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Making Gains after 50?

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Making Gains after 50?

Old 08-02-23, 11:23 AM
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Making Gains after 50?

So, I知 turning 55 this month and I知 wondering if there are other guys (or, ladies) my age that are still improving their cycling; whether that means getting faster or riding farther, etc.

I generally ride hard and push myself on almost every ride and I知 still (occasionally) setting new PRs or seeing higher average speeds for familiar routes. I ride 4-6 times a week and I do strength training 3 times a week.

Any ideas how much longer do I have to keep improving?
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Old 08-02-23, 11:42 AM
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I don't know how much more you can improve, but you certainly can get worse when you don't ride at the level you have to ride to maintain what you currently do.

I had to lay off riding for a little over a month due to surgery and other things going on. And I didn't get a good start on my riding this year before that. But I'm fairly happy that I'm catching back up to where I was in just a few weeks worth of rides. So even at 65, I'm still able to improve from that period of not cycling. At 64 I KOM'd a hill here, tying with 2 other much younger guys here. Hoping to beat that this fall. But those other two aren't riding that much lately, so there won't be much to it since no one else seems to try on that hill lately.

So don't worry about it, just ride your bike and when you start to suffer in performance, then you'll know. Assuming you didn't become a slacker and not ride what you should.

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Old 08-02-23, 01:20 PM
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Everyone is different, but I remember 55 was nothing. It wasn't until after 60 that things really started to go downhill. After I retired @65 I was able to make gains because my fitness was off from work kicking my ass.
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Old 08-02-23, 01:57 PM
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I started bicycling at age 58. I mean that was from zero. 4 months later I did most of Ride The Rockies in Colorado. That included about 3 hundred plus miles of riding, climbing several passes, etc. and some steep grades. I guess that's some improvement - for someone over 55, it can be done. And this was on a mountain bike. Still cycling at 83, but in no way could I do that right now.

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Old 08-02-23, 03:52 PM
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The longer that you've been riding and working out the more difficult it becomes to make gains. Eventually all gains stop and it's all about maintaining what you have gained over the years...Me personally I don't care about speed, watts or performance or how many plates I squat or press. I am all about long slow distance and I keep my rides in zone 2...Health and longevity is my priority, I want to be able to ride and workout as long as possible....I don't care about winning races or comparing myself to others...The greatest gains are made when you're a newbie, after a couple years it's just maintenance.
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Old 08-02-23, 05:21 PM
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I have a hill that I do intervals on. My PB was 4:06 that I did in 2016 after TABR race. My best in 2015 was 4:25.

I did 3:47 yesterday.

My endurance is waning, it is hard for me to do a 600km without sleep.
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Old 08-02-23, 05:46 PM
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55 and makings gains in my gut. 100+ heat and distracted drivers makes riding dangerous. So diet and walking at night when it is cooler.
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Old 08-02-23, 05:53 PM
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This is a favorite topic with my beer-drinking buddy and me, when we take a break from saving the world. I'm fairly sure I'm not getting in much better shape post 55 (eleven years ago). But I can maintain fairly well and once in a while surprise myself. At age 64 I did some of the best big climbs in my life, including Mt Evans from my house in Golden (11,000' in 98 miles) and some stronger than normal trips on Mt Lemmon in Tucson. Then I got a minor case of Covid, and a year later a real nasty cold, and bouncing back from that just isn't happening yet. I'm still getting 5000'+ of climbing in regularly so I'm not waylaid, and I'm still hoping for some bigger days this season. I don't keep any other metrics on performance, and have never ridden competitively.

