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Getting older, riding slower, trouble keeping up with my group, advice please!

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Getting older, riding slower, trouble keeping up with my group, advice please!

Old 03-03-23, 10:34 AM
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Getting older, riding slower, trouble keeping up with my group, advice please!

Iíll be 70 this year and have never been fast on the hills. The small local group Iíve ridden with for 10 years goes out once a week, and itís a big highlight of my week. The other folks are about 30-40 years old. Theyíre super supportive and patient when I fall behind on the hills but I get really frustrated and want to improve.

Iím a non-smoker, maybe 5 or 10 lbs over ideal weight, no special health issues. Last year I injured my shoulder, had to deal with 2 surgeries, and was off the bike for 6 months, but Iíve been back on for 6 months, without any pain or issues.

On the climbs, sometimes I feel my leg muscles start to hurt and fade, sometimes I get winded, sometimes both things happen at the same time.

I do solo rides 1 or 2 times a week, almost always in the hills, and I enjoy the climbs. Iím just slow.

7 1/2 years ago I did a 500 mile trip with a lot of hills, doing about 40 miles a day. I was at my strongest after that and could keep up with the group 99% of the time. But that didn't last long.

I ride a carbon fiber road bike thatís quick. I carry about 10 lbs. of tools and accessories, but I canít think of anything Iíd be comfortable eliminating.

The obvious answer is ďride moreĒ and I will. And I have appointments with my cardiologist and ENT next week to see if part of this is a cardio or breathing issue, which I think is possible.

Besides asking for general advice and experiences from other seniors whoíve dealt with this, I have a few questions.

Does it sound like leg strength is my main limitation, or might it be a cardio thing, where I just donít get enough oxygen?

When I train solo in the hills, should I push it as much as I possibly can, and really sort of beat myself up, to get better?

Is a 40 mile ride in the flats as helpful as a 20 mile ride in the hills, or should I really just stick to the hills for training?

I know that at some point in the coming years age will catch up and there will just be no way I can do rides with my group and keep up, but if I can do rides like this for maybe 5 more years without being a big drag on my friends, Iíll be thrilled.

This is really important to me. Thanks in advance for any advice, life stories, tough love, etc.
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Old 03-03-23, 11:58 AM
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Would you consider an pedal assist e-bike? I was at my LBS and they had an e-road bike that hardly looked any different from a regular road bike.

You could use that in a group ride and easily keep up. Then use your current road bike for when you ride alone and aren't slowing a group down.

I'm 68 and can certainly see the value in having one for some rides (like very windy days, lol). I will consider it for my next bike.
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Old 03-03-23, 01:10 PM
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Are there any groups in your area geared towards seniors? I am fairly sure that someone riding with others 30 to 40 years younger are going to find themselves a bit slower than the group. An 82 year old friend just bought his first e-bike, for hills and keeping up. Still has his purely leg powered bike and rides it if a fairly flat ride. Nothing wrong with a little help as we get older.
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Old 03-03-23, 01:19 PM
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Assuming that at age 70, you have lots of time to do what you want: yes to riding more hours -- and yes to riding more often.

I just "aged up" to 65 this year, and I'm trying something new: I'm simply putting in more hours on the bike, almost all at an easy/moderate pace. It's working, I feel "mid-season" strong.

With the less-than-great weather, I haven't been doing any long climbs. But the short, low-elevation hills are feeling pretty easy. I tried a full gas effort on a short Strava uphill segment this week, and I managed a 3rd place time. Not so bad for a senior citizen.

So here's the training that's worked for me:
  • just put in the hours on the saddle at easy/moderate pace
  • ride at least 4 times per week
  • try some harder but short efforts, no more than once or twice per week
  • start adding in longer tempo climbs as the season progresses
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Old 03-03-23, 01:33 PM
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I suppose it could just be me but Iím well into my 60ís and Iíve discovered that Iíve reached a performance level that likely isnít going to change.
No matter how much I ride, I think the affect of aging is fighting me just as hard as the effort to improve. Donít get me wrong, I ride pretty well (IMO) still able to easily knock out a century but my dreams of doing it at substantially better times areÖ.. dreams.
I too have been at least sniffing around the E-bike market to see whatís being offered. Iím pretty sure Iíll be buying one before 70. I love doing centuries but canít have it be an all day and night thing.
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Old 03-03-23, 01:35 PM
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Start your own group of 70 riders
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Old 03-03-23, 01:39 PM
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Originally Posted by freeranger
Are there any groups in your area geared towards seniors? I am fairly sure that someone riding with others 30 to 40 years younger are going to find themselves a bit slower than the group. An 82 year old friend just bought his first e-bike, for hills and keeping up. Still has his purely leg powered bike and rides it if a fairly flat ride. Nothing wrong with a little help as we get older.
I posted about this here: Converting between Power, VO2, and METs

