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Old 07-26-05, 01:24 PM   #1
Love2Bike
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Husband Thinks "It's All Down Hill From Here"

Fellow cyclists 50 plus: I need your advisement.

My husband is 51. I am 40. We cycle together. We were mainly doing trail riding for the first 3 years (flats, no hills, but lots of miles). Then we decided to try road riding. We bought road bikes this past February and have about 400 miles on them so far. Here is my dilemma. My husband is about to "throw in the towel" because he cannot "keep up" with me. I keep trying to explain to him that weight is an issue (he is very fit--has a strong, large upper body and weights 200 lbs at 5'10"--lots of muscle to carry). I weight 148 lbs at 5'7". He has grown very frustrated and has even just up and quit a ride once because he was so frustrated.

He continues to tell me that "it's all down hill from here---as I get older, I will continue to get worse while your best days are ahead of you since you are only 40." I GET SO MAD AT HIM when he says this bullSH@#! I firmly believe that the MORE you PRACTICE and the MORE you RIDE you will ONLY CONTINUE TO IMPROVE! But he doesn't want to hear it. I am growing tired of his attitude but can't think of any way to help him realize he has GREAT potential but must continue riding in order to meet that potential. I feel like I am talking to a brick wall. Can some of you please offer me some advice as to how I can convince him that there is SO MUCH MORE to gain as he continues to gain more experience riding. PLEASE HELP ME! I don't want to lose my riding buddy. He is my best friend and I don't want us to stop riding together. I fear that will hurt our marriage as well, if we don't share the same interests.


Thank you for any advice. I know there are riders out there 50+ who absolutely KICK ASS in their riding and I want to hear from you! I need to prove to him that he CAN DO THIS and HE MUST NOT GIVE UP just because he's a little frustrated.

Thanks again for any words of wisdom you can share.

Lori
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Old 07-26-05, 02:02 PM   #2
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Maybe there is more going on here and the cycling is just not turning his wheels anymore. I cannot accept a "downhill from here" argument. That sort of argument would have most of us throwing in the towel at 25. This ain't the tdf and if personal improvement and satisfaction isn't sufficient, then maybe he needs some other activity. I run into a fair number of ladies that cycle on their own while hubby does his thing elsewhere...cycling can be very introspective and works well solo. I am not sure if any of this is useful but possibly some aero improvements might help him...wheels, lower profile, aero bars or whatever. His aero disadvantage is pretty big compared to you. sorry...that's all I got
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Old 07-26-05, 02:05 PM   #3
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So why aren't you going the same speed as he is? Give him a chance to ride with you and build up his muscles.

You don't have to tell him you're working on spinning while he's plugging along. If you spin with easy gears, you should be able to adjust your speed. By alternating between hard gears and easy gears, you should be able to get a good workout and still keep you speeds about the same.

Don't worry about the attitude right now. Get the speeds about the same and his attitude will change.
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Old 07-26-05, 02:10 PM   #4
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Here's my advice for what's it worth (which may not be a lot). Let him know that there are lots and lots of people who are in better shape in their 50 and 60s than they were in their 40s--and yes they can really KICK ASS on their bikes, that you'd love to continue to ride. But let him know ultimately it's his decision, and that you'll respect it no matter what. At the same time, it might mean that you continue to ride on your own or with other, even if he chooses not to. And then just do it. Iif you push too hard, he's likely to feel like you're nagging and he will resist even more.
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Old 07-26-05, 02:15 PM   #5
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If you enjoyed trail riding together for three years, you could always go back to that for a while.

At age 50+ there is a fair possibility that a person can have silent cardiovascular issues that would impact the ability to handle speed, hills and heat, yet not limit endurance at low levels of cardiac output. That's what EKG, stress and ultrasound tests are all about. I assume you have both already determined that there are no such medical problems.
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Old 07-26-05, 02:21 PM   #6
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It's not all downhill at his age. I'm 54 and I can do a lot more physically and endurance wise than I could do a couple of years ago. Furthermore, he has to look at it this way. Let's say he was a 10 out of 10 at his peak as far as his physical capability (only hypothetical) and now he's only capable of reaching up to a 7 out of 10 on that same scale. If he stops cycling, he'll only be perhaps a 3-4 on the same scale. Is that what he wants? To give up? No matter what, he'll be more fit if he continues to cycle.

