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The riding philosophies of retired bicyclists.

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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.

The riding philosophies of retired bicyclists.

Old 07-31-17, 06:19 PM
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elocs
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The riding philosophies of retired bicyclists.

I've noticed here with retired bicyclists how goal oriented they are in riding 15, 20, 30 or more miles each day and how so many of all ages of bike riders seem to be obsessed with speed--they went 40 mph or, my God!, 50 mph. I worked for 4 decades, mostly at jobs which required physical labor and hard physical work. I was required to usually work 8 hours a day and was usually "encouraged" to work faster.

Now that I am retired and there's really no place I need to be most of the time I find pleasure in enjoying the journey. Even within my city there are some beautiful paved trails that run for miles through the marsh in the center of town where I commonly see deer and other wildlife that I would miss if my goal was to ride fast and consumed with riding far. Riding my long wheel based recumbent, everything unfolds in front of me. I ride for however long and far I ride and I'm never disappointed if I have not covered enough miles or ridden fast enough. I'm just not a driven, type A personality.


Is this goal driven riding philosophy a guy thing? If after a lifetime of working so we still have a need to prove we can still produce by riding a set number of miles a day and going faster, faster?

Do we need to do this to prove we are not old yet? I can appreciate the need or desire for goals but I would encourage those who seem to have their bike riding wrapped around to goals to mix it up with some rides just for enjoyment and to smell the roses and to sometimes just to stop and look at and appreciate what is around you. Then you can go back to ticking off all of those miles and trying to break your personal speed record.
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Old 07-31-17, 07:49 PM
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I have always enjoyed exploring by bike, even being on MTB terrain with 23 tires on a road bike. But when I couldn't run as much anymore, I built up my riding to maintain and improve aerobic fitness. Since retirement I don't have the commuting miles to do it, but I have a schedule which I adhere to pretty closely, as I find I am a creature of habit and if I don't plan and stick to the plan it gets too easy to find excuses. My goals are gradual improvement.

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Old 07-31-17, 07:54 PM
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Some of us just like to get on the bike and pedal. Speed is fun, but so is distance, and so is being able to negotiate the land.

Last edited by Road Fan; 07-31-17 at 07:59 PM.
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Old 07-31-17, 07:58 PM
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Originally Posted by Road Fan View Post
Some of us just like to get on the bike and pedal.
I resemble that comment. For me it's about enjoying the journey.
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Old 07-31-17, 08:08 PM
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Originally Posted by scott967 View Post
I have always enjoyed exploring by bike, even being on MTB terrain with 23 tires on a road bike. But when I couldn't run as much anymore, I built up my riding to maintain and improve aerobic fitness. Since retirement I don't have the commuting miles to do it, but I have a schedule which I adhere to pretty closely, as I find I am a creature of habit and if I don't plan and stick to the plan it gets too easy to find excuses. My goals are gradual improvement.
scott s.
I made it a point to never run unless somebody was chasing me or I was chasing them. So it's been years.
My knees are as good as gold though.
When I retired I gave up schedules because there's really no place I need to be except on my own time. On Mondays I need to put out the garbage, though. I just enjoy not needing to have to do things but to do as I please as much as possible. I am content and I'm enjoying the journey after so many years of having to focus on goals.
Free at last, free at last! Thank God Almighty I'm free at last! But to each his own.
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Old 07-31-17, 08:10 PM
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I've been retired for a little over a year now. I don't track mileage, speed, wattage, or anything. I just ride.
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Old 07-31-17, 08:17 PM
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Originally Posted by JohnDThompson View Post
I've been retired for a little over a year now. I don't track mileage, speed, wattage, or anything. I just ride.
The wire on my speedometer/odometer broke a year ago and I found I enjoyed the ride more not knowing how fast I was going or how far I went.
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Old 07-31-17, 08:20 PM
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Because of all the reasons you stated and add because it's fun.

