I'm 48 (turn 49 in November) and getting back into cycling after a 5 year layoff. I have no big desire to race - but I do want to be fit enough to ride with the racing guys on the weekend rides around here, which are in many respects tougher than most of the local races. So I want racing fitness. I'm just about there after 15 months and 15K miles of riding - it's like learning to race all over again in many ways.
I see guys my age and older (up to 55+) hanging on some of these rides which are primarily 25-45 year old amateur men from Cat V to Cat 1-2. These rides can get blistering fast. Like last July I looked down at my speedo which read 33.2 mph - and I was GETTING DROPPED (flat course). But it's getting easier. I'm actually more comfortable when it tilts upwards - my last area of weakness is getting on top of that big gear @ 30mph+ - and that's finally coming around. So I don't get dropped so much now, I'm hanging most weekends.
So my question is - do any of you 50+ men race or go on rides like the one I'm describing? If so, how long can I expect to maintain that kind of speed? I'm hoping to be able to hang on these rides until I'm 55 or so - and after that I'll take it season by season. I have no illusions about competing with 34 year old Cat 2 dudes - but every now and then when one has a bad day and I drop him on the finishing hill it doesn't hurt my ego : ).
As for racing - I'm not really very good @ this. I just love going fast (don't we all?) I'm pack fodder or a domestique kind of racer on the Vets (35+) level - and racing is geographically inconvenient to where I live now. That kind of blows because regular USCF racing would make me faster. But getting faster is secondary to riding in general, and I'm not about to burn lots of gas and entry fees to acheive that. When I raced I never really progressed past Cat IV but was primarily a Vets racer so that seemed irrelevant (I think I had enough points to upgrade but never saw the logic in that). I was racing with older 2/3 guys all the time anyway.
The great thing about trying to ride this hard is that it gives me a focus for my riding/training - and how many other guys pushing 50 are in that kind of shape? Not many. God help me, I do love it.