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  1. #1
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    How long 'till peak condition?

    How long would it take someone who is just starting cycling to reach their full potential in terms of endurance and speed on a bike? Assume the person wasn't doing much activity before they started cycling and they start following a decent training program based on the Training Bible or Chris Carmichael's program or something like that.

    I know the immediate results would be quick and then improvements would start to slow down. I'm wondering how much fitter and faster a person would be after a year vs. after six months? And if gains would continue to be seen in years 2, 3, 4, etc? (assuming that we compare at the same point in their training program, e.g. their peak).

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    If you actually followed a program, and I mean, FOLLOWED it, like:

    Stretching
    Diet
    Consuming the right food/drink while biking, plus before and after a ride
    Cross training
    Varying your workout
    Watching your heart (HR Monitor) and adjusting your plan to it
    Taking appropriate recovery days
    Consistently pushing yourself further

    I think you would see an incredible improvement after about 3 months, decent improvement after 6, and slight improvement after a year. I could be wrong but I think the law of diminishing returns factors into bicycling like it does with near everything else. Between today and 6 months after your program starts you could be at 75% of your maximum potential but 12 months from now perhaps only at 80%, and need another 5 years to hit 100%.

    It all depends on:

    You
    * Your physiology
    * Your motivation
    * Your financial ability
    * Your available time
    * Your mental strength
    * Your support group
    * Your plan
    * How well you stick to your plan


    I don't know when Carmichael picked up Lance Armstrong but Lance was already winning races before Carmichael came along. But Lance, after applying Carmichael's training, became an even better athlete and has probably become a better and better athlete each year since then.

  3. #3
    Climbing Fool terrymorse's Avatar
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    Aerobic capacity gains plateau after about a year. Increases in lactate threshold continue for 3-4 years. Mechanical efficiency continues indefinitely.

    Here's a good article on adaptations over time .
    Managing Director, Undiscovered Country Tours

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    Thanks for your thoughts guys!

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    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    In terms of endurance, it might be 10 or 20 years before a new rider reaches a peak. Most riders don't start reaching their endurance potential until they are in their mid-30s, and usually peak around their mid-late 40s.

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    Senior Member Richard Cranium's Avatar
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    "In terms of endurance, it might be 10 or 20 years before a new rider reaches a peak. "

    What a load of crap..... where DO YOU get these goofy ideas?

  7. #7
    Senior Member Richard Cranium's Avatar
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    "Mechanical efficiency continues indefinitely."

    I doubt you really think that, and the website you cite doesn't really support that "indefinite" viewpoint.

    Is a 60-year-old bowler better than a 40-year-old? Because of 20 years of bowling?

    Are you still figuring out how to make "circles" when you climb?

    While much specifity training is cumulative there is a definite "endpoint" to that part of the process. Much of one's learned-biomechanics are transient in nature.

    Hence the phrase: "in the groove" or "in good form" or "on top of his game"......when referring to professionals at or near their peak.

  8. #8
    Climbing Fool terrymorse's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Richard Cranium
    "Mechanical efficiency continues indefinitely."

    I doubt you really think that, and the website you cite doesn't really support that "indefinite" viewpoint.

    Is a 60-year-old bowler better than a 40-year-old? Because of 20 years of bowling?

    Are you still figuring out how to make "circles" when you climb?

    While much specifity training is cumulative there is a definite "endpoint" to that part of the process. Much of one's learned-biomechanics are transient in nature.
    "indefinitely" , as in a time period that is not definite. Contrast with "infinite".

    Learned biomechanics is only one aspect of mechanical efficiency/economy. There may well be an "endpoint" to efficiency gains, but I haven't seen a study that looked for it. Apparently, each year of intense training brings improved economy. When does it plateau? Don't know. One very famous cyclist had an 8% increase in efficiency in 7 years of intense training, and he started out pretty fit.

    Aging masters cyclists continue to perform well, even though their VO2max numbers decline. It would be interesting to study the ones who have been doing it for 15-20 years.
    Managing Director, Undiscovered Country Tours

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    Theodore Roosevelt's idol TheKillerPenguin's Avatar
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    That was an interesting article, thanks for posting it Terry.
    Masochism is a training adaptation.

  10. #10
    Senior Member Richard Cranium's Avatar
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    "This case describes the physiological maturation from ages 21-28 y"

    Agreed, you're infinitely indefinite, but then again, you "like" to ride hills.......keep makin' circles, you're gettin' better all the time.....