"I can appreciate the need or desire for pleasure riding but I would encourage those who seem to have their bike riding wrapped around scenic journeys to mix it up with some fast rides just for enjoyment and to feel your chest heave and lungs burn from a solid effort. Then you can go back to ticking off all of those random miles and smelling the roses".

To each his own is the way I see it and no way is better than another. Whatever it takes to get us out there is cool with me. And remember no matter what, where or how you ride , you are just as crazy as me for being out there on only two wheels.

Last edited by texaspandj; 08-02-17 at 03:26 PM.
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Old 07-31-17, 08:41 PM
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Bowed legs from infancy meant bad knees and lousy running ability. Never competed in sports in H.S. or college. Started bicycling in my late 20's and have continued.

Smell the roses......have no desire or need too.
It's the journey......have no love of the journey.
Take in the sights...watching a spinning rear wheel just inches from my front wheel while trying to maintain 26mph is exhilarating and FUN

I have no qualms about being 67 YEARS OLD and some times I feel older and most times I appear older. 100+ mile rides starting at midnight to 4AM are fun and give time to ride in peace.

Setting a goal of 300 miles in 24 hours is not a recapturing of youth, rather a simple challenge to body and mind. Accomplishing it provided a satisfaction of one's self. Knowing how hard that was to finish and then upping it to a 400 mile goal in 24 hours is simply the next progression of the challenge.
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Old 07-31-17, 08:47 PM
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I don't set goals, but I'm trying to extend my miles and get in the best shape I can without doing intervals or other training tricks. I like being out of the house for 5 or so hours, it's the only thing besides reading or doing something else that involves sitting on my ass that I have. I use my cycling computer to remind me to drink water every 15 minutes and eat something every 1/2 hour. It's hot here lately, 100°F and it's critical I drink on schedule. I also use it to keep track of bicycle maintenance. I have a birthday coming up and need something to help make sure I ride 68 miles on it.
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Old 07-31-17, 08:55 PM
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Off and on I've tracked mileage. I've been using Strava lately, but don't differentiate between bikes. I'm now essentially car-free. So, if I need to go somewhere, it is on the bike. Thus most of my miles are commuter/errand miles. And they add up. I do like to be fit enough that I can make it to anywhere I want to go... thus I do occasionally get in long rides too.

As far as speed... I've been a plodder most of my life. With Strava, some of the challenges are fun, and I presume good for overall fitness. Plus, with my longer rides, a little extra speed would be nice, so I can finish in the daylight, rather than riding through the night too.

Top Speed... I did find a hill that pushed me to over 50 MPH. That was wicked fast!!! I haven't been back there, but I'll probably try it again sometime. Better double check my brakes.

I'll occasionally hit 30 MPH.... but can't hold it. So, I'm more interested in the speeds I can hold for some distance.
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Old 07-31-17, 08:58 PM
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Originally Posted by texaspandj View Post
I can appreciate the need or desire for pleasure riding but I would encourage those who seem to have their bike riding wrapped around scenic journeys to mix it up with some fast rides just for enjoyment and to feel your chest heave and lungs burn from a solid effort.
Personally, I have no desire for speed, to go fast on my bike. If I want to go fast with the wind in my face I would ride a motorcycle. But I have no car I get enough chest heaving and lungs burning from hauling over 250 pound in my cargo trailer even up a small hill. First and foremost my bike is a workhorse and not a pleasure riding mount so when I'm not using it to work with I enjoy the journey.
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Old 07-31-17, 09:02 PM
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I think some people are just data, plan, and goal oriented from cradle to grave. It's not work, it's fun. It comes natural. Strivers strive. I'm in the category. Can't do anything without measuring it and thinking about how it might be done better, faster, cheaper, next time. It just is. I know no other way. It would feel foreign to just do something without being as thoughtful about it.
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Old 07-31-17, 09:07 PM
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Originally Posted by OldTryGuy View Post
Bowed legs from infancy meant bad knees and lousy running ability. Never competed in sports in H.S. or college. Started bicycling in my late 20's and have continued.

