I'll try to add more later but the real answer to start with is RIDE, RIDE, RIDE.
We all kind of get caught up in the "what can I buy to get better" angle. Gotta put the hours in.
Certainly a smoother pedal stroke will help you. To start, pedal with one foot for awhile, then the other, repeat...When you get to the bottom of the stroke your leg needs to be almost straight and your foot will feel like you are wiping mud from the bottom of your shoe. - Make sure your saddle is set at the right height. Too low and you'll work too hard. As the other posts state, go to lower gear and "spin" up hills rather than try to muscle it. Get in better shape before replacing the bike with something lighter... After all you're trying to get in shape and the older heavier bike will help you do that. Think of it as a friend that is helping you push yourself to higher levels.
Repeat after me "hills are my friend, hills are my friend". Nothing will help more than those hills.
Strength training will help but honest, you have to ride, ride, ride. The improvement will come quickly.
Another very important tool is your computer. I prefer one with a cadence on it. That info is very valuable. I used to be a "grinder" (working harder gears, slow cadence, tire more quickly) and have been able to work more towards being a "spinner" (keep in a gear that allows a relatively stable fast cadence).
Fitness Minutes: (35,633) Posts: 1,187 12/21/09 11:42 P
You may be trying to power up the hills too much. Try dropping your gear down. Even if you're barely moving, want to you don't burn yourself out going up the hills. Do you have a HRM? Your goal HR should be lower on the bike than on the run, and it would be helpful to keep within a proper HR range when going up those hills. I know it seems daunting, but I used to go up the hills near me (on my very old, very heavy mountain bike) in too high of a gear and didn't seem to be improving. Once I stopped trying to power up so much, things got better pretty fast, and I was able to extend my rides. Good luck!
2010 Goals: Get under 6 hours for a half Ironman triathlon Get under 8 min/mi for a 5K - DONE 4/3
2010 Big Races: Jan 15-17 Bermuda Half Challenge (8:15 Mile, 1:01:20 10K, and 2:11:32 half marathon) June 6 Mooseman 70.3 triathlon (6:30:25) Aug 22 Timberman 70.3 triathlon (6:10:14)
current weight: 139.0
Fitness Minutes: (67,927) Posts: 1,742 12/21/09 11:33 P
I noticed this week that I am not improving on the bike at all even as I am improving rapidly with the swimming and running. I do swim and run more than I bike (3-4 x/week). While I aim for 3 rides a week I am lucky if I get in two.
I thought that working on the swim and run would improve my cardiovascular fitness and that losing weight would give me less weight to haul up those hills. But here I am 20 pounds down and my longest rides are still 6 miles--that's with a break and occasional walking. I can still only do about half the hills near my house. Albeit, I do live in San Francisco so some of the hills I'm forgoing are legitimately quite steep. I am getting a bit frustrated.
What is the best way for me to improve quickly on the bike? I'm willing to put in the time but I feel like I don't know what I'm doing and my use of time has not been the most effective.
For what it is worth, I have a fairly raggedy old mountain bike, don't know if that is adding to my troubles.
Edited by: PRETTYPITHY at: 12/21/2009 (23:35)
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