It sounds like he's more frustrated by not being able to keep up with you. You might want to slow down. I'd also suggest that he go out on solo training rides to lose some of that weight and build his physical endurance. Then, after a while, he should be able to keep up with you and maybe, after a while, outdo you. At that point, he could well say something to the effect that he feels better than he ever has.
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Old 07-26-05, 03:07 PM   #7
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Considered a tandem? When your hub gets rational about it, he'll realize there are many styles of riding. High speed, long distance cruising and climbing at its "best" is often done by different body types than he. But most riders here don't care about "best"...they care about the total experience of riding itself-- though of course we'd like to blow by a few whippersnappers. Some of us don't have the high gear kick we used to, but then we've developed long distance skills...which are mental as much physical--or found other ways to enjoy the bike...but above all, we can't give up something we love. Sounds like your hub is working through an aging /insecurity thing...pretty universal to most men. He might try a structured conditioning program, you guys might take a break and putter around town just for recreation and togetherness. Maybe, just maybe, he needs a break from cycling altogether. Buy a bowflex. Go hiking together...nothing like switchbacks and shale to make you feel tough...someone the little woman can lean on 8-)

In the end, sounds like your hub has to remember you two are not Lance and Jan....you're friends, lovers, buddies and the last, best mutual supporters of each other. May take some time for him to work through this until he gets his senses back. Meantime, you just keep cycling and quietly radiating your personal happiness with it!

That'll be $.05 please.
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Old 07-26-05, 03:18 PM   #8
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Great suggestions so far. I would not have thought of many of them.

I didn't start riding until I was 58. I have improved until I am in much better shape at 65 than at 58, despite an electrical heart problem (to be fixed in August). I also lift a lot of weights, but don't find that the muscle mass slows me down

My wife and I ride together, but we don't compete. I don't compete with anyone but myself, and I find pleasure in my small (and big) improvements. Perhaps if he rode by himself at times. It is a great experience of "soul time."

Good luck.
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Old 07-26-05, 03:34 PM   #9
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I agree when someone said there may be other things going on inside his head.

Maybe he needs a goal - that's it for lots of guys. Have him set some realistic goals and help him achieve them. If he needs good training advice go to -- www.roadbikerider.com -- they have 2 services, one free, one subscription (but cheap) where they help cyclists. The two founders are both well past 51.
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Old 07-26-05, 03:55 PM   #10
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Likewise, it's hard to add anything to what has already been said except that improvement is inevitable if he continues to ride. Being over 50 is irrelevant to improving condition.

I was in the best cycling shape of my life all though my 30s and early 40s. I sort of let myself go for awhile but have enjoyed a renaissance in my 50s (I'm 54) and would guess that I could kick my 45 year old rear end if it was possible to try.

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Old 07-26-05, 06:08 PM   #11
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He's probably got a few good years left in him. I switched from running to cycling in my mid-40s (knees and back), and improved steadily until last year, when I was 59. I took most of the winter off because of work and family things and now, at 60, I'm slower (and sorer!) than I was last year--but I don't think it's permanent. I'm confident I can get back to where I was last September.
Whether I do or not, though, I'll still ride. The alternatives seem to be to watch TV, start playing golf or buy some ugly white shoes and become a mall walker. I'd rather ride slow.
One thing that might be a factor here (as I prepare to offer a psychological opinion for which I'm completely unqualified) is the age difference between you. I'm five years older than my wife, and it's never an issue--neither of us thinks much about age, and while my body may limit what I can do, the calendar doesn't. Still, turning 50 was a shock for me, as it may have been for him, and 11 years is a lot more than five. This may be a midlife thing he just has to deal with, and it might go away as he works through it.
Or, hell, maybe you're just FASTER. My wife and I ride with a couple her age, and the guy and I are both sort of aging football-player types all wrapped up in our macho. His wife can absolutely kick all our asses on any hill I ever saw, could do it 20 years ago and will be doing it 20 years from now if I'm still alive. I've learned to live with it.
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Old 07-26-05, 06:13 PM   #12
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May be "fragile ego syndrome." Why don't you ride a coaster-brake cruiser while he rides a light weight multi-speed. Then he won't lose so badly, and you'll get even more fit! I also liked the tandem suggestion. If none of these suggestions work, it's time for "marital terapy."
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Old 07-26-05, 07:03 PM   #13
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Wear your Spandex and just stay one bike length ahead of him at all times...
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Old 07-26-05, 07:32 PM   #14
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As the saying goes: I'd rather be over the hill than buried under it. This wouldn't be a problem if you weren't the fastest woman on the planet. Personally, I love fast women. Sorry, I couldn't resist.

