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  1. #1
    Senior Member Rich Gibson's Avatar
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    Expectations on starting at an advanced age; what were/are yours?

    Well I've been at it for a while now and the ragweed has cut me low. I took off a day and today used my trainer. While rewarding it's not the real thing. Northern Virginia is replete with hills; what I'd give for a few miles of flat middle west riding! Anyway the limitations of age are finally hitting home. On most of the killer hills (for me) I'm in the lowest gear and watching my HR reach and in a few cases exceed my predicted MHR. At 135 my breathing becomes heavy and over 140 I'm gasping and past 145 my peripheral vision starts to go. No, I'm not even trying to macho it out, I'm just trying to keep the bike moving. My resting heart rate is (or was before the weeds cut in) 53 BPM so I don't think I'm that out of shape.

    For you guys in the over 50 range what sort of improvements have you noticed as you continued biking? I have a feeling I'm expecting them to come too quickly. Have you found the MHR is an immutable/unchangeable limit? It never increases despite fitness? I gather as you ride your efficiency increases so that climbing a hill consumes less energy and your pulse rate should decrease over the beginning of this. I need some encouragement I guess.

    Thanks, Rich

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    Hi Rich. I began riding 3 1/2 years ago and am 74 y.o. now. I'm definitely much stronger today than when I began and I continue to show improvement. The secret is to ride lots of miles and to push the pace a bit. There are not many hills in my part of Rhode Island and nothing longer than one mile. However, I ride every hill in my area, going out of the way to get to them and, again, push the pace a bit unless it is toward the end of a long ride when the legs are near the end of useful life for that day.

    I also had a separate rear wheel built with a home made cassette that has a low cog of 30 T and installed a 26 T chain wheel on the front. This gear arrangement produces low gearing of about 23 Gear Inches which is satisfactory for the hills in my area. If there were longer or steeper (especially steeper) hills here I would likely have a 24 T chain wheel on the front and or a 32 T low cog on the back. The beauty is that the gear system can be customized to specific conditions.

    Every one will respond differently to training efforts regardless of age. My cycling and extensive hiking and week long back packing trips have produced very noticeable physical effects in a short time but they have leveled off somewhat after about three years. After three years or so, there are still gains to be made but they are slower in coming. Your response will undoubtedly vary.

  3. #3
    Senior Member woodcraft's Avatar
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    Your # of posts/join date suggests high enthusiasm.

    There's plenty of time to become a speed demon of steel- allow recovery days after hard efforts.

    For me, over a couple of years, the climbs that were a challenge have become a pleasant start to a ride, but week to week any progress is not easy to spot. Have fun & find some folks to ride with.

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    Look for a local club to ride with. Not that they will have mercy on you {mine did not** but you will learn a ton and find riders that ride your pace.Also you can ride with faster riders,this is fun ,but can be demanding.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Chaco's Avatar
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    I started riding 10 years ago, at 55. Over the past 10 years, I think I've become a much stronger rider. Of course, losing 50 pounds didn't hurt either.
    I'm still a Clyde, so hills are killer for me. The only consolation is that the hills that used to practically kill me are now just tough challenges.
    Once your past the spring chicken years of the 50's, you have to give yourself time to recover after tough rides, and time to get stronger. The 50 year old youngsters can build back up their strength in a few weeks; it may take us a few months.
    I've found that while max HR goes down year after year, what you think is your max HR may not be, once you get in good shape. Your heart rate is a lagging indicator, after all, and if you're not in top shape, fatigue may hit you hard before you even reach your max HR. At age 60, I thought my max HR was 165. Then I started pushing it more and got stronger, and on many rides I would hit 170. Now, 5 years later, the same effort will get me to around 168.

    If you're conking out at 135 to 140 bpm, and you're around 65, then you may want to work on your aerobic capacity. I felt like you do when I first started. Now I can go for hours at 130 to 140 bpm. It's just a function of training. Once you build up a good aerobic base, it won't be nearly as hard. If you're 75 or 85, then forget that -- you're doing great just to be riding!
    Scott CR1 Team

  6. #6
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    For me I started getting serious about biking when I turned 70. It has been a long process and many miles to get to the point where I feel like I could join the 15 mph average club rides and hang with them comfortably at 75. My young wife, 64, waits to get into riding and I told her it is not a weeks or months process but to think in terms of years. You have to have a long view in order to persevere though the ups and downs.

