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Hidden pitfalls for older bikers?

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Hidden pitfalls for older bikers?

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Old 06-28-18, 03:49 PM
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canerods
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Hidden pitfalls for older bikers?

My first post on the forum, hoping to get a few tips on some unhidden pitfalls awaiting an older person taking up biking after a long lay-off. Iím 71 years old and in all around pretty good health. Iíve lost nearly 80 lbs over the past 2 years, down from 240 to 162 lbs. from dieting. Now, I want to increase my exercise activity and get out on a bike again (forgot how much fun it is!) for health and fitness along with calorie burning for weight control. I can now ride on our local bikeway about an hour and feel pretty good afterward, hoping to increase stamina in due time. Recently I purchased a Fuji Absolute 1.9 flat bar road bikeÖ any suggestions or tips?
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Old 06-28-18, 04:10 PM
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Think about getting a fitting, especially if you have any joint mobility issues.
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Old 06-28-18, 08:09 PM
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Hardest part for me resuming cycling in 2015 after a long layoff was regaining aerobic/cardiovascular fitness. My legs were strong enough but I couldn't sustain effort for long. Even after two years back in the saddle I was still struggling on hills. I'd often need to stop at the crest of hills, grab my inhaler and gasp for breath.

Best thing I've tried for myself to get past that plateau was interval training. There are various types, ranging from the brutal but brief high intensity interval training (HIIT) to more moderate types of intervals such as repeating segments that give us the most trouble.

I start out doing more moderate intervals, choosing roller coaster routes with plenty of short but relatively steep climbs (we have very few long climbs of any kind around here). By last summer I was ready to tackle HIIT. However I did HIIT too often and burned out after a couple of months. I should have done only one HIIT session a week. But overall my conditioning and recuperative ability was improving. I no longer needed to stop and rest after short steep or long gradual climbs. I could recover while riding just be reducing my effort for a minute to five minutes.

Recently I got an indoor trainer while recovering from a shoulder injury. I've been alternating between one HIIT session a week and a couple of more moderate but longer interval sessions. Seems to be working well. This week was the first time in 6 weeks I've been able to ride outdoors and my fitness is still good.

There are lots of good interval training tutorials online. I recommend those by GCN on YouTube. Those are all done by retired pro cyclists, their tips are well grounded in practical application, varied for abilities ranging from novice to seriously fit cyclists, and the videos are professionally edited so they don't waste the viewer's time with pointless rambling.

There are a few advantages to doing interval training indoors:
It's cooler. Even if we have pretty good heat adaptation, HIIT really pushes the limits and can be dangerous. (But to avoid getting too comfortable I'll turn off the a/c so the temp is closer to 80F, and just use a fan near the bike.)

HIIT and any high effort training can cause dizziness and even nausea. That's fairly normal for many folks. That can be dangerous outdoors if we lose balance and fall, whether we just fall onto pavement or fall into the path of oncoming traffic. An indoor trainer is a bit safer, especially if we're on carpet or have a nearby wall to prop against. That's an old trick used for years with roller trainers and unsecured bikes. But it can work with the more common secured trainers like those by Cycleops. During some recent HIIT sessions indoors I've had to rest my head against my forearms draped across the handlebar to recover from momentary dizziness.

I don't have a proper heart monitor. So I check my BP and heart rate every once in awhile with a battery powered wrist cuff. Easily done indoors. Not practical outdoors.
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Old 06-28-18, 09:01 PM
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Like Caloso said, mobility issues are one area. Being able to turn your head quickly/fully is an issue with normal aging. Maybe the biggest limitation, fitness aside, is the ability to focus quickly from near to far. This ability drops off a lot as you age, so looking down at your bike, or focusing in a rear-view helmet mirror can lead to a decrease in the ability to react quickly to visual inputs - pothole vs car ahead, etc. Just in general, your reaction/response times are slower. Keep riding on the bikeway until your fitness level increases and you feel really comfortable reacting to visual inputs - joggers, baby strollers, horses, deer crossing your path, etc., etc. Your weight loss is is really impressive. I recommend riding with some type of heart rate monitor if nothing more than to get a feel for how your body responds to different stimuli - hills, longer duration, heat/humidity, etc. I rode and exercised with one for years and I got to the point where I could perceive impact of all of my exertion and build recovery as needed.

