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(Not so) Great Expectations

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(Not so) Great Expectations

Old 02-21-20, 08:15 AM
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Ronno6
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(Not so) Great Expectations

I turned 68 on Feb. 12th
I am still coming to grips with my evolution (or devolution??) of my abilities as an older cyclist.
When I first moved to south Mississippi a bit over 5 years ago, 18mph+ average rides were fairly regular.
Then, after a litany of leg and knee problems, which kept me off the bike for 2 years, I have not bounced back to that level.
15mph averages are not unusual; 16+ required way too much effort.I guess 15 is the new 20...
Inconsistent riding has also not helped, but often I cannot work up the enthusiasm to get out there and do it.
Last year I fell just short of 1000 miles, but am off to a better start this year.

I wear a hear rate monitor now.
It is an interesting exercise....
If I work my HR up over 140 during exertion (lots of smallish hills here) it will not hardly come down.
It will remain above 130, and climb with any exertion......
I have had 20mile unremarkable rides speedwise which have seen average HR of 135 or so.
They don't feel that hard at the time, but really knock me on my butt for the rest of the day.
Seems that, if I make a concerted effort to keep my pulse under 130, I don't suffer during or after the ride, and average speeds
are not terribly worse than the harder efforts.
But, then I feel like I am slacking..............
I am going to stay with that 130 or so training level for a while and see if the effort to maintain that range doesn't increase.
Only problem is that, in order to keep in that zone, I pretty much have to turn around at the base of any significant hill.....

I used to be a strong rider; now I guess I should be thankful that I can still ride at all.
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Old 02-21-20, 08:26 AM
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Concentrate less on the numbers, be thankful you can still ride, and concentrate more on enjoying the ride, the company you keep, and what is seen along the way that otherwise might be missed. We all age, and we're not going to keep riding forever like we did in our 20's. We all slow down eventually, just be happy to be alive long enough for it to happen.
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Old 02-21-20, 08:49 AM
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I am starting to embrace that attitude.
It is difficult to do when I am used to being so much stronger and competitive.
I used to be among the strongest riders in my groups.
Now I routinely suck wheels of people I used to lead, and need them to slow down in the process......
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Old 02-21-20, 09:22 AM
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For most of my life I have been a competitive athlete culminating in a scholarship to play football (QB) and baseball (SS) in college. So, getting into cycling later in life became a competitive activity for me. As a result, I have approached every ride as a personal challenge. I have burned out, engaged in "come backs" and generally not enjoyed riding. And, I've dreaded riding as a result of a bad attitude. But, having recognized that dynamic, I decided to ignore the numbers. As a result I am once again happy on the bike and at age 74 am riding better and as fast as I have in the past 10 years. Change your perspective. I think you will be surprised and pleased.
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Old 02-21-20, 09:25 AM
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Just one other thing. One of the things that has helped me is to ignore the computer and focus on technique. Practice spinning and using different cadences and gearing to what works in different situations. Pick spots along the route to exert and placed to soft pedal. In other words, focus on skills instead of numbers.
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Old 02-21-20, 09:32 AM
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I just looked, I can't find a ride where my average HR was less than 140 bpm. Most of them are 148-156 bpm. Max is around 170. I'm only 62.

Don't worry about your HR if your doctors say your heart is fine. My heart doctor has told me I can run my heart as fast as I want for as long as I can. And I frequently do. I spend a lot of time at levels that are considered anaerobic. I like the effort, sweat and feeling of having pushed that it leaves me with.

So don't get bogged down with HR numbers unless you are training to correct something specific about how you ride. If you are simply wanting what to me I'd consider a leisurely ride, then that's fine. However don't let your HR number dictate and limit you because you feel it shouldn't go any higher.
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Old 02-21-20, 09:51 AM
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I am trying to use the HR numbers as a guide.
As I said, exertions which average higher levels (132-135) really knock me on my butt for the rest of the day.......an uncomfortable feeling.
I am hoping that keeping the HR under control will allow me to develop without the fatigue.
I am just puzzled by the tendency for my HR to remain elevated after it reaches a certain level, say 140, and my
inability to recover to a sub 130 rate after elevating it. I don't think that is as it should be.
After a 130+ average ride, mu pulse takes a long time to get back to 100.........like over 30 minutes.
After a 125 average ride, my pulse comes back to sub 100 in about 5 minutes.
That gotta mean something which I don't think I should ignore.
Hence my focus on 130 or below.
Just a number, I know, but seems to be significant.
Speed will be whatever it will be................
Now I'm gonna go "enjoy" a cold, windy 20 mile ride.
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Old 02-21-20, 10:03 AM
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I can't tell you if that is normal or not for you. What does your heart doctor say? Emphasis on heart doctor, because my regular doctor seems to evade the detailed questions I ask about HR as related to riding bikes. Perhaps my heart doctor rides a bike and knows where the question is coming from.......

