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Older not Slower?

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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.

Older not Slower?

Old 08-02-21, 06:13 AM
  #26  
PeteHski
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I always notice that there isn't much difference in the fastest times posted across the various age categories in sportive events. A lot less than you might expect. Some of the over 50s guys are still seriously fast and sometimes faster than the fastest of the over 30s and 40s. Maybe they have more time to train and less life stress? But there seems to be a very large decline in the over 70s.

From a personal perspective, aged 53, I've been consistently mediocre since my late teens. I can just about match my best benchmark climbing times today as I could in my early 20s. Which simply means I was under-performing back then. I eat better now and I train better and those things seem to balance out against my younger self - at least for now!

To put it in perspective I did a local timed sportive event yesterday and finished in the top 5 overall. That is not a major achievement as this was by no means a competitive event (fun ride sponsored by the local brewery) but it does show how you can be faster than pretty much anyone who doesn't train and ride regularly, regardless of their age. I was passing 20 year olds puffing along out of breath and most of the fitter looking guys were north of 40.

So I think lifestyle and genetics trump age up to a certain point, which thankfully I have yet to reach!
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Old 08-02-21, 07:03 AM
  #27  
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In the 80/90 timeframe, a very talented lady would do her long rides with our local Wheelman club. She did a lot of miles. I raced for a small local bike shop team. She was on the top local team and she won many national championships over the years and still does. I seem to recall her being a 56 minute 40km TTer back in the day and that would always win. Many decades later, she recently did 34 minutes for 20 Km and still won the national championship. She has won a bunch of them. So, she got slower but not slow.

I was recovering in a small cafe a few years ago and in walks a rider with a Stars and Stripes jersey (National Champ jersey) and I did not think she would remember me after all those years. She was suffering like I was with coughing, so, I strike up a conversation. We got into challenges as one ages but the dirty air was the main topic. I had just been diagnosed with asthma. She told me similar age breathing woes. Interestingly she said she "rides like crap" until the air clears out in early Summer and she was giving me encouragement to give it time. She was right, I now notice that my power is lousy when my breathing is labored and albuterol inhaler helps a little but not totally. If someone rolls coal on me, I instinctively reach for my inhaler. She wasn't sure she could make it the 10 miles back home but she had learned to deal with it. About 2 months later she won the TT. Yet, on that day she was looking pretty bad. She was sure it would pass. It is these types of challenges that make it interesting. I have arthritis in my left hip and it can make riding hard. Dealing with injuries and various medical issues is probably a bigger challenge than I expected as I get old. So, I think staying healthy to be able to keep a consistent level of training is a key factor for me as I get older.

The TT times and records by age are pretty revealing. USA Cycling lists them
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Old 08-02-21, 07:35 AM
  #28  
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Originally Posted by CliffordK View Post
I've thought about trying "Masters Racing", but man, those guys aren't slow.
Masters fields around here are hard. At most crits I will usually race the Cat 3 race and the M45 race. The masters field is lousy with state and national champs and a handful of ex-pros. Even as a 50+, I feel like I had a shot at the podium in the 3’s, but never in the masters. This is in NorCal. YMMV.

Right now, my goal is to get back to 4w/kg FTP. I could do that 5 years ago on mostly just a lot of racing. This time it’s going to take some intentionality, especially on the denominator.

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Old 08-02-21, 08:37 AM
  #29  
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I don't know that I've gotten much faster if any in the last dozen years since passing 50. I have not gotten slower though. I can maintain the my max average speed longer. And I can climb longer hills at a higher effort that I can maintain longer than I could back then.

In a sprint, my old self probably will have won though.
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Old 08-02-21, 08:50 AM
  #30  
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To be clear, given the same knowledge, opportunity, motivation, coaching and finances, my younger self would trounce my older self. Running and throwing, there is no comparison between my 20s and 70s. I suck at both today. Vertical jumping, I am about the same which is odd but I will take it. I am better today cycling in climbing and time trialing today but that is because I did not train properly in my 20s and did not have the motivation. Today, I train and cycle with the best athletes in my age group. That is a big factor. Great competition and belief in oneself.

