put it down to hardly doing any cycling.

    i'm sure in a month or so your muscles will develop and then you'll be able to make more use of your considerable aerobic capacity.

    i've been told it takes around about three years to get the legs strong for cycling.

    the other day i was battling south out of reading into a headwind. my path met that of a mountain biker. thought it was just another commuter heading to work at b&q. but he was setting a fantatically fast pace on the mtb. so i just tucked in behind him till he said words to the effect of stop being so lazy, you must be able to over take me on that thing. turns out he was an injured runner just banging out 20 milers at the weekend to get some training in.
  • I'm planning to get a turbo to encourage me to do a bit more over the winter.

    Wild Will - if you've done an IM you must be a LOT faster than me. Not sure what the cut-offs are for the cycling stage, but I've got an awful long way to go before I could contemplate one!
  • not realy i think the day makes a big difference ... i covered the distance wel over an hour faster than i ever maanaged in training

    just keep plugging at it
  • Did my first tri on a mtb with knobbly tyres (at 65psi) and was very demoralised by the road bikes sailing past with far less effort than mine.

    Have you got toe clips? helps with the push down and pull up thing with the pedals... (clip on feet better still!)

    There was a nice article about tri RW a while back and it said beginners most common mistakes were not pushing and pulling as you rode and being in a too high gear, giving you low cadence.

    Watch all cyclists on the road too - you can really spot the 'good' ones once you start to look!

  • Strongly recommend a turbo trainer - made me the mediocre cyclist I am today. But you should have seen me before.

  • Pushing and pulling - you mean consciously pulling the foot up. If RW said that then I disagree - cyclists don't generally pull up with the foot except for short bursts maybe in sprinting, they just bring the foot up so there isn't pressure on the pedal.

    Cadence is subjective - studies have shown that high cadence is mainly to do with lowering peak forces required to go very fast - so the better you are the more sense it makes to ride at high cadence - if you copy lance armstrongs cadence and you are riding at 15mph you are probably not doing yourself many favours.

    Turbo trainers are fine if you don't mind doing several hour stints on them - personally I find it much easier to do a couple of hours on the road and you have the benefit of learning bike handling skills too.

    I think the first step is to be able to do a decent length ride - say 40 miles, even if you need a cafe stop at first. Get that basic fitness and get confident on a bike, handling it, descending etc so you can start going out with a group.
  • K9
    Do you have many hills to contend with?

    I live in a very hilly place. So going down can be fun(bordering on pants changes sometimes) going up always feels slow and at time knackering. I get a flat course and the bike whizzs along.

    Stick at it. remember give some effot and you can freewheel?
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