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Old 09-04-12, 12:23 PM   #1
babyboomer
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Please tell me that it will get better!

After about a two year layoff, I began riding again at the beginning of July. I'm not riding as much as I intend to, but various issues are preventing me from adopting a regular schedule. That should change by the end of the month. I've had to write off the entire season, but will focus on my fall and winter regimen instead.

Anyway, while riding over the Labor Day weekend I couldn't help but notice how slow I am! I mean really slow! I was struggling to maintain 15 miles per hour on flat terrain! In the two months I've been riding, I hadn't noticed it before. It's not that I'd been riding faster, but there was always something to which I could attribute the less-than-stellar stats - the wind, a false flat, rolling terrain, etc. Now, however, there are no excuses. I've fitted my bike with a comact crank, so hills are no problem, but my performance on the flats is dissapointing.

I was hoping that one day I would rejoin my compatriots and ride with groups again. Now I'm not so sure. Who would have me. I've never raced, and I've never been the fastest guy on the road, but I could hold my own. I am 58 years old, but if this is what that means, I might as well trade my road bike for a commuter. Please tell me that things will get better!
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Old 09-04-12, 12:47 PM   #2
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Things will get better-You will find endurance and stamina go up.

I have never been a speed merchant and I know it depends on the hills and weather just as much as you- But on a good day I can do a 15mph ride over 20 miles. Then when I feel I am fit enough- I do a Metric at ----15mph. And when I am super fit--I do a full 100 at ---15mph. Seems to be my mark over our terrain.

But I have noticed that training works. I occasionally ride with a few fit riders that kick my butt. Bit of training and I can stay with them and a bit more training and they have to chase me. But not for the first 10 miles or so. Takes me that long to get in the right frame of mind to be able to show them that an older rider can still work.

And if you want to get fit- don't get a hybrid- get a Mountain bike and ride it up a few offroad 30 mile trails that include mile long 15% slopes that are covered in mud and ruts.
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Old 09-04-12, 12:50 PM   #3
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If you average 15 mph you are doing OK. Don't beat yourself up.
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Old 09-04-12, 01:02 PM   #4
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At 58 unless you have a medical condition we don't know about it just takes time. You can't take a lot of time off and come back to where you were like a bookmark.
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Old 09-04-12, 01:18 PM   #5
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It will get better.

If you work at it.
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Old 09-04-12, 01:29 PM   #6
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At 58 unless you have a medical condition we don't know about it just takes time. You can't take a lot of time off and come back to where you were like a bookmark.
I do have a medical condition - it's neurological - but I don't know if or to what extent it might affect my cycling. It does affect the strength of my lower legs, but the effect of that hasn't been noticeable since the first few rides.

By the way, I'm not complaining about an average speed of 15 miles-per-hour over and entire course. At this point I'd be pretty happy with that. I'm talking about a cruising speed on flat terrain under optimum conditions.
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Old 09-04-12, 01:36 PM   #7
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If you started back in July you only have 2 months saddle time. 15 mph is not a bad average for this little period of time. A lot of my riding is between 15-18 mph and I have been back since last October. I too have medical conditions that are limiting.

As said above do not beat up on your self for the speed average you are at after this little bit of time. I believe there are three other threads along this exact line and these answers have come back each time, so there must be a bit of truth to them. Ride what you can, mileage is the best builder of a strong base.

If you want to use a structured training program try Joe Friels' Cycling Past 50 http://www.amazon.com/Cycling-Past-5...787172&sr=1-15 and The Cyclist Training Bible http://www.amazon.com/The-Cyclists-T...d_bxgy_b_img_z both have good programs for training. Best of luck in gaining speed, I think you are doing well so far.

Also, what type of bike are you riding and what is its gearing?

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Old 09-04-12, 01:46 PM   #8
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OK- What bike- What setup- what components?

Should not matter a great deal but if 15mph is your max on the flat- then eliminate the obvious. Brakes binding- Low tyre pressures- Tight bearings and many other things can be slowing you down. Then look at the weather, Headwinds- high humidity or temps can affect you. Then look at yourself. Are you trying to go fast before you have warmed up-Have you enough fluids in the body- enough salts- enough carbs.

