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What is overwork on a bike?

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What is overwork on a bike?

Old 02-22-20, 08:57 PM
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eagletree
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What is overwork on a bike?

Seemed this would be a good place to get opinions about what has been troubling me. I have been told that when people are new to riding, the try to do too much too fast. I am wondering how many rest days I should be taking or, if my regimen is light enough, should I even bother. I love riding and feel great getting out there and pushing, but I don't feel like I'm pushing that hard given the mileage I see others talking about.

I'll recap. I'm 65, started riding last year and at the new year, I began to take it more seriously. I ride 15 to 20 miles a day, and every other day try to set new PRs for myself. My elevation works out to about 3000 feet a week and time in about 8 1/2 hours. Some of it is done on a trainer each night working on upping my cadence. I've taken off 3 days this year because of weather, but otherwise try to get my miles in.

Each ride I do some sprinting but not that much, mostly aerobic work with as high a cadence as I can manage. In weight lifting, for anaerobic work, rest time is actually the most important factor in developing mass (as long as one does the workouts) and it's the rest period where the work actually pays off. And with that type of exercise, if you overwork, you actually lose muscle mass. What I'm wondering with cycling, is if I am overdoing it or if it's okay to keep going with daily bike workouts. I am tired from riding, but not terribly. I'm also sore but I actually feel less aches and pains than before I started this. I'm aware that overwork will tax the immune system and create all manner of health havoc, but I'm guessing there must be standards that address general workout schedules with a bike (though I doubt for a 65 year old).

Any opinions on if this is too much and I should start taking weekly days off, or if this regimen is light enough that I can just keep riding. What I really want to avoid is to have overwork sneak up on me and get sick or at best just waste some of the workout time by my body not being able to keep up with the changes. Thanks in advance.
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Old 02-23-20, 12:22 AM
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First, a workout schedule depends on your goals.

Second, with what you have described, I'd take a light day each week to walk, do some yoga, lift some upper body weights.
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Old 02-23-20, 02:30 AM
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I went through this a number of months ago. I added more rest and a lot more protein to my diet and it disappeared.
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Old 02-23-20, 03:36 AM
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Due to a pesky but non-fatal auto-immune disorder, I feel crappy most mornings. So I can't go by how I feel, like I did when I was younger and very fit. Back then I might take one or two rest days a week, depending on how I felt.

Nowadays if I listened to my body it would tell me "Go back to bed, idiot," every day.

So last year I got a heart rate monitor and started using apps to track heart rate variability. HRV is supposedly useful for identifying patterns that help establish a personal routine for exercise and rest. After a couple of months I'd say it's pretty accurate for me. Google it and study the available info carefully because at first I thought it was counter-intuitive voodoo. The whole notion that a variable resting heart rate is a *good* thing seemed completely counter-intuitive to me. But after tracking it for awhile, before and immediately after workouts/bike rides, and checking against subjective impressions of how I feel, HRV seems legit as one aid toward choosing a fitness routine.

I usually aim for 3-4 good workouts a week. Bike rides of 20-50 miles, or indoor trainer sessions around 90 minutes whenever possible. Full body workouts twice a week, usually one pretty intensive and a lighter workout a day or so later to work out any soreness or tightness. And I try to stick with my rest days, doing nothing more than maybe a casual walks of a mile or two for errands.

I also take a lot of supplements. Who knows whether they work. Seems to.

Regarding cadence, that's a very individual thing. For years I was a spinner, usually 90 rpm like clockwork, changing gears to maintain that cadence regardless of elevation. But after getting a heart rate monitor it confirmed my subjective impression that my heart rate was redlining too often and too quickly, especially on climbs.

So in late 2019 I changed gearing on my bikes, deliberately slowed my cadence (I got an inexpensive bike computer to monitor that) and it resolved that problem. If I keep my cadence around 75 rpm average, I do measurably better overall. I usually slow to around 60 rpm on climbs and flat terrain, although I'll shift to an easier gear and faster cadence if I feel any knee twinges. When I stand to pedal I slow to 40-50 rpm. On some downhills I'll exceed 100 rpm, but overall my average is right around 75. Works for me. My legs feel stronger too, but I've also added more lunges and leg work with moderate weights at home.