    Over the course of these last few years I think I have walked as many hills as I have ridden. My hill climbing sucks because of my weight. As my weight goes down the better I get at riding the hills and the better I get at spinning. As to heart rate I try and stay in the zone 2-3 rates.

  7. #7
    Senior Member Rich Gibson's Avatar
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    Thanks for the encouragement. No, I'm not a speed demon at all. I'm 71 and used an elliptic daily for seven years (and continue to). Clearly it didn't challenge me as much as I'd hoped. Because of what I've learned here and with the help of my HRM I manage my effort a lot more. No more 'toughing' it out on the hills. I appreciate your responses.

    Rich

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    Senior Member Looigi's Avatar
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    Over the years, I've ridden on and off over periods of 5-10 years. Each time I got started again I totally sucked wind and would it would take 2-3 years of constant hard work to get back into decent shape. It was true when I was 45 and true when I was 60. If I keep up my current volume and intensity, I'll probably get a bit better then start a slow decline as I age. If I quit for any length of time, my fitness will take a big hit and it will be another slog to get it back. My guess is it'd be similar if I took a significant amount of time off before hitting 70.

  9. #9
    Around now and then DnvrFox's Avatar
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    It might take a couple of years to "get your legs."

    At 73, I am still noticing improvement. The issue is not your maximum heart rate, it is the efficiency of your entire circulation system as it acclimates to bicycling. You need to build capillaries and circualtion and strength in those muscles you did not use on the elliptical or running or whatever. Your heart may increase its stroke volume a bit - not sure about that. Your lungs can become more efficient. All of that takes TIME.

    As to the battle with improvement vs natural loss of function as one gets through the 70's - I THINK I am still winning that battle. Also, I do a LOT of cross training, and resistance exercises. I'm not sure if that helps, but I like to pretend that it does.

    Allergies are NOT going to help. My wife has them significantly, and is just slows her down in everything.

    Good luck and keep on pedaling and, mostly, ENJOY!!
    DnvrFox - still bicycling, swimming, walking and weight lifting at 74yo is participating a bit in BFN 50+.

  10. #10
    Senior Member Yankeetowner's Avatar
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    It's funny, I was a little frustrated yesterday morning about my progress in the past few weeks. I am 63 and started riding again in early June (I think) after an 18 year layoff. I started off riding a little under 100 miles a week, and am now at 175-200+ miles a week. I wasn't overweight to begin with, but I wasn't in great shape. I have lost about 15 pounds, and have built up adequate leg muscles, however, I was feeling like I had hit a wall. I ride every day, morning (12 miles on MTB) and evening (20-25 on road bike). When I first began riding again, my speeds on the road bike were slow, and my legs burned when I got to 14-16 mph. For a long time, I couldn't even hit 20 unless I was going down hill. However, the last few weeks my routes are getting boring, my progress/times seem to have stalled, and I seem to spend more time watching my computer and worrying about the next stop sign/traffic signal, than enjoying the ride. Additionally, I still get dropped when I go on a Saturday group ride with experienced cyclists. On my standard 25 mile ride I've been stuck on an average of 15.5 to 16 mph.

    Last night I had decided to change my route, but instead on the way there I decided to change my attitude. I didn't look at the speedometer as much, and I decided to attack every hill (this is Fla. so the hills aren't much). I ended up attacking nearly the entire ride (except through the center of Winter Garden where you basically ride on a sidewalk with lots of children, dogs, bikes, etc....and I also had to stop at 2 traffic lights, each less than a minute.). On the straight and level areas with the wind at my back I hit and maintained 23-24 mph. The same area coming back against the wind I maintained 15-16 mph. I ended up for 25.55 miles, with "GAIN" of 1,679.8 (per "mapmyride" app) averaging 17.01 mph. (My previous best on a 20 mile ride with less "hills" was 16.9 mph.)

