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Old 04-19-07, 10:36 AM   #1
bing181
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Realistic expectations for the "mature" rider

Hi

(re) started riding a couple of years back. Doing about 10K kms a year, with a few "event", century-type rides along the way. I do OK.

But ... wondering out loud here ... if I was to set myself a rigorous training plan, and put the time in, as an older rider (55), just how much could I realistically improve? Currently I'm mid-pack, and have been focusing this year on intervals, hills etc. It has all helped a lot, but I'm still seeing a LOT of riders who ride faster/harder/longer than me.

Any input/suggestions appreciated.

B
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Old 04-19-07, 10:40 AM   #2
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Relax and enjoy the ride.
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Old 04-19-07, 10:53 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bing181
Hi

(re) started riding a couple of years back. Doing about 10K kms a year, with a few "event", century-type rides along the way. I do OK.

But ... wondering out loud here ... if I was to set myself a rigorous training plan, and put the time in, as an older rider (55), just how much could I realistically improve? Currently I'm mid-pack, and have been focusing this year on intervals, hills etc. It has all helped a lot, but I'm still seeing a LOT of riders who ride faster/harder/longer than me.

Any input/suggestions appreciated.

B
There will always be people who ride faster, harder and longer. I personally set goals for myself and don't pay attention to what others can do.
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Old 04-19-07, 11:13 AM   #4
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Hard work pays off and with 10K kms you are doing enough work. The only thing I should add to that is "Eventually". When you start you have to get fit and in 6 months you can see an improvement. Might be big or small but the improvement is there. You carry on working hard but there is no great increase in speed or stamina- for about 2 years. Then it stsrts to come in. Gradually but if you took what you can do at the end of 3 years- to what you can dod at the end of 2- Then the difference is immense. No big jump as you have in the first 6 months but it is continual. Unfortunately you will hit a peak. When I do not know could at the 1 year stage or after many years but eventually you do hit that peak that you cannot go beyond.

I started riding in 1990. By the end of the year I was fit. Then in 93 I found I could go a bit faster- I could go for longer and what is more -I could go faster for longer. Unfortunately- Since then I have found true offroad Mountain biking and it is all downhill from then on. Unfortunate?- because to get the 2 minute downhill will mean a 30 minute climb, and they can hurt as you get older.
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Old 04-19-07, 12:07 PM   #5
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Structured, well thought-out training plans can make a very big difference in your fitness and riding ability. Just how much improvement you will see depends on many things including your inate capacity. However, as I read your post, I wonder why this is something with which you are concerned. There are many reasons people ride, and thoughts about others who ride faster, harder, etc. than you may be a helpful motivator or dysfunctional idea that keeps you from enjoying your riding as much as you might. I'd strongly suggest that you think about why you ride and want to continue riding and then set some goals based on what you really want. If riding faster, harder, longer, etc. is what you really want, then rigorous training plan will make a difference. A caution.... keep in mind that many people make the mistake of over training and forget to take rest days. If you do a general internet search for training plans for older cyclist, you'll find lots of them from which to pick.
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Old 04-19-07, 12:32 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by bing181
Currently I'm mid-pack
I've been riding for 30 years and have never been that fast, but I do know there's a lot of fun to be had in the back of the pack.
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Old 04-19-07, 12:46 PM   #7
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The "mature" rider, by definition, understands that personal expectations are always subjective, ephemeral, and not always easily communicated to others. The word "realistic" shouldn't enter into it!
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Old 04-19-07, 01:07 PM   #8
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There are always going to be riders who ride faster, longer and harder unless you are Lance, so don't worry aout that. Mid pack in the A group is great, if you are mid pack in the C group you can probably move up. But I think it would be really difficult to start any sport at age 50 and be at an elite level like a Cat 3 racer.
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Old 04-19-07, 01:12 PM   #9
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Come ride with me and you will get your chance to lead the pack, guaranteed!
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Old 04-19-07, 01:38 PM   #10
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50's are the new 30's - great work so far Bing181 - you can definitely improve. 2 aspects to work on - weight and power to the pedals. I've found that after 50 it's a little hard to get to to same leanness as younger riders so it's an aspect I'm working on - but the middle age paunch doesn't cut it. So figure out your ideal weight and develop a sound nutritional plan to get there. Hills and intervals will help you develop the power - just make sure you take rest days more than you would when you were younger. I'm personally saving the "slow down and enjoy the roadside" times for another decade.
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Old 04-19-07, 01:47 PM   #11
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For 55, you are already at the top of the pile. Relax, stay in shape and stop worrying about more. More & faster is for the young ones. bk
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Old 04-19-07, 02:17 PM   #12
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I used to focus on competition. Now I focus on being comfortable for longer periods on the bike. That takes some doing. It starts with a properly fitted, nice bike. Good clothes for the specific weather of the day. There are a lot of tricks to learn comfort.
That all being done, speed comes with it. As I spend more time biking, because it is fun and comfortable, I also do get faster. I think nothing of going 60-100 miles in cold and rainy weather. 150 miles if the weather is at all reasonable. This would be no fun if things are not optimized.
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Old 04-19-07, 02:46 PM   #13
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People in their 50s and 60s can compete at higher levels than what many in society expect of them. I see no reason for someone to be any less competitive in their nature at 55 than they were at 25. That is left to them to determine what makes them happy.