And not to turn this into a Pills and Ills thread but injuries and joint degradation play a monster role for me in loss of athletic capability. I have a terrible back. The MRI and X-rays will scare the bejesus out of anyone. On a positive note, I have an excellent spine specialty doc at UCSD medical who recommended and wrote a prescription for a PT group that specializes in pro athletes versus a traditional hospital PT setting. They have helped me a lot with my mobility. It has taken months but my spine and hip mobility as measured objectively by them have improved dramatically. The pathology is unchanged.

The mobility exercises are very hard to do starting out. Sometimes, I could not do them at all and sometimes they caused a lot of pain. It was like, dude, you have to be kidding, old guys cannot do this. However, it was all about small movements or attempts to fire muscles to make a small movement. Over time, the movement improved. Also, being in a PT setting with highly motivated athletes and therapists is better than a hospital setting with typical patients in for rehab. So today, I do a strength workout and mobility workout in the gym and the mobility takes longer than the strength. I have a specific mobility warmup and cool down routine for cycling.

I have found I am much stronger in the gym and on the bike with increased hip and spine mobility. YMMV.
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Old 08-02-21, 09:39 AM
  #31  
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Hermes.....thanks for that post. I have not had good results with PT, I am in there with all old people who can barely walk. I probably should be with a sports therapist.

I lost 20 mph ball speed in golf from low 190's to low 170's, which is still fast. If I play a public course and get paired with hotshot youngsters, I like to limp around the first tee and take some old man practice swings like my shoulder frozen. Then, I just launch one. The look on their faces is priceless. Getting older doesn't mean we fall off the cliff at 65. I can't throw very well, shoulders.

I was doing a long rider called, "Paris Brest Paris" some years ago, it is 610 km to Brest and then 610km back to "Paris". 22 hours after the start I was taking a picture on the Bridge in Brest with another rider. We both got dropped by the lead riders in the hills. He was distraught that he could no longer ride with "Les Premieres" and he said that was his 11th PBP (they run every 4 years). I start doing the math and asked him how old he was. Seventy freaking one. He was lean and muscular with those TdF veined legs. Chiseled. It helps to see people like that or it does for me
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Old 08-02-21, 09:46 AM
  #32  
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Living in very hilly and mountainous areas, 'speed' has never been a big deal to me. It's been about gearing, heart rate and recovery as well as time in the saddle. Every ride is a workout, whether 4mph climbing or 45mph descending.

Next house will be on flatter terrain so I can brag about my speed.
Flatter terrain might also regain me a tandem stoker - grandchild locally is growing up fast. 3 generations on a tandem should be my cycling goal, and justification for an under-used tandem.

edit: re-read my post and thought I should modify (clarify?) my statement.
I have worked for many years to achieve an efficient 'flow'. The 'flow' position is to ride efficiently and conserve energy so as to ride more miles with less energy. Seems to work for me and my legs.
Besides, this thread needs pics.


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Old 08-02-21, 02:18 PM
  #33  
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A good way to not lose speed is with upgraded equipment and a dialed position on the bike. Mostly aerodynamics.
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Old 08-03-21, 07:52 AM
  #34  
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Originally Posted by GhostRider62 View Post
A good way to not lose speed is with upgraded equipment and a dialed position on the bike. Mostly aerodynamics.
Yeah that would be nice, but redialing that position after many many years of riding .... new tricks for old dogs? Not that likely!

PS Oh on those extra swings; on the bike I keep at my steady speed and swoosh on by other riders. Most satisfying when applied to e-bike riders who haven't the slightest inkling on how that cassette on the back wheel comes into play.

Last edited by OldRailfan; 08-03-21 at 07:58 AM.
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Old 08-03-21, 08:40 AM
  #35  
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Originally Posted by OldRailfan View Post
Yeah that would be nice, but redialing that position after many many years of riding .... new tricks for old dogs? Not that likely!

