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Old 07-02-08, 09:51 AM   #1
soma5
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One year of riding again (warning: long)

I don't post here much, but this is a 50+ topic and I wanted to share it with those who might appreciate it.

Today marks the first anniversary of my return to riding. I took a 12-year layoff, inexplicably choosing to spend my time sitting on my duff after having been a masters road racer. My adult kids (son and daughter) got me back into the sport, or rather, shamed me back into it. Now I am an enthusiastic rider and I've been getting stronger. For the record, I'll be 57 years old this month.

My first ride was with my daughter on the "hike and bike trail" here in town. We covered something like 13 miles, after which I was completely spent. In my first full month of riding, I managed a total of 100 miles. Shortly after that, I found this forum. Many of you offered encouragement and some offered beneficial advice, which I followed. My goals have been to make riding a social activity and to keep from getting injured while at the same time improving my abilities and getting stronger. The advice I got early on was to avoid overdoing things until I got enough base miles in, and also not to expect to quickly reach the levels I had reached previously (if ever). Accordingly, I didn't even do anything really strenuous until I had over 1000 miles accumulated. I've ridden over 4000 miles in this 12-month period, with about 2600 of them happening this calendar year.

Some things that worked for me:

1. Keeping it social. This has opened a whole new world for me as a rider. I ride with friends from the neighborhood and new friends I've made, at whatever speed they ride. I ride with my kids. It's not about winning races any more, and I like it a lot.

2. Training days. I have two intense group rides during the week, on Tuesday and Thursday. One is a very fast ride where I struggle to hang on to the lead group and the other is a grueling hill ride. Great folks on these rides. It's a mix of racers, former racers, triathletes and strong recreational riders, all serious about the sport. I've gotten much stronger riding with these folks and it makes the rest of my rides more enjoyable. It also takes care of any competitive urges I might still harbor because the racers are clearly well beyond my level. I didn't do these right away, though. I went
through a progression from no training days to doing a little training on my own to doing two training days on my own before joining this group of riders.

3. Rest days. I take at least two days per week off the bike entirely. I tried riding every day for a couple of weeks recently and I was exhausted. I was having no fun and not riding as well. I will ride in the morning for around 9 miles to accompany my daughter as she rides in to work, but that really doesn't count because we are going very slowly to avoid getting all sweaty.

4. A new sleep schedule. I've always been a nightowl, but I've been getting up early to ride and getting sleepy quite early as well. It doesn't make for a lot of productivity but at this point I don't care about that so much. I feel great in the morning now.

5. Got a small digital camera to carry with me on rides. I have gotten some really good photos of scenery, friends and kids and it keeps me from getting too serious. I've learned to ride next to someone and take their picture, so I get a lot of "action" shots. I've also learned to take photos with the camera facing back over my shoulder. My friends have also enjoyed receiving the pictures that I take.


Some things that did not work for me:

6. My old riding position. I merely hopped on the same bike I'd ridden in the past. At first the handlebars felt too low. However, it appears that I've gotten more flexible instead of less. I've had to move my seat back a little and my handlebars down a little in order to feel comfortable and also keep my knees from hurting.

7. My old saddle. Ooh. I got a new saddle with a cutout and I like it much better. I don't know how I was able to survive on the old one, but it is possible that over 12 years the old one deteriorated while sitting in the garage.

8. Trying to ride harder than I was ready to ride. Around the first of this year, after having put in some 1400 base miles, I decided to ride with a group of strong riders. I injured my knee and was not able to ride for a couple of weeks. Full healing only took place after a couple of months, because I made it worse by

9. Trying the training techniques of far stronger riders. One very strong rider I know will ride in his highest gear for some amount of time every week. I tried that and again hurt my knee. See number 8.


I've really benefited from the cycling. I had lost a lot of weight prior to starting to cycle again, so I did not need to lose any more. I've actually gained a few pounds while reducing my body fat percentage dramatically. I think most of my weight gain is in my legs. I have (so far) resisted the urge to get a new bike, but I've bought new ones for my son and daughter as thanks for getting me back into riding. The hardest thing about keeping the bike in good condition is the lack of 15-year-old parts. I've had to resort to Ebay for a few items. Weird place, that. But I get a lot of comments on my bike and componentry because it's older than almost everyone else's.

If I were going to offer advice to someone starting out, I'd recommend just riding as much as is comfortable, at a comfortable pace. Make sure you aren't in pain. If you have pain, something is wrong. Figure out what is going wrong before you ride more. Keep it fun. Ride with friends. Even if you used to race. The bike and equipment don't matter, as long as you are comfortable. Don't try to improve too quickly. Don't measure your progress with arbitrary yardsticks, but instead progress because it's happening naturally. You can get stronger and ride better no matter what your age. If you want to train, wait until you have a lot of base miles. Rest. Did I mention to keep it fun? It bears mentioning again. Keep it fun.