Ride longer distances, with hills. Never neglect the hills. During my rando period, I usually didn't do a training ride of over 60 miles and 3000' or so, but I did a lot of those. You "just" need to ride more and longer, 100 mile or so weeks with one long ride. Start with say 40 miles and keep going up, goal of say 60 by June. With ~50'/mile. That seems to work best. Just do them solo or with a buddy or two. Climb every hill hard until you can't. "If you can walk at the end, you could have gone harder." The rest of my week is all Z2 rides on the almost-flat. Volume.

No ebike, no.

If you aren't doing strength training, you should be. As you've noticed, our muscles deteriorate more quickly the older we get. You ain't seen nuthin' yet. I do ~1 hour at the gym, twice a week. Legs, back, hip flexors, shoulders and arms. Start with say 3 sets of 20 reps. Most of your buddies won't be doing this - it'll give you a leg up. My other "secret weapon" is hiking in the hills, 3-4 hour hikes, once a week. Snowshoe or ski in winter, hike in summer. That's a big dose of Z1 plus leg strength and endurance.

Yeah, it's really important to me, too. Last summer, I did one ride on my single with my group, dropped everyone except the 2 strongest riders, 77th summer. Everyone I ride with is considerably younger than I. I'm not a talented rider, I just work hard and have a plan for that. Almost all my outdoor rides are on a tandem with my wife, where we usually bring up the rear, fine. I think the tandem is better training than on a single, builds more resilient legs. Besides, it's good for our relationship.
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Old 03-03-23, 01:40 PM
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You are old and slow. Get used to it. When I was 40 and racing I could do a 40 miler in exactly 2 hours, solo. Now at 68, I'm lucky to be able to do 40, forget the speed. My current speed avg. at age 67 is about 12 and that feels like I'm making an effort. If you were to ride a lot solo during the week and do hard intervals, you could probably train enough to be able to hang with the 30 year olds. You would want a day off prior to doing the group ride. It would be a hard effort though and why ?. I am fortunate that the group of 4-5 folks I have ridden with the past 25-30 years are all aging with me so we all and still have about the same capabilities. We are all early to late 60's. We are not averaging 17-18 anymore and we are OK with that, itt's just good to have a group to ride with.
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Old 03-03-23, 01:48 PM
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Second this notion

Originally Posted by Mtl01
Would you consider an pedal assist e-bike? I was at my LBS and they had an e-road bike that hardly looked any different from a regular road bike.

You could use that in a group ride and easily keep up. Then use your current road bike for when you ride alone and aren't slowing a group down.

I'm 68 and can certainly see the value in having one for some rides (like very windy days, lol). I will consider it for my next bike.
Swytch makes a cool front-wheel conversion kit. Rather than install a pedal assist doohicky, use their throttle option.
With their max battery, you'll find that the help up climbs, only, will not needlessly exhaust the battery while you're safely drafting.
Their system adds about five pounds total additional weight, but that's a far cry from a dedicated ebike weighing thirty-plus.
Only problem is Swytch's long delivery lead time on their latest generation. Probably around six months.
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Old 03-03-23, 01:55 PM
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Originally Posted by 3940dxer
I carry about 10 lbs. of tools and accessories, but I canít think of anything Iíd be comfortable eliminating.
Even if you're including your water in that, 10lbs sounds like a huge amount of tools and accessories! What sort of stuff are you talking about?
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Old 03-03-23, 01:59 PM
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There comes a point where we all slow down and may need to make some changes as the bikes we ride and how we ride. It can be hard to wrap our brains around those changes, but it's all part of the fun . . .