Smell the roses......have no desire or need too.
It's the journey......have no love of the journey.
Take in the sights...watching a spinning rear wheel just inches from my front wheel while trying to maintain 26mph is exhilarating and FUN

I have no qualms about being 67 YEARS OLD and some times I feel older and most times I appear older. 100+ mile rides starting at midnight to 4AM are fun and give time to ride in peace.

Setting a goal of 300 miles in 24 hours is not a recapturing of youth, rather a simple challenge to body and mind. Accomplishing it provided a satisfaction of one's self. Knowing how hard that was to finish and then upping it to a 400 mile goal in 24 hours is simply the next progression of the challenge.
Back when I was 30 or so I had a clunky old 5 speed and not all of the gears worked. I wanted to see if I could ride 100 miles in a day so I took off for a town that was about 50 miles downriver with a 6 pack of soda in a cooler on my rear rack. When I got there I went to McDonalds and ate and then turned around to ride back and that was one hell of a long ride on a summer's day. I proved to myself I could do it and I don't need to prove it again. We men tend to get our lives too tied up in challenges and goals and judge our self worth if we meet them or not. Not me. I'm retired now and have nothing to prove to myself or anyone else.
I do enjoy riding at night on the bike trails when nobody is around and it is so peaceful. That's just another kind of beauty.
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Old 07-31-17, 09:12 PM
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Originally Posted by MaxKatt View Post
I think some people are just data, plan, and goal oriented from cradle to grave. It's not work, it's fun. It comes natural. Strivers strive. I'm in the category. Can't do anything without measuring it and thinking about how it might be done better, faster, cheaper, next time. It just is. I know no other way. It would feel foreign to just do something without being as thoughtful about it.
Thank you for that-- as I'm pretty much in the exact same boat. Making the numbers, then poring over them post-ride is part of the fun of it.

And honestly, after seeing the umpteenth one of these "I just ride for the zen feel of it, maaaaaaannn" threads, I can't help but think that the lion's share of said threads are just really poor misdirects-- some people cannot ride far, nor fast, nor any combination of the two, so they thinly veil it by saying that's their choice. It's self-fulfilling prophecy.

No one is handing out medals at the end of my rides, but that doesn't mean I don't like to push every now and again. Here in the 50+, it almost seems like having goals is viewed as unhealthy.
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Old 07-31-17, 09:23 PM
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Originally Posted by CliffordK View Post
Off and on I've tracked mileage. I've been using Strava lately, but don't differentiate between bikes. I'm now essentially car-free. So, if I need to go somewhere, it is on the bike. Thus most of my miles are commuter/errand miles. And they add up. I do like to be fit enough that I can make it to anywhere I want to go... thus I do occasionally get in long rides too.

As far as speed... I've been a plodder most of my life. With Strava, some of the challenges are fun, and I presume good for overall fitness. Plus, with my longer rides, a little extra speed would be nice, so I can finish in the daylight, rather than riding through the night too.

Top Speed... I did find a hill that pushed me to over 50 MPH. That was wicked fast!!! I haven't been back there, but I'll probably try it again sometime. Better double check my brakes.

I'll occasionally hit 30 MPH.... but can't hold it. So, I'm more interested in the speeds I can hold for some distance.
I too am car free. In fact my bike and my cargo trailer are my car and when pulling the trailer with a load I'm not going more that 10 mph, it that, and I'm not looking to go any more miles than I need to in order to get home. Just last week I was hauling home from the store a big, over-stuffed recliner in its box which extend 9 inches over the sides of the trailer and was 3.5 feet long and 3 feet high. It was held nice and tight to the trailer with a ratcheting strap which kept it on the trailer when it flipped over, throwing me to the ground in the opposite direction. Before I was 60 I didn't worry so much about such falls but now I'm well aware of what a life changer a bad fall can be for a senior citizen. So I take it slower and don't go as fast and don't worry about my speed or miles just as long as I am able to make it back home safely.
I'm done with long rides though. Eight miles to the other end of my city and back again is far enough for me on one trip. The beauty of being retired is that I can take my time, no longer being the slave to a clock.
I like riding on a beautiful summer's night on my city's bike trails--sometimes seeing lightning so far away that you cannot hear the thunder.
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Old 07-31-17, 09:23 PM
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It will still be a few years before I can retire, but I am very much looking forward to being FREE AT LAST! to do more of the things I want to do, and not being a slave to a work schedule.

