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How do you know it's time to just be a rider?

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Fifty Plus (50+) Share the victories, challenges, successes and special concerns of bicyclists 50 and older. Especially useful for those entering or reentering bicycling.

How do you know it's time to just be a rider?

Old 11-10-16, 02:22 PM
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FlashBazbo
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How do you know it's time to just be a rider?

Dumb question, maybe. But, this time of year at this time of life, it's the one I've been wrestling with.

I'm 56 and, for about 15 years, my favorite cycling events have been long endurance races and gran fondos, riding for speed. This year, I and my arthritic knees already decided to give up the 200-mile gravel races. They just require too much Winter training time and physical punishment. My fallback position is to train for gran fondos that award prizes for sub-5 hour centuries. Not races, but primarily pack riding for a fast time. Still, they require quite a bit of high-intensity interval training over the Winter. I like the speed, but life would be a LOT simpler if I decided to "just be a casual rider." I don't think I can ride many sub-5 hour centuries without serious Winter training miles. Is it time to ride the centuries and gran fondos just to finish the ride? That's not much of a challenge (yet) but is it time to go that way?

If you've gone through this decision point, how do/did you know it's time to stop investing so much in speed and "just be a casual rider?" What was the tipping point for you (either way)?

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Old 11-10-16, 02:35 PM
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It sounds to me like you already know the answer.

I'm 50, and I used to road race, but now I ride for pleasure and to commute. Club rides, touring, and other non-race riding is what I enjoy these days. Sometimes I still like to ride fast, but the only person I'm racing is myself, haha. I don't train for anything.

Enjoy the simple pleasures of just riding for the fun of it, it's really very satisfying.
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Old 11-10-16, 02:40 PM
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Hey, same age as you -

How do you know it's time to just be a rider?
If you've gone through this decision point, how do/did you know it's time to stop investing so much in speed and "just be a casual rider?"What was the tipping point for you (either way)?
5 months ago TODAY, I was 'critically' injured when my bike and I were sent flying, crashed into by a fuel tanker. That's the version I've heard. I'll never actually remember. I wasn't aware of ANYTHING until several weeks later, in the hospital.

So for me, it's time to just be a rider because I enjoy riding! It makes me happy, makes me feel good, and most importantly, I'm still alive!

This may or may not help - don't decide the way I have!

JM
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Old 11-10-16, 02:54 PM
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A local rider here took the silver in the criterium at last month's Huntsman World Senior Games in Utah. In the 80-84 division. He rides faster than me. I'm 51.

All that to say, I hope to preserve my knees (and the rest of my body parts!) to be riding for as long as I can.
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Old 11-10-16, 03:26 PM
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When racing isn't fun anymore. I mean ... we're not paid to do this, so if it isn't fun, why bother?
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Old 11-10-16, 03:35 PM
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Originally Posted by Biker395 View Post
When racing isn't fun anymore. I mean ... we're not paid to do this, so if it isn't fun, why bother?
You completely misunderstand. I never said racing isn't fun anymore. Racing IS fun! Racing is a blast! If it weren't, this would be a very easy call.

But training 6 days a week through the winter sometimes . . . it's tempting to stay in bed rather than hit the road when it's below freezing, still dark outside, and the clock says 4:30 a.m. But you don't get to race well if you don't put in the winter miles. It's the winter workout that lets me keep riding bikes with the youngsters. And it's the winter workout that SOMETIMES isn't any fun.
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Old 11-10-16, 03:42 PM
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I can only offer input based on my own riding experience, which never included racing or endurance rides, but used to involve mountain biking and touring for ten hours at a time on the saddle. Now that I am 54 and my back problems from 20 years ago have only gotten 20 years harder to ignore, I've given up jumping roots and bouncing over rocks and I've also significantly shortened the mileage and time of my tours.

As others have said, when something that once meant a big deal to you becomes either boring or too much of a challenge for your aging body, there's no reason to keep doing it.
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Old 11-10-16, 03:49 PM
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The struggle may be one of identity rather than activity.

If you are a racer then when you stop racing you become something else. If racing is just something you do then all you are doing is stopping an activity and your identity doesn't change.

