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The Inevitable (Performance) Decline

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The Inevitable (Performance) Decline

Old 12-22-19, 04:57 PM
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The Inevitable (Performance) Decline

For context my DOB is 1949...

I did a moderate (but regular) amount of (indoor) cycling from 2011 until 2015. Starting in 2014 I restarted my Binachi road bike and started riding seriously (and outdoors). From 2015 to the present I was riding 7-8K miles per year EXCEPT for 2018. From roughly 1-2018 to 6-2018 my riding fell off to around 35% of my riding (as in less than half) the previous couple of years. There was no particular reason other than lack of motivation. Maybe halfway through that period of time I felt no particular dropoff in performance. Then in mid April there was around a week where I was not on my bike at all (out of town trip).....

When I got on my bike after the trip I was shocked at the decline in my endurance. It was like my power meter was suddenly reading maybe 35% less than before (and my speedometer was simultaneously showing significantly lower #'s). I have power measuring on my outdoor and indoor bikes and the power decline was real. It was an incredible shock to find that just suddenly show up. I was like a different person on a bike.

I picked up my workload later that summer, built back up over time to earlier training levels and this culminated with a Six Gap Century ride this fall (2019). When all is said and done my ability to put out power is still down somewhere between 10 and 15% vs. what it was in late 2017 (but a good bit better than mid 2018). And I don't think that it is coming back. This kind of decline at my age is hardly surprising. But what is interesting is that this decline seemed to be 'triggered' by a 5-6 month training reduction.

So I am kind of looking at my current training and am basically terrified of being forced to take some time off (or forced to make a temporary/significant reduction in training) for fear of another sudden and permanent decline. I don't think that a week off would matter. But I am actually afraid of anything longer for fear of permanently losing another 10-15%. Have other experienced this (or have a similar concern for whatever reason)?

dave
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Old 12-22-19, 05:37 PM
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DOB 1938. This was back at the close of the bronze age. I find the loss of performance can be slowed but not stopped. One tactic is when not motivated for a long ride, just to get out there and ride something even if just to the post office or any other minor errand. Today I almost did not ride at all but but after a while, pumped up tires, donned cold weather gear, and rode a lap around the local state park. It was actually a fine sunny day with relatively mild temps. The park is along side Narragansett Bay and a tidal saltwater pond. Lots of people wading out there foraging for clams and whatever else could be raked up. All surely haveing a marvelous time. I enjoyed the ride, the weather, the foragers and the ride home, a mere 7 miles total.
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Old 12-22-19, 06:22 PM
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I have experienced power loss as well........not measured by a power meter but I know my metrics enough to know itís down. Mine was caused by a crash and hip replacement. Between the injury and not riding at high tempo levels for a while, power suffered. I can ride as many miles and as long as Iíd like but my top end speed and that extra gear just isnít there any more. Iím not crazy about it as Iím not able to ride with the groups I used to ride with but I can still climb and do the distance stuff.

Iíve experienced similar strength loss with my golf shots which is just natural aging. I just need to use a different club to hit it further. Itís also more important than ever to make sure my technique is spot on to get the distance needed.

I didnít realize you were in the Pinehurst area. Have you crossed paths with Tommie Brock (you donít have to admit it) or Rick Finnin? Tommie and I go back quite a few years, I heard heíd moved away from Southern Pines down to the coast. I met and rode with Rick for multiple days in Cycle NC in October. Super fella.


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Old 12-22-19, 07:24 PM
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Originally Posted by DaveLeeNC View Post
For context my DOB is 1949...

I did a moderate (but regular) amount of (indoor) cycling from 2011 until 2015. Starting in 2014 I restarted my Binachi road bike and started riding seriously (and outdoors). From 2015 to the present I was riding 7-8K miles per year EXCEPT for 2018. From roughly 1-2018 to 6-2018 my riding fell off to around 35% of my riding (as in less than half) the previous couple of years. There was no particular reason other than lack of motivation. Maybe halfway through that period of time I felt no particular dropoff in performance. Then in mid April there was around a week where I was not on my bike at all (out of town trip).....

When I got on my bike after the trip I was shocked at the decline in my endurance. It was like my power meter was suddenly reading maybe 35% less than before (and my speedometer was simultaneously showing significantly lower #'s). I have power measuring on my outdoor and indoor bikes and the power decline was real. It was an incredible shock to find that just suddenly show up. I was like a different person on a bike.

