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6 weeks ago...struggled to do 5 miles...20+ miles today

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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.

6 weeks ago...struggled to do 5 miles...20+ miles today

Old 10-20-19, 02:14 PM
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jrhoneOC
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6 weeks ago...struggled to do 5 miles...20+ miles today

I bought my bike about 6 weeks ago. It was to motivate my fitness. I went on what I thought would be an easy ride. It was 5 miles of pain. The trail won that day. In that time I have exercised nearly every day, riding about 3 times a week, doing cardio on the treadmill and power walking. I have dropped over 30 pounds in that time. Going from 230 to 198. The goal is about 175, so I am over halfway there. Last week that 5 mile killer on day one turned into a 15 mile ride that I crushed. Same ride, but I went much further and climbed with ease those same climbs that had me questioning the bike purchase on day 1. This morning, I took it one step further and did a 20 mile ride in under 1 hour and 40 minutes. Not spectacular, but still for someone 50 getting back on shape it represents a nice milestone. Going to start to up the workout intensity and ride intensity to get even better at climbing. My testing grounds is Wood Canyon -> Cholla -> Matthis Trail. About 11 miles, but Cholla Trail is a steep, rocky and sandy Singletrack that I have not been able to ride all the way up. I have gotten about 1/3rd of the way so I am looking forward to the day I can climb the entire trail!
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Old 10-20-19, 03:13 PM
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Cool! 20 miles on a mountain bike on rough terrain is a long ride. Keep it up.
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Old 10-20-19, 03:17 PM
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That's great, congratulations on your improvement.

You're on the steep part of the fitness curve now, where improvements come quickly. Eventually, that curve will start to flatten out, and improvements will come more slowly. Don't get discouraged, the slow down is natural. Just keep it going, and you'll get stronger.
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Old 10-20-19, 03:19 PM
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Originally Posted by big john View Post
Cool! 20 miles on a mountain bike on rough terrain is a long ride. Keep it up.
this ride was paved but im getting there!!
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Old 10-20-19, 03:27 PM
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big john
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When I started riding as an adult 5 miles was kind of a big deal. I used to do a 5 mile lap at a local park and the first time I did 2 laps I was very impressed with myself. Took me a lot longer to get to 20 miles than it took you.
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Old 10-20-19, 03:55 PM
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I began cycling about the same as yourself and a year later was riding 50 - 60 miles. What I've found is that when you are in poor physical condition, you don't know how bad it is until you begin trying to regain some fitness. This holds true even for a short term layoff, say due to minor illness such as a cold.
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Old 10-20-19, 05:41 PM
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Originally Posted by jrhoneOC View Post
this ride was paved but im getting there!!


As you gain confidence, endurance, strength and handling abilities by joining in on group rides you might add to your enjoyment, mileage and speed. Having that carrot out in front of me was always a motivator and when I became the carrot I knew I had finally ARRIVED.

Enjoy the many miles in your future !!!
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Old 10-20-19, 06:22 PM
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Your bicycle purchase was a wise investment in your health - have fun.
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Old 10-20-19, 06:37 PM
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When I first get on my bike in the spring of every year, I can barely get around the block without huffing and puffing and wanting to throw up. A week or two later, I am riding 20 miles without breaking a sweat. Shortly after that, I am doing my annual fifty-mile trip to the next state and I arrive wanting to ride some more.

I am not in any kind of super shape. I am skinny and my tiny calves are like jellybags flopping in the wind when I pedal. But there's something about getting past that first discouraging nothing-of-a-ride that ensures I will be able to ride much farther for the rest of the season.

I'm glad you stuck with it and made it to 20 miles. Have fun working toward 50!
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Old 10-20-19, 07:23 PM
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Great progress and I'm glad you're sticking with it. You're slowly finding out what all of us know... bicycling is great fun no matter how far or where you ride!
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Old 10-20-19, 09:21 PM
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Keep up the good work jrhoneOC. I hope you enjoy your rides and reach your goals. My wife and I started going on what we call "long" rides about six weeks ago. We are both 60, so we thought our 10-mile ride on week one was a BIG deal. Over the next few weeks, we extended out to 12, 14, and by week four 20 miles. I was able to do 26 miles yesterday with my nephew (the wife's out of town this weekend) and it feels great. You don't need to go for any speed records to get the cardio benefits of biking. Just like other activities, riding slow and long can bring you much pleasure. Happy biking!
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Old 10-20-19, 09:33 PM
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Congratulations. I hope you recognize what you have accomplished and the benefit it has and will have on your life. Keep at it but most importantly, be sure you keep having fun. Do not turn it onto a job but take the time to look around and see the surroundings. Outstanding.
Frank.
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Old 10-20-19, 11:21 PM
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Well done! I remember how difficult it was when I resumed cycling in 2015 after a 30+ year hiatus. Took a lot longer at age 57 than I'd expected to get back into shape. But I've made steady progress and it's almost always fun.
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Old 10-21-19, 01:02 AM
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Originally Posted by jrhoneOC View Post
Going to start to up the workout intensity and ride intensity to get even better at climbing. My testing grounds is Wood Canyon -> Cholla -> Matthis Trail. About 11 miles, but Cholla Trail is a steep, rocky and sandy Singletrack ...
Lots of challenging hilly areas with trails, near Newport, Laguna Beach, Aliso Viejo, Mission Viejo, Coto de Casa, etc. Once knew the area really well, and it's nice to see all of the work on parks and trails since then.

Aliso & Wood Canyons Wilderness Park @ Trails.com

Some of the trails are difficult for walking or running, let alone on a bike. Congratulations on your improvements.

Since it has only been 6wks, my only suggestion would be: take it relatively slowly, as what you definitely don't want is iinjury.