After that look at what you want to attain and is it feasible. I rarely get above 18mph on the flat. If I do it is with a tailwind and I will struggle on the way back. To build speed above that takes training. Plenty of useful miles where interval training will take place. Plenty of hills where I can build the legs and lungs. Then there is cross-training to work the muscles that cycling will not improve but are necessary to get bike fit. And I still may not improve speed because I can see no point for my type of riding to just going faster. What I will do is make myself stronger and build endurance for the rides I like to do.
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Old 09-04-12, 01:52 PM   #9
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15 avrg doesn't sound bad.

the past few years I'bve been watching my progress only to be smoked by my 15 yr old son ...
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Old 09-04-12, 02:17 PM   #10
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I'm 54 and I rode 50 miles today on the Withlacoochee State Trail a relatively flat rail trail in central Florida. I did 25 miles out non-stop, rested for 20 min then rode the route back and my avg was 15 which I am pleased with. I would love to have a higher avg mph but I'm more of a touring type person and if I keep my speed between 13-15 mph I feel like I can ride all day but I know with practice I can increase my avg. It will just take time.
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Old 09-04-12, 02:49 PM   #11
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It will get better. I was at my peak when I was 58/59. Now I'm 67 and look back on those days and dream.
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Old 09-04-12, 02:58 PM   #12
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`15mph is a good speed for someone just coming back.

I have been on organised rides that are doing 11/12 mph and I can just about keep up.

I have come back after 4 months off and find that I need to lose the weight and rebuild the condition I had.


I would be so impressed if I could do 15 mph over 20 miles tho mind you I ride an MTB but even on a tourer before my accident I was averaging 12 - 13 so you are doing really well after so long off.

Praise yourself for building up to that speed over a fair distance and work on it till you can do 20mph over 20 miles then maybe start thinking of doing it over off road conditions.

What about swimming, could that help build condition?

I did 20 lengths today and thought I would struggle riding home but in fact felt really good and motored home.

So it will come, maybe use an MTB on rougher terrain, the sheer fun of it will mean you take your mind off the miles you do until you get home and amaze yourself with what you manage.
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Old 09-04-12, 03:09 PM   #13
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Don't despair--it'll get better, but there's nothing wrong with 15mph--you're still doing work and getting benefits.
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Old 09-04-12, 04:01 PM   #14
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Thanks for all the feedback. I am probably expecting too much too soon. In fact, I have to go back several years to remember the glory days. I was also intrigued by the suggestions that something in my setup could be holding me back. I usually check that the brakes aren't rubbing before every ride. I check the tire pressure once a week! That's probably not often enough because I've noticed that these tubes deflate rather quickly. My average has picked up since I started. At the beginning of July my average was encroaching on single-digit territory.

I forgot to mention that I'm dieting. It's one of the reasons I'm not doing more miles. When I tried riding five days a week, I started getting dizzy spells. I'll be able to increase mileage and intensity in a couple more months.
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Old 09-04-12, 04:22 PM   #15
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Yes, like the huge majority of new and renewed riders you are expecting way too much too soon, but you are also in the elite minority of those who are staying with it.
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Old 09-04-12, 04:58 PM   #16
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I also am 58 and am having an up and down summer on my average speeds. I have been able to put in 6 good rides in the past 10 days and have noticed some good improvement in average speeds. I also find that cooler days make for better times. I used to be able to take a week away without suffering a loss in strength or stamina. My perception now is that if I go more than 3 days between rides that I am falling off quickly in strength and endurance.

What part of the country are you from? What has the summer been like? If you have been back riding for 2 months I bet you are getting ready for some noticeable gains. Then again, when is the last time you had a physical. A checkup may be a good thing.
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Old 09-04-12, 06:47 PM   #17
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Does it get better? Not according to this guy:



Seriously, I would advise throwing away your speedometer/cycle computer. Ride as hard as you can when you want to ride hard and "just ride" the rest of the time. Speed and endurance improvements will come, but there will be good days and bad. Above all else, make sure you are having fun. If comparing your speed to some arbitrary goal is reducing your enjoyment, then don't do any comparisons.

I have had days where I spent all day just to ride forty miles and had a blast. Other days I would cover that distance in one and one-half hours with comparable, if different, pleasure.
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Old 09-04-12, 07:00 PM   #18
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I'm in the same boat. Have fought a serious autoimmune condition for almost 2 years, now entering remission. I could go on, but the worst thing about coming out of injury/illness/layoff is trying to climb out of depression and trying to stay positive about small goals worth celebrating and getting those old numbers out of our heads. I'm not in my 50s yet -- turning 46 in two weeks! but old enough that I can't just bounce back as quickly as I want. That's the reality.

My promise is to ride a little every day, and a little more each time. No ocd nonsense about time or speed. Just enjoy the fact that I can be on a bike. The rest is just details. I hope you can do the same, and rediscover the joy of being on two wheels. Good luck!
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Old 09-04-12, 08:07 PM   #19
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I also am 58 and am having an up and down summer on my average speeds. I have been able to put in 6 good rides in the past 10 days and have noticed some good improvement in average speeds. I also find that cooler days make for better times. I used to be able to take a week away without suffering a loss in strength or stamina. My perception now is that if I go more than 3 days between rides that I am falling off quickly in strength and endurance.