PS Oh on those extra swings; on the bike I keep at my steady speed and swoosh on by other riders. Most satisfying when applied to e-bike riders who haven't the slightest inkling on how that cassette on the back wheel comes into play.
I can't ride my old steel racing bike but a properly dial fit on an endurance bike with aero wheels and modern kit is faster anyway.
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Old 08-03-21, 12:15 PM
  #36  
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I experienced my first big drop-off at about 63. I'd probably plateaued at 60. The next big one was at 70. The year before, 70 mile day rides were normal, then suddenly not so much. The year of Covid restrictions created an artificial drop-off: no gym, no competitive group rides, no events. I'm having trouble coming back from that, or maybe it's just age. Yesterday we did a hard day hike, lots of gain, big steps, and difficult foot placement. I was 4% slower at 76 than I was at 74. Maybe that's fixable, maybe not. Similar drop-off on the bike.

At the gym, my upper body work isn't that different, but my barbell squats are way off. Maybe that's fixable too, but I think the difference is that I work my upper body hard twice a week and legs 5 or 6 days/week. We did our usual 10-day backpack in '20, but instead of getting stronger as the hike went on, we seemed to get weaker, first time for that. It's all about recovery dropping off. One would like to do more, but can't. It's less than a month to our this-year's 10-day and I'm nervous about it.
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Old 08-03-21, 12:33 PM
  #37  
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Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy View Post
I experienced my first big drop-off at about 63. I'd probably plateaued at 60. The next big one .......

Just what my quasi-hypochondriac self needs to hear since I just turned 63 in March and was wondering then if I experienced a drop in performance. However I seem to be getting back to normal.

I think the biggest issue for me is just getting over the case of COVID I had late December and into early January. Along with some really hard to lose weight that I gained during that time. I'm blaming that on the steroids and several rounds of antibiotic they gave me for COVID and some lingering issue afterward.

But things are still looking up for me. I'm finally losing that weight that wouldn't budge and my performance goes up with the pounds lost.
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Old 08-03-21, 08:02 PM
  #38  
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Originally Posted by Iride01 View Post

Just what my quasi-hypochondriac self needs to hear since I just turned 63 in March and was wondering then if I experienced a drop in performance.
Yeah, Iím guessing youíre pretty much hosed.
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Old 08-03-21, 09:03 PM
  #39  
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Originally Posted by freeranger View Post
70 here. No speed demon, never was. But I can still climb hills as good as many, better than some. One paved hill that I see riders on mtn bikes using the lowest gear to go up, I climbed in the middle ring on my LeMond road bike the other day (standing, but still, wasn't the granny gears). Think much depends on genes and how active you've stayed. I've always been on the slim side, couldn't gain weight if I wanted, and have always remained active. So, in my opinion, some of it is up to heredity, and some on how hard you work at it.
"Don't (puff, puff, puff)... let (puff, puff, puff)... the (puff, puff, puff)... hill (puff, puff, puff) win!"

I think that depending on what your starting fitness level is t hat you can get stronger and perhaps even faster as you age.

Cheers
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Old 08-04-21, 01:15 AM
  #40  
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Older and slower. 63 year old me wouldn't stand a chance against 23 year old me in the boxing ring either. Lotta miles, injuries and broken C1-C2 neck vertebrae 20 years ago (car wreck) ensured I'll never take another punch if I can avoid it. Even without injuries now, younger me was too quick. Every time I jog now I'm reminded how much quickness and agility I've lost in my footwork.

When I resumed cycling at age 57 I figured I had a limited window of opportunity to regain my long lost fitness, build a solid base, then improve a bit until I reached the point where no amount of training would fend off age related slowness. After that point I'd be treading water and gradually declining.

But I had hoped I might have until my mid-60s before that happened. Didn't work out that way. I haven't been able to approach the overall fitness I had in 2019. I still have occasional good rides when I'm as fast as I used to be on the same familiar routes. But those days are fewer and farther between.

And worsening neck pain limits my time/distance on the bike. I used to enjoy longer rides, around 50 miles once a week, sometimes longer. Riding all day and most of the night was no problem. Now about 20-35 miles or 90-120 minutes is about all I can take before I can hardly keep my head up to watch the road.

Some pop culture fitness oriented magazines and websites will occasionally blow smoke up our butts, hinting that some athletes who start late have better opportunities to improve than experienced athletes in the same age group. But they're usually dancing around the reality that there's rarely any substitute for decades of continuous fitness and training. No amount of enthusiasm will make up for a late start, unless the individual was gifted with exceptional physical ability. I know one such guy, who started into cycling late -- late 40s or early 50s -- and is still one of the fastest local guys. But that's exceptional. And he had already been athletic, just doing other stuff.