Maybe cycling isn't doing it for him anymore. Here's an observation. You said you've put on about 400 miles since Febuary(I apologize up front if i misread your post and you're doing more miles). That's not enough distance to make a big difference. To see improvement will mean more miles. Consistant miles. You don't have to make a chore out of it but see if you can get him to commit to a short time period of more consistant riding. Riding 10 to 15 miles at a time, 5 days a week for a month should yield some results. Maybe do some longer rides on the weekends. Also try finding some new places to ride. Include a route where you can do other activities, like have lunch or go swimming. If the speed difference is the issue then the key is to improve his conditioning. Easier said than done. If more bike rides are out of the question then try joining a gym together to work on conditioning. The only other thing i can come up with is for you to slow down. Already posted.
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Old 07-26-05, 08:09 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FarHorizon
I also liked the tandem suggestion.
Careful with the tandem suggestions, it absolutely did not bring us closer, even though we both had a positive attitude going in, rode at the slower person's pace, stoker is always right, no accidents or falls, etc. Everything else in the marriage was and is fine, but the only stokers on the tandem are our kids.
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Old 07-26-05, 08:16 PM   #16
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I think Baggsy's got it! Aside from the motivation, you need to start pulling. The aero drag is directly proportional to frontal area and his is much larger than yours. The aero bit is less relevant at the lower speed you had offroad so he is really being hammered. And then there is, as Bagsy pointed out, the power of a nice view. Time to break wind, so to speak.
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Old 07-26-05, 08:28 PM   #17
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Thoughts of that spandex always one bike length ahead, there but uncatchable, brings to mind the marriage partner's final and ultimate means of bringing irresistable pressure to bear...............but the thought of it is so terrible I dare not name it-- especially at a mostly male forum.
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Old 07-26-05, 08:37 PM   #18
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Well, I can't speak to the over 50 issue, I'm only 46. We went through a similar situation only with my wife (also 46) as the one that wanted to give up. She had gone through some health and personal issues, and had allowed herself to run down a bit. In any case, we tried to find some outdoor things to do together, and were having difficulty finding things that we both liked. She lacked the patience for fishing, and her fitness level was an issue for hiking and biking. Then one day, just on a lark, I bought a tandem. Our first ride was less than half a mile. In fact, it took 4 tries to make it to the mail box at the end of our drive way (2 1/4 mile round trip). That was 4 years ago, and long story short, it was the best money we ever spent. We don't ride it much now, as her fitness level has progressed to the point that she really enjoys riding our singles. The tandem gave her the confidence that if she gave out or cramped up or something, we could still make it home. We now ride 12-15 miles on fuji mountain bikes (we live out in the bojacks, road bikes don't care much for gravel and dirt roads). The most important thing we learned is that it don't matter how far or how fast...the trip together is the point.

