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  1. #1
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    How long does it take to get bike fit?

    I'm 58 years old and have been riding 2-3 times a week (approx 50 - 70mi per week) for 1 year. Prior to that I walked 2-3 miles a day for approximately 1 year. It is taking much longer than I expected to become bike fit (climbing ability and endurance) and would welcome any input or suggestions from anyone that has had a similar experience given age and effort.

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    Team Poseur Metric Man's Avatar
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    I don't know if I will ever be as fit as I want to be. I ride 5-7 days a week and try to push myself a little harder all the time, but I'm satisfied knowing I'm in better shape than 90% of people my age...maybe even more. My biggest problem is finding time to do longer rides. I can usually only muster up an hour or so which means only about 16-25 mile rides mostly. If I could do 25+ miles more than 5 times a week it would help I'm sure. Stay with it, it's a slow process.
    The thoughts and opinions expressed by this poster are his own and should not be misconstrued as gospel. They are and were not meant to inflame, enrage or otherwise tick anyone off, usually. ©
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    Banned. DnvrFox's Avatar
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    I started riding at 58 - almost 12 years ago - and I am still working at it, as I would guess most of us are.

    50-70 miles per week is not a lot of riding. Adequate, but not a lot.

    I guess it depends upon one's goals. When I started at 58, I had a goal of "Riding the Rockies" in 3.5 months - over 350 miles of Colorado passes in a week's tour. So, I set myself a very intensive training program. I met my goal.

    I think having a very specific goal, such as riding a century (100 miles in a day) is a prompt for more intensive training, which will lead very rapidly to being better "bike fit."

    Also, a formal training program would be helpful. There are books - Joe Friel, Cycling After 50, and others will have more formal training programs and advice.

    Good luck, but mostly, have fun.

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    You'll never be fit . . . enough. But you'll look at all the other pot-bellied 58 year olds and feel pretty good about yourself.
    Truth is stranger than reality.
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    Thanks all for the encouragement... I've experienced a definite improvement in conditioning... I may be just a little impatient perhaps... the weekend group ride I rode with dropped me like I was standing still... I'll pick up the book 'Cycling After 50'.

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    Senior Member BengeBoy's Avatar
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    I think you'd see some benefit from biking 4 or 5 days a week, even if the rides are shorter.

    If you want to be a bit more hard core, find any of a number of plans on "how to train for a century," and follow those for several weeks....even if you're *not* going to train for a century it will give you some idea of the kind of plan you get get on to increase your endurance and speed.

    The Friel book is good, gets very detailed in places, but it's good.

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    Quote Originally Posted by itsnevertoolate View Post
    I'm 58 years old and have been riding 2-3 times a week (approx 50 - 70mi per week) for 1 year. Prior to that I walked 2-3 miles a day for approximately 1 year. It is taking much longer than I expected to become bike fit (climbing ability and endurance) and would welcome any input or suggestions from anyone that has had a similar experience given age and effort.
    "Two or three times a week" (which for many people actually means once or twice a week) is probably on the edge of not enough for significant improvement. You'll be fitter than if you didn't work out at all, but you won't gain much.
    Are you doing essentially the same rides all the time, at more or less the same speed? You may have improved as much as you can at that level of effort. To get better, you may need to ride more often, go longer or faster, add hills or some combination.
    Before I retired, I used to ride a pretty, flat 18-mile course along a riverfront path a few times a week. I enjoyed the ride and thought I was fairly fit, but in five or six years, I never got any faster. The first six months after retirement I rode a lot more than I had been, both longer and more frequent rides. When I went back to the river path one Saturday, I cut seven minutes off my best time without really trying for a record.
    There have been about nine billion words written about this, and at least one book, "Cycling Past 50," by Joe Friel. It's worth doing some research if you're not satisfied with your performance.

  8. #8
    Time for a change. stapfam's Avatar
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    Took me a year before I was able to ride our local hills without walking up at least one of them and that was when I was young and fit. That time came though and then it was build on stamina and endurance.

    18 years later and I am still trying to build on my stamina and endurance.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Metric Man View Post
    I can usually only muster up an hour or so which means only about 16-25 mile rides mostly.
    Word.

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    Team Poseur Metric Man's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Weak Link View Post
    Word.
    Which one?
    The thoughts and opinions expressed by this poster are his own and should not be misconstrued as gospel. They are and were not meant to inflame, enrage or otherwise tick anyone off, usually. ©
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  11. #11
    just keep riding BluesDawg's Avatar
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    You've probably gained more fitness than you realize by doing what you are doing. But if you have settled into a routine level of effort, you'll have to step outside that comfort zone to see any real improvement. Pick up the pace at times. Hammer up a few hills. Make yourself sweat like you did when you first started riding.

    It all depends on what you want to do. There's a lot to be said for being able to do what you are doing now.
    The more you ride your bike, the less your ass will hurt.