The only advantage older me has over younger me is the ability to persevere through discomfort and pain. I've become so accustomed to chronic pain from injuries that it's just background noise now. It's the kind of thing that would have kept me off the bike when I was younger, since it was so unusual to have any pain at all. I remember thinking in my teens and 20s I might die if I had to breathe any harder, or if my quads burned any worse. Or I'd whine if I had a stuffy nose or minor headache. Now that kind of effort doesn't bother me much. But that doesn't mean I'm faster or stronger. I'm just an old slow dude who's better at suffering. Not much to brag about.
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Old 08-04-21, 07:23 AM
  #41  
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I reflect on this on my many long hill climbs in the Rockies. I'm 64, and I don't see many graybeards up there, mostly fit youngsters. I'm not passing many other cyclists. And I'm fine with that--I'm still getting up there for some excellent days.

Last week I made my annual 95-mile unsupported trip up Mt Evans, CO from my home in Golden, an 11,000' climb. This is the first year I made it on my first attempt, and it was my shortest time ever. I credit that to picking an excellent weather day, dialing in food and logistics, my head being in the right place, and all the cycling I've been doing during COVID. But I took more breaks above 13,000', and recovery took longer than usual. I don't feel any stronger than at any time in the past. To paraphrase Yogi Berra, 90% of the game is mental. The other half is physical.
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Old 08-04-21, 07:48 AM
  #42  
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Originally Posted by andrewclaus View Post
I reflect on this on my many long hill climbs in the Rockies. I'm 64, and I don't see many graybeards up there, mostly fit youngsters. I'm not passing many other cyclists. And I'm fine with that--I'm still getting up there for some excellent days.

Last week I made my annual 95-mile unsupported trip up Mt Evans, CO from my home in Golden, an 11,000' climb. This is the first year I made it on my first attempt, and it was my shortest time ever. I credit that to picking an excellent weather day, dialing in food and logistics, my head being in the right place, and all the cycling I've been doing during COVID. But I took more breaks above 13,000', and recovery took longer than usual. I don't feel any stronger than at any time in the past. To paraphrase Yogi Berra, 90% of the game is mental. The other half is physical.
Funny how things get mentioned that impact someone so far away.

I'm planning on trying that next week. I heard another talk about that back in 2019 and I've been looking to get a chance at it ever since. I'll finally be able to visit my younger son in Centennial CO and am planning to give it a try. It had been my hope to get out there in early to mid July to so I could have more than one shot at it. Looks like this will be the only chance at it this year.

Probably start from Bergen Park, but am considering Idaho Springs too.

Not sure if I can stand just the slow grinding away for 30 miles. Currently I trade hard effort for speed as my reward. I'm hoping in my mind I can keep telling myself that I'll be grinding away at a hard effort for the views.
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Old 08-04-21, 08:53 AM
  #43  
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Originally Posted by Iride01 View Post
...Not sure if I can stand just the slow grinding away for 30 miles. Currently I trade hard effort for speed as my reward. I'm hoping in my mind I can keep telling myself that I'll be grinding away at a hard effort for the views.
As soon as I get the vistas above tree line, elation takes over. And when the going starts getting tough above 13,000', you can see the summit observatory, right there.



Good luck on your ride.
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Old 08-04-21, 04:38 PM
  #44  
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Originally Posted by andrewclaus View Post
...To paraphrase Yogi Berra, 90% of the game is mental. The other half is physical.
Trainer Teddy Atlas is the Yogi Berra of boxing. As a commentator on ESPN boxing shows years ago, Teddy was famous/infamous for saying stuff like "90% of boxing is 75% mental." Having trained notorious headcases like the great Michael Moorer, Teddy knew whereof he misspoke.
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Old 08-06-21, 12:25 PM
  #45  
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I was reflecting on what Alan Couzens wrote on twitter, "...On my mind this morning: Many triathletes are prone to #overtraining purely because they think in terms of weekly cycles (and want to squeeze key sessions for each sport into each week) A reminder: There's no rule saying that the microcycle can't be 14 days, or longer if needed!"

This is especially important with us mature cyclists. Case in point....