I picked up my workload later that summer, built back up over time to earlier training levels and this culminated with a Six Gap Century ride this fall (2019). When all is said and done my ability to put out power is still down somewhere between 10 and 15% vs. what it was in late 2017 (but a good bit better than mid 2018). And I don't think that it is coming back. This kind of decline at my age is hardly surprising. But what is interesting is that this decline seemed to be 'triggered' by a 5-6 month training reduction.

So I am kind of looking at my current training and am basically terrified of being forced to take some time off (or forced to make a temporary/significant reduction in training) for fear of another sudden and permanent decline. I don't think that a week off would matter. But I am actually afraid of anything longer for fear of permanently losing another 10-15%. Have other experienced this (or have a similar concern for whatever reason)?

dave
I am almost, NO, Make that 100% sure, I am not, in the same league as most people here... BUT, Guess what, I don't care... , OK, I do care, but... I just keep on pedaling, even tho, I use an E-Assist bicycle now, I still enjoy the ride, and I mean EVERY ride, not just the ones where it's mostly flat, and, or, the wind is at my back, I mean EVERY ride... and Guess what, EVERY spring I get on my bicycle and say... WTF happenned...??? I kept/keep on riding my stationarry bike so I think I am "still in shape", but spring time proves that it it is somehow, most certainly, NOT the SAME... ANYWAYS, this locks into this "other thread" on here as to "when is it time to stop, or when are you too old to ride" or something like that... CHANGE/ADAPT, is what I did, NOT stop riding...
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Old 12-22-19, 07:50 PM
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Originally Posted by berner View Post
DOB 1938. This was back at the close of the bronze age. I find the loss of performance can be slowed but not stopped. One tactic is when not motivated for a long ride, just to get out there and ride something even if just to the post office or any other minor errand. Today I almost did not ride at all but but after a while, pumped up tires, donned cold weather gear, and rode a lap around the local state park. It was actually a fine sunny day with relatively mild temps. The park is along side Narragansett Bay and a tidal saltwater pond. Lots of people wading out there foraging for clams and whatever else could be raked up. All surely haveing a marvelous time. I enjoyed the ride, the weather, the foragers and the ride home, a mere 7 miles total.
Well, you are way ahead of me (and doing quite well it would seem - very well done). I agree with your suggested 'tactic', but I would change it a bit and say that on these shorter rides, the intensity is crucial WRT postponing the inevitable decline. Or at least that is my sense of things.

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Old 12-22-19, 07:57 PM
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Originally Posted by jppe View Post
I have experienced power loss as well........not measured by a power meter but I know my metrics enough to know itís down. Mine was caused by a crash and hip replacement. Between the injury and not riding at high tempo levels for a while, power suffered. I can ride as many miles and as long as Iíd like but my top end speed and that extra gear just isnít there any more. Iím not crazy about it as Iím not able to ride with the groups I used to ride with but I can still climb and do the distance stuff.

Iíve experienced similar strength loss with my golf shots which is just natural aging. I just need to use a different club to hit it further. Itís also more important than ever to make sure my technique is spot on to get the distance needed.

I didnít realize you were in the Pinehurst area. Have you crossed paths with Tommie Brock (you donít have to admit it) or Rick Finnin? Tommie and I go back quite a few years, I heard heíd moved away from Southern Pines down to the coast. I met and rode with Rick for multiple days in Cycle NC in October. Super fella.


I am very much a solitary rider. In fact the ability to ride solo is part of the appeal of cycling to me. I don't know Tommie Brock but I know the name Rick Finnin from seeing some pretty good Strava times associated with his name. I don't think that I have ever met him, but honestly the only two cyclists that I actually know by name own my LBS (Rainbow Cycles in Southern Pines). Like I said - kind of a solitary guy.

I am also a golfer and interestingly the time that I now spend on my bike is time that I used to spend playing golf (where I am now pretty much a once per week guy). And yes I am at least a club shorter (more like 15 yards with the driver) than 4 or 5 years ago.