Here are some longer distance records that you could browse to see how you stack up. For example one Drew Clark, at 60, averaged 19 mph across the state of Indiana, a distance of 153 miles. Pamela Atwood, 53, averaged 19 mph over a 100 mile course in Arizona. John Jurczynski, 49, averaged 20.4 mph over a 179 mile course in Vermont. Danny Thomas, 51, crossed 133 miles in North Carolina at 19.59 mph.

http://www.ultracycling.com/records/records2006.html

Clearly if one has the mindset and body to remain competitive at 50, 55, 60+, it can be done.
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Old 04-19-07, 03:22 PM   #14
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I gotta disagree with the 'relax and enjoy the ride' posters - that's more than perfectly fine, but some people are driven to improve, regardless of age. I'm like the OP - probably middle of the pack. While this is enjoyable, moving up brings even more joy. Not saying that everyone has to have this attitude, but I think some of us are wired that way. I want to get better in all aspects of my life, at this point age doesn't figure into the equation. I realize I won't be as strong as I could have been when I was younger, but I can get stronger and become a better ride than I currently am now. That's one (of many) of the reasons I come to BF - seeing someone like JPPE flatten hills or what Old Hammer Boy does as he rides across the country is very inspiriing and makes me want to do more.

Absolutely nothing wrong with relaxing, but that's not the only reason some of us ride. Enjoyment comes in many forms.
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Old 04-19-07, 06:08 PM   #15
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bing-excellent question and you can certainly raise the bar up a notch or two-or several notches for that matter. You have an outstanding base to work from already so you are already well ahead of the game. You already have the ability to go distances so that is not a problem. What I'm hearing is that you want to simply get faster/stronger over those same distances.

You need a couple of things. The first is being very ready to "suffer" more than what you've been accustomed to. I hate it.......but it is just a very, very necessary part of getting to the next level. You have to be committed to knowing it's going to be work and very unpleasant while you're pushing yourself. However it can be incredibly rewarding when you can see marked results and improvements over time. You also have to be prepared for the frustrations of inconsistent improvements and progress-one step forward, two steps back, three steps forward, etc. It is not a linear or clear line of improvement. It also varies from person to person.

The second thing is that you need is to be able to either ride with people that are already at those levels you aspire to get to or work with a trainer coach that can help get you there. Most people are simply unable nor disciplined enough to go out by themselves and to do the rigorous intervals needed to do what is required to get there. I'm not there by any stretch of the imagination, but I've experienced leaps in levels of performance and also ride with a number of folks who have made the leaps. Essentially you have to push yourself further (higher HR's for longer periods) than you think you can sustain-or feel like sustaining. At first you might get dropped at 5 miles riding with some riders in a class or two above yourself-all it takes is a reasonably lengthy incline that requires additional power for a brief stretch and they ride off away from you. As you continue to work, you should find that you can hang with them longer like 15-20 miles. Over time you'll get to where you have to work like heck to get through the stretch where you'd normally find yourself dropped, but you should find that on a good day you can push through that stretch with enough stamina and power to hang on.

It's a lot of work but not much more time that what you're already putting in. It's also adopting and following an appropriate nutrition plan. It might even require dropping a few more pounds to increase the power/weight ratio.

It is also tremendously rewarding being able to experience the very positive results from putting in all the effort and suffering to get there. Good luck if that is what you decide you want to do!!
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Old 04-19-07, 06:39 PM   #16
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Good points, bobby c and jppe. I've been a bike tourist most of my life and have travelled all over the map with a bike and a camera, usually at a sauntering pace, which is an art form in itself.

But As I train for my first--and very possibly last--race ever I'm mixing in very tough spin classes, interval workouts and time trials to my usual mix. I must say, I find it all challenging and even fun. It calls to mind the days when I used to be a high-school athlete, when the "suffering" some how felt good.
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Old 04-19-07, 06:53 PM   #17
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I think Stapfam is correct. I've been riding pretty diligently and it's taken me about two years to see some real improvement. It'll come, but be patient.

