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  1. #1
    Junior Member GrandpaEd's Avatar
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    How much better can I get?

    Got back on the bike about a year and a half ago after a 20+ year lay off, and I have a question.
    I have ridden a couple centuries over the past year, which I ride at about 15 mph. I would like to start doing some longer rides, and some more challenging rides, but want to know how high I should set my sights. Let's face it, I am not 30 any more and I am well past the point where I can build muscles. Will I gain anything by doing interval work?

  2. #2
    Galveston County Texas 10 Wheels's Avatar
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    Ride much...Rest when you need days Off.

    Join here and just keep trying to pass up the rider in front of you.

    Got in 15,923 miles when I was 67 years old.( my second year)

    http://www.bikejournal.com/home.asp

    I was able to ride 10 consecutive days for 860 miles of hills.
    Last edited by 10 Wheels; 01-01-14 at 05:50 AM.
    [SIZE=1][B]What I like about Texas[/B]
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    Set F1re To The Ra1n ( NY Night Rain Ride)
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  3. #3
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    You can easily improve by doing speedwork like intervals. The big thing to keep in mind with increasing age is recovery takes longer and you usually need more than 24 hours rest to take on another hard day. You can build muscle and strength but it takes longer and the results aren't as fast.

    To improve on century rides, try one long ride each week. Gradually increase the length until you are comfortable about finishing a century in good shape and feeling fine. Then do a couple speed days. Intervals are good at least for one but do "long ones" - minimum of two minutes. For the other day I like doing unstructured ones where I just go hard for a while (whatever feels good at the time), back off, and keep doing it until that's enough. Doing this with friends is fun.
    You're just trying to start an argument to show how smart you are.

  4. #4
    Beicwyr Hapus Gerryattrick's Avatar
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    You don't say whether you are in your 50s, 60s, 70s or older. It gets harder to improve the older you are, but since you are obviously quite fit and have only just returned to riding I would imagine that you still have plenty of potential for improvement, based not just on stamina and strength, but also with improved techniques.

    Have a good cycling 2014.

  5. #5
    A might bewildered... Dudelsack's Avatar
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    Just finished The time-crunched cyclist by Carmichael. He addresses this. Give it a read.

    Very very short version: intervals.

  6. #6
    Senior Member John_V's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GrandpaEd View Post
    Got back on the bike about a year and a half ago after a 20+ year lay off, and I have a question.
    I have ridden a couple centuries over the past year, which I ride at about 15 mph. I would like to start doing some longer rides, and some more challenging rides, but want to know how high I should set my sights. Let's face it, I am not 30 any more and I am well past the point where I can build muscles. Will I gain anything by doing interval work?
    Yep! That's a fact!

    Personally, I think if you have done two centuries in the last year and a half and have only been back to riding that long, you are way ahead of many of the riders in this forum who haven't yet done a century. As the others have said, there is always room for improvement, whether it be mileage first or speed first. Eventually, it will be both but keep in mind, "I'm not 30 any more." Intervals, along with spinning, is the way to go if you want to increase your speed. With two centuries under your belt, it looks as if you have already made a nice base for your distance. There is a sign over the counter of one of the LBSs that I visit that reads, "The more you ride, the better you get. The better you get, the more you ride." I've taken that as my motto and so far it has proven to be a very true statement.
    HCFR Cycling Team
    Ride Safe ... Ride Hard ... Ride Daily

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  7. #7
    Senior Member mht7159's Avatar
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    First off Welcome to Fifty + Noticed you just joined today, I too started riding again after a 20 year layoff about a year and a half ago this past July I did a half Century and felt pretty good, to have done 2 Centuries already is great. the comments about intervals seem to be the best advice. Sounds like your enjoying being back on the Bike, Have Fun.
    2013 Roubaix Sport Compact, 1987 Cannondale ST-600

  8. #8
    Senior Member Looigi's Avatar
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    Saw a report on an interesting bit of research which showed that the training response of people can vary over a continuum from negative to some highest response level. That's right. It showed that some people doing a supervised well structured training program actually get worse, most get somewhat better and few got a heck of a lot more fit. The interesting thing was the response curve was pretty much a straight line, meaning a given individual had equal probability of falling anywhere along it. There was no grouping of response levels.