That said, setting goals, riding more miles and being able to keep pace as much as possible I as I get older are all things that I WANT to do - that I am looking forward to having more freedom to choose to do.

Originally Posted by elocs View Post
Thank God Almighty I'm free at last! But to each his own.
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Old 07-31-17, 09:29 PM
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For me it's all about setting goals and meeting them. I have an app on my phone that records hr, mph, avg mph, elevation and a couple more that I'm sure I'm forgetting. I want my speed to increase every week along with my miles. I may be in a fifty-four year old body but my mind still works like it did when I was in my 20's and 30's. I'll save the sight seeing for when I'm in my Jeep. Riding is about going as hard as I can on nearly every ride.
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Old 07-31-17, 09:31 PM
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Originally Posted by OldTryGuy View Post
...Never competed in sports in H.S. or college... ...rather a simple challenge to body and mind. Accomplishing it provided a satisfaction of one's self...
I was in the band in high school and college and have never been an athlete. My working life was in laboratories, management, and sitting in front of a computer.

I've tracked miles since I started riding road bikes in 2007 and quit smoking. My health has improved as I have added miles. Parts of OldTryGuy's post seemed to tell my story.

I do, however, stop and take pictures once in a while or stop and talk to people along my routes.

Yes, to each his own.
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Old 07-31-17, 09:35 PM
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Originally Posted by DrIsotope View Post
And honestly, after seeing the umpteenth one of these "I just ride for the zen feel of it, maaaaaaannn" threads, I can't help but think that the lion's share of said threads are just really poor misdirects-- some people cannot ride far, nor fast, nor any combination of the two, so they thinly veil it by saying that's their choice. It's self-fulfilling prophecy.
Odd, because the threads I constantly notice are about riding a century or increasing the miles ridden every week or going fast and then faster and breaking personal speed records. No thanks, I gave up the notion of such frenzy when I retired which is why I enjoy my retirement.
Did you ever consider, even for a moment, that those who do not ride fast or far are doing so as a personal choice just as you are choosing to do the opposite? Besides, my bike is a workhorse and not a racehorse and you don't see many Clydesdales in the Kentucky. Riding a very comfortable long wheel based recumbent I'm betting I could ride a great distance with little problem at all but I have no desire to do that so why should I? I spent decades at jobs of having to work faster and harder and longer hours. I'm done with that now.
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Old 07-31-17, 10:13 PM
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Originally Posted by elocs View Post
...Is this goal driven riding philosophy a guy thing?
Nope. Some of the most driven cyclists I know are women. Mostly in their 30s-40s.

Do we need to do this to prove we are not old yet?
I don't think it's fear of aging or proving anything other than that we can come back from disabilities and physical challenges. Two of the 40something year old women I ride with had serious physical disabilities. They started cycling late in life and were determined to overcome those disabilities. One of 'em has crashed twice, including in a rookie cyclocross race, and broke her collarbone in a casual group ride. But darned if she doesn't keep bouncing back. If you met them you wouldn't have any idea of the physical challenges they've overcome, or that they are so motivated.

When I resumed cycling at age 57 in 2015, I'd been off the bike for more than 30 years. I used to bike commute, rode some centuries, raced a few crits and time trials. Then I drifted away from cycling in the 1980s.

And 16 years ago a car wreck left me with six busted up vertebrae -- five cracked in the lumbar, thoracic and cervical regions, and my C2 splintered into three pieces and permanently damaged. For years I walked on a cane and was in chronic pain. I only got off the cane around 2013 or so (judging from snapshots of me with the cane from a few years ago). I couldn't raise my head to look up at the sky, or look over my shoulder without pain, dizziness and nausea. At times my weight got up to 205 lbs, well over my 160 lb optimal weight, which only added to the back and joint stress.