Seems to help. I'm a bit faster and stronger now. But I don't have the stamina I used to have and can't ride or work out every day.
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Old 02-23-20, 08:34 AM
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No computerized gadgets are really needed. Here's the way I look at it:
1. Take a day-or-two off each week.
2. Don't worry about setting a 'PR' every time you go out for a ride. Try regulating your pace by how labored your breathing is - a little laboring is OK, heavy breathing means you're exerting too much in your cycling. If you can still carry on a conversation with short breathing breaks in it, you're probably OK and in a good aerobic range.
3. Don't worry about cadence, just spin at what's comfy for you. Some folks can spin at 90RPM, others (like me) find a cadence down around 70rpm much more comfortable and sustainable.
4. A day a week with some sprints thrown in, or some extended hard work (extensive forced breathing) that puts you into/over your anaerobic range is good for overall conditioning, but I wouldn't do it every time I go out on a ride. Good time to try to get a 'PR' on a favorite section of roadway. I've got a trail near me with mileage markers on it that makes for good sprint/endurance rides.
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Old 02-23-20, 08:38 AM
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Thanks for the responses. As I suspected, people feel that a rest day is in order. I will implement one. My problem is that I don't have any goals other than to ride as much as possible, it's not about getting anywhere or seeing anything, just riding. The workout and experience is pure bliss for me, I love the metric collection and comparisons of repeated attempts at different terrain. It's such a breath of fresh air after weight workouts and walking for years. With the bike, I'd not take a rest day if it wasn't important for health.

Thank you for the opinions.

CankleCat: I noticed you mentioned 20-50 miles a workout. This was one thing I notice. People on these forums tend to go much farther than I do. I can't manage more than a little over 20 miles a day. There isn't enough time for that even in two rides a day plus safe roads are very limited where I live. I thought this low level training I do might be an extenuating circumstance that made resting less important. Also, I do use resting heart rate to try and predict training overload, I never see much change.
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Old 02-23-20, 08:53 AM
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"I thought this low level training I do might be an extenuating circumstance that made resting less important. Also, I do use resting heart rate to try and predict training overload, I never see much change"

You're probably right about this, at least mostly. Rest days are important to me, but 20 miles is just a warm-up most rides. Overtraining is a real problem for some. You'll feel it in different ways, higher resting heart rate, inability to reach high heart rate when riding, fatigue, and a feeling of burn-out.
If you're having fun and feeling great, why worry?
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Old 02-23-20, 08:58 AM
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Originally Posted by skidder View Post
No computerized gadgets are really needed. Here's the way I look at it:
1. Take a day-or-two off each week.
2. Don't worry about setting a 'PR' every time you go out for a ride. Try regulating your pace by how labored your breathing is - a little laboring is OK, heavy breathing means you're exerting too much in your cycling. If you can still carry on a conversation with short breathing breaks in it, you're probably OK and in a good aerobic range.
3. Don't worry about cadence, just spin at what's comfy for you. Some folks can spin at 90RPM, others (like me) find a cadence down around 70rpm much more comfortable and sustainable.
4. A day a week with some sprints thrown in, or some extended hard work (extensive forced breathing) that puts you into/over your anaerobic range is good for overall conditioning, but I wouldn't do it every time I go out on a ride. Good time to try to get a 'PR' on a favorite section of roadway. I've got a trail near me with mileage markers on it that makes for good sprint/endurance rides.
Yes I am forcing myself to avoid being concerned with PRs certain days, ignoring segments and sometimes just taking it easy in places I'd normally hustle. Unfortunately, without that sense of competing with myself, riding might become less interesting. It feels like a sport now and I like that feeling. Probably that's one of my problems, it's all about working out, wearing myself out and challenge, nothing to do with aesthetics, or maybe more accurately, the aesthetics to me are the push, pain and suffering of riding. It reminds me of Cross Country running in school which I loved.
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Old 02-23-20, 09:22 AM
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Elite endurance athletes spend 20% or less of their time on high intensity efforts. The rest is spent at easy paces (which, for them, are likely much faster than regular folks can do even at their top effort level but they're still easy for the elites). Whether or not a full on off day is required is up to you. I never take one but also very rarely get sick so long as I don't push the intensity too much (literally, I've missed 5 days in about 7 years and that was due to one incident with kidney stones and surgery to remove them). If you don't beat yourself up all the time you don't have to have rest days (or regular periods of being sick).
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Old 02-23-20, 09:24 AM
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Originally Posted by big john View Post
"I thought this low level training I do might be an extenuating circumstance that made resting less important. Also, I do use resting heart rate to try and predict training overload, I never see much change"

