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Fifty Plus (50+) Share the victories, challenges, successes and special concerns of bicyclists 50 and older. Especially useful for those entering or reentering bicycling.

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Old 07-21-06, 03:33 PM   #1
patentcad
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Any of you 50+ guys race?

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.
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Old 07-21-06, 06:05 PM   #2
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I am definitely not racing material. Living in coastal San Diego County, I pass lots of casual cyclists and tourists, but get passed by the triathletes and other racers-in-training. I lack the coordination required for fast pack riding, and my dominant musculature is definitely slow-twitch / endurance, rather than fast-twitch / sprint. I can climb pretty competently, but I am lousy in a headwind or strong crosswind.
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Old 07-21-06, 08:10 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by John E
I am definitely not racing material. Living in coastal San Diego County, I pass lots of casual cyclists and tourists, but get passed by the triathletes and other racers-in-training. I lack the coordination required for fast pack riding, and my dominant musculature is definitely slow-twitch / endurance, rather than fast-twitch / sprint. I can climb pretty competently, but I am lousy in a headwind or strong crosswind.
I'm not racing material either : ). Trust me. But that never stopped me from trying. Even got some results here and there in smaller races in my 30's. It is fun riding with the fast boys that's for sure.
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Old 07-21-06, 08:16 PM   #4
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I race, but not nearly as fast as I'd like either. Out here there's not alot of racing unless you want to burn the fuel to get your bike to something to the south. As to how long can you hold onto your speed, well, I tasted lung awhile back trying to hold with a 76 year old guy that didn't look fast at all at the starting line. Race fit is something you achieve and maintain. Wasn't there a guy in BICYCLE magazine that was pushing 100 and still able to hold 20+ mph in a 20K road race? Just keep at it and keep it up till they throw dirt over the box you're in...
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Old 07-21-06, 10:30 PM   #5
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I'm 56 (started racing at 54) and race 35+ 4/5, 45+, and 55+ depending on what's available. The 45+ Open category is tough and I'm generally a mid-pack finisher. I can do fairly well in a 35+ 4/5 race - I managed a top 10 finish earlier this year and probably could have made top 5 if I'd raced more intelligently.

It took me several years of riding with progressively stronger groups to be able to keep up that kind of pace. I still get dropped on the longer climbs by the Masters 1/2 riders. I don't really train. I just ride hard and race 5-6 times a year to see how I'm doing.
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Old 07-22-06, 03:18 AM   #6
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>> keep at it and keep it up till they throw dirt over the box you're in...<<

I guess that's all you can do. At some point it may simply get too hard. I'm hoping that point is a decade away. What's the big 'downside'? I can't really see any. I do this for all the mental and physical benefits. And whether or not I let the fact that I'm not as fast as some 30 year old get to me - that's completely up to me. I try to keep the Big Picture in mind - which is that without cycling I'd be much fatter, less healthy and less happy.
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Old 07-22-06, 05:18 AM   #7
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triathlons
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Old 07-22-06, 05:50 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by patentcad
I'm 48 (turn 49 in November)
If you are not yet 50, you must supplY an official blueberry pie to the forum before posting!


Last edited by DnvrFox; 07-22-06 at 06:01 AM.
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Old 07-22-06, 07:46 AM   #9
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As I was on a club ride in a pretty nice paceline with several riders "of a certain age", a homeowner yelled from his porch "Are you guys racing?"

I shouted back, "Only against our own mortality!"
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Old 07-22-06, 07:54 AM   #10
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I race to the bathroom when the coffee hits my system......
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Old 07-22-06, 10:54 AM   #11
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I race to the bathroom when the coffee hits my system......
And do you win? ? ?
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Old 07-22-06, 12:43 PM   #12
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And do you win? ? ?
Not me always - I sometimes get to wear the yellow
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Old 07-22-06, 01:51 PM   #13
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I'm 55 and toying with the idea of racing. By the time *I* make it to the finish line, the parking lot will be empty, but it might be good to formulate some goals around it.
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Old 07-22-06, 11:10 PM   #14
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started again this year. stopped in mid '98 after almost 27 yrs of competition, got off the pedal bike competely until Sep. 04 (rode a bunch of moto during that time).
great fun again, and have done crits this year so far, 0ne 50+ and three 45+; no real road races yet, but I'm looking forward to those. I'm climbin better than ever, can;t wait to really test my climbin.
recovery from a serious mishap in Dec04 has been coming along much better than expected. Doc estimates i lost +-15% of my lung capacity, but healing of lung scars takes years, so he thinks it'll improve over time. Even so, I'm happy with the progress
reasonable results considering ...
no serious training regime, but ridin most days, either for conditioning or chekin out the scenary.
why racing? helps temper my very competitive side. its keeps the competition urge right where it belongs and helps me keep social rides to just that.
I needed the time off, my cycling universe has expanded even further, since I started up again.
Its all good
I'll never be off the bike again, for the rest of my days.
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Old 07-23-06, 05:44 PM   #15
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Yep it's all good. My favorite part of riding with the fast guys? Well, going fast is a blast. But the shared experience/camraderie is like nothing else. Once you can hang you're in. Lots of fun. Lots of pain sometimes, but lots of fun. You forget about the suffering. You remember the fun : ).
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Old 07-24-06, 07:25 AM   #16
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Thought about it. My riding buddy (56) also wanted to race and got his license. He decided that he would try the Cat 4/5 Miami Masters Criterium and I went along to watch. Both of us do fast group rides at 22mph with 28-30mph sprints so he thought he could probably hang in there. On the first loop he was in the middle of the pack, on the second loop he was in last, by the time the finish came around he had been lapped 4 times. While the average speed was probably about 25mph in the straights the acceleration coming out of the corners was incredible, say 29-30mph each time they came out of corner on the 1mile circuit for about 20 loops. He was told the +45 cat was even harder. I decided I would stick with my group rides.
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Old 07-24-06, 04:46 PM   #17
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My problem with racing is mostly mental. For the life of me, I can't figure out why anyone would want to. bk
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Old 07-24-06, 08:35 PM   #18
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I've never raced, but I've ridden with a few of our top local racers, and they were very nice people.
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Old 07-24-06, 10:31 PM   #19
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Triathlons and a crit once in a great while.

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BTW, I'm not fast any more and the bike is almost 40-years old and weighs about 27 lbs. Still enjoy it.
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