    As far the case for Masters succes while having decreasing ability in other systems, it is 'argued' that their continuing success comes from controlling their overall efficiency during a performance, not just mechanics. In other words - they learn how to race better.

    My point is that your comments implied that there are continued biomechanical adaptations that increase efficiency after years and years of training. My point is that there is no physiological basis for your comments. If someone gets better at something after training for 10 or 15 years -- it's because they corrected or improved the technique being trained, and "adapted" their current muscles to the the "specifity" that the newly-learned movements recruit.

    Sorry, to tick you off, I'm splitting hairs, but I'm "splitting them" with a "freshly adapted, newly-trained set of muscles, not the "indefinitely", who-knows-how-old-muscles you referred to.......

    "Mechanical efficiency continues indefinitely." - I thought you meant "increases" in mechanical efficiency continue indefinitely. Nevermind, I don't know what you're talking about,,,,,,

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    Climbing Fool terrymorse's Avatar
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    Yes, you are splitting hairs.
    Managing Director, Undiscovered Country Tours

  12. #12
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Richard Cranium
    "In terms of endurance, it might be 10 or 20 years before a new rider reaches a peak. "

    What a load of crap..... where DO YOU get these goofy ideas?

    Think of it this way ... most new riders think that a 25 mile ride is a LONG distance. They ride for a couple years and do 25 miles a number of times, and all of a sudden that is not a long distance anymore, but 50 miles is. A year or so later they've tackled 50 miles and are looking to do a century. But a century still seems like a LONG distance.

    Many riders leave it at that after they've done their century, but there's the whole world of Randonneuring out there ... ultra distance cycling ... ENDURANCE stuff!

    The average age of the Randonneurs on the PBP in 2003 was 49 years old. Since most cyclists start to take cycling seriously again when they are in their late 20s ... and since the average age of ultra distance cyclists is late 40s, that's TWENTY YEARS!

    Take a look at the PBP stats:

    http://www.randonneurs.bc.ca/pbp/sta..._stat_sum.html

    PAR TRANCHES D'AGE des INSCRITS (age distribution of registrants):

    < 20 ans 3
    de 20 30 ans 141
    de 30 40 ans 600
    de 40 50 ans 1470
    de 50 60 ans 1503
    de 60 70 ans 432
    > 70 ans 35

    As you can clearly see there are VERY FEW young riders in that famous ultra distance, endurance event. The bulk of the riders are between 40 and 60 years old.


    So, that's where I get my numbers. From FACTS.



    Oh, incidentally, I should add that while cyclists do need to be physically fit for endurance cycling, the bulk of what's needed to get through those rides is mental strength, and most (but not all) cyclists don't reach the point where they've got the stubbornness, determination, and mental strength until they are older. So when I talk about reaching a "peak" I'm referring to the whole package.

  13. #13
    Name's Ash ...housewares Doctor Morbius's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Machka
    ... Many riders leave it at that after they've done their century, but there's the whole world of Randonneuring out there ... ultra distance cycling ... ENDURANCE stuff!

    The average age of the Randonneurs on the PBP in 2003 was 49 years old. Since most cyclists start to take cycling seriously again when they are in their late 20s ... and since the average age of ultra distance cyclists is late 40s, that's TWENTY YEARS!

    As you can clearly see there are VERY FEW young riders in that famous ultra distance, endurance event. The bulk of the riders are between 40 and 60 years old.


    Oh, incidentally, I should add that while cyclists do need to be physically fit for endurance cycling, the bulk of what's needed to get through those rides is mental strength, and most (but not all) cyclists don't reach the point where they've got the stubbornness, determination, and mental strength until they are older. So when I talk about reaching a "peak" I'm referring to the whole package.
    I think part of the reason there are so many older ultra long distance cyclists and runners out there is because that is one area that they can still improve upon. At that age it's incredibly difficult to keep up the speeds and intensity necessary to compete with younger athletes. I don't have any hard data or scientific studies to back this up. It's just been my personal experience. I can tack on miles over time without too much trouble other than dealing with various pains (saddle, hands, neck, feet). However, I can't improve my speeds to save me. I'll be 45 next week.

    Last September after 18 months of steady training I did my first century with an average speed of 15.9 MPH average. A week later I did my personal best 50 miler at 17 MPH average. That's only 1.1 MPH different but it felt like it was 5 MPH. It was significantly harder than the century and took a couple extra days to recover from just to get squeeze out that 1.1 MPH average extra speed. Brutal.
    Last edited by Doctor Morbius; 04-29-05 at 08:45 PM.
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  14. #14
    Senior Member Richard Cranium's Avatar
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    "So, that's where I get my numbers. From FACTS."