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    Senior Member BengeBoy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BluesDawg View Post
    There's a lot to be said for being able to do what you are doing now.
    +1

    50 to 70 miles is a great base to start from, and you're doing a lot more than many people. Nothing says you have to "step it up."

  13. #13
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    It's taken me four years to get to where I'm truly satisfied and comfortable with my conditioning. Could it be better? Sure. Do I want to do better? Yes. But if I never got better than I am now, I'd be okay with it.

    There was another similar thread around here lately... (Ah! Found it.) ...that addressed some of these same issues. In short, the first year lays the foundation for subsequent ones.

    Otherwise, to get better at climbing, climb lots of hills. When you're tired of doing that, do it again. I went from actively avoiding highway overpasses in 2006 to climbing Mt. Evans in 2008. It happened only after I set my mind to it and decided I'd have to really work at it and accepted that it was going to be both painful and boring.

    Trust me on this, I grew very tired of having tired painful legs all the time for months and months on end. But I did it anyway, and when I got to Colorado, I rode to the top of that f-ing mountain. Not as fast as the locals, and I stopped to rest a few times, but I did it. And that training has pretty much stayed with me since.

    The point is, like VeloDog said, just tootling around on a bike isn't going to get you very far. It takes going far outside your comfort zone.
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  14. #14
    Pat
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    Well, you will probably never be able to scoot up a steep grade like it isn't there.

    Now I can do pretty well on most grades if I chose the right gear and take it at a speed that is consistent with my conditioning. I can also do long grades pretty well, again if I ride within myself.

    If you want to get in better shape, it usually means riding more, riding longer, riding more often, and riding harder. Did you notice the common facter? It is "riding". Alas this is an imperfect world and sadly we can not spend 24 hours per day and 7 days per week riding our bikes. Less important things intrude and take up our time.

    I learned long ago that someone is always faster and if I work out more or smarter, I could be stronger. I do what I can and I am happy for it.

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    Banned. The Weak Link's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pat View Post
    I do what I can and I am happy for it.
    You must either ride solo or hang with a very mellow group. It's discouraging to wave at the crowd as they speed off into the distance, not that I'm complaining about it or anything.

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    Senior Member gcottay's Avatar
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    For me, the key is to ride, ride, ride and enjoy it.

    I find simple and informal interval training useful. When I feel like it, I gradually apply full power until I begin to deeply regret it and then slowly ease off back to cruising speed, repeating as the spirit moves.

    I've also found that a longish warm up -- trying to ride sort of slowly and spin gently for the first five miles -- results in faster rides. Starting that way I don't even decide when it's time for regular riding. It just happens.
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    More riding and smart training is what I'm taking from these posts, thanks. My evening loop is approximately 16 miles with rollers and (2) moderate climbs. I am fortunate in that I live in an area that has flats, rollers and moderate to severe climbs. Allowing the muscles to recover, I understand, is important. I would be interested in reading suggestions regarding recovery times based on personal experiences. Again, thanks.

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    Banned. DnvrFox's Avatar
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    Recovery.

    Yes, it is critical. That is when your muscles actually get stronger, during the resting stage. You will have to listen to your own body, as we are all different.

    Many folks use a "recovery ride." A very much more gentle ride, that helps to sort of "flush" your muscles and system.

    I am a great believer in tuning myself in to how I feel, and taking my cues from that. However, I also have never bicycled in the TdF!! It is likely that I don't push myself as hard as one might. Then again, at almost 70, I don't really care.

    Mostly have fun.

  19. #19
    Senior Member Retro Grouch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by itsnevertoolate View Post
    It is taking much longer than I expected to become bike fit (climbing ability and endurance) and would welcome any input or suggestions from anyone that has had a similar experience given age and effort.
    It's going to take the rest of your life. I think that Greg LeMond said it best: "It never gets easier, you just go faster."

    I think that "bike fitness" is a moving target. No matter how much you have already progressed, you can always see room for additional improvement.

  20. #20
    just keep riding BluesDawg's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by itsnevertoolate View Post
    More riding and smart t******g is what I'm taking from these posts,
    Why did you have to go and use the "t" word?
    The more you ride your bike, the less your ass will hurt.

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    Why did you have to go and use the "t" word?

    you prefer "riding..."?

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    You have to learn to push the envelope in order to continue to progress in strength and ability.

    Part of that is being sure your equipment is top notch and in good condition. Another is riding outside the comfort zone. Even more is nutrition while riding. High end bikes run better/farther. Riding up hills will make you stronger. I'm just starting on the nutrition thing and already I have seen some gains I thought were impossible. Keep at it and you will also see improvement.
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    Here's a couple of threes to think about.

    Intervals, hills and cross training. If you can't train longer then you need to optimize the time you do spend on the bike.

    Heart, lungs or muscles. What limits you now? Identify it and start targeting your excercise program on the weakest link.