I ride little to none for three to four months a year... gets dark too early, cold, I don't like it. It takes me a couple months of pushing to get back to where I was previously. If I didn't push and put up with the feeling tired the rest of the day, then I wouldn't get to the level where I feel great and invincible....... which might be why my skull got cracked in a few places last year. But that's another story.
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Old 02-21-20, 10:13 AM
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Heart Doctor.....Like Will smith says in Independence Day..."I gotta get me one of these !!"

My GP says all is fine, but I still tend to listen to me body.......
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Old 02-21-20, 10:46 AM
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2 years is a long time off and 1000 miles for a year is pretty low for a competitive type rider. I'm soon to be 66 and I have spent the last 9 months trying to regain some of my former abilities after retiring. I was never one of the fastest climbers but I could handle the rides and chase back on during flat sections. I want to be able to do those long hilly rides without feeling like quitting and I've had some success.
I can tell you at our age gains will be small and losses will happen. It takes a lot longer to build endurance and power than it did in my 50s. So much so that I even considered an e-bike or quitting the hard rides altogether. Persistence and patience are key.
I don't look at heart rate or any numbers, for that matter, and just rely on perceived exertion and how I feel after a ride. I do think if your heart rate doesn't come down after elevating it that's a sign your fitness is lacking. Your heart should slow back down quickly after a brief effort. If it doesn't slow down after a long, hard effort you may be dehydrated or just over doing it.
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Old 02-21-20, 11:02 AM
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One of the things that I've returned to recently, having experimented with it as a youth in the '80's is orthostatic heart rate which is the difference between your resting and standing hr in the morning. Basically when the orthostatic rate is higher, you're well rested and harder efforts will be rewarded more in terms of adaptation than when your orthostatic rate is low, which indicates fatigue.
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Old 02-21-20, 01:51 PM
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This is actually really simple. As we age, we detrain faster. You're seeing the normal numbers of an untrained person your age with your HR range. So what to do? Well, train. At first, it's only about the miles. Get your mileage up. Hills are fine. In fact, the dictum is "see hill, ride up it." Ignore your numbers on the hills, but watch your breathing instead. Keep it below panting on the hills. If you need to, get lower gears. We've all done that, Keep that HR down on the flat to recover. They say, increase weekly mileage by 10%/week, but I think 5% is better. One long ride/week where you ride away from home until you're tired, then ride back. As I just noted in another thread, your heart is the last thing to get into shape. Skeletal muscle is much more responsive. So that's the issue with your HR. Nothing's wrong, you're just out of shape. It'll come back, honest. Carry a small bottle of pickle juice with you for cramps. If you're doing it right, you will cramp, maybe only for the first few months. Shoot for 100 miles/week, say 50-60 of that on the weekend ride. Distance = strength.

You might want to do daily morning stretches to prevent injury, these stretches: IT Band pain (during ride)
You might also look up McKenzie exercises.
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Old 02-21-20, 02:41 PM
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Well, Iím in the midst of the longest period Iíve ever had off the bike. Before itís all over, itíll have been at least 2 months and perhaps even more.

Kinda sux emotionally, and Iím sure the physical decline is going to be a challenge. Iíve never kept track of numbers, but I guess Iíll see.
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Old 02-21-20, 04:12 PM
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Recovery..........that's a major point of interest.
As long as I keep my HR at or below 130, it will drop back pretty quickly by backing off a bit.
I mean from 130 to 120 in a minute or 2.
BUT....once I exceed 140, recovery while pedaling is darn near impossible.
And, if i should get things below 130, it takes very little effort and very little time to push it right back up...
Its that old "perceived effort" thing again......