    Right, the facts support the idea that distance cycling apeals to older cyclists. The facts also support that older (more experienced cyclists?) do as well and in many cases better than younger cyclists.

    As far as you "20 years" of improvement comments, what can I say? You have real trouble understanding concepts. You are misapplying maturity and the time availible to one section of the population for a season of "overdistance training" as to be a result of years and years of activity. (like maybe being able to take off to DO the long rides in the first place)

    M - person, you can rest assured - that if PBP offered $5000 each to the first 200 finishers, not very many of them would be over 40. And, no doubt few of the finishers would be RUSA or life-long distance riders with "20 years of training"........
    Last edited by Richard Cranium; 05-01-05 at 06:39 AM.

  15. #15
    Email for new group DnvrFox's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Machka
    Think of it this way ... most new riders think that a 25 mile ride is a LONG distance. They ride for a couple years and do 25 miles a number of times, and all of a sudden that is not a long distance anymore, but 50 miles is. A year or so later they've tackled 50 miles and are looking to do a century. But a century still seems like a LONG distance.

    Many riders leave it at that after they've done their century, but there's the whole world of Randonneuring out there ... ultra distance cycling ... ENDURANCE stuff!
    Are you kidding?

    "They ride for a couple of years and do 25 miles a number of times?"

    You seriously believe that?

    I (and most new riders I know) was at 25 miles within 4 weeks of starting my cycling, 50 miles within 60 days or so and did centuries and a 350 Ride the Rockies supported tour within 3 months. And I started at 58 years old.

    Three years before you are ready to do a Century? Come on, now!
    Last edited by DnvrFox; 05-01-05 at 11:13 AM.
    Gone - email me at dnvrfox@aol.com for new group of old 50+ folks

  16. #16
    Don't Believe the Hype RiPHRaPH's Avatar
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    jakemoffett has it right.

    every year you recruit new muscle fibers. so smaller gains are made, but it takes a shorter time to get in race shape each year because of this recruitment.

    being able to jump up to 28 mph after going 22mph on a flat then years later being able to jump up to almost 30mph on the same course is a huge advancement that takes years of the PROPER training.


    endurance might be somewhat subjective, but speed for what length of time? being able to jump up to 28mph and hold it for extended periods of time takes years and miles.

    the original question came from arizona, so the off season is shorter, but each year it takes you less time to reach your peak after even the shortest of off-seasons.
    I have enough words to get me into trouble, but not enough to get me out of trouble.

  17. #17
    Senior Member skydive69's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Summit
    How long would it take someone who is just starting cycling to reach their full potential in terms of endurance and speed on a bike? Assume the person wasn't doing much activity before they started cycling and they start following a decent training program based on the Training Bible or Chris Carmichael's program or something like that.

    I know the immediate results would be quick and then improvements would start to slow down. I'm wondering how much fitter and faster a person would be after a year vs. after six months? And if gains would continue to be seen in years 2, 3, 4, etc? (assuming that we compare at the same point in their training program, e.g. their peak).
    The biggest constraint is the growth in lactate threshold which does not seem to transfer inter-sport. One can reach pretty close to their V02max in about a year, but it takes years of riding to approach one's optimal lactate threshold, and it is that factor that limits most of us. Obviously genetics plays a major role in that someone like Lance not only has an incredibly high natural V02max, but an incredible lactate tolerance.
    www.brokennecktobrokenrecords.com

  18. #18
    Theodore Roosevelt's idol TheKillerPenguin's Avatar
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    I'm having difficulty understanding lactate threshold. Would increasing it mean that you can perform more work before you go anerobic, or would increasing it mean you are capable of spending more time anerobic?
    Masochism is a training adaptation.

  19. #19
    Senior Member skydive69's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PenguinDeD
    I'm having difficulty understanding lactate threshold. Would increasing it mean that you can perform more work before you go anerobic, or would increasing it mean you are capable of spending more time anerobic?
    A higher LT enables you to perform more work (go faster and longer) without going anerobic. Two riders can have the same Vo2max but the one with the higher LT will be able to ride at a pace that would cause the other rider to enter the anerobic zone, hence one would be riding along comfortably while the other is having a painful ride. Unfortunately, it is something that takes a very long time to reach optimal (for a given person) levels.

    When I first started riding, I was told by an excellent rider with an incredible record in competition that "It takes many years to develop as a rider." I didn't understand that because I came from a competitive running background, and had a great natural cardio system with a good VO2max. I finally started understanding things when I read Joe Friels, "The Cyclist's Training Bible."