You're probably right about this, at least mostly. Rest days are important to me, but 20 miles is just a warm-up most rides. Overtraining is a real problem for some. You'll feel it in different ways, higher resting heart rate, inability to reach high heart rate when riding, fatigue, and a feeling of burn-out.
If you're having fun and feeling great, why worry?
Wow, I think you gave me an indicator I wasn't aware of. Not being able to bring the heart rate up to redline is something I've experienced sometimes lately and in conjunction with segment times suffering. So that is a sign I hadn't caught. On two segments recently, day before yesterday and yesterday, I thought (perception) I was working really hard, yet both were off by a significant time factor. When I got home, looking at those carefully, I was not even up in the 150s range. In other words, I thought I was working out, but I wasn't. So that's a nice indicator for fatigue or burnout. Thank you.
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Old 02-23-20, 09:32 AM
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Originally Posted by Marylander View Post
Elite endurance athletes spend 20% or less of their time on high intensity efforts. The rest is spent at easy paces (which, for them, are likely much faster than regular folks can do even at their top effort level but they're still easy for the elites). Whether or not a full on off day is required is up to you. I never take one but also very rarely get sick so long as I don't push the intensity too much (literally, I've missed 5 days in about 7 years and that was due to one incident with kidney stones and surgery to remove them). If you don't beat yourself up all the time you don't have to have rest days (or regular periods of being sick).
On this angle, would the Strava Relative Effort stats allow one to know when you should go not push the intensity? I don't fully understand their algorithm, but it seems to be there to predict this time needed to back off. I very much like the idea of being able to still just go out and ride whenever I feel like it, and I can have the self-control to just take it easy when necessary. I would still enjoy the time out.
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Old 02-23-20, 09:36 AM
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One thing to note about spending more time going easy is that you'll also have more juice to push even harder when you do go hard. It might be worth looking up some training programs that are designed to balance hard and easy efforts.
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Old 02-23-20, 10:00 AM
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Originally Posted by Marylander View Post
One thing to note about spending more time going easy is that you'll also have more juice to push even harder when you do go hard. It might be worth looking up some training programs that are designed to balance hard and easy efforts.
I would imagine I'd do well with a training program because that meets the basics of why I cycle, accomplishment (whether fitness, PRs, or just dialing the bike in, it all feels like accomplishment which motivates me) in a somewhat disciplined environment. To have a schedule and goals would be nirvana. Where does one get a good training program? Is this the type of thing that Strava offers through their third party coaches (for extra cost), or are there reputable free resources for such programs? My Wahoo Fitness app has some programs on it that I've not tried, they are FTP tests and I assumed they are not for noobs 65 years old, and they don't seem like programs, just measurement tools.
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Old 02-23-20, 10:01 AM
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What I've noticed in most of these "Am I Over-Training?" threads is the OPs usually have some hesitancy in accepting/enjoying/incorporating a day or 2 off into their routine. Relax, maybe use that day to clean and detail your bike. All I'm trying to say is that taking a couple of days off isn't going to kill you. Unless you're in it for the money... enjoy a day off.
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Old 02-23-20, 10:04 AM
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I watch my sleep. I know when I sleep poorly due to overwork, I need to ratchet things back.
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Old 02-23-20, 10:14 AM
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There are a lot of variables that affect overall performance. Rest, stress, dehydration, recovery etc. While I don’t use a power meter, I’ve ridden enough to know what my metrics should be over a given terrain. If I see HR, speed or effort being a lot different that I would expect it to be, I can usually relate it to either not being as rested or as well hydrated. Of course ambient temperatures will make a huge difference on those metrics as well but that’s pretty much beyond our control. Recovery is one of the most important and probably least emphasized aspects of overall performance for a lot of us. You can still ride regularly but it takes a lot of discipline to ride at a recovery pace.

Like others have said, it really depends on what your “goals” are. If you’re very interested in setting new PR’s on shorter rides or segments that would mean a different riding regime than say endurance training.