He may be struggling with other issues as well, money, health, age, etc. Midlife crisis sort of stuff. Stick with him, show him you care, don't out run him, at least all the time. Stop and rest more often, even if you don't need to. All of these will be confidence builders for him. Ease into it, a sudden change in your behaviour will only make it worse.
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Old 07-26-05, 08:46 PM   #19
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The important thing is both of you enjoy spending time togeather, while I enjoy cycling, I also enjoy walking and walking will also help your husband get in better physical condition, so why not do some walking togeather and cycling. At 200 pounds, he might have trouble staying up but if he could get to 185, he might not have a problem. It is also about motivation, if he is not motivated he will not enjoy cycling. My son joined the Marines in April and I told him I would run with him when he gets out of basic, only problem was I weighed 203 and could not run 50 yards much less 3 miles. I lost 30 pounds in 6 weeks walking andcycling and now I can run a mile in 8:40, not record time but ok. I have motivation, so think of something to motivate him. You have a lot of good suggestions from the others, I wish you good luck. At least your husband rides with you, I can not even get my wife to go walking but I keep working on her....lol
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Old 07-26-05, 09:04 PM   #20
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If he is slower on the uphills and keeps pace on the flats then weight is definitely the issue - that is what is slowing him down.

While it may be "downhill" so to speak from the age of 50 it is also downhill from the age of 33 (earlier for most sports), re. LA who is retiring from cycling partly due to the realization that at his age and beyond, peak power is on the decline. With that said, people at the age of 50+ have made great achievements (see previous threads) and unless your averages are already 20+mph he still has a great deal of unexploited potential.

My suggestion is to make the rides entirely enjoyable, stopping for breaks, finding great trails with beatiful scenery, going easy on the hills (or finding non-hilly routes), leaving a taste for riding more the next time out. The more he enjoys, the more he willl ride, the better shape he will achieve. The danger here is that if he really gets into it, he will soon be out performing you.
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Old 07-27-05, 07:15 AM   #21
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Dump him for someone with a better attitude.
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Old 07-27-05, 11:39 AM   #22
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I can partially sympathize with your husband. Having been temporarily dealt a bad “health” card a few months ago my endurance was cut down to the point that a two mile ride was a challenge. What I missed most was that is was no longer fun, at least not then. FUN being the reason I ride and the exhilaration only another rider will understand. However, my cardiologist (a cyclist himself) kept up the encouragement and the recently repaired ticker (had a blow-out that was patched and good to go) is working just fine. Now at three months post-op the FUN is beginning to return and my health is improving. A double bonus. I guess the point here is that at some point in any endeavor we lose the FUN of it all.... but if you really love it you can sort through all those negative feelings and come through OK. The other side is that you only live once and if riding causes him more grief than pleasure there are plenty of other things you can do as a couple. But keep riding yourself.
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Old 07-27-05, 01:31 PM   #23
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WOW! So much wonderful food for thought. I can't thank you all enough. All of the suggestions will be taken to heart for sure. I will definitely slow myself down (I have done that before, and ridden quietly behind him in a smaller gear) and this does seem to help build his confidence, so thank you for reiterating that. Also, I think it wouldn't hurt if he were to lose some of his belly weight. That's the only fat on his body (and it's only very slight). Perhaps, as glassman and others suggested, losing about 15 pounds would help immensely. And yes, I have thought about the mid-life crisis issue. I think that is also part of it. But thank you all for your responses. I love my husband dearly and would never let this come between us. I am just having trouble understanding why he is tempted to give up riding. I think it's just out of frustration but I think I know what to do. Thank you for telling me that older does NOT mean slower! And more experience riding is definitely what we BOTH need.

Lori
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Old 07-27-05, 01:56 PM   #24
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Good luck to you, Lori...and your husband as well.

I sure hope you keep us updated on any progress.
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Old 07-27-05, 02:56 PM   #25
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Lori,
Best wishes...with a wife like you, the hub is already a winner. Stay with the forum and share with us. A little anecdote: last summer I huffed uphill past a couple on a tandem. They were obviously old and spinning a buzz saw sized cog. On the descent run-out they passed me, backs as flat as possible...definitely LiveStrong stuff. Later I caught up and they shared some homemade (wonderful) cookies. They were mid-70's, wrinkly lean and sunburnt in that beef jerky sort of way. They teased each other a lot and were obviously dear to one another and told me their best moments were out on the road. LiveStrong!
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