    I actually had fun again last night despite myself. I think part of my problem is that I have been expecting improvements as if I was a "20 something" instead of a "60 something." I should be thrilled that I have the desire and ability to ride a bike at all. I realize that I have an obsessive personality (which is why I don't drink alcohol, smoke...anything, eat meat, eat sweets, etc.), but I need to overcome that and try to make myself improve mentally before I can improve physically. The real reason I stopped cycling a couple of decades ago was that I turned something fun into something resembling work. I tend to get obsessed with numbers (mph not MHR), so I am thinking of turning off the "mapmyride" all but 2 rides a week.

    In my opinion, if you just keep riding and try to make it fun more improvements will come. You're riding up real hills, and regardless of the MHR, you're keeping the bike moving. Look around the grocery store the next time you're there, and see how many folks either can't or won't put out the effort to do what you're doing. As far as the limitations of age, today is the youngest we're ever going to be...so let's make the most of it. The old analogy of life being like a roll of toilet paper (the closer we get to the end the faster it goes), really seems to hold true! You're doing great, keep it up!

  11. #11
    Around now and then DnvrFox's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Yankeetowner View Post
    It's funny, I was a little frustrated yesterday morning about my progress in the past few weeks. I am 63 and started riding again in early June (I think) after an 18 year layoff. I started off riding a little under 100 miles a week, and am now at 175-200+ miles a week. I wasn't overweight to begin with, but I wasn't in great shape. I have lost about 15 pounds, and have built up adequate leg muscles, however, I was feeling like I had hit a wall. I ride every day, morning (12 miles on MTB) and evening (20-25 on road bike).
    Keep in mind that rest days are extremely important as that is when your body regenerates and actually BUILDS muscle, not when you are riding. They are important psychologically as well.
    DnvrFox - still bicycling, swimming, walking and weight lifting at 74yo is participating a bit in BFN 50+.

  12. #12
    Senior Member Yankeetowner's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DnvrFox View Post
    Keep in mind that rest days are extremely important as that is when your body regenerates and actually BUILDS muscle, not when you are riding. They are important psychologically as well.
    I've been wondering about that. It just seems like riding everyday logically must be better than skipping days, but perhaps that's how I got myself into a rut. I did take one Friday off before a group ride since I had heard some of then say they did that to keep their legs fresh. I still got dropped, so I went back to riding every day. I guess I need to do some google research.

  13. #13
    Around now and then DnvrFox's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Yankeetowner View Post
    I've been wondering about that. It just seems like riding everyday logically must be better than skipping days, but perhaps that's how I got myself into a rut. I did take one Friday off before a group ride since I had heard some of then say they did that to keep their legs fresh. I still got dropped, so I went back to riding every day. I guess I need to do some google research.
    Here you go for a starter

    http://sportsmedicine.about.com/od/s...ndRecovery.htm

    ". . . continuous training can actually weaken the strongest athletes."

    "In the worst-case scenario, too few rest and recovery days can lead to overtraining syndrome - a difficult condition to recover from."
    Last edited by DnvrFox; 08-29-13 at 02:14 PM.
    DnvrFox - still bicycling, swimming, walking and weight lifting at 74yo is participating a bit in BFN 50+.

  14. #14
    Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by Yankeetowner View Post
    I've been wondering about that. It just seems like riding everyday logically must be better than skipping days, but perhaps that's how I got myself into a rut. I did take one Friday off before a group ride since I had heard some of then say they did that to keep their legs fresh. I still got dropped, so I went back to riding every day. I guess I need to do some google research.
    As DFox mentioned, rest is VERY important, even more so as we age.

    As far as expectations and improvement, every body reaches a point at which further advancement just can not happen. As difficult as this is to accept, one must understand this fact and heed the warnings otherwise injury can occur. Having physical limitations also complicates things. I'd liken it to a body's red line or limiter as in mechanical engines, if exceeded there is the possibility of a KA-BOOM!!!

    Enjoy the rides and work to improve slowly and with wisdom.