I have yet to be able to push my max above 147, and that was just for an instant. Typically 145 is about as high as it'll go...
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Old 02-21-20, 06:03 PM
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Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy View Post
This is actually really simple. As we age, we detrain faster. You're seeing the normal numbers of an untrained person your age with your HR range. So what to do? Well, train. At first, it's only about the miles. Get your mileage up. Hills are fine. In fact, the dictum is "see hill, ride up it." Ignore your numbers on the hills, but watch your breathing instead. Keep it below panting on the hills. If you need to, get lower gears. We've all done that, Keep that HR down on the flat to recover. They say, increase weekly mileage by 10%/week, but I think 5% is better. One long ride/week where you ride away from home until you're tired, then ride back. As I just noted in another thread, your heart is the last thing to get into shape. Skeletal muscle is much more responsive. So that's the issue with your HR. Nothing's wrong, you're just out of shape. It'll come back, honest. Carry a small bottle of pickle juice with you for cramps. If you're doing it right, you will cramp, maybe only for the first few months. Shoot for 100 miles/week, say 50-60 of that on the weekend ride. Distance = strength.

You might want to do daily morning stretches to prevent injury, these stretches: IT Band pain (during ride)
You might also look up McKenzie exercises.
i can handle exercise 1 fairly well.
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Old 02-21-20, 06:31 PM
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Originally Posted by Ronno6 View Post
Recovery..........that's a major point of interest.
As long as I keep my HR at or below 130, it will drop back pretty quickly by backing off a bit.
I mean from 130 to 120 in a minute or 2.
BUT....once I exceed 140, recovery while pedaling is darn near impossible.
And, if i should get things below 130, it takes very little effort and very little time to push it right back up...
Its that old "perceived effort" thing again......

I have yet to be able to push my max above 147, and that was just for an instant. Typically 145 is about as high as it'll go...
If your heart is healthy this will resolve itself with training. Once you have reached a reasonable level of fitness you can find your actual max heart rate.
All that time off is going to be a challenge to overcome. You just have to keep at it and build slowly. I can go pretty hard (near max) for hours. I'm wiped out by that but when I cruise a moderate pace for 5 hours I feel fine, even with hills.
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Old 02-21-20, 07:23 PM
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Sounds very familiar. I resumed cycling in 2015 after 30+ years away from any real physical activity other than working and walking. Then my neck and back were broken in 2001 when a full size SUV t-boned my compact car. I needed a cane to walk until 2014. In 2015 I was 57 and decided to try riding again, starting with a big ol' springy cushioned comfort hybrid.

Took forever to get back into shape.
  • 2015: I averaged 8 mph.
  • 2016: That summer I switched to a rigid frame/fork hybrid, and averaged 12 mph.
  • 2017: Again, that summer, I switched to an old school steel road bike and averaged 14 mph.
  • 2018: Same road bike, 15 mph average. Hit by a car while I was riding my bike that spring, set me back for a year.
  • 2019: Averaged 16 mph. This was mostly the same 20-40 mile workout route, including two or more large loops of 6-20 miles, on roller coaster terrain.
  • 2020: Occasionally averaging 17+ mph, but closer to 16 more often.

Occasionally I'll average 20 mph for 5-10 miles, but can't sustain it.

Takes a huge effort to get any faster. I'm not really any stronger, just a bit more flexible after a lot of physical therapy, so I can stay tucked and aero longer.

Now at 62 I'm in much better shape but realize this is about as good as it'll get. I'll never average 20+ mph for a 20-50 mile ride again, unless I resort to PEDs (and I would if I could afford it). The window of opportunity for improving is rapidly closing. I figure by age 65 I'll only get slower, regardless of effort.

And before my bout with thyroid cancer in 2018 (resolved with surgery, no chemo), I usually felt energized after a brisk bike ride. Now I'm drained and often need a nap afterward. A late day bike ride or trainer session used to wake me up like coffee. Now it puts me to sleep.

I got a Tickr last year to add some data to the speed and cadence monitors. Helps a bit. When I did the Wahoo recommended test last summer my maximum heart rate was 173. Probably lower now.