At the end of the day I'm not a cyclist but a a father, a generous person, an adopted child of God who happens to cycle. Yeah I love it, but stopping doesn't change my life. Cycling is just something I do, not who I am, and I'm able to find other things to do.

Why not volunteer at the velodrome or start a racing team or become a League of American Bicyclist instructor or something?


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Old 11-10-16, 03:53 PM
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Generally when you begin to ask the question, you're about to hang it up. Trust your gut.
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Old 11-10-16, 04:16 PM
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I'm 66 and going through the same thing (mostly) as the OP but my events weren't racing but rather double centuries (ridden 75 doubles since I moved to CA in '95).


My test was to take a year off (2016) and not ride any doubles and reconsider at the end of 2016 which, as you know, is not quite here yet.


I still ride a lot (7,000 plus miles year to date), still ride centuries (rode one with 11,200 ft. of climbing last Sat.) and a lot of climbing rides (known locally as "Climb Fests") but no doubles.


Unlike the OP, my back is giving me trouble, rather than my knees. Also unlike the OP, winter training in SoCal is lots easier (weather wise anyway) than in TN.


Tentative plan for 2017 is to ride a few of the early season doubles (thinking Camino Real and Spring Solvang) and see if they are still fun (as Vic - Biker395 pointed out above). If so . . . will continue. If not, I won't feel compelled to keep training for and riding doubles.


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Old 11-10-16, 04:30 PM
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Just enjoy the journey, don't worry about how long it takes to get to the destination.
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Old 11-10-16, 05:00 PM
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54, and new to road cycling but i compete in moto trials and have for 40 years. do you earn a living riding your bicycle? if not then just have fun man that's what the hobby is about, have fun. don't let it consume you just have fun.
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Old 11-10-16, 06:20 PM
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What do you guys do about the sun? I am a freckled Celt who probably missed being a redhead by about two strands of DNA. I have done a DC and several centuries, and there were other times I rode in the middle of the day, but now, at age 66, I try to ride mainly in the early morning hours, sometimes in the late afternoon, and I try to avoid the midday sun as much as I can.
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Old 11-10-16, 06:42 PM
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Originally Posted by John E View Post
What do you guys do about the sun?

I'm not a Celt, but I do live where summer sun can be intense (under 100 deg and I'm thinking about getting the winter gear out). Here's how I deal with it:
  • Sun Sleeves for arms.
  • Sun Sleeves for legs.
  • Headsweats "do rag" for under the helmet (less necessary before my hair started thinning)
  • Sun Screen for face.
  • Full Finger gloves
Essentially, same approach as when dealing with very cold weather - no exposed skin. Not always the most comfortable (but not as bad as you'd think), but much better than dealing with possible consequences of excessive UV exposure.
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Old 11-10-16, 08:31 PM
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I knew it was time the first day I resumed cycling last year at age 57 after 30 years away. I bought a used bike, intended to ride it the three miles home and collapsed after one mile. Literally flopped onto the grass by the road. Coincidentally it was at a bus stop and the bus was only half a mile away. The driver kindly loaded my bike onto the rack and showed me how to do it for next time.

Despite having been very athletic and competitive as a younger fellow, I knew I'd never be in that kind of physical condition again (along with other injuries and health issues).

So I decided to just enjoy myself and enjoy every ride for its own sake, not with any goal in mind other than to enjoy the moment and feeling of moving under my own power again.

More than a year later I can ride 20-60 miles in a day. Not fast. My best average over 20 miles is still only 14 mph, and usually closer to 12 mph. I have a casual plan -- not a goal -- to ride a century by the end of the year. It'll probably take all day and part of the night because I'll be averaging 12 mph and taking a break every 20 miles. But the goal, if there is one, is to enjoy it, not finish it. Finishing will happen by itself if I enjoy the journey.
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Old 11-10-16, 09:04 PM
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Amen, Canklecat.
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Old 11-11-16, 12:08 AM
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How do you know it's time to just be a rider?

