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Fifty Plus (50+) Share the victories, challenges, successes and special concerns of bicyclists 50 and older. Especially useful for those entering or reentering bicycling.

View Poll Results: In which quintile do you rate yourself as a 50+ cyclist?
Top 20% 19 19.79%
Second 20% 16 16.67%
Mid 20% 31 32.29%
Lower 20% 17 17.71%
Bottom 20% 13 13.54%
Voters: 96. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 05-24-10, 05:39 PM   #1
The Weak Link
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So just how good are you anyway?

Spring has sprung and we are rapidly approaching Summer. The daffodils and crocuses have bloomed and faded. The whirly birds have long flown. All the birds have returned from their Florida condos, and along with them, some hawks who hang around the back yard two or three times a year (I haven't figured out their schedule but I'm sure it will occur to me sooner or later) terrorizing the rabbits and squirrels, giving the backyard farmers some respite and depriving our cat of hours of entertainment.

And with the arrival and passing of the warm seasons come the Embellishers, posting times that rival the ToC TTers. I won't link it but someone on the Road Cycling forum was complaining just yesterday that he was chuffed to the gut because he was getting dropped by his group as they rocketed up 15% grades at 20 MPH.

Even on this humble forum we see a gradual disappearance of the "I enjoyed my ride today because I saw the deer in the valley below prance and frolic" only to be replaced by "I rode 130 miles and had to stop because the casing on my tires was melting from the speed".

I have to get this off my chest. I think some of you guys are making it up. The rest of you are doping.

Some of you are probably doing both.

In the spirit of the Two Most Esteemed Progressives In America (Barack Obama, who gives himself perhaps a bit immodestly a good solid B+, and Garrison Keillor, who admits that all the local kids are above average), I'm inviting you to rate yourself for active 50+er cyclists.

Do be honest. I'm doing this for posterity.
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Old 05-24-10, 05:48 PM   #2
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I was tickled to death to ride 22 miles with an average speed of 13 MPH on Saturday. I also didn't fall, which added much to my sense of glee, but limited the war stories I could tell at work on Monday. I offer no caveats for performance, or lack thereof, but I did stop three times to drink water and take pictures. And it was a curvy route. And who cares anyway?
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Old 05-24-10, 05:51 PM   #3
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I'd like to be doping. Who's your connection?

On a serious note, I gave up rating myself or more accurately comparing myself to others. It's a no win situation. At best I'll see slight improvements and be able to maintain my current abilities for as long as possible. I know what I am: a non-professional cyclist with a full time job. All I need is to get out and ride. Some days I'm fast (for me). Some days I'm not. But one thing I can say is that I sure as hell ain't riding for anyone but me.

Right now I need to turn all my competitive juices toward my work. I'm going to have to work well beyond what I thought I would, and I need to be damn good at what I do, or I'll be looking for something else. And the demand for 50+ folks in my field is less than stellar.
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Old 05-24-10, 05:56 PM   #4
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I'm definitely a middle-of-the-pack rider. MAYBE, just maybe if we got every 50+er on this forum on a ride I could make it to a slightly higher percentile, but I am constantly discouraged that every new 50+ rider I find who has been riding 6 mos is stronger than I. I'm feel like I'm same rider I was 8 years ago, when I started. I never get any better. I know I can out ride nearly every 63-year-old in the country (and probably most of the 30-year -olds)(I'm counting all the non-riders, too), but it seems all the ones who are better than me live in my neighborhood!

If I have a strength, I can ride all day -- at a relaxed pace.
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Old 05-24-10, 06:00 PM   #5
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I don't have a traditional job so when I work, my bike travels with me and I ride. When I am home and the honeydew's are done, I ride.

Forrest Gump runs, I ride. I pass a lot of 20/30 something posers and a lot of aging Freds will pass me. My typical ride is 60-75 km and it takes 2- 2.5 hours pending how I feel.

I do a century every Saturday.

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Old 05-24-10, 06:01 PM   #6
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I have no idea so I'll let you tell me. I got beat soundly this weekend by 20 minutes on a hilly metric by a 60yo woman. Ok, she finished in the lead group and has 10 National Championship medals to her credit. When I look at a ride profile I can predict my ride time by the formula 20mph + 10 minutes for every 1000' of climbing (loop ride). So where does that put me? On one hand I got squashed by a 60yo superwoman and on the other I can generally hold a decent pace over long rides. BTW, I ride at least 6000 miles each year in the mountains. But I'm not what most young dudes would consider fast.

