I am a frequent poster in the forums, and an avid cyclist, but, being 34, have never had a reason to post in this subforum. Until now.
My father, who is 64 and has been a hardcore cyclist since the late 70's, has been diagnosed with advanced coronary disease that will probably (90%) require multiple bypass surgery.
He started having slight pain and numbness in his left arm about 6 months ago while cycling. This was compounded by severe shortness of breath while climbing hills (he lives in Western Massachusetts, where there are many short, steep hills).
He was cycling about 10,000 miles a year through the 80's and 90's - a serious tourer into his 50's. During this decade he has slowed down a good deal, but still does 3,000 miles a year or so, and during the winter goes to the gym for a couple hours at a stretch, 4 times a week. He is a non-smoker, moderate drinker, eats decently, and has been 5'10" and 160 lbs. since I was born. His blood pressure is 110/70, his resting heart rate 62 bpm. But the arteries around his heart are almost completely clogged.
His doctors never considered him at risk despite a long family history of heart disease (his father died young of a massive heart attack, his brother has had heart problems for 20 years, his mother died of a massive stroke, etc.). His family, they thought, was plagued with heart problems due to poor diet, lack of exercise, smoking, alcoholism, stress - all the things that are NOT characteristic of my dad's behavior for the last 30 years. His doctors were wrong.
In a recent email to me, he warned that being physically fit and active does not turn you into superman. He easily could have keeled over and died a la Jim Fixx, thinking that his level of fitness would prevent any and all major health issues at least until he was really, truly old.
I am sorry for the bummer post: but wanted to send out a caveat for all of you 50+ cyclists. I have learned in the past week that starting at 50 I will get a contrast CT scan done once a year, just to make sure everything's all right in there, no matter my fitness level.