I never really started out to ride the way I do and it’s just evolved over time. I don’t ride all that often (2-3 times per week) but my average miles per ride is around 60 miles with about 3000’ of climbing. We are fortunate that we still have enough lower traffic secondary roads in Piedmont NC we can ride as long and as far as we’d like. We certainly don’t have the views you have but once we get away from the cities we are blessed with a lot of rural roads.
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Old 02-23-20, 10:26 AM
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Originally Posted by bikemig View Post
I watch my sleep. I know when I sleep poorly due to overwork, I need to ratchet things back.
Thanks for that, I'd forgotten about that sign from weight lifting. I never overwork with weight lifting now, so I hadn't experienced that for 12 years or so.
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Old 02-23-20, 10:47 AM
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Originally Posted by eagletree View Post
Seemed this would be a good place to get opinions about what has been troubling me. I have been told that when people are new to riding, the try to do too much too fast. I am wondering how many rest days I should be taking or, if my regimen is light enough, should I even bother. I love riding and feel great getting out there and pushing, but I don't feel like I'm pushing that hard given the mileage I see others talking about.
Quick and easy solution:
Continue doing what You are doing - loving your riding that you are doing while feeling great getting out there and pushing, AND stop reading, listening to, and/or paying any attention to strangers talking/boasting/BS'ing about their regimens that may or may not be good for Them.

Last edited by I-Like-To-Bike; 02-23-20 at 10:51 AM.
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Old 02-23-20, 10:48 AM
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Originally Posted by jppe View Post
There are a lot of variables that affect overall performance. Rest, stress, dehydration, recovery etc. While I donít use a power meter, Iíve ridden enough to know what my metrics should be over a given terrain. If I see HR, speed or effort being a lot different that I would expect it to be, I can usually relate it to either not being as rested or as well hydrated. Of course ambient temperatures will make a huge difference on those metrics as well but thatís pretty much beyond our control. Recovery is one of the most important and probably least emphasized aspects of overall performance for a lot of us. You can still ride regularly but it takes a lot of discipline to ride at a recovery pace.

Like others have said, it really depends on what your ďgoalsĒ are. If youíre very interested in setting new PRís on shorter rides or segments that would mean a different riding regime than say endurance training.

I never really started out to ride the way I do and itís just evolved over time. I donít ride all that often (2-3 times per week) but my average miles per ride is around 60 miles with about 3000í of climbing. We are fortunate that we still have enough lower traffic secondary roads in Piedmont NC we can ride as long and as far as weíd like. We certainly donít have the views you have but once we get away from the cities we are blessed with a lot of rural roads.
The discipline to ride at a recovery pace is tough, I have only one ride that doesn't have steep grades. I'll redouble my efforts to take some leisurely rides.

I'm clearly not riding the distances you all do. There are few ways to get 60 miles in my county. Few roads have any shoulder, all are high speed. I don't use them though I notice on strava, that people do and manage criss-cross routes that do get that type of mileage. I don't know how they can enjoy it because when I've tried the 3 inch shoulder roads with 50 mph traffic, it was not at all even slightly fun, mostly terrifying. The problem here is it's a peninsula bordered by water and mountains. Short rides pushing at the hills are usually the easy way to get a real workout. I have two safe 14 mile runs I do and otherwise, I head into to town and do 8 to 10 miles in loops on roads with bike lanes. I really don't have the guts to ride fast roads with no shoulder and that limits things for daily riding. A lot of the same places over and over, which then means doing segment PRs to keep it interesting. I guess I'm saying that my concern about overwork is a bit unwarranted given the distances others ride at my age and older.
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Old 02-23-20, 10:56 AM
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Thanks to all of you. The synopsis is:
1. Don't worry too much, I'm not riding long distances or intense weekly elevations
2. Watch for sleep issues as a sign to cut back
3. Take a light day working as little as possible and just riding gently
4. Heart rate drop accompanied by poor performance figures under perceived high exertion is a sign to cut back
5. Locate training programs
6. Just ride when you feel like it (which I tend to anytime there is light in the sky ;-))

Thanks
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Old 02-23-20, 11:06 AM
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Originally Posted by eagletree View Post
I have been told that when people are new to riding, the try to do too much too fast.

Any opinions on if this is too much and I should start taking weekly days off, or if this regimen is light enough that I can just keep riding. What I really want to avoid is to have overwork sneak up on me and get sick or at best just waste some of the workout time by my body not being able to keep up with the changes.
Your body will tell you. If you can go out tomorrow, and do again what you did today, and you don't lack energy, any you don't have any pain, you are not overdoing it. If you find you don't have the energy to do it again tomorrow, or are experiencing pain, maybe you are overdoing it.
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Old 02-23-20, 11:50 AM
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If you are north coast O Peninsula - use the Olympic Discovery Trail more.
But it sounds like you are elsewhere on the peninsula.
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Old 02-23-20, 03:29 PM
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Originally Posted by eagletree View Post
...I guess I'm saying that my concern about overwork is a bit unwarranted given the distances others ride at my age and older.
Any fitness routine is highly personal and can't be based on what other folks are doing. Even if we have identical physiology, overall health, nutrition, lifestyles, jobs, family demands, etc., we'd still see significant differences.

