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  1. #1
    Retired dabbler hobkirk's Avatar
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    Is there a chart for how age affects endurance & performance?

    Endurance, recovery, and strength decrease with age. No 70-year-old cyclist is going to "recover" while he's riding in the middle of a peleton! Joe Friel's Cycling Past 50 had a few off-the-cuff remarks about this, but it seems there might be better info available. Any observations or links?

    There are a million variables, I know, I know - obesity, lung damage, heart condition, etc. But maybe there some general rules or guides.

    I'm 65 & started riding last June - 7,500 miles so far (I'm retired). I used to run a lot (my 4 marathons were sub 3 hours) but I stopped when I had lost much of the cartilage in my knees at 55. So I had lots of first hand experience observing the effects of aging on my body up to 55. My main observation was that recovery slowed down quite noticeably around 50. I belong to two cycling clubs, and, FWIW, I find lots of VERY strong riders in their 50's, There are a number of solid riders in their 70's but they are not really strong riders, IMO. That said, I hope I am riding ten years from now as well as they are.

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  2. #2
    I need speed AzTallRider's Avatar
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    There have been some attempts at such things. I think Friel may even have something in one of his books. If I find it, I'll post it.
    "If you're riding less than 18 MPH up a 2% grade please tell people Coggan is coaching you."

  3. #3
    Senior Member bigbadwullf's Avatar
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    I'd say commonsensically it starts low, raises slowly toward age 27, slowly drifts down to age 50-60, then takes a sharp turn downward from there. Any other questions

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  4. #4
    Icantre Member stonefree's Avatar
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    Yup..the only thing that comes to mind are two words - inversely proportional.

    But I guess there is always hope, if you are so inclined.
    "If we don't change direction, we will end up exactly where we are headed."

  5. #5
    Senior Member volosong's Avatar
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    They hold the regional/state time trial championships in my area and I was looking at the result sheets from last year and this year, (just to see if I'd be competitive ... I'm not). Guys in their 50's were just as fast as the Cat-1 riders. Not quite as fast as the "Open" division, but more than held their own against all age and skill categories. The 60+ age group were not quite as fast. But close, just a few minutes behind. That was an eye-opener for me. Then again, it isn't a stage race where they need to recover for the next day's ride. It's just an (approximately) one-hour full-out ride, and then you're done for the day.
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    If you can get in miles every week after 70 you are a strong rider IMO, compared to all other people who are 70 or more. We all are weak compared to the TDF riders. Same as golf, there are only a very few people who can play golf, the rest of us suck.

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    I think it depends on where you start out at. An elite athelete is going to see a decline much more apparent than a person with average abilities. I started riding again at age 53, I am 58 now and my stamina, recovery, speed, has increased, not decreased evey year so far.

  8. #8
    Senior Member Kurt Erlenbach's Avatar
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    I'd be reluctant to put much stock in the kind of chart you are looking for. There certainly are such things developed by professional physical therapists groups and the like, but such information would be relevant to a group, not an individual. That's a common mistake people make with medical information - while some info is useful for an individual in deciding what's relevant to him, it is always dangerous to extrapolate from what's applicable to a whole population to what works for you.

  9. #9
    Senior Member Paul01's Avatar
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    I've been riding 40 years and I don't see much, if any difference from 50 to 65.

  10. #10
    Señor Blues on the path's Avatar
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    I'm mid 50's and I must say I do ok. That said, I'm willing to bet there are more than a few 60+ riders on this forum that can kick my butt from here to next Tuesday -

  11. #11
    Dan J chinarider's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by crazyb View Post
    I think it depends on where you start out at. An elite athelete is going to see a decline much more apparent than a person with average abilities. I started riding again at age 53, I am 58 now and my stamina, recovery, speed, has increased, not decreased evey year so far.
    I'm also 58 (for 3 more weeks!) and started riding a lot in 2006. I've had the same experience as you. I'm dreading the inevitable downturn, but feel like I still have a lot of improvement left (losing 10 lbs would sure help).

