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  1. #1
    Hills! speedlever's Avatar
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    Do you 50+ers train to ride... or ride to train?

    While I wish to improve in my riding skills and ability, I'm not sure how much effort I want to put into that improvement. If I train to ride, I fear that the enjoyment of riding will leave as I will become a slave to a training schedule.

    I find that I hope to improve simply by riding. Thus, I likely give up making major improvements but retain the enjoyment of riding without having to accomplish certain goals. Or at least that's the theory. I generally aim for about 150 miles a week and find that I tend to ride anywhere from 100 - 250 or so, depending on life events and weather. At this point, I'm probably riding about 4000 miles/year.

    I'd post a poll, but have no idea how to do so. But I wonder how many of you 50+ers actually have a training regimen vs how many just get out and ride for the pure fun of it and take whatever fitness improvements come along as a by-product?

    With that in mind, here's a pertinent article from the latest RoadBikeRider issue:
    **************
    Will More Miles Make Me Better?

    Q: Most of the strong guys on our weekend rides are also the ones who do the most miles. Some of them even ride an hour or more after the regular ride. They do about 5,000 to 8,000 miles (8,000-12,800 km) a year while I ride 3,000 (4,800 km). Would more mileage help me improve? -- Barney K.

    Coach Fred Matheny Replies: If I had $1 for every question similar to this I've received over the years, Deb and I could eat free at our hometown Camp Robber restaurant tonight.

    But it's a key question in cycling and worth answering every few months. We read about pros riding 20,000 miles (32,300 km) a year and assume that if we had the time to emulate them, we'd be much faster and more powerful. However, there is a limit to how much improvement we can gain from sheer mileage.

    At some point, probably between 150 and 200 miles (240-322 km) per week, just riding more isn't enough. You need to add substantial doses of intensity too. Once you reach 8-10 hours per week of riding, improvement slows dramatically or even reverses unless intervals, climbing or other stressful efforts are included in the mix.

    This depends on your goals in cycling, of course. If you want to win the Race Across America, some pretty substantial mileage is essential. But to hang with local hotshots for 40 or 50 miles (64-80 km) or set a century PR, some well-chosen intensity will more than make up for fewer miles.

    And you know what's also crucial if you've been reading my coaching advice for long: Rest. You can't go really hard without resting really hard.

    Many recreational cyclists tend to do all their riding in the same intensity range, somewhere between "cruising" and "pretty hard."

    Far better is to do a few rides that are "really hard" and keep the rest of them "guilt-producingly easy" for recovery. Then when you want to put down the hammer, you'll have done the hard work necessary to make it happen.

    So concentrate on the quality of your miles (and recovery) rather than sheer volume. I bet you'll see marked improvement.
    ********************

  2. #2
    Senior Member rule's Avatar
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    Yes.

  3. #3
    your nightmare gal chipcom's Avatar
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    Unless you are racing, just ride. As you put in miles your general fitness will improve and you will better recognize any real weaknesses, which you can then address with specific mechanical/fit tweaks or training plans you can work into your rides. The most important thing is to have fun.

    As Greg Lemond said, it never gets easier, you just go faster. Only you can decide how fast you 'need' to be going.
    "Let us hope our weapons are never needed --but do not forget what the common people knew when they demanded the Bill of Rights: An armed citizenry is the first defense, the best defense, and the final defense against tyranny. If guns are outlawed, only the government will have guns. Only the police, the secret police, the military, the hired servants of our rulers. Only the government -- and a few outlaws. I intend to be among the outlaws" - Edward Abbey

  4. #4
    Small Member maddmaxx's Avatar
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    Everytime I've tried to turn a hobby into a business, I've burned out relatively quickly. I suspect that riding (hobby) is similar and training (business) would be the end for me.

  5. #5
    The "now retired" Old Guy Ed in GA's Avatar
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    Do you 50+ers train to ride... or ride to train?