No 15% grade claims for me. I know what a grade like that feels like and it's not pretty.
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Old 05-24-10, 06:03 PM   #7
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It's all relative, ain't it?
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Old 05-24-10, 06:08 PM   #8
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I voted myself in the mid 20%. But I'm probably buttering my performance up a bit. After all, even today I told my wife about the deer I passed on the trail. He watched as I rode only about 6 feet away from him. He just kept this curious, but non-threatened body position as he watched me approach. As I passed him, I turned around and saw him lowering his head to get back to grazing. I might not be fast, but I'm obviously stealthy!
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Old 05-24-10, 06:12 PM   #9
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I thought about this one and I answered top 20% - what is your definition for the population of 50+ cyclist? If it's they guy who gets out at a minimum of twice a year then I would be in the top 20% - and so would most if not all people who participate here - I would venture to say if you rode more than 25 miles/week you would be in the top 20% no matter what your speed or the elevations you climb.

You don't have to ride 1k miles/week like some seem to and you don't have to climb El Capitan in the big ring to be in the top 20% of the 50+ cyclists out there.

I'm not going to down grade myself or any of my fellow 50+'s - HTFU, we are all in the top 20 percentile of the entire 50+ cycling population out there.
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Old 05-24-10, 06:14 PM   #10
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I'm not fast, but I keep going. Low gear up most hills and in a lot of headwinds. Last century I did took me 9:45 from stat to finish but I enjoyed it and went riding the next day.
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Old 05-24-10, 06:22 PM   #11
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If we're grading according to speed... I'm near the bottom.

However if we're considering ALL the skills involved in cycling, I think I would rate higher. Of course it's all about speed in the cycling world. Nothing else matters much.

Interesting poll.

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Old 05-24-10, 06:25 PM   #12
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It depends on how you look at it, if you are looking for speed, I am at the back of the pack.
If looking for consistency - I'll be there - I don't own a car, and use the bike as my primary form of transportation.
If looking for size of bike fleet (well, if you ask me, I am in the bottom, if you ask my wife, I am at the top
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Old 05-24-10, 06:31 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by cyclinfool View Post
I thought about this one and I answered top 20% - what is your definition for the population of 50+ cyclist? If it's they guy who gets out at a minimum of twice a year then I would be in the top 20% - and so would most if not all people who participate here - I would venture to say if you rode more than 25 miles/week you would be in the top 20% no matter what your speed or the elevations you climb.

You don't have to ride 1k miles/week like some seem to and you don't have to climb El Capitan in the big ring to be in the top 20% of the 50+ cyclists out there.

I'm not going to down grade myself or any of my fellow 50+'s - HTFU, we are all in the top 20 percentile of the entire 50+ cycling population out there.
^^^This.

I remarked to a patron at work today that she had gotten some sun over the weekend. "I rode my bike out to my son's house yesterday," she told me. It turns out, it was ten miles round trip, and it took her two hours each way. Meanwhile, I rode a metric yesterday at 16.5 mph average, which included several miles of road construction where I was in the single-digits.

Now, compared the lady I talked with at the library, I'm in the top 20%. Compared to say, Hermes (for speed) or 10-Wheels (for distance), I'm somewhere below average.
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Old 05-24-10, 06:35 PM   #14
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Smiles, not miles

In the smiles category, I rate myself in the top 10%.

Them's my goals.
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Old 05-24-10, 06:47 PM   #15
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Have fun with your riding.
I had the most awesome year on the bike in 2009.

Meeting the group of retired riders back in 2008 has been the positive thing in my riding.
Could not have done the miles without all their help.

Resting this year.
Totally strong for riding now.
Been enjoying grandkid activities.

68 years old is somewhat passed the 50 plus riders.
A 50 year old rider can be so strong and so fast compared to me.

I still have fun. Don't know what next year will bring, but I have been thinking about it.
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Old 05-24-10, 06:47 PM   #16
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Spring has sprung and we are rapidly approaching Summer. The daffodils and crocuses have bloomed and faded...yada, yada, yada.
Link - you need to get out more. There are a lot of 50+ guys out here who are really strong riders. And there are a lot of 60+ guys out here who are really strong riders.
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Old 05-24-10, 06:55 PM   #17
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Smiles, not miles

In the smiles category, I rate myself in the top 10%.

Them's my goals.
+1 to my former neighbor, DnvrFox, though he and I have never met.