By early 2015 I wondered whether I could ride a bike at all again. I got a comfort hybrid with suspension fork, heavily padded spring saddle, long wheelbase, big soft tires and got started again. Took almost a month before I could ride 3 miles without stopping every 400 yards wheezing from asthma. I walked the bike up hills. When I tried to ride up hills I was passed by people walking. Took a few months before I could ride 10-20 miles in a single day, with lots of rest breaks.

On the one year anniversary of resuming cycling, the end of August 2016, I rode my age plus a few, which turned out to be a metric century. That was a hilly route on a bike that weighs nearly 40 lbs, on a day with 100F heat index. Had to stop and rest for a couple of hours partway through but finished.

I treated myself to a new-to-me used bike, a somewhat lighter weight 1990s mountain bike that I hybridized for comfort. Rode 1,600 miles the next year on that, gradually pushing a little farther and faster. I started pedaling down hills rather than coasting.

By May this year I'd ridden my second bike 1,600 miles, on track to double my 2016 mileage. My monthly average speed per 10-50 mile long ride gradually increased from 9 mph to 14 mph. I started adding interval training once a week to my leisurely rides.

In June this year I got my first road bike in 40 years. I wasn't sure I could handle drop bars again. And it was just painful the first two or three weeks. Every ride I felt like quitting and selling the bike. I did more stretching and strengthening exercises. After six weeks I was enjoying the road bike and looking forward to rides. I set a goal to break my ceiling of averaging 16 mph on a challenging route with roller coaster hills and lots of wind across open prairie. I finally did that last night, just barely nudging past 16 mph. I had to stop at the peak of a hill climb to pop an ephedrine bronchodilator because my airway was constricting from effort (very common problem, including with some top level athletes, which is why so many pro cyclists have exemptions to use a limited choice of inhalers but *not* ephedrine -- the harder we breathe, especially in very hot or cold dry air, the more the airways clamp shut and develop a thick mucus layer). After 8 minutes I was ready to go. Back in 2015 I'd have needed 30 minutes to recover from an asthma attack. I set a few new personal records on some hill climbs.

It's not about defying age or trying to prove I'm not getting older. That's inevitable. I'll never be a contender in any sport in my age classification. Even if I was fit enough to ride crits now I'd either finish last or be pulled to avoid endangering other racers who were lapping me. I can climb local hills only at exactly half the speed of other guys my age and older. While I can still improve a bit, I have to be realistic.

If I'm motivated by anything it's to preserve a higher quality of life, not to merely prolong life.

I've been caregiver for three consecutive older family members (my background is in health care, so I was the best qualified in the family). I've watched the consequences of years of smoking, obesity, poor diet, deteriorated joints, congestive heart failure and COPD, and now, with my mom, the onset of dementia and consequent memory loss and cognitive disorders. Living to age 90, with the final 20 years of that being nearly bedridden or house-bound, doesn't appeal to me.

Evidence shows that exercise is essential. And more recent studies show that brief, hard exercise is more effective than lots of low effort exercise. So within reasonable limits and goals, we'll probably get more benefit from exercising briefly as hard as we can go two or three times a week, than we would from ambling through the air conditioned mall for an hour every day.

The problem is that hard exercise hurts. And two of my three older family members were allergic to pain. They didn't even like mild discomfort. So they got little or no benefit from joint replacement surgeries because they wouldn't cooperate with physical therapy. So their new knees either stiffened to permanent rigidity, or the ligaments and tendons atrophied and the knee joint would literally pop loose.

The pain of occasional interval training, with burning legs and lungs, is nothing compared to the years of pain from a busted up back and neck, the blinding headaches. As soon as I ease up or take a brief rest, the pain is gone. And it's usually replaced by that sense of euphoria so many active folks describe. That never happened with chronic, severe back and neck pain and headaches. There was never any reward or euphoria to compensate for the pain.