  15. #15
    Free Velo Vol! Dudelsack's Avatar
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    My expectations for a ride is to be alive at the end of it. Everything else is icing on the cake.

    Most folks in our demographic take two or three years to get their legs. That's a very realistic time course for that.

    What's cool is every now and then you up and surprise yourself. After years of ho-hum performance I recently turned in a ride that was my PR for "average speed". It doesn't bother me much that my PR is what many others claim to be a truly average speed.

    But mostly I do it for the cyclotherapy.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Yankeetowner View Post
    I've been wondering about that. It just seems like riding everyday logically must be better than skipping days....
    You can also alternate--ride a few days, then do upper body work on your "rest" days. I've always been a pretty big, strong guy with not much effort, and I don't enjoy resistance training. As I passed 50 and especially 60, though, I lost so much upper body strength that I started lifting two or three times a week. I still don't really like it, but it makes such a difference in my everyday life that I stick with it.
    FWIW, I'm 68, and occasionally see the father of a friend my age in the gym. He's 91 or 92, and used to do MUT rides with us sometimes until his balance started to go at about 85. He does a vigorous workout five or six days a week, combining aerobics with resistance and flexibility, and doesn't really worry about what he does on what day: he spends a certain amount of time at it and varies his routine and difficulty depending on how he feels. Guy's amazing, but what he told me one time has really stuck with me: "I don't always want to be here (in the gym), but to do the things I WANT to do, I can't slack off."

  17. #17
    Senior Member Rich Gibson's Avatar
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    Excellent advice. What a boon this forum is for us geezers. What are some of your (collective 'your') ideas of hard days and rest days; in terms of miles, or rather a percentage of miles/effort based on 100% as a good stiff workout day per week?

  18. #18
    Ceiclwr Hapus Gerryattrick's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dudelsack View Post
    My expectations for a ride is to be alive at the end of it. Everything else is icing on the cake. .....................

    But mostly I do it for the cyclotherapy.
    +1

    That's exactly it. No targets, no MHR measurement, no expectations. Just doing something that makes me smile. If it makes me fitter that's a bonus not an aim.

  19. #19
    Senior Member Chaco's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rich Gibson View Post
    Excellent advice. What a boon this forum is for us geezers. What are some of your (collective 'your') ideas of hard days and rest days; in terms of miles, or rather a percentage of miles/effort based on 100% as a good stiff workout day per week?
    I generally do a medium effort ride on Tuesday, about 45 miles, avg. 16.5 mph. Next ride on Thursday, maybe throw in a little more climbing. Still around 45 miles. 16 mph. Saturday we go around 70 to 75 miles with around 3k of climbing, avg. around 16 to 16.5 mph. That's it for riding. On the rest days, I walk my dog, slowly.

    However, I ride on weekends with a guy who's 6 months older than I, and he only takes 1 rest day a week. He does slower rides with his wife, around 14.5 mph, 5 days, and on Saturday rides with me. His schedule would kill me, but he's been riding for 50 years.
    Scott CR1 Team

  20. #20
    Senior Member mkane77g's Avatar
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    Myself, 61, retired, 3 on, 1 off then 4 on 1 off. Anywhere between 32-57 miles. Some days are fat burning @ 70%, some are intervals, very few max effort. Total gym 5 days a week. Weekends with the wife on the tandem.

  21. #21
    Senior Member Terex's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rich Gibson View Post
    Excellent advice. What a boon this forum is for us geezers. What are some of your (collective 'your') ideas of hard days and rest days; in terms of miles, or rather a percentage of miles/effort based on 100% as a good stiff workout day per week?
    It is best to base this on your individual response. If you want to improve, you should always push yourself, and then rest or back off a bit. One of the biggest improvements for me was riding year round. During the winter, I'd try to ride on the weekends and take spin classes during the week. If the weather shut me down on weekends, I'd go to some more spinning classes.

    Especially at your age (BTW, you're doing brilliant for 71!) you should really focus on all around fitness. As noted by others, staying flexible, or building flexibility, is very important. I can't tell you how many people I know, including me and my wife, who incorporate yoga type exercise into their fitness regime.