My heart rate pegs near redline almost immediately now, but stabilizes after a 30 minute warmup. Sometimes I'll warm up on the indoor trainer first. But it takes a couple of big efforts to peg my heart rate, then soft pedal for a few minutes, to get my heart rate to settle down. Sorta the physical equivalent to making a milkshake. Gotta really shake up that body for a few minutes, otherwise it's just lumpy ice cream, cold and stiff, not a smooth and creamy milkshake.

HIIT sessions on the trainer helped. I keep 'em to around 30 minutes, with generous warmups and cooldowns. I do only one a week at most. Takes longer to recover from high intensity intervals now. But it does seem to teach the body to recover more quickly from those moderate hill climbs that cause my heart rate to jump to 160+ immediately.

Different approach and expectations now. I'm still aiming for averaging 20 mph on my usual 20-40 mile workout route, but realistically... probably ain't gonna happen. But I've managed 17+ mph a few times so I'll keep trying to nudge it upward a bit.
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Old 02-22-20, 02:58 PM
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One blessing of being devoid of natural athletic ability is that I am able to bike, run, exercise for fitness and personal enjoyment, without worrying about delivering a distinguished performance.
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Old 02-22-20, 06:28 PM
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Ronno6 You said you were off the bike for two years and it must have been in your 60s. I don't compete, I commute, and I was off the bike for a year when I was 48 due to a bulging disk in my neck. After 6 months of pure agony and non-activity I was able to begin walking on the treadmill for 40 minutes a morning. I rebuilt my cardio enough so that all I had to worry about when getting back on the bike would be rebuilding my muscles. (And all the while I didn't know if my neck woould let me ride again.)

I got back on the bike after a year, and it took about 6 months to get back to near where I was. That was 10 years ago. And now at 58 I'm beginning to have more days where I know my speed is down and my endurance is a little less than I'm expecting it to be.

So if you came back from two years off the bike in your 60s, my hat is off to you! That must have been tough work...but you did it!

I think about my "horrible year" every now and then...the pain, the depression and then the work I did to ride again like I used to. I honestly don't know if I could do it again.

There are no guarantees in life...and at this point every ride is a victory lap. So, whatever progress you have made, and whatever performance level you are now enjoying...enjoy it!
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Old 02-22-20, 07:04 PM
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Originally Posted by Ronno6 View Post
I am starting to embrace that attitude.
It is difficult to do when I am used to being so much stronger and competitive.
I used to be among the strongest riders in my groups.Now I routinely suck wheels of people I used to lead, and need them to slow down in the process......
Sheeeet Ronno - Staying with the pack as we age requires cunning. Out of the wind, a tandem to draft on the flats, mid-pack wheel sucker, identifying your pacemaker for the longer climbs, etc. The best result is a safe finish, with a smile, in time for a cold beer (or hot coffee), and some comradery.

As to the issues about heart rate, etc - consult a sports related Doc. Bypass the GP.
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Old 02-23-20, 10:04 AM
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Originally Posted by Wildwood View Post
Sheeeet Ronno - Staying with the pack as we age requires cunning. Out of the wind, a tandem to draft on the flats, mid-pack wheel sucker, identifying your pacemaker for the longer climbs, etc. The best result is a safe finish, with a smile, in time for a cold beer (or hot coffee), and some comradery.

As to the issues about heart rate, etc - consult a sports related Doc. Bypass the GP.
There is NO staying with the pack..LOL.
The pack has ridden off and left me !
But, I am riding at a pace which allows me to enjoy the ride,and not suffer the rest of the day.
130 seems to be my benchmark HR
I will use that as a guide for a while and see if I need to ride faster to attain that level as time moves no.
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Old 02-23-20, 10:33 AM
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Ronno6- I’m seeing some of the same things as you. I’m justifying it as age related. I’m even seeing it in other activities like golf. I play 5 days a week and even with the all the new technologies the ball just isn’t going as far!!! Sure is frustrating.

I have younger friends that want me to ride with them but it’s becoming less fun just trying to stay with them. I’m not able to get my HR up as high as I could when I was doing time trials. In my case I was off the bike for a hip replacement and between some loss of fitness and muscle strength during that time it just hasn’t come back. I think I might be able to regain some of it with some very focused and intense training but it’s just not worth all that work to me. I can still do longer rides, it just takes longer.