  9. #9
    A might bewildered... Dudelsack's Avatar
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    How much better can I get?

    ^^^Gonna need a link to that one.

    Cyclists are often test subjects for studies on over training, because most of us are guppies and will do what we're told.

  10. #10
    just another gosling Carbonfiberboy's Avatar
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    I got back into cycling at 50, peaked at 63. "They say" it takes 7 years to peak. Took me a little longer. Any training program works, but some work better than others, depending on the individual and their goals. Main thing is to stick with a program for long enough to see how it works, say a year. I'm 68 and I can still put on muscle, leg sled 4X bodyweight, etc.

  11. #11
    rugged individualist wphamilton's Avatar
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    I'd like to see the study also but I'm not really skeptical. I've previously seen one showing that the effectiveness of high intensity interval training varied according to individuals (sorry, no link there also).

    If so, it means that we can be better to do"what works" individually than to slavishly follow a formal training regimen. Maybe. Assuming we can actually test "what works" in some disciplined and precise manner. I may suffer from some "confirmation bias" since I don't like structured training and would rather ride harder or ride longer as the whim strikes me.

    I think OP is already doing well since a couple of centuries at 15 mph is nothing to scoff at. I've personally had the same questions and I personally think there's no accurate answer to "how much better" is possible. The first couple of years with rapid improvement, it's easy to feel that you're stronger, almost on a day to day basis. After working through a plateau the gains are more incremental. Can we keep improving, but less and less, asymptotically approaching some line, where does that line move with respect to age? Beats the heck out of me, but I suspect that that also is a very individual thing.

  12. #12
    tsl
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    When I joined here, the general consensus was that without a specific "training program", you could expect to improve every year for five years or so, just so long as you cycle regularly.

    With a training program, improvements come on a bit faster (it still takes time--years) and you can extend the year-on-year improvements for as long as your genes allow.

    I'm in my 50s. This was my eighth season, and my best ever by every measure--speed, distance, endurance, climbing, enjoyment. While I don't have a specific training program (I don't handle rigidity well) I do routinely make efforts outside my comfort zone.

    For example, while I don't care for doing timed intervals, I enjoy doing "sprint intervals"--stoplight-to-stoplight max effort dashes on my commute. (There are 47 stop signs or stoplights on my minimum 9-mile R/T commute, an average of one every 1,000 feet.) I call it racing the cars. Sometimes I even win.

    I also don't care for hill repeats, but I will detour to take in a series of hills on my commute. As for distance, I won't join the club on a century ride, but I will ride 15-20 miles to the start of a half-century ride, then ride home.

    I balance these with near-zero effort "pleasure cruises", what others might call recovery rides.
    My two favorite things in life are libraries and bicycles. They both move people forward without wasting anything.
    The perfect day: Riding a bike to the library.—Peter Golkin


    Lucky for me, I work at a library and bike to work.

  13. #13
    Senior Member NVanHiker's Avatar
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    I don't know how old the OP is, but I am 66 and still building muscle as measured by periodically increasing the weight used at the gym. Waiting for Denver to weigh in here...

  14. #14
    Let's do a Century jppe's Avatar
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    Do you have a chance to ride with faster riders? That's a pretty good way of improving your performance.
    Ride your Ride!!

  15. #15
    Lover of Old Chrome Moly Myosmith's Avatar
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    You didn't say how old you are, but anyone who is healthy enough to ride a century at 15 mph most certainly can still build muscle and improve.

    Make a list of things you would like to do on a bike and rank them in order of importance. Then set some goals and design a training plan. Set your goals high enough to be a challenge. You should also set some short-term goals that will be stepping stones. Remember these are YOUR goals, live up to your expectations, not some arbitrary standard that someone else thinks you should have.

    Yes, adding some interval training will improve your speed and cardiovascular fitness. How much and exactly what form of intervals will depend on your goals. Intervals can be anything from a 60 second hard sprint every 15 minutes on your otherwise long-steady ride, to a full Tabata, I think I'm going to die, workout once a week or so (not recommended as your first interval training).