Thank you for reading.

-soma5
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Old 07-02-08, 10:05 AM   #2
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Man, if your getting that kind of miles in, maybe you could talk the wife into a new bike. Congratulations on a good year and I hope you have many more.
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Old 07-02-08, 11:12 AM   #3
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Good advice and a very interesting story. It is interesting how different some of us are and your explanation of what didn’t work for you was maybe the most insightful thing in the post. I was out of cycling longer than you and when I came back I discovered there were far more options than when I used to ride. I am not a social rider yet but that is only because I am new to the area we moved to and I haven’t discovered any other social riders. If I want to ride with other people it has to be during one of the club rides. After my first month I decided to join a group ride sponsored by my LBS. I was told there were two groups, one was made up of road bikes with a few hammerheads and the other was supposed to be more laid back. I joined the laid back group and by the end of the day I hurt everywhere. Yes I managed to finish the ride and I was never completely dropped because we had no real hills to climb but I wasn’t ready for the distance or the heat.

I have been riding solo for the last two months and this morning just took of to ride with no destination in mind. I believe the reason I enjoyed this ride was I couldn’t watch the cycle computer with my polarized sunglasses. Not concentrating on my speed or distance but only on riding made it a lot easier and more enjoyable. Knowing of your progress in this year has encouraged me for my next year.
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Old 07-02-08, 11:31 AM   #4
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Thanks for sharing a motivating story of your experiences. Funny thing is that I work part time at a LBS and have not connected to make riding a social experience. I am sure that if I did that I would spend far more time in the saddle and enjoy a great deal more.
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Old 07-02-08, 11:41 AM   #5
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Appreciate sharing your story. Very interesting. Thank you for sharing. Sounds like you might be back in the groove.

Foster-- try repositioning your cyclometer. The angle makes the difference. Worst case you'ld have to give up on polarized and switch to something like photosensitive for cycling.
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Old 07-02-08, 11:18 PM   #6
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Thanks, guys. I was thinking that my story might not be so atypical, and that the things that worked (or didn't work) for me would help others in a similar situation. Of course, not everyone wants to ride socially although that's worked for me very well. Not everyone has the time to ride as much as I have, but I think many of the things that worked for me also apply to those who ride less than I. When it comes down to it, it is how much you ride that determines how well or strongly you ride. It has to be fun enough to cause you to do it some more, even after you've made the first very difficult step. When I read some of the stories other 50+ folks have to tell, it is clear that there are many paths. What is also clear is that people are having fun with their cycling.

-soma5
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Old 07-03-08, 05:57 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by soma5 View Post
I don't post here much, but this is a 50+ topic and I wanted to share it with those who might appreciate it.

Today marks the first anniversary of my return to riding. I took a 12-year layoff, inexplicably choosing to spend my time sitting on my duff after having been a masters road racer. My adult kids (son and daughter) got me back into the sport, or rather, shamed me back into it. Now I am an enthusiastic rider and I've been getting stronger. For the record, I'll be 57 years old this month.

My first ride was with my daughter on the "hike and bike trail" here in town. We covered something like 13 miles, after which I was completely spent. In my first full month of riding, I managed a total of 100 miles. Shortly after that, I found this forum. Many of you offered encouragement and some offered beneficial advice, which I followed. My goals have been to make riding a social activity and to keep from getting injured while at the same time improving my abilities and getting stronger. The advice I got early on was to avoid overdoing things until I got enough base miles in, and also not to expect to quickly reach the levels I had reached previously (if ever). Accordingly, I didn't even do anything really strenuous until I had over 1000 miles accumulated. I've ridden over 4000 miles in this 12-month period, with about 2600 of them happening this calendar year.

Some things that worked for me:

1. Keeping it social. This has opened a whole new world for me as a rider. I ride with friends from the neighborhood and new friends I've made, at whatever speed they ride. I ride with my kids. It's not about winning races any more, and I like it a lot.

2. Training days. I have two intense group rides during the week, on Tuesday and Thursday. One is a very fast ride where I struggle to hang on to the lead group and the other is a grueling hill ride. Great folks on these rides. It's a mix of racers, former racers, triathletes and strong recreational riders, all serious about the sport. I've gotten much stronger riding with these folks and it makes the rest of my rides more enjoyable. It also takes care of any competitive urges I might still harbor because the racers are clearly well beyond my level. I didn't do these right away, though. I went
through a progression from no training days to doing a little training on my own to doing two training days on my own before joining this group of riders.