Great process, to-date. Keep up your daily fitness regimen, but be mindful of the body's need for repair and recovery. (Sneaks up on us, as we age, since the body simply isn't as good at recovery as when we're in our 20's.)


Have you found what your chief limit seems to be, in terms of fitness? Is it your cardio, on tougher rides, or your muscle stamina, or your strength?

If it's been awhile since you have done gym workouts, it might be worth hiring a personal trainer for three or four sessions, in order to lay out a combination of appropriate, hard-hitting ways to leverage your newfound fitness. A good plan for the gym can do wonders for rounding out this journey you're on, while avoiding injuries, ensuring you regain much of your old flexibility, strength and cardio fitness in a manageable way.


Great job, so far! Nicely done.
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Old 10-21-19, 08:17 AM
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Originally Posted by Clyde1820 View Post
Have you found what your chief limit seems to be, in terms of fitness? Is it your cardio, on tougher rides, or your muscle stamina, or your strength?
.
I have found that my cardio endurance seems to be my limiting factor at this point. I am able to do the tough trails from a strength perspective but it seems like my chest is on fire at that point and thats what stops me. Now maybe if my legs were stronger i wouldnt be working as hard cardio wise? Either way i am trying to build more leg strength as well as more cardio endurance.

Even after a tough ride, my muscles are not sore and im not in any kind of pain. Unlike when i used to run daily my whole body would be sore after a tough run. After tough areas on the bike i am still able to continue riding and climbing after a little water and a reat for a few minutes. So i dont think its muscle fatigue. More hitting my cardio limit at the time.
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Old 10-21-19, 10:34 AM
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Originally Posted by jrhoneOC View Post
In that time I have exercised nearly every day, riding about 3 times a week, doing cardio on the treadmill and power walking ...
Here is an exercise guide from Concept 2, the makers of rowing machines and other cardio equipment.

Indoor Rowing -- Training @ Concept2.

On that page, they've got their Training Guide (a file in PDF format), which describes how to use the rower to best advantage, including lists of various types of training circuits you can do on the thing.


Here is an exercise guide from Precor, a maker of treadmills and other cardio equipment.

Workouts & Training Programs @ Precor.com.

Many of the suggestions for treadmill fitness routines involve jogging or running. But, from a strictly cardio perspective, you can also use a treadmill for simple walking but where you leverage the ability of the treadmill to alter elevation. Say, something like 2-4mins of very steep elevation at a slower walking pace, followed by 1-2mins of moderately flat elevation at a brisk walking pace. You'll involve the muscles more with the steeper elevation, using a longer and deeper stride, whereas the portion of walking a faster clip will be using a "normal" stride. It's a good way to goose your cardio every couple of minutes but to provide frequent brief recovery segments that'll get you ready for the next push. You can use this same basic strategy on a treadmill, rower, bike or other elliptical type equipment.


If you have access to TRX strap training stations, at the gym (or home), you can create a circuit of various exercises that can work the whole body. Done without much delay between sets of various muscle groups, particularly if combined with various simple floor exercises, you can really boost your overall cardio while doing these strength-oriented exercises in the circuit. It'll help improve your cardio, general stamina, aid with weight loss (via the increased calorie burn).


Some ideas.
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Old 10-21-19, 10:40 AM
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Originally Posted by jrhoneOC View Post
I have found that my cardio endurance seems to be my limiting factor at this point. I am able to do the tough trails from a strength perspective but it seems like my chest is on fire at that point and thats what stops me. Now maybe if my legs were stronger i wouldnt be working as hard cardio wise? Either way i am trying to build more leg strength as well as more cardio endurance.
As I understand it, cardio (heart) endurance is sort of a misnomer. Your heart muscle doesn't fatigue, but your skeletal muscles do. It's a cardiovascular system, with many parts.

There are a bunch of adaptations from aerobic training, only one adaptation is your heart muscle. Your:
  • blood volume increases
  • heart's stroke volume increases
  • skeletal muscle mitochondria increase
  • skeletal muscles store more glycogen
  • fatigue-resistant slow twitch muscle fibers grow
  • capillaries increase inside muscles
As these develop, you'll be able to rider harder and longer.

Your "chest on fire" comment suggest that you're simply exceeding your aerobic capacity. If you don't have one already, a heart rate monitor would be a good training tool. Use it to keep your heart rate below the "blowing up and forced to stop" level.

After tough areas on the bike i am still able to continue riding and climbing after a little water and a [rest] for a few minutes. So i dont think its muscle fatigue. More hitting my cardio limit at the time.
Yep, that sounds right. You aren't riding long enough to reach your fatigue limit. You're simply "blowing up".
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Old 10-21-19, 05:34 PM
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Originally Posted by berner View Post
I began cycling about the same as yourself and a year later was riding 50 - 60 miles. What I've found is that when you are in poor physical condition, you don't know how bad it is until you begin trying to regain some fitness. This holds true even for a short term layoff, say due to minor illness such as a cold.
Or years. I found I was shocked how out of shape I got after a back injury from a bicycle crash. In 3 weeks I lost so much strength, I was shocked. It took most of a year to regain most of that strength...
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Old 10-21-19, 05:54 PM
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Great job!
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Old 10-21-19, 06:05 PM
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I started back at it six years ago at age 55. Similar to you, my first 5 mile (road) ride, I thought I was going to die! 2 months in 25-30 miles was doable, I did a metric at six months and a full century just shy of one year. The rapid improvement at first is very encouraging, making it easier to want to keep at it.

Some of those trails are really tough, so good job. Do pay attention to your body, if joints hurt, re-evaluate. My knees started acting up after about 3 months, I had to back off a bit and do some other exercises as well to keep them happy. Got past that and all good.
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Old 10-26-19, 07:00 PM
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Just want to say; Congratulations! You're on your way.
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