Being able to ride with folks 30-40 years younger is impressive but it may not be something you can do forever. Personally I don't think I'd buy an e bike but it is a potential solution since you value doing that ride so much.
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Old 03-03-23, 02:52 PM
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Flatter one of the faster riders into carrying your 10 pounds of stuff.
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Old 03-03-23, 03:00 PM
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I've never minded riding with the slowest rider but I won't be the slowest. The odd bad day is one thing but having others wait for you every ride just isn't right. When that time comes, best to find another group. I also don't think I would continue with a group if I needed an ebike to keep up. Might as well ride a Vespa or Honda Cub, carry a cooler and drinks for the group.
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Old 03-03-23, 03:02 PM
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Originally Posted by 10 Wheels
Start your own group of 70 riders

Getting old is not for the weak!

As a solo rider only I say this because I know of several 70+ riders that could squash me like a BUG!
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Old 03-03-23, 03:17 PM
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Originally Posted by 3940dxer

Last year I injured my shoulder, had to deal with 2 surgeries, and was off the bike for 6 months, but Iíve been back on for 6 months, without any pain or issues.
I am a bit younger but what I have found is recovery from injury takes much more time than when young. You were off 6 months. I would expect at least a year to recover your previous fitness. I broke 10 bones in Sept 2021 and it took until mid Summer 2022 before I was close to the same fitness. And I did not take 6 months off. Be patient. I got Covid just after Thanksgiving and my FTP was off 75 watts and very slowly I am regaining my power. I might take 6 months. I think you should ride as much as you enjoy and just be patient. (get checked by the Docs but in the end, you might just need time)

Would there be a way to offload some of your accessories to others on the ride? Any 70 yo should be cut some slack. 10 pounds is a lot.
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Old 03-03-23, 03:17 PM
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Were you keeping up before your shoulder surgery? Coming back from that is harder these days. Do some above threshold intervals midweek and hit the gym.
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Old 03-03-23, 04:12 PM
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Originally Posted by Mtl01
Would you consider an pedal assist e-bike? I was at my LBS and they had an e-road bike that hardly looked any different from a regular road bike.

You could use that in a group ride and easily keep up. Then use your current road bike for when you ride alone and aren't slowing a group down.

I'm 68 and can certainly see the value in having one for some rides (like very windy days, lol). I will consider it for my next bike.

I found a 2 year old model (as a new purchase) for just under $3,700 with full Ultegra Di2. My terrain makes every ride a less than easy ride.
Rear hub, Class 1 motor. It gets me up steep hills I struggle with, it gets me up extended moderate grades I struggle with, it extends my range, it allows faster recovery from tough rides so I can ride more often. It is not my only bike. 72 yo.
Pictured bikes 60years apart - what's so different?!?

I don't ride with groups. Best check group ride rules and level of arrogance & intolerance.

…and yeah, 10 pounds of equipment, not including your water bottles, should dictate a weight reduction program, thru lighter or multi-use tools. Trust your equipment, thru good maintenance and pre-ride checks.

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Old 03-03-23, 05:28 PM
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I turned 70 last September, and have been slowing down the past few years. Other than shorter, purposely faster rides, For longer rides, I rarely average above 15mph anymore. I am ok with that. At some point in aging, one is not going to get significantly better, unless one is really out of shape to begin with. I am still getting in my miles and time on my bikes. That is important to me.
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Old 03-03-23, 05:33 PM
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I turned 70 last September, and have been slowing down the past few years. Other than shorter, purposely faster rides, For longer rides, I rarely average above 15mph anymore. I am ok with that. At some point in aging, one is not going to get significantly better, unless one is really out of shape to begin with. I am still getting in my miles and time on my bikes. That is important to me. I do not carry anywhere near 10 lbs of equipment. I think if I weighed one of my bikes with the normal stuff I take, then weigh it stripped down to just the whole bike, I am guessing about 3 lbs. difference.
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Old 03-03-23, 06:00 PM
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Lotsd of good advice here .... both for going easier on yourself anf pshing yourself harder, so you have lots of options.