Again - EXCELLENT job! I'm 67, rode a whole lot in my 50's, and put on weight in the last couple of years. I was about 162 when in top shape and will be happy to get to the low 170's now. Please post your observations as you progress. Or just let people know what you're doing to keep in shape. Experiences like yours are some of the most valuable information on this forum.
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Old 06-28-18, 10:18 PM
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Pitfall: our bones break easier than they did before. Additional exercises beyond cycling is helpful for that. Also in that same vein, I have noticed at 58 and it may be moreso for you at 71, that as we strengthen specific muscles and tendons, such as by cycling a lot, other nearby or related muscles and ligaments can still be weak from long disuse and it's a sort of imbalance. The strong cycling muscles enable a movement or effort which the other systems aren't ready for leading to some pain or minor injury. I dunno, either have to be cautious or else try to strengthen everything.

I took it up 10 years ago, which felt "old" at the time and seems more middle-aged to me now. But no kidding I'm in much better condition now than I was then, both fitness and general health. It's not without risk but keep at it and the benefits are astounding.
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Old 06-28-18, 10:53 PM
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There are a surprising number of seniors bike clubs, hosted rides, meetups,. Check your local senior's clubs, centers. Even if you are a lone wolf, these group rides can be good fun, challenging, supportive, and they add some spice to getting in some weekly exercise.

Pitfalls? You might find yourself buying more bike stuff, faster bikes, or end up hosting rides.
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Old 06-29-18, 04:43 AM
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Congratulations on the weight loss, that's very impressive.

Returning to bicycling and even just fitness after decades away, my joints and specifically the ligaments and tendons took much longer to adapt than did my muscles. My first summer I was laid up with swollen knees for about two months, and the second summer I was sidelined with hip pain for about three months. I've read that this is a recognized phenomenon, joints taking longer to adapt. My knees got over themselves on their own, and my hips I address with diligent stretching, and they're basically fine now. This is my third summer, I'm having great rides, and my glucose metabolism is really tuned up, much better. 100% worth it. I hope you get as much out of it as I'm getting.
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Old 06-29-18, 06:00 AM
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Originally Posted by rseeker View Post
Congratulations on the weight loss, that's very impressive.

Returning to bicycling and even just fitness after decades away, my joints and specifically the ligaments and tendons took much longer to adapt than did my muscles. My first summer I was laid up with swollen knees for about two months, and the second summer I was sidelined with hip pain for about three months. I've read that this is a recognized phenomenon, joints taking longer to adapt. My knees got over themselves on their own, and my hips I address with diligent stretching, and they're basically fine now. This is my third summer, I'm having great rides, and my glucose metabolism is really tuned up, much better. 100% worth it. I hope you get as much out of it as I'm getting.
Agree - the weight loss is quite an accomplishment. Good going! And agree that tendons & ligaments are what can sideline us at our age. Biggest lesson for me has been to listen to my body. When I was younger it was easy to ignore aches and pains and keep going but now if I donít pay attention to persistent pain it turns into an injury that sidelines me. A stretching routine after riding and even on days off is a great help.

Intervals and a serious training regimen are great. I do that at the gym in the winter months. But I think even a simple, sensible recreational riding routine will yield results youíll be happy with. Have fun!
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Old 06-29-18, 08:55 AM
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Wow! fantastic commentary from everyone. I've only been back to cycling for about 2 weeks. My longest rides have been 6 miles roundtrips with a combination of 80% bikeway - 20% city streets (baby steps!). I notice many younger fellows dressed in racing gear on the bikeway, heads down, riding exotic road bikes at a fast pace... for the most part, they don't seem to be very friendly as they seldom look up from the bike path or acknowledge me except to say "passing" when overtaking. I feel a little out of place my wife's 1980 vintage Raliegh (my Fuji Absolute 1.9 flat bar is in transit to the local Premiere bike store). So far, I'm not experiencing any physical discomfort and seem to be recovering fairly quickly the more I get out. I'll take all of your suggestions and comments seriously and really appreciate the time you spent answering. On the weight loss, it was a team effort... If my wife of 50 years hadn't been watchful and supportive I would have never done it. Thanks again!
Joe

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Old 06-29-18, 09:10 AM
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What's worked for me, is to focus on keeping it fun. Not as easy for me to do as it sounds, as most of my life I have tended to be critical of myself, and thus tried to push too far, too fast.