3. Rest days. I take at least two days per week off the bike entirely. I tried riding every day for a couple of weeks recently and I was exhausted. I was having no fun and not riding as well. I will ride in the morning for around 9 miles to accompany my daughter as she rides in to work, but that really doesn't count because we are going very slowly to avoid getting all sweaty.

4. A new sleep schedule. I've always been a nightowl, but I've been getting up early to ride and getting sleepy quite early as well. It doesn't make for a lot of productivity but at this point I don't care about that so much. I feel great in the morning now.

5. Got a small digital camera to carry with me on rides. I have gotten some really good photos of scenery, friends and kids and it keeps me from getting too serious. I've learned to ride next to someone and take their picture, so I get a lot of "action" shots. I've also learned to take photos with the camera facing back over my shoulder. My friends have also enjoyed receiving the pictures that I take.


Some things that did not work for me:

6. My old riding position. I merely hopped on the same bike I'd ridden in the past. At first the handlebars felt too low. However, it appears that I've gotten more flexible instead of less. I've had to move my seat back a little and my handlebars down a little in order to feel comfortable and also keep my knees from hurting.

7. My old saddle. Ooh. I got a new saddle with a cutout and I like it much better. I don't know how I was able to survive on the old one, but it is possible that over 12 years the old one deteriorated while sitting in the garage.

8. Trying to ride harder than I was ready to ride. Around the first of this year, after having put in some 1400 base miles, I decided to ride with a group of strong riders. I injured my knee and was not able to ride for a couple of weeks. Full healing only took place after a couple of months, because I made it worse by

9. Trying the training techniques of far stronger riders. One very strong rider I know will ride in his highest gear for some amount of time every week. I tried that and again hurt my knee. See number 8.


I've really benefited from the cycling. I had lost a lot of weight prior to starting to cycle again, so I did not need to lose any more. I've actually gained a few pounds while reducing my body fat percentage dramatically. I think most of my weight gain is in my legs. I have (so far) resisted the urge to get a new bike, but I've bought new ones for my son and daughter as thanks for getting me back into riding. The hardest thing about keeping the bike in good condition is the lack of 15-year-old parts. I've had to resort to Ebay for a few items. Weird place, that. But I get a lot of comments on my bike and componentry because it's older than almost everyone else's.

If I were going to offer advice to someone starting out, I'd recommend just riding as much as is comfortable, at a comfortable pace. Make sure you aren't in pain. If you have pain, something is wrong. Figure out what is going wrong before you ride more. Keep it fun. Ride with friends. Even if you used to race. The bike and equipment don't matter, as long as you are comfortable. Don't try to improve too quickly. Don't measure your progress with arbitrary yardsticks, but instead progress because it's happening naturally. You can get stronger and ride better no matter what your age. If you want to train, wait until you have a lot of base miles. Rest. Did I mention to keep it fun? It bears mentioning again. Keep it fun.

Thank you for reading.

-soma5

And your story is exactly why Joe and I started the 50+ Forum. I love stories like this. Thanks so much for sharing. It made my morning - actually my day. It gave me some faith in 50+'rs again.

I remember being one of the folks who gave you some of the thoughts you expressed above.
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Old 07-03-08, 10:30 AM   #8
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And your story is exactly why Joe and I started the 50+ Forum. I love stories like this. Thanks so much for sharing. It made my morning - actually my day. It gave me some faith in 50+'rs again.

I remember being one of the folks who gave you some of the thoughts you expressed above.
Yes, you were one of the folks who welcomed me, encouraged me and gave me advice that I followed, to my great benefit. Thank you! There is much wisdom to be shared on this forum.

-soma5
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Old 07-04-08, 10:47 PM   #9
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I

Some things that did not work for me:

6. My old riding position. I merely hopped on the same bike I'd ridden in the past. At first the handlebars felt too low. However, it appears that I've gotten more flexible instead of less. I've had to move my seat back a little and my handlebars down a little in order to feel comfortable and also keep my knees from hurting.
-soma5
Are you saying that the lower bar/stem position actually helps your knees?
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Old 07-05-08, 03:59 PM   #10
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Are you saying that the lower bar/stem position actually helps your knees?
The lower bar position seems to make me more comfortable on the bike. Who knew? I seem to be somewhat more flexible than I used to be. The more rear-ward position of the saddle makes my knees feel better. We are talking changes on the order of half of a centimeter to one centimeter.

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