At age 55 I cycled self-supported across the US on the Northern Tier Route, 4400 miles in 55 days, with 17 centuries (three in a row once). Total that year was well over 7000 miles. That was a real good year and nothing could slow me down. 2020 was a similar year, with literally nothing else to do and empty roads.
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Old 08-02-23, 06:27 PM
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At 74 I still push myself and have noticed an overall improvement in my average speed for the same ride and distance as last year. I can thank the trainer during the winter for that. My cadence has definitely improved since getting a cadence sensor about 6 months ago also. This heat wave has hit me harder than they have in the past though and for the last week I've had to curtail my daily distances so I can finish before it bakes me. While I love night rides, I don't push myself at night. Those are strictly for entertainment. Good luck,
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Old 08-03-23, 06:32 AM
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If you haven稚 formally trained to ride fast, much longer. Try Fast After Fifty or The Cyclist痴 Training Bible by Joe Friel.
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Old 08-03-23, 07:49 AM
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Thanks for all of the replies! This is really heartening! 😁

I’m still recovering from being hit by a car in Nov. ‘21 and my fitness (according to Strava) hasn’t recovered to the level I was at just before getting hit. But, it IS going up.
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Old 08-03-23, 09:21 AM
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Originally Posted by DirePenguin
Any ideas how much longer do I have to keep improving?
fwiw
48-50 made huge gains
at 64 I'm hanging on, that's all
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Old 08-03-23, 10:10 AM
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When I got back on my bike in late-2019, after a 15-year hiatus from cycling, gains were pretty quick because I was essentially starting at zero. Currently, at age 55, I'm still seeing my PRs get incrementally better, but I'm only semi-serious about training. I could be faster/stronger, but I no longer have the desire to train the way I used to when I was racing in my 30s. My biggest cycling goals are to be a mid-pack finisher in a few mid-distance (80mi-ish) gravel events every year, and have fun riding with my friends on weekends. I'm happy to be back to a level of fitness where I can ride at the same level as my friends who didn't take a break from riding.
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Old 08-03-23, 10:28 AM
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Robert Marchand increased his vo2 max by 13% and wattage by 39%......he was over 100 years old, riding 17 miles in an hour for an AG world record.
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Old 08-03-23, 11:03 AM
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Originally Posted by DirePenguin
So, I知 turning 55 this month and I知 wondering if there are other guys (or, ladies) my age that are still improving their cycling; whether that means getting faster or riding farther, etc.

I generally ride hard and push myself on almost every ride and I知 still (occasionally) setting new PRs or seeing higher average speeds for familiar routes. I ride 4-6 times a week and I do strength training 3 times a week.

Any ideas how much longer do I have to keep improving?
I'm pretty sure you can still improve. Pushing yourself hard on almost every ride is not the best way to improve. Learning to train smarter will probably provide the biggest gains. Also improving your nutrition (assuming you are not already eating super healthy). The good news is that the natural drop off in performance potential with age is pretty shallow in our 50s and 60s. I'm currently 55 and still finding small improvements along the way. I'm faster than I was in my 40s simply because I train and eat better now.
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Old 08-03-23, 11:11 AM
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The question is whether you're applying equal -or- greater effort in training compared to your younger self. Sure, the ceiling of possible achievement is lower, but if I was logging fewer hours at lower watts a few years ago, I could beat that regardless. There are plenty of people around here 20yrs older than you that do 50+miles a day. Would that be an upgrade in fitness for you? Then, the answer is yes. Or, if you're currently training 25 hours a week with a 275 FTP, then I've got bad news... all relative.
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Old 08-03-23, 12:58 PM
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Masters races, Senior Olympics, and other age group races are full of riders who are 50+, train, and improve. A day will come when you are no longer advancing, but if you're training correctly, you will be MUCH older than 50 when that day arrives.
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Old 08-03-23, 01:25 PM
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Originally Posted by PeteHski
I'm pretty sure you can still improve. Pushing yourself hard on almost every ride is not the best way to improve. Learning to train smarter will probably provide the biggest gains. Also improving your nutrition (assuming you are not already eating super healthy). The good news is that the natural drop off in performance potential with age is pretty shallow in our 50s and 60s. I'm currently 55 and still finding small improvements along the way. I'm faster than I was in my 40s simply because I train and eat better now.
This^^^^