So I focus on the things that I enjoy. I do track my rides, and enjoy seeing improvements, but I try different routes (even a small change in an oft-repeated route), stop to enjoy the scenery, and am trying a few group rides.

Short answer: keep it fun, whatever fun is for you.
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Old 06-29-18, 09:29 AM
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Excellent comments here. I began cycling at the same age as yourself and I'm nearly 80 now. i'd mention a few points to keep in mind. Don't try to do too much too soon. Let your body gain strength and fitness all around. This takes some time but as long as you make steady progress you will be fine. I'm impressed with your weight loss which has to be the result of a great effort. Now that you are down to studly weight territory, don't be surprised if cycling groupies give your butt a pinch as they zip by. Just don 't try to stay with them though you can try.
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Old 06-29-18, 11:23 AM
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A sign in a bike shop read "The more you ride, the better you get. The better you get, the more you ride." That holds true for everyone, whether they're 21 or 71. If you are in good cardio-vascular condition you have a good head start. Start easy and progress at a rate that your body can handle. Everyone's body is different so what works for someone else my not work for you. I'm 72 and ride 40-60 miles/day, 6 days a week. It took me a few years to get to that point but at 71, it's not impossible. Just the fact that you're out riding is going to be a big improvement in a healthy lifestyle than sitting around watching the grass grow.

Don't pay too much attention to the pro wannabee roadies. They live in a make-believe world of their own.
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Old 06-29-18, 11:46 AM
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Bikes have sure changed a lot since I was in my 20s. Better gearing and instant shifting. Lighter weights too.

I like riding in a group. The set start times get me out the door, and the miles fly by when riding with others. They know a lot of interesting places to ride that I wouldn't have considered.

I ride with some 70 year old riders that routinely do 50 or 70 mile rides. And there's other local groups that do short, more conversational rides.