Originally Posted by Wildwood



.
I did a hilly ride with a guy on one of these ... he was a little older than I, around your age, maybe, and we talked a little ... he didn't want to devote more of his life to riding but he also wanted to stay with his group, so on the hilly rides he got a little help. I didn't even notice when I was checking out his bike until I looked at it from behind ... but he wasn't hiding anything. He wanted to be able to live his life as he wanted, and he wanted to finish his rides with his friends and not so knackered that the rest of the night and the next day were spent in a hot tub, suffering.

if you are interested in riding more miles, Carbonfiberboy and others have solid info, which they have tested themselves. As for recovery, I can attest and also others have told me, that is the first thing to go. You can do the ride but you pay for longer. Even so, being stronger will help with that.

Hope I am not repeating myself, but I knew a guy who was 82 who told me he kept going strong until 77, when his recovery times started increasing---and he was still going strong. He didn't lose a lot of time to injury and illness, unlike yourself, but you can get that back if you choose to, probably. If you choose that route, and proceed sensibly, you could well continue to perform at ridiculous levels (and embarrass the rest of us) for many, many more years to come.
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Old 03-03-23, 06:20 PM
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Group cycling is far crueler than group running. The effects of small disparities in rider weight, endurance, and strength are amplified on bikes. To make it worse, if and when the faster riders are willing to wait at the top of a hill for the slower riders to labor their way up, the faster guys often take off again immediately, giving the slower riders no chance to recuperate.

An electric road bike is almost certainly the best solution for the OP. People who have found themselves in the same situation have reported that they regained their enthusiasm for group rides after buying an electric bike, especially since they found that they can finely adjust the assistance level to maintain as hard a workout as they're comfortably capable of.
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Old 03-03-23, 06:47 PM
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I think it’s awesome you are riding witha young group! I’d suggest 2 simple and effective helps. First, weight reduction. Remove tools you don’t need or have to keep. Use your phone for breakdowns, cut the tool weight back. Body weight. Any kind of weight. Hills are directly effected! Second, base miles. This is where base miles gets you through. You will notice the diff on the hillclimbs.
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Old 03-03-23, 07:46 PM
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Thankfully, I love riding alone. I have a group I ride with, but they are all my age or older, all retired guys, so there is always others as slow or slower than I am. I have a noisy heart valve now and it has gotten worse with time, so before long I may not even be able to ride at all unless I have some More heart surgery. I am not a fan of hanging with young people whether they are on bikes or anywhere else, they just don't have the brains, education or maturity that some older people have, so I will never miss them.

I am glad that for me riding is not a social activity, but a bicycling activity, I love cycling and don't need new equipment, people to ride with, any special challenges or goals etc. just the time and ability and that is always a win I am grateful for.
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Old 03-03-23, 08:48 PM
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I joined a road club in 1989. Lots of people have come and gone but a few are still around from then. I moved away for a few years but when I came back in 2001 I made lots of new friends, I did about 2000 club rides in the following 20 years. I know how attached you can get to riding friends and how exciting it can be to look forward to an epic ride with them.

I was never a fast climber but they never seemed to mind waiting after a big climb. When I got into my 60s my job took so much out of me I had a lot more trouble keeping up. After I retired it took a long time to make any gains. It requires patience. Gains come a lot slower and recovery takes longer.

I always rode with the fast group doing the long rides so that's where my friends are. Thankfully some of them have lost interest in hammering all the time so we stick together when we can.

I did join another club a few years ago and they have been wonderful. Friendly and welcoming to me but it's not quite the same. Their rides are shorter and they don't go as fast. But the main thing is I don't have history with them so I do most of my rides with the old club. Finding another group is easier than dumping the old one if you're connected.

E-bikes are not allowed in many road clubs. There are actually 2 people who ride them with our club and everyone looks the other way because they have been members for nearly 40 years and are safe riders.

edit: What can you carry that weighs 10 pounds? I have a multi tool, tire levers, co2 stuff, tube, patch kit, and mini pump. Maybe 2 pounds?

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Old 03-03-23, 09:25 PM
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Father time is a cruel opponent. He's going to win every time. You basically have two options. E assist or find another group. Time to have a "talk" with the rest of the group. Voice your concerns and goals. It's their ride as much as yours. I'm sure something can be worked out.
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