I have not figured the right mix of intensity, duration, frequency but I do know that more is not necessarily better for me. I seem to get more bang for the buck monitoring how I feel and my heart rate variability and if I think I need recovery, I take it. I also eat better and take more care to get good sleep. There really isn't a lot of good training advice for those of us in our 60's or higher. Peter points are spot on. What I have found is my improvements are very slow and I have to add load very slowly, much slower than when young. In other words, I can't just crank up the miles 10-15% per week, in terms of training load, it is more like 3-5% per week is all I can handle and that is hard...sadly.
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Old 08-03-23, 02:00 PM
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Originally Posted by rumrunn6
fwiw
48-50 made huge gains
at 64 I'm hanging on, that's all
I made gains after 65 when I retired. The last few years at work made it impossible for me to carry a normal (for me) training load. I did find that gains come slowly after 65. Patience is required. I did get pretty frustrated.
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Old 08-03-23, 02:36 PM
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Originally Posted by PeteHski
I'm pretty sure you can still improve. Pushing yourself hard on almost every ride is not the best way to improve. Learning to train smarter will probably provide the biggest gains. Also improving your nutrition (assuming you are not already eating super healthy). The good news is that the natural drop off in performance potential with age is pretty shallow in our 50s and 60s. I'm currently 55 and still finding small improvements along the way. I'm faster than I was in my 40s simply because I train and eat better now.
I didn稚 mean that I just ride every ride as hard as I can, I know that痴 not as effective. I vary the intensity of my rides; sometimes aiming for Tempo, sometimes pushing into Threshold, etc. By 途iding hard I basically meant that I知 riding with the intention to improve. I recently got a power meter and have been doing my training based more on power than heart rate. I致e been seeing fairly slow but consistent improvement in my Normalized Power numbers from my Garmin Edge 530.

Also, I do eat a healthy diet; not too much red meat, plenty of fruits & vegetables, Greek yogurt and high-fiber oatmeal for most breakfasts.
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Old 08-03-23, 05:00 PM
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Originally Posted by DirePenguin
I didn稚 mean that I just ride every ride as hard as I can, I know that痴 not as effective. I vary the intensity of my rides; sometimes aiming for Tempo, sometimes pushing into Threshold, etc. By 途iding hard I basically meant that I知 riding with the intention to improve. I recently got a power meter and have been doing my training based more on power than heart rate. I致e been seeing fairly slow but consistent improvement in my Normalized Power numbers from my Garmin Edge 530.
Also, I do eat a healthy diet; not too much red meat, plenty of fruits & vegetables, Greek yogurt and high-fiber oatmeal for most breakfasts.
If riding performance improvement is a goal; do all the stuff you're doing now
AND
do at least one ride a week in a good group, stronger than you (by just a little bit). THAT will have you dealing with efforts which aren't controlled by you...
And if they do climbs also, as opposed to just mostly flat speed work - even better !
it makes a real difference and promotes gains you won't get , riding solo.
Ride On
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Old 08-03-23, 06:10 PM
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I'm 58 and just started back after a 15 year hiatus. This thread has been most interesting, thanks to all that posted.
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Old 08-03-23, 06:49 PM
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Re Starting out 4 years ago, way out of shape - I make gains every year. I’ve not hit my ceiling yet. But the gains are getting smaller and harder to achieve.

Recovery is slow. Best I can manage is 2 week training blocks, then I need a rest week. Recovery from long rides is slow… but my only point of reference is from when I was a roadie in my 20’s.

I can’t reach my goal and don’t know if I ever will, but I’ll keep trying… and at some point I expect to decline.
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Old 08-03-23, 06:57 PM
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It really does come down to motivation; if you make gains in motivation, you will likely make gains in performance. That can continue until somewhere in the 60's depending on your particular genetics and overall health.
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Old 08-03-23, 08:31 PM
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Originally Posted by Jklotz
I'm 58 and just started back after a 15 year hiatus. This thread has been most interesting, thanks to all that posted.
I'm 74 and often mistaken for being in my mid 50's thanks to this hobby of riding bikes. Of course, the beard helps. Welcome to the forum. It's kinda like a pot luck here. You can take a lot away, but it's always welcome when you bring a little something to the table too. Smokey
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