Newbie question about taking breaks and fast group rides

Hey Guys,

43yo guy here starting to ride again after years of sitting on my ass at work. I’ve got three kids and had three jobs for a bit but I am now down to two, so time is pretty limited. I used to ride all day everyday for years up until I was around 35 and then I got out of medical residency and started working. Sometime last year I picked up a Kickr and attempted to do a low volume XCO training plan with little success. I could barely get through even 30 min of a workout, much less 1.5 hours. I think I had Covid at some point and had difficulty breathing even during Sweet Spot workouts. My FTP at its lowest last year was 180 in May 2020. I stopped the plan and just tried to lift weights and work on being more active.

Fast forward to this year and I reattempted SSLV1 of the XCO plan. I got through it with many failed and skipped workouts. However, I reattempted SSLV1 twice more and was able to get through the workouts by the end of May, though I still missed multiple workouts due to riding outside at times. My FTP at the beginning of the last SSLV1 attempt was 228 and by the end the workouts were fairly easy. I didn’t end up taking the next ramp test because I stopped the plans…

Now I am taking a break both for planned vacations with the family and because I’ve promised my wife I’d redo the front yard and now spend every evening shoveling dirt, gravel and rock. I foresee the front yard taking at least 3 months of pretty heavy labor so I stopped the TR plans to take care of it. I continue to lift heavy weights three days a week and do not want to stop this.

I have two questions about this. Would you guys recommend continuing to attempt the plans in the face of heavy labor and other significant energy requirements? I have instead so far been trying to ride my bike outside two days a week on our local dirt loop.

My other question is about one of the rides that I am doing outside. I joined a local very fast XC shop ride of which I can only keep up with for about 10 minutes over what ends up being a 40-50 minute ride for the fast guys. During those 10 minutes, I completely blow up trying to keep up to the point that I feel I have to turn around and go home after. Those 10 minutes are pretty fun but I’m wondering if I’m getting anything fitness-wise out of it. Should I push myself to continue to ride the whole loop with (behind) them? Just ride on my own instead of riding with them?

If anyone takes the time to read this convoluted mess and answer I’d really appreciate it.

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I’m certainly not an expert, coach or professional. But…
Good work sticking with it! Sounds like you have strong resilience and perseverance to just keep cycling and making improvements.
I have had other physical efforts really derail my cycling training. If I were you I would cycle the xc loop solo (or just start with the group and go your own pace) and enjoy that a few times a week and not worry about gains or a plan until you’ve finished your yard. That’s hard work in my experience and you’ll just feel like a failure if you try to hit numbers on the trainer. On the other hand just keep cycling and go whatever pace feels right and you won’t lose much, probably end up improving handling skills and having lots of fun too.
Good luck with the yard, don’t **** up your back!

I’d trade the weight lifting for the shoveling.

If you want to get faster on the bike then you need to ride more. Think about a schedule you can do week in and week out. Even if you are not doing a plan, just ride an hour of zone 2 endurance. If you do that 4-5 days per week for some months you’ll build up a base which will pay dividends.

With more base endurance I think you’d be more successful when you resume a plan.

That group ride sounds too intense to be useful. If it helps you get out on trails then maybe it’s good. You get 10 minutes of vo2max until you are spat out the back and then you can just ride.

I appreciate the advice. Yeah, I’m trying not to mess up my back. To be honest, my kids do more to mess up my back than shoveling though!

Thanks for responding. Zone 2 does sound like a good alternative but I’m trying to balance finishing the yard in a reasonable amount of time vs keeping fitness so that was why I settled on just riding outside twice a week. I had about 20 tons of gravel, rock and sand delivered so I have lots to do. Do you think a couple hours zone 2 a week will do me any good?

I think you’d be better off riding at your own pace or going with others around your level. Not much point trying to attempt workouts you consistently fail. Keep up your weight lifting if you like that and get some time in on the bike if you want to retain some aerobic fitness. Sounds like your yard work is a good workout too so don’t discount that.

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Methinks you should buy four more shovels.


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It is a team effort. I dig and she keeps the three kids out of my hair. :smiley:


I hear you but training is often a trade-off with life. At two days per week of riding, you will probably be losing fitness or at best maintaining. If you only have four hours to commit to riding, I’d rather see you do two one hours and one two hour as your long ride. Better yet, if you can spare even 30 minutes, jump on the trainer more frequently for a 30 minute Z2 session and get sessions up to 5 days per week.