    To improve riding, you should always be a little bit sore. If you have stairs to climb at home, it's easy to tell when you're really sore and a little be sore. If you're not sore at all, you haven't been riding.

    Keep a log of your rides. A bike computer really helps. I've used a Garmin GPS unit for a number of years. I can easily track distance, speed, feet climbed and heart rate. Try to gradually improve your total miles, but don't attempt a ride more than about 20% longer than your recent longest. Gradual improvement leads to injury free improvement.

    Your heart rate is your heart rate. You may be able to drive up your aerobic threshold rate, or not. Even if you can't, additional riding will build additional capillarization with attendant increase of power and endurance.

    Enjoy the ride!
    "It could be anything. Scrap booking, high-stakes poker, or the Santa Fe lifestyle. Just pick a dead-end and chill out 'till you die."

  22. #22
    Senior Member Rich Gibson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Terex View Post
    It is best to base this on your individual response. If you want to improve, you should always push yourself, and then rest or back off a bit....

    Especially at your age (BTW, you're doing brilliant for 71!) you should really focus on all around fitness. ...

    Enjoy the ride!
    Well I do have a bowflex which I have had on Craig's List to help pay for the bike. BY now I've covered the bike and related costs out of pocket. Perhaps it's good it hasn't sold; I might just start using it again to supplement biking. I am physically in good condition otherwise. I do lots of work around the house and in the back yard though, so there isn't too far to go to get the muscle tone back up.

    Lots of interesting insight and routines here, all applicable to our age bracket.

    Again, thanks all! Rich

  23. #23
    Free Velo Vol! Dudelsack's Avatar
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    Anyway, I feel obligated to stand up for all my fellow slackers.

    My favorite ride is this: ride out to the Simpsonville Dairy Queen. Get a banana split. Ride back home. Stop on the way at the Plainview Starbucks. Get a medium Java Chip frapachino. Go home. Take a nap.

    This trip is about 40 miles or so and involves the Long Slow Climb to Nowhere (tm). It's not an easy ride. I probably just break even calorie wise.

    Hope that helps.

  24. #24
    Uber Goober StephenH's Avatar
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    I don't monitor my heart rate.
    If you haven't done it already, check if you can get lower gearing on your bike. It may take a different rear derailleur. I think mine is geared 30:34 in the lowest notch. I should be able to pull stumps, although I haven't tried.
    I started cycling to lose weight. I've lost a lot, gained some, but having lots of fun. Riding around while you visit with attractive women is lots more interesting that riding around by yourself.
    Do you know of a good place to ride with fewer hills? No law that says you can't drive your bike 20 miles and ride on a better road if it's too hilly right by the house.
    If you ride where there's no hills, there's liable to be a surplus of wind, heat, humidity, or something, there's no free lunch.
    If you've got really long hills, take a camera, stop halfway up and take pictures, do something besides just grunting up the hill.
    "be careful this rando stuff is addictive and dan's the 'pusher'."

  25. #25
    Senior Member Mobile 155's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rich Gibson View Post
    Well I do have a bowflex which I have had on Craig's List to help pay for the bike. BY now I've covered the bike and related costs out of pocket. Perhaps it's good it hasn't sold; I might just start using it again to supplement biking. I am physically in good condition otherwise. I do lots of work around the house and in the back yard though, so there isn't too far to go to get the muscle tone back up.

    Lots of interesting insight and routines here, all applicable to our age bracket.

    Again, thanks all! Rich
    I restarted when I was 59 and very overweight. My resting HR was close to 70 and my Max rate was close to the predicted 165. Two years later I had lost some weight, my resting HR was 65 and my Max rate was 171. Four years later my resting HR is between 58 and 60 with a max rate of 183. Confirmed by my doctor. I am now dropping weight because my doctor helped me find a health coach and a program and it does get better and easier even when you start later in life. A great book to read is Joe Friel's "Cycling past 50." It may be overly geared to Post racing or training but the principles and the same for recreation riders.
    Life is like riding a bicycle - in order to keep your balance, you must keep moving. ~Albert Einstein.

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