What part of the country are you from? What has the summer been like? If you have been back riding for 2 months I bet you are getting ready for some noticeable gains. Then again, when is the last time you had a physical. A checkup may be a good thing.
You're all right, of course. If I didn't have all the gadgets I'd have no idea how fast or slow I'm going. Seventy-five percent of the time I ride solo anyway. I think I was just caught by surprise. I just didn't realize how far I'd fallen in two years. The truth is, I have noticed improvements - including the loss of twenty-three pounds. And the more I ride the more I realize how much I miss it. I'd like to make the most of it while I'm still able.

By the way, I see doctors all of the time, thank you very much.
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Old 09-04-12, 08:19 PM   #20
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I'm 54 and started a year ago. I ride solo most of the time and don't have a speedometer. I know if I did, I'd worry too damn much about my speed and I wouldn't enjoy the ride as much. Funny thing is I seem to average 15 mph no matter what. It's not a precise average as I map the mileage and just divide by total elapsed time from when I walk out the front door until I walk back in. Some days I feel like I'm tired and not moving the bike at all. Other days I feel like I'm king of the world and am making great time. Some days I'll do a 20 mile loop, other days 35 with more hills. But when I add it up afterward, it's always the same average.
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Old 09-05-12, 05:18 AM   #21
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2 months is no time. I believe, as long as you ride consistently, with a purpose, you'll find your avg speed creep up a little. I agree with others on this: 15 mph avg is not bad for fitness riding, especially if your loops have a fair amount of hills. Give it more time. May be a struggle now but with consistency, it gets easier.
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Old 09-05-12, 07:27 AM   #22
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I agree that if the speedo is causing you anxiety, try riding without it. I lost my cycle computer on one of my rides. By that I mean it quit working. It was like when I was a kid again. I remember that as a kid, I loved to Just Ride my bike. Once I got a speedo like the other kids, I was always trying to ring the needle like I had heard others bragging about. It registered 45 and on my tank, it was just not gonna happen. It took all the joy out of just ridin. I have an odometer that is attached to the wheel by a band that just registers mileage. and use my computer for training rides. Kinda like I don't try to maintain 90 +/- cadence if I'm runnin errands or ridin with my wife. Although I've found that training will cause an increase in rpms just by habbit.
Garmins are great for trainin or club ridin but for a liesurely ride on a mup or rail trail, not so much. I do undersand that you want to be able to ride with your friends and not get droped. 15 sounds great if that is your actual average factoring in starts/stops and hills. Main thing is just keep riding.
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Old 09-05-12, 10:01 AM   #23
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I'm curious about your schedule and choice of words. You used the word regimen as part of your discussion about what you hope to accomplish. This may not apply, in which case ignore it. But, several of my friends beat themselves up for not "riding every day" or not "getting in enough miles", etc. I've talked with several of them and encouraged them to shift the way they think about riding. I know I've had to do this. Ideally, I'd like to ride everyday at least an hour. On weekends I'd like to ride at least two to three hours per day. Yet, life doesn't afford me that luxury. So, I've switched my goals. Now, I simply shoot for between 7 and 10 hours per week. For whatever reason, this has been a much more achieveable goal and allowed me to progress in my fitness and riding.
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Old 09-05-12, 10:13 AM   #24
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Just repeating what everyone else has already said. The more you ride, the better you get - the better you get, the faster you get - the faster you get, the more you ride.
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Old 09-05-12, 01:43 PM   #25
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I'm curious about your schedule and choice of words. You used the word regimen as part of your discussion about what you hope to accomplish. This may not apply, in which case ignore it. But, several of my friends beat themselves up for not "riding every day" or not "getting in enough miles", etc. I've talked with several of them and encouraged them to shift the way they think about riding. I know I've had to do this. Ideally, I'd like to ride everyday at least an hour. On weekends I'd like to ride at least two to three hours per day. Yet, life doesn't afford me that luxury. So, I've switched my goals. Now, I simply shoot for between 7 and 10 hours per week. For whatever reason, this has been a much more achieveable goal and allowed me to progress in my fitness and riding.
Yep. I guess I do make it sound more tedious than titillating. The truth of the matter is that, these days, I'm hardly counting. I'd like to get two to three days in per week. My diet won't allow for much more. On the weekend I try to do a longer ride with hills. I'm not really riding enough to expect great gains. When I start eating more I'll be able to increase the duration and intensity. I was just surprised by the numbers. I just couldn't remember the last time I couldn't cruise at around twenty miles-per-hour on the flat. I took it for granted that doing so would be trivial.
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