I know you said you still wanted to lift but since you are moving so many rocks around, I’d pause the lifting and focus on the riding assuming you want to be faster on the bike.

Just ride and push hard! And if the ego can handle it, do the group rides and slowly work on closing the gap. Have fun and use bike time to reduce stress!

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In the face of that physical work, and the outside rides, no.

But one possibility is to take advantage of the Train Now feature, and do some of the 30-45 minute sessions it recommends, 1-2 times per week. The shorter sessions means it is only a moderate amount of extra stress, but will add to your fitness and make those outside rides easier.

If you are training just to get fitter and have more fun on the bike, then dont worry too much about not being able to follow a plan perfectly. The TR podcast has mentioned this before, in you have 80% compliance, you still get the benefits of a plan.

If you have a period with a lot of other physical work that prohibits you working out hard on the bike, then keep the bike rides short and fun, or go easy. Its better to do an hour Z2 then not doing anything at all. And you can use the Train Now option and go for the lower intensity workout. Better to complete an easy workout then to fail a hard one.

Regarding the too fast group ride. Ask around, I have no doubt that there is at least a few people that have a similar experience as you and really want a slower group.

Don’t worry about the plan right now. It’s extra stress to worry about being compliant to an arbitrary training plan while you’re so busy with life.
What i’d do is a couple of 1 hour sweetspot rides per week. Something like Carson or Monitor. I like those. Put some good tunes on and get in the zone and it’ll have all the benefits of keeping some fitness going while not cooking you with any intensity. It’s also good for the mind. Z2 can be boring as hell.

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I think you’re right. Here’s how I expect that to go: The 9 and 11 year old will get bored after about 5 minutes and start throwing dirt at each other. The 2 year old will definitely be excited to help. So much so that he will feel the need to dig in the exact spot where I am digging, no matter where I move to. My wife will be fighting with me over the pick axe and I have to wait for her to tire out to get some work in. Overall fun but not generally productive.

I didn’t really think of using Train Now. Maybe I’ll try that so that I can adjust on the fly based on how I feel.

I’ve definitely found that I got a lot of benefit without following the plan perfectly. My FTP jumped dramatically, for me anyway, without even coming close to 80% much less 100% compliance.

As other folks have suggested, Train Now and Z2 seem like good ideas that will give me enough flexibility to keep up some modicum of fitness before I resume the plans.

I really don’t know what to do about the group ride. Part of me wants to push on even after I burn out my legs but the loop reaches kind of a no-turning back point pretty early and I feel absolutely cooked just before I reach there. Someone else above suggested just toughing it out and slowly hanging on for longer over time. I wonder at times if this isn’t the answer and that I’m just overthinking it.

My two cents:

It’s a time-honored practice to train by trying to hold on to faster riders. Personally, I will ride harder hanging on for dear life than by doing intervals by myself. Ride to stay attached as long as possible (“go till you blow”) and then sit up, take a drink, and ride tempo home. Next week, try to stay attached a little longer. Rinse and repeat.

Just make sure you account for the intensity in your weekly plan.

That’s what I did when I was in my 20’s and in good shape and why I have repeatedly attempted to do that with this ride. Years of inactivity have left me with fitness that has been discouraging. I hear you though.

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You’ll get it. I felt the same way when I returned to my local Saturday ride.

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My four pennies worth!

I gather you aren’t ‘Training’ for anything at present, so, I don’t think training plans as such are that important to you. But bike riding is starting to play an important fun aspect over the next few months. Treat yourself to your weekly XC ride, and do what feels good on the day, which might be a more even pace, or 10 minutes of near death, don’t beat yourself up at this stage.

You can use these few months to think more about what you intend doing after the household jobs, eg, establish plans for 1 or 2 goals, which might be general fitness, an event, weight loss, whatever. But don’t begin these until you know you can commit every week. Explore the TR plan options, eg, Sweet Spot vs Polarized, MTB vs road vs TT, etc. There are plans that are short/long, as in many weeks, as well workout options that are short/long. Plenty to ponder and plan over a 2-3 months.

One thing you might be able to do is set up your trainer in the lounge and maybe twice a week do a Zone 1-2 easy ride while watching and chatting with the family. Watch the Tour(s) while pedalling.

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