I'm 56 also, but I have not had a "tipping point". I never will, as I never did have any use for being timed. Racing, gran fondues, nahh. If I want to ride fast, and I can ride fast, I ride fast. If not, I don't. Of course it's all relative.
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Old 11-11-16, 12:54 AM
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A way to take the speed out if it and still keep the challenge. Do the rides on a fix gear. Forget about staying with people. Just do the ride.

I used to race. But I am a skinny climber. The work it takes to stay with the fast crowd doesn't fit with the rest of my life. But I can always jump on the fix gear and get a ride in. Even if I don't push it, I get home feeling I did something. And I get props for just finishing.

Warning: if you try this, you might just fall in love with fix gears. I was hooked my first ride 40 years ago even though I tried to coast and crashed.

If you try this, take the advice I wish I'd heard. Put tape on your seatpost exactly 1"above the frame. Lower your seat 1/4". This will make it much harder to lock or semi-lock your knee when you try to coast. You're 56. You will try. The lower your seat the less you will rip up muscles. Once you've tried a coast or two, you can put seat back up.

Ben
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Old 11-11-16, 03:19 AM
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Hey Flash,
The answer is 'do what floats your boat'.
Slow or fast doesn't matter.
Maybe you need a weight training specific winter program? Cross training activity for the cold days? Fat bike? When I lose 10 pounds, it's soooo much easier to go fast!

You'll face a similar decision, several times down the road. It's the old risk/reward trade-off of staying physically active outdoors. You X-country ski? Great exercise.

ps - i grew up in Nashtown, not far from Vandy Stadium.
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Old 11-11-16, 05:41 AM
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Being I have never "raced", the question to me would be like asking when will I ride slower. That is not in my immediate plans. So, to answer your question I refer you to....
[IMG][/IMG]
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Old 11-11-16, 07:14 AM
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For me, it's the tale of two sports.

Skiing--with the help of technology and good conditioning, I'm not that far off at 60 from where I was in my 20's after I retired from racing. I'm pretty sure that at some point age will take me to a place where my mind remembers promises my body can't fill. In other words, there are some measuring sticks that I will come up short against. I don't know, but I suspect that may take away the fun in a way that I no longer want to get out as much.

Cycling--I'm only 6 years into a return to biking (used it to cross train in the late 70s). After a couple of years of building up, I have hit a place speed and distance wise where I'm good to go just about anywhere and hang with most riders. How fast I go depends on who I am with. No strava for me. The battery on my computer has been out for a year. No intervals, but I work hard on the trainer when weather keeps me inside. Inside or out, I seldom miss more than a day or two every month. Because my enjoyment of cycling has never been wrapped up in performance goals, I doubt that it will diminish as I get slower and older.

To the OP--if it was me, I'd likely do what Rick did and recommends-take some substantial time with a different set of riding goals in mind and see how it fits. Call it mental training for the next phase of your cycling. You can always come back to riding against the clock and the work it entails.
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Old 11-11-16, 07:38 AM
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Originally Posted by canklecat View Post
I knew it was time the first day I resumed cycling last year at age 57 after 30 years away.

Similar for me, although I was a few years younger when I returned. But I fairly quickly realized that enjoying the ride and trying to get significantly faster were somewhat incompatible for me.
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Old 11-11-16, 08:34 AM
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When the temperature hits around 60 that's when I "just ride". Relative to my standards. Relative to racing and 200 mile events I've been just riding since I started.
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Old 11-11-16, 08:52 AM
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I don't know, but I'll tell you when I get there.
The problem for me at age 53 is that when I started cycling 31 years ago I started with the sole intention of racing. I quit in 93-4 and then off and on til last year. So my mentality is not riding for ridings sake or for fitness or enjoyment but to train to get faster. Perhaps ill stop training when I lose another 20 lbs and break an hour in a 40k time trial. So it maybe another two seasons. I know if I keep living one day my training rides will turn into just rides.
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Old 11-11-16, 08:53 AM
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We have bike computers that can tell us how fast we are going, how far we have gone and when we are at sea level.

When somebody invents a bike computer that has a "Fun Factor" mode, we'll have the answer to that.
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