    Sure, someday you will have to accept that your goals are going to have to evolve as you age, but don't use that as a cop out. When I'm 100 my goal might be to just enjoy riding my bike every day I can until they pry it out from under my cold, dead backside, or I might still be trying to outsprint that 80-something pup that has been p***ing me off on club rides
    Lead, follow or get out of the way

  16. #16
    Senior Member osteoclast's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GrandpaEd View Post
    ..... Will I gain anything by doing interval work?
    Yes. You get more bang for your buck from intervals than from miles/ km.

    Read Carmichael's Time Crunched Cyclist. Was doing 8 min steady state intervals in the gym today.

    Oh...I'm 62 and started back 5 years ago. Stronger each year.

  17. #17
    A might bewildered... Dudelsack's Avatar
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    I'm going to be a test subject. I hate structured programs and am purely a recreational rider, and yet am going to try the 11 week regimen of the TCTP. If I shed 15 pounds and learn to kick ass and take names, then it will be shown to be an effective program.

    I'll believe it when I see it.

  18. #18
    Senior Member osteoclast's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wphamilton View Post
    ....Can we keep improving, but less and less, asymptotically approaching some line, where does that line move with respect to age? Beats the heck out of me, but I suspect that that also is a very individual thing.
    You can bring your fitness to a peak (your peak) with a training program over 10-12 weeks.

    Essentially intervals are stressful and sometimes us old guys are just not that motivated to suffer to that extent.

    So how much can we improve our individual fitness? Depends on how hard we want to work and unless you're racing you're probably not going to be that motivated.

  19. #19
    Senior Member osteoclast's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dudelsack View Post
    I'm going to be a test subject. I hate structured programs and am purely a recreational rider, and yet am going to try the 11 week regimen of the TCTP. If I shed 15 pounds and learn to kick ass and take names, then it will be shown to be an effective program.

    I'll believe it when I see it.
    If you just shed the 15 lbs, you'll kick ass at your present level of fitness. ;^D

  20. #20
    Senior Member osteoclast's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by John_V View Post
    Yep! That's a fact!

    .. "The more you ride, the better you get. The better you get, the more you ride."
    I think I'll use that as my signature.

  21. #21
    rugged individualist wphamilton's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by osteoclast View Post
    You can bring your fitness to a peak (your peak) with a training program over 10-12 weeks.

    Essentially intervals are stressful and sometimes us old guys are just not that motivated to suffer to that extent.

    So how much can we improve our individual fitness? Depends on how hard we want to work and unless you're racing you're probably not going to be that motivated.
    I suspect that's just one peak among many, potentially. Local maxima. To reach your full potential is likely to take more than 12 weeks.

    I'll also take issue with the idea that only racing can motivate someone to do what it takes. Certainly it will inform your methods, but the only motivation? I think that there are many approaches, other methods and motivations.

  22. #22
    Senior Member osteoclast's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wphamilton View Post
    ....I'll also take issue with the idea that only racing can motivate someone to do what it takes. Certainly it will inform your methods, but the only motivation? I think that there are many approaches, other methods and motivations.
    Didn't mean to give that impression; I don't race but will be doing a Carmichael Training Camp in April.

    An excellent book which talks about all these issues is Jo Friel's book Cycling past 50:

    http://www.amazon.com/Cycling-Past-Ageless-Athlete-Series/dp/0880117370


    Cheers
    Quote Originally Posted by John_V View Post
    "The more you ride, the better you get. The better you get, the more you ride."

  23. #23
    Senior Member bruce19's Avatar
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    When Pete Pensyres set the record for the Race Across America he did it by changing his training to include more interval work. http://www.raceacrossamerica.org/raa...N_webcat_id=72

  24. #24
    A might bewildered... Dudelsack's Avatar
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    Now's the time to feel good about yourself:



    I generated this stuff using the Kinetic inRide pseudo-power meter as I calibrated it this AM. I intend to do the field test on Saturday.

    I would be shocked if my FTP is a watt over 170, which is pretty sad.

    OTOH I feel cool knowing what a FTP is, much more so having any idea what mine is.

    Ill start the program on Monday. I can post my progress here if there's any interest. This from someone who's highly allergic to numbers, training programs, and waking up early.

  25. #25
    Junior Member GrandpaEd's Avatar
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    Wow! Thanks for all the replies! Much here to read and think over.
    Just for the record, I will be 58 this month

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