So I'm driven by my own body and what works for me. Yeah, I admire guys and gals my age who are faster than I am. It inspires and motivates me. I see how well they're doing. And I know we all have the same physical sensations, including the burning legs and lungs when we push harder.

But it's not a competitive thing. I'll never be that fast. And it doesn't matter. Because I can enjoy a leisurely casual ride just as much as a hard fast workout.

The goal isn't to ride farther or faster. The goal is to enjoy not only this moment but to do what's necessary to continue enjoying it for as long as the ride lasts. If I want to ride to a certain location and back in a single day I need to accomplish a certain level of conditioning in order to finish the journey without being exhausted and needing to phone for help.

For other folks competition is the thing. The YouTuber who goes by the handle SprinterDellaCasa (he uses a different moniker here on bike forums) just ticked over 50 years old and on his blog admits that he enjoys racing and that's what motivates him to ride at all. And that's fine too. I doubt I'll ever ride a crit again but I really enjoy his helmet cam videos of the crits he rides, because his caption narratives really put the viewer inside the race and the moment to moment thought process of a racer. I can relate because, as a former amateur boxer, I'd still be in the gym sparring if not for that cervical neck damage. No way I'm taking a chance on even a jab. Otherwise, heck, yeah, I'd still enjoy occasional sparring and working with young amateurs.

For some folks, enjoying smelling the roses is still a thing. It just happens at a faster pace with faster blooming roses.

And tonight, because we're having an unusually cool and dry summer night, I might venture out for a ride in the wee hours before dawn and another hot day. And even if I set out for a leisurely ride it'll probably turn into some hard charges up hills just to see if I can do it, because hills are my yellow Kryptonite -- they try to deceive me into thinking I can't breathe.

Last edited by canklecat; 07-31-17 at 10:16 PM.
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Old 07-31-17, 11:21 PM
  #22  
atitagain
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As for me , I like to push myself a little to improve my fitness and performance . I don't go as hard as I can all the time by any means but I do want to be able to ride longer, further ,and faster as much as I can without injuring my self . I don't ride a leisurely mash a little coast a little style . I like to get a good cadence spinning and work my gears to maintain it as much as possible . I see my rides as a workout and so I am competing with myself to improve my level of fitness . It is fun for me too that way. I do enjoy the scenery so I like to keep finding new routes . I get a sense of satisfaction out of knowing that I am getting stronger also so I keep up with avg speed and time and distance .
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Old 08-01-17, 03:57 AM
  #23  
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Bikes are one of the most variable consumer products I can think of in terms of price range and quality and technology behind the components. And also a range of specialty models for particular applications. I think it's natural to have a diverse ridership with divergent viewpoints. I guess you could make the analogy with cars. The guy who buys the 1989 Ferrari Testarossa for $160K is going to have different expectations about what he wants out of the car than does the guy who buys the $15K Chevy Spark. Different doesn't have to be a value judgment.

Retire - to each his own. There is an attorney down the hall who still works full-time at 94. Sharp mind and looks like 75. Bad hips are his only major issue. I wanna be that guy.
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Old 08-01-17, 06:15 AM
  #24  
donheff
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It is all about what you like. I returned to riding about 10 years ago after I retired. I tried pushing the distances, riding my age, etc. for a few years but ultimately decided I like shorter (20-30 mile) rides with a stop for lunch or breakfast at the mid point. Now my wife and I are out three or four days a week on such recreational rides. I know other people who enjoy centuries and/or speed and are constantly in training mode. Whatever floats your boat. I would expect a higher proportion of the speed and distance types to frequent a cycling specific board like this.
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Old 08-01-17, 06:24 AM
  #25  
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Reverse snobbery threads pop up pretty regularly. "My bike is cheap and nobody needs nicer." "I get my cycling clothes from Walmart and nobody needs Lycra." "My rides are 20 miles and why would anyone ride farther?" Enjoy whatever you do on the bike, no need to be defensive about it.

Last edited by shelbyfv; 08-01-17 at 08:58 AM. Reason: clarity :)
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