    Yes..... +1
    "The problem with America is stupidity. I'm not saying there should be a capital punishment for stupidity, but why don't we just take the safety labels off of everything and let the problem solve itself?"

  6. #6
    Senior Member
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    I ride to eat.

  7. #7
    Senior Member Terrierman's Avatar
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    I ride to see some really pretty country and my .... uhhh you know.
    It's all downhill from here. Except the parts that are uphill.

  8. #8
    just keep riding BluesDawg's Avatar
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    I ride to ride. You don't need a regimented training schedule to improve your speed or endurance any more than you need a strict diet to lose weight. Just ride a lot and push yourself once in a while and you will improve.
    The more you ride your bike, the less your ass will hurt.

  9. #9
    Elite Rider Hermes's Avatar
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    Skills: Take a skills clinic. The techniques learned can be used as you "just ride".

    Ability: I am in a formal training / racing program with a coach and belong to a racing club. I train to race for specific races. However, as far as fun is concerned, I have had more fun this last year than all previous years of cycling. YMMV

  10. #10
    tsl
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    Plays in traffic tsl's Avatar
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    I don't use a training regimen, but I have had to train to achieve my goals.

    My first bike ride in March '06 was 0.67 miles and I had to stop and rest halfway. It was a month before I could ride the whole 2 miles to work without stopping. Freeway overpasses might just as well have been Everest.

    Fast forward to July '08, when I rode to the top of Mt. Evans, at 14,130 feet, just one ride during a 400-mile week.

    That didn't happen without putting forth some effort to train.

    However, until this past spring, all I did was incorporate some training into every ride. Little goals at first--a block further than last week before resting, for instance. Later I learned about intervals. When it came time to do hills, I rode repeats on every hill I could find. Finally, in order to train for altitude, I started using a heart-rate monitor.

    Off the bike, I tried a few things, but the only thing that stuck was T'ai Chi. Who knew standing around waving your arms with a bunch of old people was such a workout on the quads?
    My two favorite things in life are libraries and bicycles. They both move people forward without wasting anything.
    The perfect day: Riding a bike to the library.—Peter Golkin


    Lucky for me, I work at a library and bike to work.

  11. #11
    Senior Member
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    I just ride.

  12. #12
    Senior Member Allegheny Jet's Avatar
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    I used to "just ride" around 3,500 miles annually, mostly solo for general fitness, then I attempted to do some group rides. I could ride as fast as the group on the flats but when we added hills I was off the back. Last summer a friend an myself decided to take cycling to the next level and we both started to do group rides more frequently and were getting better and faster. In the winter we both attended indoor cycling workouts. This spring I began to train by doing intervals and hill repeats and joined a team and raced. The racing has showed me that there is a whole lot more I can expect of myself or dig deeper to overcome as I push thru pain and doubt that racing dishes out. I was a college athlete so doing workouts to get better at a sport was "old hat". The intervals and hills do hurt, but, they do make you a faster and stronger rider. I have the option of several different group rides and now can stay with the "A" riders and can even lead out one of the groups anytime I want. Doing the extra work has enabled me to enjoy the sport/activity even more. On a side note: I've lost a bunch of weight, eat much healthier foods, eat breakfast, drink water and drink a lot less beer as a direct conquencence to attempting to ride faster and longer.

  13. #13
    Senior Member jedde's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BengeBoy View Post
    I ride to eat pie.
    fixed

  14. #14
    Time for a change. stapfam's Avatar
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    I ride to retain the fitness that I once had. So I presume that I train to ride. Try to get in about 100 miles aweek but that has not happened often this year.

    One thing I will know- When I do have that long ride shortly- I should have trained for it.
    How long was I in the army? Five foot seven.


    Spike Milligan

  15. #15
    Senior Member jiminos's Avatar
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    ummm... i ride to.... uhmmmmm.... ride? (bikes not trains.)

    be well,

    jim
    Be in this moment.
    Do not seek the truth. Accept it.