    I'm a former runner and ran many miles from mid 20s till 1997 when at 45 I developed avascular necrosis in the head of my femur and gave it up. Anyway, my point was I certainly noticed a decline in speed and recovery from my early 30s to 45, although I did run a sub 3:10 marathon in 1995. I think the pounding make recovery from running harder than cycling, so the decline may be slower for biking.
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  12. #12
    Senior Member gcottay's Avatar
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    If there were a chart it would not apply except by random chance to you, me, or any other individual rider.
    George
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  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by LAriverRat View Post
    If you can get in miles every week after 70 you are a strong rider IMO, compared to all other people who are 70 or more. We all are weak compared to the TDF riders. Same as golf, there are only a very few people who can play golf, the rest of us suck.
    Yup, some play the game, others play AT it. The only difference is how you are compensated -- by dollars, or joy?

    Quote Originally Posted by crazyb View Post
    I think it depends on where you start out at. An elite athelete is going to see a decline much more apparent than a person with average abilities. I started riding again at age 53, I am 58 now and my stamina, recovery, speed, has increased, not decreased evey year so far.
    I find it funny that, while I can't hit the same top speed anymore, I can cross town faster now on a bike than I could at 16!

    Quote Originally Posted by cyclingvirtual View Post
    From my experience, endurance drops of slightly, but strength falls off faster as does recovery after 50. Saying that a good 50 year old can still beat the younger ones.
    Especially when so many of the younger ones are so SOFT!

    Quote Originally Posted by Kerlenbach View Post
    I'd be reluctant to put much stock in the kind of chart you are looking for.
    Yeah, I'm basically with this idea. It really doesn't matter, because if you and I were the same age, started riding at the same point in time, and did the same types of training, our results would still be different.

    You really only ever compete against yourself, and as for me, I'm done trying to show myself I'm better; I do it for the joy.

  14. #14
    Senior Member digibud's Avatar
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    It is often said people lose about one beat per year in terms of maximum heart rate which is one over-all indication of cardio ability. It's also said that your max heart rate is inflexible but I know that is not true because before returning to riding a year or so ago my max heart rate was about 166 and a short time ago I hit at least 177 so I know my personal max heart rate has gone up as I have lost about 70lbs and dramatically increased my fitness. Regardless of that I'm confident it is true that your max heart rate and over-all aerobic ability declines slowly over time no matter what you do to remain in shape.

  15. #15
    Senior Member Paul01's Avatar
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    FWIW: Moving to a rear 'round cycling climate made a world of difference. It no longer takes the first couple of months to back into shape for cycling and I didn't gain weight last winter.

  16. #16
    I need speed AzTallRider's Avatar
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    "If you're riding less than 18 MPH up a 2% grade please tell people Coggan is coaching you."

  17. #17
    Council of the Elders billydonn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gcottay View Post
    If there were a chart it would not apply except by random chance to you, me, or any other individual rider.
    That depends on your standards for "apply" doesn't it? Assuming the chart is based on carefully collected data, the point of having such a thing is to improve on random chance.

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  18. #18
    Elite Rider Hermes's Avatar
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    If one believes that as one ages, one will slow down, IMO, that becomes a self fulfilling prophecy. The hard fact of life is that as one gets older human systems begin to fail and repair is not possible with current technology. The later statement is another way of saying that the only certainty in life is death and taxes.

    The first statement, presents something that is under ones control. I refuse to let anything get in my way of achieving goals including getting older. IMO, as one gets older, we should be expected to work harder and do more. That statement is the oxymoron of what "retirement and aging gracefully" are about in modern society. IMO, having a positive self image, goals, discipline and a hard work ethic can carry day more than looking at charts and gaining any hope from history. In my extremely short life, what I have observed is that athletes are capable of doing amazing things and push the limit of what was thought possible. That is what I hang my hat on.
    "Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." Einstein

  19. #19
    Senior Member Paul01's Avatar
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  20. #20
    Galveston County Texas 10 Wheels's Avatar
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    This past June: Dex Tooke 61 y/o RAAM Solo Rider

    6/14/11 to 6/27/11 rode 2989 miles in 12 days, 19 hours, 46 minutes

    http://www.raceacrossamerica.org/raa..._Entry_ID=2728

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    Last edited by 10 Wheels; 07-20-11 at 02:41 PM.
    [SIZE=1][B]What I like about Texas[/B]
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  21. #21
    rugged individualist wphamilton's Avatar
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    As with everything else, 90% of what we "know" about it is bs. Performance degradation with age is unknown, and the limitation is probably beyond that which we can attain with reasonable training. Therefore not relevant for practical purposes. Advancing age does make performance gains more difficult to achieve, requiring greater effort and more training. I'll bet there is a chart somewhere for that.