(The fast riders are just about all very friendly when they do an easy ride with us slower riders. But their fast groups need more concentration, and they don't often respond to other riders while on those rides.)

~~~~~~~~~~~~
Tips for riding on the street:

I have one of the newer, very bright blinky tail lights, a Cygolite Pro 150
It's somewhat expensive, but very effective, even in sunlight. I set it to do two short, bright flashes a second. This gives drivers a heads-up that there's a bike way ahead on the road.
It recharges via a USB cable.
~~~
An eyeglass mirror is very helpful. It only takes a ride or two to get used to it. The tiny mirror is off to the side, but viewable through your glasses, so everything is in focus. I can turn my head slightly to sweep a wide arc behind me, able to see anywhere back there.
It's very nice to merge over for left turns, by moving when there's a big gap in traffic. And just to check if the road behind is empty or not.
Very nice on group rides to see if everyone is staying together, too.
~~~
I try to ride in the right tire track most of the time, so cars won't be tempted to squeeze past in my same lane. And the tire track stays clean of debris, since car tires kick glass, stones, etc, out to the edge of the road.

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Old 06-29-18, 01:25 PM
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A lot of MUP users (and some road riders/runners) have their ears plugged and music piped in so will not hear any friendly
or otherwise greeting. I would advise against ear plugging at your age especially on roads so you can hear, at least some,
of the overtaking traffic. Also don't get off your diet plan or you may find your weight creeping back up.
A red bright blinky on back is a good idea for road riding, just make sure you point it in the direction of a car about 100yds
behind you. Many blinkies are too dim or pointed in the wrong direction. Finally expect to keep up some kind of aerobic
activity year around, your fitness will taper rapidly if you don't.
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Old 06-29-18, 02:13 PM
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Learning a lot from the many useful comments... thanks very much for the advice and links. Good information!!
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Old 06-29-18, 02:16 PM
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I agree with the muscle tendon thing. Back when I used to rock climb, I learned the hard way I was getting a lot stronger in muscles than tendon, which I popped one. Yep, it is as painful as it sounds. So, take it easy.

In one book I read a overly eager person asked the therapist during recovery of what the record on heart beat was - answer? zero. The great thing about being over 50 is that you aren't going to win the Tour de France, so just enjoy being out.

One other thing - focus more on recovery from whatever ails you today, instead of records. I find I am always trying to get back in the saddle between an accident, dental implant, food poisoning (recently developed an alergy to MSG) - etc. Long term fitness seems to be more about getting back into the groove when you fall, than getting faster. At least for me.

Strange as it might seem - losing weight is easy, compared to keeping it off (I lost about 100 lbs to where I am today - but if I count all I have lost over the years, it might be a ton. ) Don't get discouraged when you get a set, just get back on when you can.
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Old 06-29-18, 02:24 PM
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"younger fellows dressed in racing gear on the bikeway, heads down ...don't seem to be very friendly" - they're not unfriendly, they're just in their zone. Ignore it, no one's out of place, them nor you. We can dress as casually as we want, and I often do, and at our more mature ages no one cares.
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Old 06-29-18, 04:19 PM
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Originally Posted by wphamilton View Post
Pitfall: our bones break easier than they did before.
Yup. I took my strong bones for granted for years. Never had a broken bone from bike crashes. But I was hit by a car last month and the impact on the pavement broke a bone in my shoulder and caused a grade 4 dislocation. Never had anything quite that serious before, even from worse crashes.

Might have been a coincidence but I'm 60 now. My mom has severe osteoporosis, so bad her femur snapped spontaneously just walking last winter. Granted, women tend to have worse problems and my mom has had skeletal problems since childhood including mild scoliosis.

I've taken multivitamins for years, but now I'm adding other supplements. And while I was already doing full body toning exercises I'm going to increase some of the effort after recovery to improve muscle tone. Some studies indicate that's a big factor in protecting us from skeletal injuries.
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Old 06-29-18, 04:26 PM
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Originally Posted by canerods View Post
...I notice many younger fellows dressed in racing gear on the bikeway, heads down, riding exotic road bikes at a fast pace... for the most part, they don't seem to be very friendly as they seldom look up from the bike path or acknowledge me except to say "passing" when overtaking...
At the risk of digression, I'm more of a roadie (although more casual now than when I was younger), and your impression is pretty much what I often saw in other roadies. It's a familiar observation, almost a cliche. But not entirely accurate.

Yup, there are a few hardcore roadies who seem aloof. But that's due more to the introspective nature of hardcore cycling. It's mostly a solitary pursuit so it tends to appeal to introverts. They're usually perfectly decent men and women. But it takes a little more effort to get to know them, and that usually happens off the bike.

At the other extreme several of my cycling friends who are hardcore roadies are also very extroverted, almost to ridiculous extremes. They're chatty, encouraging, a joy to be around. If you don't mind the non-stop patter and jokes.

Most of us are somewhere in between. A few friends have said they saw me riding but I didn't acknowledge them. That's because when I'm on the road bike an old C2 neck injury limits my mobility. I can only scan the horizon but can't see my surroundings as quickly and easily as I used to. And with age (I'm 60) I have to admit my reflexes aren't as sharp as they once were. So on the drop bar road bike I tend to go into yellow alert high focus mode and screen out most distractions. And I mostly ride lightly traveled rural roads with fewer distractions.