I would also be a bit skeptical about tight training programs. It takes 50 y/o legs awhile to recover. Push it too hard and you'll get either burned out or hurt.
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Old 04-19-07, 07:50 PM   #18
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A couple of posts have touched on this, but it's worth mentioning again: The easiest way to climb better and get faster is to get your weight down as far as it can go consistent with good health. There's nobody in the pro tour who weighs more than one kilogram (2.2 lbs) per inch of body height, and 2 pounds even is more common. That means that at 6'4", I should come in at around 160. I was 100 pounds over that when I got semi-serious again four years ago. I took off 35 pounds that first year, and gained a whole chainring (not just a cog or two) on most of the major climbs on my usual rides. I gained a little weight back over the winter, but I'm determined to get down to 210, my college weight, this summer.
Also, do intervals. But I'm not going to...those suckers hurt.
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Old 04-19-07, 08:20 PM   #19
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I don't think you can know exactly how good you can get; you just have to dive in and see. jppe makes good points. Improving much beyond the initial jump will, indeed, take some suffering.

stapfam's assessment seems spot on. I'm in my third year of riding now, and seem to be seeing my first major improvement since that first year. I think that riding with cyclists who are faster than you helps a lot, too, and you already appear to be doing that.
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Old 04-19-07, 10:31 PM   #20
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Did I read this correctly. Your already doing 6,400 miles a year?

Here is my take on improvement: Finishing a 63 mile ride the other day and came up to a crew putting fiber optic cable in the ground. The flagman flipped the sign from Stop to Slow. I said to him "Slow! that's the only speed I have". He got a chuckle.

Yes you can improve with training but don't watch too many bike races and start thinking your going to do that.
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Old 04-19-07, 11:09 PM   #21
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Thanks for all the input ... a great deal of very fine advice. I appreciate the feedback from those further down the road than me, especially the comments regarding improvement over time. I'm also in my third year, and there seems to have been a small quantam leap over last year, which felt like more of a plateau.

I probably could have phrased my original post better, as for me this is really more a technical/biological question as to what limitations I might encounter in trying to push the envelope somewhat. When you're 20, the expectation is more or less that the harder you work, the better you'll get. And at 50+? I now have some answers, thanks.

Re enjoyment .. well, I do, or I wouldn't do it, and I too have had some fun times at the back of the bunch. Equally though, I'm currently enjoying the fruits of a series of harder workouts, in particular being able to get over one nasty little hill out of the saddle the whole way ....

Re losing weight ... well said, though I'm one of those tallish skinny guys who has more trouble putting weight on than taking it off!

Thanks again all. Food for thought.

B
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Old 04-19-07, 11:46 PM   #22
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Re losing weight ... well said, though I'm one of those tallish skinny guys who has more trouble putting weight on than taking it off!B
Okay, so I officially hate you for this.

If you decide you want to improve, you will. You might not see huge leaps & developments, but you'll see improvements. The body follows where the mind leads. Have fun while you're at it and voila! You'll find what you're seeking.
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Old 04-20-07, 08:43 PM   #23
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I don't think anyone can dismiss racing just because of age. There are some very good racers in their 60's (where's skydive69's testimony when you need it).

On the other hand, a 35 year smoker who doesn't start riding until his 50's like me, probably has more limitations. We'll see.
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Old 04-21-07, 12:25 AM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bing181
Hi

(re) started riding a couple of years back. Doing about 10K kms a year, with a few "event", century-type rides along the way. I do OK.

But ... wondering out loud here ... if I was to set myself a rigorous training plan, and put the time in, as an older rider (55), just how much could I realistically improve? Currently I'm mid-pack, and have been focusing this year on intervals, hills etc. It has all helped a lot, but I'm still seeing a LOT of riders who ride faster/harder/longer than me.

Any input/suggestions appreciated.

B
If I read you correctly, you're evaluating yourself by comparison.
OK. Look at it this way; take a random sample of average 55 year guys. How many could ride a century? How many could even ride 20 miles without keeling and barfing? Give yourself a pat on the back.
There are a LOT of riders who are faster AND slower than you. Set a rigorous training plan only if you enjoy that sort of thing. Personally, if I turned my riding into a "fitness" exercise it would just be one more drudgery on my to do list. Just keep riding. Even at my age I can go much harder and longer than I could 2 years ago. The "training" will take care of itself. Meanwhile, I'm enjoying the ride. (2 cents deposited)
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Old 04-21-07, 12:30 AM   #25
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Just saw your other post.
Perhaps a heart rate monitor would be beneficial for those rides where you really want to push your MHR to the edge without overdoing it.
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