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Old 12-22-19, 08:40 PM
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Over the past five years since I retired and started riding 3500 to 4500 miles a year, my metrics have been improving every year. This year, at 68, was my best year yet—that is, until around September when I experienced a moderate but distinct decline. Nothing really precipitated it, except perhaps that I was enjoying riding so much that I was riding 5 sometimes even 6 days a week, up from my usual 3 or 4. I just kept riding without worrying too much about it. Now that I have transitioned to indoor Zwifting, I take encouragement from the fact that my Zwift metrics have been improving lately. Despite Zwift, indoor riding is still a bore, so I only do an intense half hour about 6 days a week. I won’t really know until spring if I’ve recovered my youthful 68-year-old vigor. But hey, I feel lucky to have survived this long anyway. It’s all gravy from here on out.
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Old 12-22-19, 09:04 PM
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Originally Posted by berner View Post
DOB 1938. This was back at the close of the bronze age. I find the loss of performance can be slowed but not stopped. One tactic is when not motivated for a long ride, just to get out there and ride something even if just to the post office or any other minor errand. Today I almost did not ride at all but but after a while, pumped up tires, donned cold weather gear, and rode a lap around the local state park. It was actually a fine sunny day with relatively mild temps. The park is along side Narragansett Bay and a tidal saltwater pond. Lots of people wading out there foraging for clams and whatever else could be raked up. All surely haveing a marvelous time. I enjoyed the ride, the weather, the foragers and the ride home, a mere 7 miles total.
YOB 1962. While I commute to work 4 days a week, I try to get a longer weekend ride in since I don't ride most Mondays. I had a two hour window each day this weekend, but let them pass. I felt a little guilty, but rationalized that since all of this weeks commutes involved miles of snow and ice covered streets I was no slacker. Yesterday's high was 50F, and todays was a sunny 62F, but I still managed to stuff down the guilt...UNTIL I READ YOUR POST!! ...Especially since I had letters, stamped and ready to mail, which I planned to do on my bike in one of those two hour windows.

On the other hand, I am thrilled that you still ride. My Mom just turned 85 and plays tennis twice a week.

Okay.. @berner...now I'm motivated!
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Old 12-22-19, 10:13 PM
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Originally Posted by DaveLeeNC View Post
I am very much a solitary rider. In fact the ability to ride solo is part of the appeal of cycling to me. I don't know Tommie Brock but I know the name Rick Finnin from seeing some pretty good Strava times associated with his name. I don't think that I have ever met him, but honestly the only two cyclists that I actually know by name own my LBS (Rainbow Cycles in Southern Pines). Like I said - kind of a solitary guy.

I am also a golfer and interestingly the time that I now spend on my bike is time that I used to spend playing golf (where I am now pretty much a once per week guy). And yes I am at least a club shorter (more like 15 yards with the driver) than 4 or 5 years ago.

dave
Since I retired Iím riding less but playing more golf. I always thought my bike mileage would zoom skyward when I retired. Just a matter of choices.

Tommie actually worked at Rainbow for a few years. I think he was doing mostly sales stuff versus wrenching.
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Old 12-23-19, 05:10 AM
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Originally Posted by DaveLeeNC View Post
For context my DOB is 1949...

I did a moderate (but regular) amount of (indoor) cycling from 2011 until 2015. Starting in 2014 I restarted my Binachi road bike and started riding seriously (and outdoors). From 2015 to the present I was riding 7-8K miles per year EXCEPT for 2018. From roughly 1-2018 to 6-2018 my riding fell off to around 35% of my riding (as in less than half) the previous couple of years. There was no particular reason other than lack of motivation. Maybe halfway through that period of time I felt no particular dropoff in performance. Then in mid April there was around a week where I was not on my bike at all (out of town trip).....

When I got on my bike after the trip I was shocked at the decline in my endurance. It was like my power meter was suddenly reading maybe 35% less than before (and my speedometer was simultaneously showing significantly lower #'s). I have power measuring on my outdoor and indoor bikes and the power decline was real. It was an incredible shock to find that just suddenly show up. I was like a different person on a bike.

I picked up my workload later that summer, built back up over time to earlier training levels and this culminated with a Six Gap Century ride this fall (2019). When all is said and done my ability to put out power is still down somewhere between 10 and 15% vs. what it was in late 2017 (but a good bit better than mid 2018). And I don't think that it is coming back. This kind of decline at my age is hardly surprising. But what is interesting is that this decline seemed to be 'triggered' by a 5-6 month training reduction.