I rode pretty hard last Saturday and set a handful of PB on climbs. It took a little more recovery time than expected. I had planned a certain ride on Wednesday and after the warmup, I should have come home. I did one climb and realized I still was not recovered sufficient, and went home. I took a zero yesterday. Today, I smashed PB on two hills (one was better than just last Saturday). The idea of taking two rest days in a week when I was young would have been unfathomable. I knew in my 30 minute warmup that it was going to be good.

So, in my simple mind, recovery is when I get stronger and recovery is even more important as I have gotten older.
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Old 08-06-21, 05:06 PM
  #46  
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Originally Posted by GhostRider62 View Post
I rode pretty hard last Saturday and set a handful of PB on climbs. It took a little more recovery time than expected. I had planned a certain ride on Wednesday and after the warmup, I should have come home. I did one climb and realized I still was not recovered sufficient, and went home. I took a zero yesterday. Today, I smashed PB on two hills (one was better than just last Saturday). The idea of taking two rest days in a week when I was young would have been unfathomable. I knew in my 30 minute warmup that it was going to be good.

So, in my simple mind, recovery is when I get stronger and recovery is even more important as I have gotten older.
Yes, I can relate. I used to ride as long and as hard as I wanted. Now figuring out how much recovery time I need, and when, is something I'm still trying to determine.

My quads were sore yesterday, so I skipped the big climbs and did a flat-ish ride at endurance page. The quads are still a bit sore today, so today's a full rest day.

Rested and ready for a long and hilly Saturday ride? I hope so.
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Old 08-07-21, 06:35 AM
  #47  
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Speed isn't a good way to measure fitness. I think that hill climbing is a much better way to measure fitness. Anybody can ride fast if they have a right type of a bike and favorable road and weather conditions...but strong hill climbers are few and far in between.
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Old 08-07-21, 06:58 AM
  #48  
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Fitness is multidimensional. It also depends on what you're training for. I know that when I average 18 mph on a certain hilly circuit, I am fit and when I get close to 20 mph, I am very fit. I tend to measure fitness looking whether I cross my Power Duration Curve to get personal bests OR if I climb known hills faster (less time). If I am doing that consistently, I know my fitness is better. I do not trust my Garmin at all. In the past 6 weeks, my power levels and personal bests have been getting better and better, but my Garmin says my training is "Unproductive" and has lowered its SWAG of my VO2 max from 73 to 61.....what a joke. Hills on the other hand, do not lie.

There is speed, aerobic capacity, lactate threshold, and endurance.

Climbing is a special problem because the numerator and denominator tend to go the wrong way as we age. My demoninator went bad in 2020 covid and am working to fix it.

Where I live, the longest climb is about 8 minutes and the best steep climb is 5 minutes. These stress different pathways than a 30-60 minute TT or a long climb. Repeats on my short climbs are perfect for criterium training but not so great for ultra endurance riding. YMMV
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Old 08-07-21, 11:00 AM
  #49  
philbob57
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I can see hill climbing as a measure of fitness, but I live in flatland. Riding into the wind is a good test, too.

I restarted biking in 2013 at the age of 69. I've gotten faster each year. I've gotten more able to pedal into the wind, and I ride in higher winds. I hope to keep riding for many years. But I don't expect I'll ever regain the ability to cruise all day at 16-18 MPH that I had 40 years ago.
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Old 08-07-21, 11:08 AM
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When I was in my late teens and 20's I raced at Elite level, won a couple, was always in the top 10 for my region/state and did ok Nationally (once). I injured my knees, stopped racing, relocated to the UK, stopped cycling!

I started again at 50, two years ago after moving to Portugal. I've trained with a semi-pro 24yr old for the last 6 months and my fitness now isn't too bad - much better than I imagined it would ever be again. I should lose another 5kg to be really competitive though, I'm carrying too much extra weight. I'm around 4w/kg ftp and over 18w/kg in a sprint, holding 15w/kg for 10s. I've collected over 230 Strava kom's in the last 2 years - in a region where Pro racing with WT Teams is annual and many come here to train, not to mention local Pro's and Elites.

I'm not as fast as I was in my prime, I know that to be true, but I still think that over 50's - and 60's - can make the younger generations suffer when we want to.
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