  16. #16
    Around now and then DnvrFox's Avatar
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    I ride to ride. And to get somewhere and back.

    I have developed the habit of using my bike for transportation whenever possible. I have my mtn bike all set up for riding at any time of day, etc. So, I get a lot of riding miles in riding instead of driving. Not for long distances, just around the neighborhood, to the store, etc.

    I.e., I went out at 5:00 am this morning to ride to the gym and swim. Threw in a few extra miles for fun. Then this pm I rode to meet the wife for lunch, etc., etc.

    If I turned it into training, the magic would be gone.
    DnvrFox - still bicycling, swimming, walking and weight lifting at 74yo is participating a bit in BFN 50+.

  17. #17
    Lincoln, CA Mojo Slim's Avatar
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    I ride to buy jerseys
    Truth is stranger than reality.
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  18. #18
    Senior Member Retro Grouch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by maddmaxx View Post
    Everytime I've tried to turn a hobby into a business, I've burned out relatively quickly. I suspect that riding (hobby) is similar and training (business) would be the end for me.
    We have a B-I-N-G-O!

  19. #19
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    I ride because I like being in the woods, bikes, riding and I'm addicted (after 40 years) to the high energy level that comes from a strenuous cross-training exercise program. In addition, if you work at it hard enough and often enough, it reduces the decay due to aging by at least half by most measures and extends life span.
    The ageing/life span effects are relative new reasons as real data has only become available in the last 3 or 4 years.
    The required higher intensity aspects are a good fit for me as I always go full out whether its paddling a boat or pedaling a bike. It's just more fun that way.
    Al

  20. #20
    Senior Member lighthorse's Avatar
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    Most of the time I just ride to ride. I do have a 6-8 week training schedule that I use prior to long tours which involves long hours in the saddle. My take is a bit different from previous posters. If the event you are training for involves speed (timed event) then the information contained in the original post is likely good advice. But, if you are training for long tours, then you need to put long hours in the saddle. When training for a tour, I usually have to force myself to go slower than my normal rides so that I don't burn out. One way that I make that transition is to train with my touring bike with panniers that have weight in them. That extra 40 pounds gets your attention right away and helps remind me that I need to pace myself. I will say that after 6000 miles in four months (the training program and the tour), I am in very good condition for long rides. I don't blink at a century nor do I feel I need a day off after 3 weeks. So miles do count, and they do increase your conditioning contrary to an original post. What that post should have emphasized is that long slow miles (14-18 mph for me) carrying a lot of weight doesn't necessarily give you the speed for timed events. That requires a different training plan.
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  21. #21
    Senior Member big john's Avatar
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    I ride to ride, but it would be nice if I could keep up with the faster riders in the hills. I don't have the self control to lose weight or the time to ride as much as I'd like to. Still, I get in about 6K miles per year and can do the harder centuries.

  22. #22
    Hills! speedlever's Avatar
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    It is fascinating to read the different perspectives y'all bring to the table. Thanks for sharing.

  23. #23
    Senior Member howsteepisit's Avatar
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    Lets see, I think I ride to enjoy myself, but add in some structured rides so i can ride better, and enjoy myself all the more. In other words, if you have any interest in getting faster you need to add some structure. But keeping it fun is really what its all about. As I get older I get better and better at remembering that.
    Recycle, Reclaim, Reuse and Repair
    The 4 Rs to save the planet

    "Toes"

  24. #24
    Senior Member
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    I started back riding 2 months ago because I wanted to get in better shape and I hate running and going to the gym but I like to ride.now I ride because I like to ride.

  25. #25
    Ride Daddy Ride Jet Travis's Avatar
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    I'm in it for the sex, drugs, and rock and roll. So far, I've scored a bottle of Advil and struck out on all other fronts.
    "Light it up, Popo." --Levi Leipheimer

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