So I am kind of looking at my current training and am basically terrified of being forced to take some time off (or forced to make a temporary/significant reduction in training) for fear of another sudden and permanent decline. I don't think that a week off would matter. But I am actually afraid of anything longer for fear of permanently losing another 10-15%. Have other experienced this (or have a similar concern for whatever reason)?

dave
Get a full physical with a complete blood panel. If everything checks out good, get out there, give it hell and be thankful that you can. I had a good part of my ability taken from me when I was 49 years old (11 years ago). I was down in the dumps about it remembering what "once was", then I decided to pull my skirt up and keep running as hard as I can. Focus on what you CAN do as opposed to what you can't.
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Old 12-23-19, 05:24 AM
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Yep, I’m chagrined at how quickly my conditioning and riding can decline at my age. Maintaining some sort of weight and anaerobic program seems to help. Two summers ago, when all I was doing was riding, the hills got harder as the season went on. Last summer, at the suggestion of a trainer, I mixed in some of the off-bike exercises I do in the winter and things seemed to go better. I log about 2,000 miles of mostly gravel a year, which is nothing like you’re doing, so maybe I’m just blissfully living in the land of lower expectations.
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Old 12-23-19, 05:33 AM
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I lost quite a bit of fitness 2 years ago when I had a substantially reduced riding load from a medical problem that ended in a 5 week post surgery period of no riding. Back to training hard and I'm closing in on where I was before but its really hard work. Don't know if I'll regain what I lost at 60+ YOA but I'm not giving up on it. If I make it great, might even get stronger. If not I'm still working hard and getting as fit as possible. I have shifted from trying to get stronger on short sprints to doing ultra distance which fits well with older cyclists potential, and I have goals which keep me motivated to train hard.

My thoughts on riding and age - decline is accelerated by accepting decline and slowed / minimized by working hard to defy it.
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Old 12-23-19, 07:05 AM
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YOB -- 1950 There really is NO RECOVERY from the life altering bilateral orchiectomy employed as first treatment for my Gleason 10 PCa. *Prostate Cancer* Even with TRT I continue to be effected negatively and simply accept what is happening. Longer/slower 100+ mile rides instead of 40 mile balls to the walls with the guys. I still show up for the HF rides but instead of taking my turn up front and rotating thru I am now the designated caboose for as long as I can stay hitched then it's "Hasta la vista"

My 3 Six Gap rides 2016, '17 and '18 were awesome for this "Flatlander" when a local longer ride has WAY LESS then even a little climb as is evident --->

https://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/4332409593

Looking forward to Bike Sebring 12/24 Hour RAAM in February and 1 Day Cross FL. in April.
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Old 12-23-19, 07:36 AM
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Don't keep track of my performance. But I know, that my performance was better at 39 than at 69. Though I'm not sure my smiles per mile were any higher! Still riding the ole mtn.bike also, though not on more difficult trails like I used to ride, and hoping I never have to stop.
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Old 12-23-19, 08:24 AM
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Born in 1948. Didn't start regular cycling until 2006. I was never fast or a routine mileage hog, more like 30-40 mile rides with some 60s. The last few years I have enjoyed riding as much as ever but I typically do 20-25 mile rides now. I ride with my wife who is a few years younger and we both followed the same trajectory. Doesn't bother me at all. I keep my eye on ebikes and figure by the time I need one there will be some beautiful, efficient models to choose from.
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Old 12-23-19, 09:01 AM
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I used to do a spin class with a guy who was 85, and in amazing condition. He said her didn't notice a dramatic slowdown until after 80.