  24. #24
    Banned. The Weak Link's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Smokester View Post
    What limits you now? Identify it and start targeting your excercise program on the weak link.
    No need to get personal about this.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by itsnevertoolate View Post
    I'm 58 years old and have been riding 2-3 times a week (approx 50 - 70mi per week) for 1 year. Prior to that I walked 2-3 miles a day for approximately 1 year. It is taking much longer than I expected to become bike fit (climbing ability and endurance) and would welcome any input or suggestions from anyone that has had a similar experience given age and effort.
    Quote Originally Posted by itsnevertoolate View Post
    More riding and smart training is what I'm taking from these posts, thanks. My evening loop is approximately 16 miles with rollers and (2) moderate climbs. I am fortunate in that I live in an area that has flats, rollers and moderate to severe climbs. Allowing the muscles to recover, I understand, is important. I would be interested in reading suggestions regarding recovery times based on personal experiences. Again, thanks.
    IMHO, the one year of walking was nice but did not count. You have 1 year of cycling. Generally, it takes 2 years of cycling to gain fitness and a lot depends...spin efficiency, posture, bike fit, core strength, flexibility and etc plus proper training and recovery. If these conditions are poor, the time is increased. The 2 years is about building heart stroke volume. When one first starts cycling, you have normal heart stroke volume. Cycling increases the throughput of the heart. Therefore over time one can deliver more oxygen to the muscles. In addition, the body over time develops the ability to channel blood flow to the essential power producing muscles thus making more blood flow and oxygen available for power production. This is a slow process and is achieved by lots of saddle time and genetics dependent. BTW, we are all limited in our aerobic cycling performance by the ability to deliver oxygen to the muscles. Ultimately, the guy with the biggest VO2 max wins.

    The recovery necessary is a function of the training load you put on your body. Plus any other stress that is in your life - good or bad. Getting this equation correct is very tricky for beginners. The reality is you have little ability to take on much training load at all. Taking on too much results in multiple days to recover. Ideally, you want a training load from which you can recover in a day and at most two days. And multiple days in a row are cumulative. So if you ride 3 times per week and two days are in a row, that will be more difficult from which to recover than riding every other day.

    There are a couple of metrics that may assist you. First is your resting heart rate. Take the resting heart rate in the morning when you wake up. If it is the same each day, then theoretically, you are recovered. If you notice an elevated heart rate in the morning, then you need a day of rest or multiple days of rest.

    The other metric is your rate of recovery on the bike after you stop or after an effort. How many minutes / seconds does it take to fall below your recovery heart rate. So if you are riding and your heart rate is 140 bpm and you stop, coast or pedal easily, how much time does it take to return to recovery? A rule of thumb is that it should return to below 120 bpm within 2 minutes. If it recovers quickly, it is likely that the effort you are producing is providing a training effect and you will recover within one day. YMMV. If however, you climb a series of hills and you HR is 150 and stays up for 3 or more minutes, that is a significant effort for you and you may need a couple of days or more to recover. This is a very crude way to score your training effort. For fit cyclists, it does not work very well. Our heart rates drop quickly independent of effort.

    The other part of training and recovery is to know where you get the most bang for your buck. Riding in heart rate zone 2 or the endurance zone is easy on the body and fairly easy from which to recover. Zone 3 or tempo riding is more difficult but you go faster and thus riding at tempo is seductive. Tempo does not add much more value than zone 2 but adds training load which make you tired and is more difficult from which to recover. BTW, I am not saying that you should not ride tempo. Monitor how much you are in tempo and do not do too much. The high value efforts are zone 4 threshold and zone 5 VO2 max. These efforts are very hard and painful but can be shorter. They develop and increase your VO2 max, strength and oxygen throughput capability i.e make you a stronger cyclist. The challenge in doing Threshold and VO2 Max efforts is that it is easier to injure yourself. IMHO, this is the toughest part for new or returning masters cyclists to get right. Good luck with this.

    Friel's books contain some of these concepts and there is Friel's blog and he is on Twitter: Jfriel. I found his stuff and broad brush approach not that helpful.

    I returned to cycling June 2006 and in the beginning struggled. For me personally, at age 60, I have declared myself fit. I am happy with my results and power. Now, do I want to improve? Of course, but you can drive yourself nuts (and injury) if you constantly feel like you are unfit. Getting bike fit is like making a good wine - grow good grapes, process, age in oak barrels, age in bottle and drink. 2005 Bordeuxs are pretty good in 2009.

    I have consistently trained under supervision 5 times per week for the two years. In March, I did a stage race over 2 days. Day one was a 15 mile criterium followed 4 hours later by a 10 mile time trial. The next day was a 50 mile road race. For the general category in Cat 5, I came in 22/40. I felt great for the road race and took Monday off but could have raced again. Last month I won the Northern California / Nevada State championships at the track in pursuit. YMMV.

    IMHO, you are doing great. You have to define what "fit" means. You can have good "health" riding a couple of days per week. However, if you want to improve, you will have to up your game. 2 to 3 times per week may not be enough fitness to ride in groups, longer events or climb longer steeper hills. Good luck.

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