Good luck getting it all figured out!!
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Old 02-23-20, 11:37 AM
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If all the pack has ridden off and left you, then maybe you need to find another pack or get some that ride at your level involved and riding with your pack.

However, I'm a little puzzled or surprised by the low numbers you claim for HR max and recovery times. Have you talked to a real heart doctor? I know that at our age we are supposed to have lower HR max and other things, but I've never known anyone that regularly gets cardio, even when taking off a year or so have the numbers you mention. But I"m not quite your age so maybe that's to happen yet.

If a full cardio workout is within your health abilities, I'd think limiting your HR and never going above a bad thing. For certain you may not need or want to spend a lot of time at the anaerobic levels I or others might do, because it's not necessarily making us better performing, it just fills an addiction. However you should be able to put out a good effort on climbs and sometimes flats for a sprint then see you HR come back to some level that you allows you to finish with comfortable energy reserves what ever distance you are cycling that day.

Shorter trips, I usually have a higher average HR. Longer trips usually have a lower average HR. But I still end longer trips with the same speeds as shorter ones. Just that I can't maintain those speeds for as long a time.

Also, do you replenish most of the carbs you burn on rides? If not, there's a problem to think about if these rides you are talking about are a couple hours or more in time.
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Old 02-23-20, 10:37 PM
  #24  
Ronno6
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Originally Posted by Iride01 View Post
If all the pack has ridden off and left you, then maybe you need to find another pack or get some that ride at your level involved and riding with your pack.

However, I'm a little puzzled or surprised by the low numbers you claim for HR max and recovery times. Have you talked to a real heart doctor? I know that at our age we are supposed to have lower HR max and other things, but I've never known anyone that regularly gets cardio, even when taking off a year or so have the numbers you mention. But I"m not quite your age so maybe that's to happen yet.

If a full cardio workout is within your health abilities, I'd think limiting your HR and never going above a bad thing. For certain you may not need or want to spend a lot of time at the anaerobic levels I or others might do, because it's not necessarily making us better performing, it just fills an addiction. However you should be able to put out a good effort on climbs and sometimes flats for a sprint then see you HR come back to some level that you allows you to finish with comfortable energy reserves what ever distance you are cycling that day.

Shorter trips, I usually have a higher average HR. Longer trips usually have a lower average HR. But I still end longer trips with the same speeds as shorter ones. Just that I can't maintain those speeds for as long a time.

Also, do you replenish most of the carbs you burn on rides? If not, there's a problem to think about if these rides you are talking about are a couple hours or more in time.
I have not, as of yet, visited a heart doctor. That should probably happen soon.
I will need to investigate the Medicare aspect of that.

The numbers are what they are, if my Garmin HR monitor chest strap is to be trusted.

Today I rode from home, which involves a bit of climbing within the first half a mile.
HR went up to 135 by the time I reached the top.
I did manage to recover from that and other efforts on the ride, but had no trouble raising it to 130+ with any exertion at all.
I tried to go easy..........wound up with a 14.3 average for 21.5 miles or so.This route is hillier than I usually ride.
Average HR 128 with 141 max. And again, I tried to go easy.......That pesky perceived effort thing again.

My weight is probably an issue. It is down to 255 from 265 in the last 3 weeks.
I am hoping that, as the pounds are shed, the performance will increase.

As for the pack, it consists of 1 other rider and he is very patient.
When we met 5 years ago, the roles were reversed......he was a good student!
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Old 02-23-20, 11:26 PM
  #25  
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Originally Posted by Ronno6 View Post
I have not, as of yet, visited a heart doctor. That should probably happen soon.
My weight is probably an issue. It is down to 255 from 265 in the last 3 weeks.
I am hoping that, as the pounds are shed, the performance will increase.
If you've never had heart issues and your GP says you're fine, and you're making progress without problems, well, I wouldn't go, but I'm not a big fan of doctors.
I know if I was 255 ( I have been, years ago) my heart would be working pretty hard to climb hills. I'm just under 200 for the first time in years but when on my 32 pound mtb with a 10 pound backpack, that's over 240 I'm pushing up some steep hills. I feel (some of ) your pain.
Then I go do fast club rides and get shelled, that's the hardest thing I do.
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