While I do peruse Strava to see how other 50+ folks are doing, I don't beat myself up over the fact that I'm very middle of the pack on pretty much every segment. To me, middling is a huge improvement over 2015 when I was dead last on every Strava segment, lagging behind great-grandma on her walker and toddlers on Big Wheel trikes. Being middle of the pack is great for me, especially on climbs -- I've always been a mediocre climber, even when younger and very fit.

I chase KOMs and PRs pretty often. I've had a few top tens but I know that's because there were relatively few younger and stronger riders on those segments. Sure enough, the past year I've been bumped out of most of my top tens by younger, stronger riders, especially in pacelines. A 50something friend dominates many local KOMs but he's an extraordinary exception, a born time trialist. Even younger guys working in tight pacelines of 3-5 riders haven't been able to capture his KOMs. So when my own top tens were nudged lower, I wasn't discouraged. It simply relieved me of any illusions about having an exceptionally strong ride one day that I can't recapture. In fact, I'm stronger and faster now, but I have to be realistic -- with rare exceptions like my friend, it's not realistic for me at age 62 to be anywhere near a top ten Strava segment if a large enough sampling group of younger, fitter cyclists is riding the same route.

So, relieved of that burden, I can just focus on my own efforts measured against myself.

And occasionally I'll join a relatively fast local group, at least when the weather is within my comfort zone (60-100F -- I'm okay with heat but not cold). It helps reinforce my strengths and weaknesses. Even when I'm as fast as those folks on paper -- well, on Strava -- comparing my solo rides against theirs, in actual practice when we're riding together in identical conditions (wind, etc), I'm still very middle of the pack. And the accordion effect of a spirited group ride, with lots of surges and mini-sprints where I'd prefer a steady effort, and them coasting where I'd prefer to pedal, helps reveal the weaknesses I need to work on.

Or not. I don't really obsess over that stuff. These are just factors I include in my ad hoc training approach. On days when I feel really well, I'll tackle harder types of efforts. Other days I'll just cruise, keep my heart rate in a reasonable range, and just enjoy the ride.

And regarding distance, I go by how my neck and back feel. I've been hit by cars twice and my C1-C2 neck vertebrae are permanently screwed up, so usually that's what limits my rides, not my overall stamina. I do a few rides of 60-100 miles a year, but if it's just painful rather than fun I'll bail out and head home. There's nothing here to "win". Mostly I find my usual workout route of 20-30 miles to be the sweet spot for enjoying a ride without feeling exhausted and achy afterward. Same with indoor trainer sessions -- I'll do 60-90 minutes, usually while watching a movie or binge-watching a TV series (I'm re-watching Deadwood now), usually at a zone 2 effort.
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Old 02-23-20, 04:52 PM
  #24  
big john
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Originally Posted by canklecat View Post
Any fitness routine is highly personal and can't be based on what other folks are doing. Even if we have identical physiology, overall health, nutrition, lifestyles, jobs, family demands, etc., we'd still see significant differences.
Exactly.
Speaking of work, did you see the fight last night? I didn't, but I was surprised.
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Old 02-23-20, 05:04 PM
  #25  
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Originally Posted by Wildwood View Post
If you are north coast O Peninsula - use the Olympic Discovery Trail more.
But it sounds like you are elsewhere on the peninsula.
Yes, up by PT. I tried the ODT last summer and it was great. The only issue is it's a 1/2 hour there and 1/2 hour back in the car, so the driving to riding time is a bit too biased on the car. I consider Hwy 20 a extremely dangerous blockage to making it a bike trip to the ODT from the LSM Trail though I realize many road riders do make that passage. Otherwise it would be a very nice and long ride from PT to, I guess, the ocean. I have considered that one could safely ride there if you used 19 south to Center, to 104, then I believe there is shoulder all the way to the ODT if one avoids it just past Disco bay where it puts you on a 2 lane no shoulder road. That's safe and doable I think and would make for a very long ride. I may try that soon. There are some excellent long grade hills on 104 too. When the sun starts coming up and drying things out early enough, I will give it a shot.
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