I still enjoy competition. But, there is always someone faster and stronger. Congrats to them.
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Old 05-24-10, 07:15 PM   #18
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Good enough.
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Old 05-24-10, 07:24 PM   #19
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I hold my own...and don't get passed too often, except by a local club full of racers when they do a pace line. I'm stronger than some, and not as strong as some others...so I guess I'm a 50%er...like my life, just average.
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Old 05-24-10, 07:27 PM   #20
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Why is the word "good" associated with speed? One of the things I dislike about cycling is all the talk about speed. Most of the time I ride alone because when i have ridden with groups and clubs, most of the riders were hell-bent on going as fast as they could. What does it truly mean to be "good"? Cycling is not a competition sport unless you make it one. I cycle for the physical pleasure of it. What difference does it make how fast I go? I also hike. If I walk fast does that make me a "good" hiker? The bicycle industry has fabricated the need for speed so it can sell all kinds of expensive, and mostly unnecessary, ultra light equipment. The bicycle community has embraced the idea of speed, largely do to the hype generated by the industry itself. Do you, as an over 50 cyclist, really care how fast you go? Of course it you are a racer, then that is your primary concern, but many people just enjoy riding a bike for fun and exercise.
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Old 05-24-10, 07:29 PM   #21
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I don't categorize myself; I just ride, make myself huff, puff, and sweat, and somehow manage to impress 90% of my co-workers with my 'hardcore' commitment to the ride. I don't really care about that, either -- like I said, I just ride.
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Old 05-24-10, 07:31 PM   #22
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An interesting question. Compared to all 50+ers, I am in the top 1%. Compared to everyone here, I'm in the middle.

There are two eternal truths when it comes to cycling (or, when you think about it, most things in life):
1. You can always get better.
2. There is always someone better than you.

I hope you're wrong about lying. I hope those of us here are beyond the point of needing to prove something, especially to other internet geeks.
I know you're wrong about doping. I, I believe, am one of the only people on this forum who has actually cycled while under the influence of doping agents. While undergoing chemo, I got a few shots of Aranesp, which is an advanced form of EPO. That stuff is freaking magic juice. I strongly recommend it if you can get your hands on it, so long as it doesn't kill you.

I chalk up the dearth of "nice ride" threads to the "Did you ride today?" thread, which has sucked up all the good ride descriptions. I would vote for closing that thread to free up the ride stories.
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Old 05-24-10, 07:32 PM   #23
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Well, when I voted myself into the 2nd pentile, (or is it the 4th pentile?) I was (still am? the only one.) Maybe I'm fooling myself, but the 30 and 40 something A and A+ riders in the club seem pretty impressed, and we don't have any other 60+ that I can't our ride. That doesn't mean the're not there, they just aren't in my club.

If this were for 60+ I'd pick the top pentile.

I just want to be "the best that I can be." When I had cancer 8 yrs ago I could hardly walk 50 ft without a rest during chemo. I remember I took a bike ride on my hybrid and after 4 miles I had to find a tree and take a nap.

Next month I'll celebrate my "Metric Century" birthday (62.5) with a Metric Century, weather permitting. Should keep a 3.5 min/mi pace, unless I have to wait on one of them young 'uns.
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Old 05-24-10, 07:38 PM   #24
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Why is the word "good" associated with speed? One of the things I dislike about cycling is all the talk about speed. Most of the time I ride alone because when i have ridden with groups and clubs, most of the riders were hell-bent on going as fast as they could. What does it truly mean to be "good"? Cycling is not a competition sport unless you make it one. I cycle for the physical pleasure of it. What difference does it make how fast I go? I also hike. If I walk fast does that make me a "good" hiker? The bicycle industry has fabricated the need for speed so it can sell all kinds of expensive, and mostly unnecessary, ultra light equipment. The bicycle community has embraced the idea of speed, largely do to the hype generated by the industry itself. Do you, as an over 50 cyclist, really care how fast you go? Of course it you are a racer, then that is your primary concern, but many people just enjoy riding a bike for fun and exercise.
Speed isn't a qualification to be good...not falling down a lot might be. However, speed is an indication that you are improving, and if I'm not getting better why do it? If all you do is pedal around the block everyday without stretching yourself I can't see where the exercise part is kicking in. Sure it's better than sitting on the couch, but I'm looking to improve and one of the ways to measure that is average speed.
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Old 05-24-10, 07:41 PM   #25
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You did not provide any info as to what each quintile is. It is ambiguous. Ex racers, ex pros, cycling many years, belong to a club, solo riders, 3 a week trips, casual riders. Riders who just started again after many years, riding for health reasons, vintage bike riders, have to have the newest types, family riders and the list goes on.
Who cares what other people think anyway. If they want a place to post and exchange info with like minded people i think is the most important thing. If you want to compare speed , distance, who you can pass or who can pass you then you need to compete with other types who do the same. If someone posts something you think smells, its something you can't really do anything about. As for me i just compete with myself, i have goals i hope to reach as far as distance and sustained speed. Slowly improving and learning from my mistakes. How i compare to others i don't really know or care. I am getting the benefits from riding and i enjoy it. Its like golf, people fib about what they shot, they are only hurting themselves. When it comes time to perform is when they fail. Enjoy your ride, i know i enjoy mine.
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