Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Vancouver, Canada
Bikes: Rodriguez Shiftless street fixie with S&S couplers, Kuwahara tandem, Trek carbon, Dolan track
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Congratulations! Y'all have just discovered one of the great secrets of bike racing. In athletics (track & field), it used to be called "getting your second wind." You're bringing your body systems to operating temperature and the chemical processes up to speed.
Here's another way to look at the longer warmup: The more muscle you have, the longer it takes to warm it up. You're not taking longer to feel warmed up because you're getting older; you are taking longer to warm up because you've developed more muscle mass.
It's instructive to see how the most muscular track racers - the sprinters - warm up. You would not believe how slow they ride in warmup. One older guy I know says it takes him about an hour before he starts to feel warmed up. And then they go lighting fast.
Typically, I'll go out with a pace line on the track for about 25 minutes in my "warmup gear", usually around 80 inches (47 x 16 is typical). We'll do the first ten minutes at around 30-34 kmh. If you just hold it at this speed, you notice that after 10 minutes, the speed starts to come up automatically, without even trying. As we approach 20 minutes, we're doing close to 40 kmh, and not even feeling it. The last few laps will be at between 40 and 45 kmh (and feeling it). If we've got the race gears on just before a race, we'll be hitting 50 kmh or more at the end of the warmup.
I'll usually finish the warmup with a couple of 100-meter rollups in the warmup gear - just stay in the saddle and accelerate over 100 meters, trying to get the bike above 50 kmh. This is primarily to get the nervous system used to the idea of going fast.
So the warmup needs to open up the physical, mental, and nervous systems. I don't know if you've tried to do a hard ride without a warmup, but it really hurts. But, I have to admit that one of the fastest kilos I ever did was at the 1977 Canadian track nationals in Edmonton, back when I was around 26 years old. I didn't realize I had been registered for the kilo. I showed up at the track, the provincial coach told me I was on in two minutes, so I just went out there and ripped off a 1'15 or thereabouts. That was back before I realized I had to warm up first.