    Bottom line is that a high LT enables you to take full advantage of a high Vo2max.
    www.brokennecktobrokenrecords.com

  20. #20
    Ready to go anywhere Csson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Richard Cranium
    if PBP offered $5000 each to the first 200 finishers, not very many of them would be over 40. And, no doubt few of the finishers would be RUSA or life-long distance riders with "[10 to] 20 years of training"........
    I think I'm with Machka on the endurance issue. Since you bring up professional cyclists, look at the Tour de France (instead of PBP), where most winners are about 30 years old. I'd say most future TdF winners start cycling seriously no later than age 10-15, and are Div 1 pros by 22-23 years of age. That's 10-20 years of serious training .

    I agree though that it is possible to jump to long distances much faster. I did a 300k ride a few years ago with my brother; he had trained (and not very seriously) for three months.
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  21. #21
    Climbing Fool terrymorse's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Richard Cranium
    As far as you "20 years" of improvement comments, what can I say? You have real trouble understanding concepts. You are misapplying maturity and the time availible to one section of the population for a season of "overdistance training" as to be a result of years and years of activity. (like maybe being able to take off to DO the long rides in the first place)

    M - person, you can rest assured - that if PBP offered $5000 each to the first 200 finishers, not very many of them would be over 40. And, no doubt few of the finishers would be RUSA or life-long distance riders with "20 years of training"........
    Hmm. I'm not impressed. Claiming that someone doesn't understand concepts when what you provide in rebuttal is unsubstantiated speculation and opinion: unconvincing.

    Very little research has been done on the aging athlete, so any statement about performance requires some level of speculation. "Long term endurance adaptations", "maturity", "time to train": all speculative. Until these older athletes get studied more fully, it's all about opinion.

    But here's something that's known: it has been shown that Type I muscle fiber (the one that's the most resistant to fatigue) responds better to training in older athletes. This might help explain the improving performance with age in ultra-endurance events (with a strong emphasis on "might").
    Managing Director, Undiscovered Country Tours

  22. #22
    Senior Member Richard Cranium's Avatar
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    Well, there's no explaining your own contradictory reasoning and positions.
    After all you cited the Master's website.....

    Goofy statements galore. There's no scientific evidence to support anyone's mumbo-jumbo about 10-20 year "cumulative?" training adaptations.

    It's hardly my duty to teach basic physiology to disinterested crap dispensers. Just "being Richard Cranium" is enough of a job already.

    I can share the perspective that we all "wish" we were getting better with age. In that small degree I can explain your baseless, and yes, ridiculous statements.

  23. #23
    Name's Ash ...housewares Doctor Morbius's Avatar
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    Mario Cipollini and Andrea Tafi recently retired because they couldn't keep up with the younger guys. They even said so much.
    I did not achieve this position in life by having some snot-nosed punk leave my cheese out in the wind. - Ed Rooney


    It's not that I'm lazy. I'm just highly motivated to RELAX!!

  24. #24
    Climbing Fool terrymorse's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Doctor Morbius
    Mario Cipollini and Andrea Tafi recently retired because they couldn't keep up with the younger guys. They even said so much.
    Maybe they'll now switch over to ultra-endurance events, where their age is a competitive advantage.
    Managing Director, Undiscovered Country Tours

  25. #25
    Just ride. roadbuzz's Avatar
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    There are an awful lot of variables that aren't being discussed. Assuming we're starting with a young but relatively physically mature (say 18 y.o.), healthy, previously untrained person, with the objective of being the best cyclist he can be...doing everything right, and assuming he is unhampered by pesky interruptions like work, wives, kids, etc.

    I can't point to supporting studies, but I don't think I need to. I don't care who you are or how carefully you choose your parents, the adaptations and improvements will take years, and continue for years. I mean, look at how even a serious Cat 2 trains... say 450 miles a week during Base. It becomes a question of how long to you have to train before you can even handle a load like that, and not be overtraining? Strength... (mass and recruitment) increase with time, and more slowly than most would like. It doesn't happen in 3 seasons and then stop. This individual *will* likely peak in terms of racing capability, sometime in his early 30s, due to the aging process.

    For those of us with work, wives, kids, etc., it runs the gamut. You can continue to improve for years, and I agree with Machka... endurance decays more slowly than any other aspect of conditioning, and thus can and does accumulate and improve over years... easily to the point where factors other than endurance become the limiters (saddle sores, hours in the day, tired neck, tired arms... read some randonneur logs).

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