Considering I could work for the next two decades and never be as fit as he is at 85, I accept that I might lose more, sooner. Oh, well. I am a smiles per mile rider anyway.
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Old 12-23-19, 09:02 AM
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Originally Posted by berner View Post
DOB 1938. This was back at the close of the bronze age. I find the loss of performance can be slowed but not stopped. One tactic is when not motivated for a long ride, just to get out there and ride something even if just to the post office or any other minor errand. Today I almost did not ride at all but but after a while, pumped up tires, donned cold weather gear, and rode a lap around the local state park. It was actually a fine sunny day with relatively mild temps. The park is along side Narragansett Bay and a tidal saltwater pond. Lots of people wading out there foraging for clams and whatever else could be raked up. All surely haveing a marvelous time. I enjoyed the ride, the weather, the foragers and the ride home, a mere 7 miles total.
I agree and do the same when not wanting a full ride, just grab one of my classic racers and tool around town striking up conversation with others. No pressure, no destination. Just get out for a few miles. No need to kit up, just hop on and cruise like when in high school.
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Old 12-23-19, 10:04 AM
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I think the main point of the OP is more along the lines of worrying about the effects of getting older. We all age differently. Some of the posters in this thread seem to excel, some seem to maintain and others gradually lose the ability. You need to find a place all to yourself, work on it from there, and if things improve (or don't) don't worry about it too much. Just enjoy the ride.

There are guys here that quadruple my yearly mileage, good for them. There are guys here that can charge up a hill, I can't. But I don't let it bother me or think that there's something wrong me or my physical well being. Just go and have fun.
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Old 12-23-19, 10:21 AM
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Y'all are convincing me I'm doing the right thing in staying away from having my bike instrumented power meters and the like. I suppose I must be slower than I used to be, but so far, I'm blissfully ignorant of it.
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Old 12-23-19, 10:22 AM
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I don't have a power meter or a computer or Strava to tell me how fast I'm going or how much power I'm producing. I get on my bike to go somewhere; five miles or fifteen, whatever. I always get there, and make it back. Some days I feel stronger than I do on other days. But I have no way to measure this, and I don't really care to.
I just ride.
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Old 12-23-19, 11:01 AM
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DOB, '64. I've run a bunch of marathons and one ultra. I first noticed decline in my speed and endurance in 2014. It just started becoming much harder to run for no real identifiable reason. That's about when I started cycling again. I don't know how I compare to others in my age group,a s I also ride alone. But I just try to get out there and do it, even if I am not feeling like it. As was pointed out, sometimes just going out for 30 minutes or an hour can really help.

I am going to start running again for 2020--that's my resolution. We will see how it goes.
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Old 12-23-19, 11:04 AM
  #22  
davester
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YOB 1954. My performance was probably declining until two years ago when I did two things: 1) I decided that I should ride the Markleeville Deathride (130 miles, 16,000' of climbing) before I got too old; 2) I started riding at lunch with several much younger, lighter, and faster guys in the big hills around my workplace. The threat of the Deathride up ahead scared me into training hard for many months, and riding with the young guys in the hills forced me to up my riding intensity substantially just to stay up with them. Suddenly every ride was seeing me breaking Strava PRs all over the place. I even decided to ride the Deathride a second year, and my PRs continue to fall. I'm probably in the best shape I've been in for decades. So, the answer to performance declines IMHO is to set yourself a difficult goal and find some young folks to ride with.
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Old 12-23-19, 02:56 PM
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Hermes
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DOB May 1949...

Many have used this phrase but one of the more interesting people is Benjamin Franklin in a letter to Jean-Baptiste Leroy, 1789, which was re-printed in The Works of Benjamin Franklin, 1817:
"'In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes."

I like to be optimistic about the future, set goals and try to achieve them. I try to avoid aging theories that assume inevitable degradation of anything. If idea A does not work try idea B. I would not assume outcome A was due to aging and inevitable. My concern is buying into self fulfilling prophecies that are not in my best interests.
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Old 12-23-19, 03:01 PM
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The train eventually gets to the end of the line, and like it or not, all of us are on it. The train gets tired and wears with age as it nears the lines end.
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Old 12-23-19, 04:29 PM
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I am runner first age 58, and did ok but noticed at 51 a large drop in ability. Some now I know caused by Runner’s dystonia. I ride a lot and at times it takes on greater importance. So doing between 3-6 thousand miles over past 10 years the bike performance has dropped. I don’t have power meter but i can tell not the same all out power. I have plenty of endurance always had my all out 50 or 100 mile time would be less. We decline if we have been at it a number of years.

Fortunately no dystonia on bike I can ride with guys 29-30 years younger and be fine. The real hardcore club type riders in prime, no I could not keep everyday but.....Lucky dystonia does not effect my cycling.
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