  22. #22
    Council of the Elders billydonn's Avatar
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    Hobkirk,
    I think Friel's chapter one "Riding Over the Hill" is pretty thorough as far as what is generally known about aging and physical performance. Here's an interesting link, in case you haven't seen it. From what I gather intensity and rest are most significant factors. (Of course there must be a base to support the intensity but you seem to have that covered.)

    http://www.cptips.com/age.htm

    Cheers...
    Last edited by billydonn; 07-20-11 at 09:02 PM.

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  23. #23
    Dan J chinarider's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by digibud View Post
    It is often said people lose about one beat per year in terms of maximum heart rate which is one over-all indication of cardio ability. It's also said that your max heart rate is inflexible but I know that is not true because before returning to riding a year or so ago my max heart rate was about 166 and a short time ago I hit at least 177 so I know my personal max heart rate has gone up as I have lost about 70lbs and dramatically increased my fitness. Regardless of that I'm confident it is true that your max heart rate and over-all aerobic ability declines slowly over time no matter what you do to remain in shape.
    It may be semantics, but I'd say the hr you achieved as an out of shape overweight person wasn't your true MHR, if you were able to go higher when you got into shape and lost the weight. It is hard to get to MHR and it takes a lot of motivation. That is one of the problems with the original studies 220-age was based on; they used people off the street including smokers and those with heart problems. People weren't really getting to their physiological MHRs. I think it is also pretty well accepted that the 1 beat per year decrease is inaccurate, especially among those who keep active.

    Lastly, MHR is not an indication of cardio ability. It is simply an individual variation such as height. You can have world class athletes of the same age with vastly different MHR. VO2 max and lactate threshold are indicators of cardio ability.
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  24. #24
    Elite Rider Hermes's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chinarider View Post
    It may be semantics, but I'd say the hr you achieved as an out of shape overweight person wasn't your true MHR, if you were able to go higher when you got into shape and lost the weight. It is hard to get to MHR and it takes a lot of motivation. That is one of the problems with the original studies 220-age was based on; they used people off the street including smokers and those with heart problems. People weren't really getting to their physiological MHRs. I think it is also pretty well accepted that the 1 beat per year decrease is inaccurate, especially among those who keep active.

    Lastly, MHR is not an indication of cardio ability. It is simply an individual variation such as height. You can have world class athletes of the same age with vastly different MHR.
    VO2 max and lactate threshold are indicators of cardio ability.
    VO2 Max is measured in ml/Kg/min of O2 consumed. And lactate threshold is the heart rate at which lactate starts to accumulate in the blood. So as an "indicator" these metrics are what they are. A high measured VO2 max is great to have to put on your race resume. What is better is a national championship. Does one need a "high" VO2 max to win - no. Otherwise, let's just measure VO2 max in the lab and declare winners based on that.

    IMO, the brain is the key to anti aging and performance. It controls so much of who we are and how we behave and perform. IMO, as we age, a young person sees their entire life before them and looks forward to new experiences. An older person may see the end, plan accordingly and spend most of their time reliving their past.

    This is what this thread is about. What is the end and how do I plan accordingly. I say, BS to that and let's look forward to new experiences and increased performance.

    Here is an interesting article on brain.

    http://brainwise.co.za/category/cycling-and-the-brain
    "Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." Einstein

  25. #25
    I need speed AzTallRider's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hermes View Post
    This is what this thread is about. What is the end and how do I plan accordingly. I say, BS to that and let's look forward to new experiences and increased performance.
    +1
    "If you're riding less than 18 MPH up a 2% grade please tell people Coggan is coaching you."

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