It's not anti-social. I just don't have the same peripheral awareness as I do on my upright hybrids. That's why I prefer to my hybrids for casual group rides, especially in the city, and even some spritely group rides at up to 15-16 mph. I can look around more easily, chat with fellow cyclists, and see hazards more readily.
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Old 06-29-18, 04:30 PM
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Bike riding is a good way to get in shape and stay in shape. You probably noticed it already, you can't hang with the young riders for long. So don't even try. Better to stay in shape and use that to enjoy the other things in life.
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Old 06-29-18, 04:34 PM
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Originally Posted by canerods View Post
Wow! fantastic commentary from everyone. I've only been back to cycling for about 2 weeks. My longest rides have been 6 miles roundtrips with a combination of 80% bikeway - 20% city streets (baby steps!). I notice many younger fellows dressed in racing gear on the bikeway, heads down, riding exotic road bikes at a fast pace... for the most part, they don't seem to be very friendly as they seldom look up from the bike path or acknowledge me except to say "passing" when overtaking. I feel a little out of place my wife's 1980 vintage Raliegh (my Fuji Absolute 1.9 flat bar is in transit to the local Premiere bike store). So far, I'm not experiencing any physical discomfort and seem to be recovering fairly quickly the more I get out. I'll take all of your suggestions and comments seriously and really appreciate the time you spent answering. On the weight loss, it was a team effort... If my wife of 50 years hadn't been watchful and supportive I would have never done it. Thanks again!
Joe
Don't take it personally. For many of us, the road is our gym and we're getting in our reps. If you're 18 minutes into a 20 minute interval, you're not likely to be waving to every one you pass. That said, if I'm just riding along and I see someone I know, I usually wave or nod my head. The main thing is to be safe and healthy.
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Old 06-29-18, 05:46 PM
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Originally Posted by canklecat View Post
At the risk of digression, I'm more of a roadie (although more casual now than when I was younger), and your impression is pretty much what I often saw in other roadies. It's a familiar observation, almost a cliche. But not entirely accurate.

Yup, there are a few hardcore roadies who seem aloof. But that's due more to the introspective nature of hardcore cycling. It's mostly a solitary pursuit so it tends to appeal to introverts. They're usually perfectly decent men and women. But it takes a little more effort to get to know them, and that usually happens off the bike.

At the other extreme several of my cycling friends who are hardcore roadies are also very extroverted, almost to ridiculous extremes. They're chatty, encouraging, a joy to be around. If you don't mind the non-stop patter and jokes.

Most of us are somewhere in between. A few friends have said they saw me riding but I didn't acknowledge them. That's because when I'm on the road bike an old C2 neck injury limits my mobility. I can only scan the horizon but can't see my surroundings as quickly and easily as I used to. And with age (I'm 60) I have to admit my reflexes aren't as sharp as they once were. So on the drop bar road bike I tend to go into yellow alert high focus mode and screen out most distractions. And I mostly ride lightly traveled rural roads with fewer distractions.

It's not anti-social. I just don't have the same peripheral awareness as I do on my upright hybrids. That's why I prefer to my hybrids for casual group rides, especially in the city, and even some spritely group rides at up to 15-16 mph. I can look around more easily, chat with fellow cyclists, and see hazards more readily.
In this area, our bikeway networks are very-well used. I suppose if you were to greet every single passer-by it would begin to get old and tiresome. It was just a little put-off at nodding or saying a quick Ďhií and getting totally ignoredÖ so Iíve stopped doing that and not be worrying about after reading the comments here.
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Old 06-29-18, 07:25 PM
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As others have mentioned, muscle loss/wasting gets to be a problem over ~65. At 73, whole-body weight work at the gym has been essential to being able to stay on the bike for long periods. Getting back into cycling at 50, my method was to ride away from home until I was tired, then ride back. After doing that for a while, I began to perversely seek out hills to ride up. That really made a difference.
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Old 06-30-18, 06:54 AM
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Originally Posted by sch View Post
A lot of MUP users (and some road riders/runners) have their ears plugged and music piped in so will not hear any friendly
or otherwise greeting. I would advise against ear plugging at your age especially on roads so you can hear, at least some,
of the overtaking traffic. Also don't get off your diet plan or you may find your weight creeping back up.
A red bright blinky on back is a good idea for road riding, just make sure you point it in the direction of a car about 100yds
behind you. Many blinkies are too dim or pointed in the wrong direction. Finally expect to keep up some kind of aerobic
activity year around, your fitness will taper rapidly if you don't.
Sage advice in there. Described me to a tea with the diet and year round aerobic activity. With our slowing metabolism the weight can sneak up on you and it gets easy to justify eating more of what you really like as your mileage increases. Having a bike in a trainer during the winter is a life saver when the weather warms up. I like to do a couple of organized rides in my area that are scheduled every year early in the spring. Using that trainer makes a huge difference when I start prepping for them. It gets mind numbingly boring at times, but it's worth it.

It's getting tougher for me recover these days so I played around with my miles/days I ride each week to make sure I get enough rest. I found the recipe that works for me and I'm all the better off for it. Don't underestimate rest days.

Last edited by sevenmag; 06-30-18 at 07:03 AM.
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Old 06-30-18, 08:12 AM
  #25  
eja_ bottecchia
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Pitfalls: All ages have pitfalls.

Pros: Awesome exercise, even if you have some health issues...as I do.

Cons: None, other than perhaps spending part of retirement loot on cycling equipment.
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