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Endurance Riding and Age

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Endurance Riding and Age

Old 11-21-23, 07:59 PM
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Endurance Riding and Age

I started cycling 9.5 years ago at the age of 49, and I've really loved gradually increasing my endurance riding since I've started. I've had some on and off years on the bike but I did my first half century on my 50th birthday. A year later, I did my first century. Since then, I've improved my century riding. I did my first double century this past April, right after my 58th birthday. Next year, I'd like to do another double century and a 160 mile event too.

At what age did you have to start decreasing your endurance riding distances? I'm sure it differs from person to person, but I'm just trying to get a handle on what's reasonable expectations of how much farther I can go and for how much longer.
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Old 11-21-23, 08:33 PM
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I started riding at 58, 4 months later did Ride The Rockies in Colorado and the Santa Fe century and other rides. Rode the Rockies again at age 59. I continued regular riding but I'm slowing down considerably as I turned 81 two three and four. Especially this year as other factors such as my wife's health have interfered, and my responsibility is first to my family. I have added swimming, strength training, stretching along the way. In the past, my wife, 2 years older, joined me in Bicycling Good luck.

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Old 11-21-23, 08:34 PM
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Originally Posted by Bassmanbob
I started cycling 9.5 years ago at the age of 49, and I've really loved gradually increasing my endurance riding since I've started. I've had some on and off years on the bike but I did my first half century on my 50th birthday. A year later, I did my first century. Since then, I've improved my century riding. I did my first double century this past April, right after my 58th birthday. Next year, I'd like to do another double century and a 160 mile event too.

At what age did you have to start decreasing your endurance riding distances? I'm sure it differs from person to person, but I'm just trying to get a handle on what's reasonable expectations of how much farther I can go and for how much longer.
Honestly, I don't think there is a year per se. I have friends in their 70s who are still doing DCs regularly.

Endurance cycling appeals to a lot of over 50 folks. I think I did my first DC in my late 40s, and continued to do 2-3 a year since then.
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Old 11-21-23, 09:24 PM
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Just about all of the riders I know have kept all or most of their distance and speed through their 60s. After 70, some slow down, but still ride 40 or 50 miles regularly.
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Old 11-21-23, 11:22 PM
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77. I didn't start modern road riding until I was 50, so I kept getting better for quite a while. Did my first 400k in my early 60s having done a few DCs and many rides in the mountains. That was probably my peak. I got bored with really long distance stuff, started riding tandem with my wife, partly because it's a lot harder than riding a single and in many ways, more interesting. We did a couple DCs and one RAMROD on the tandem when I was 69 and she 65. Out of 800 bikes I think there were 3 tandems. RAMROD is not tandem-friendly. I've done that ride every year since on my single except for the 2 Covid years.
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Old 11-22-23, 04:27 AM
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Well I'm happy to see these replies. My plan was to keep going until I can't, but it seems my "I can't" won't be for quite a few years.
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Old 11-22-23, 04:41 AM
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My casual observation is that itís the 60+ crowd who seem to ride the furthest of any age group! I donít know if itís because they simply have more free time or because they replace speed goals with endurance goals.
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Old 11-22-23, 06:24 AM
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From my years of athletic endeavor I know that I have an abundance of fast twitch fibers and a lack of slow twitch. I also have an attitude of wanting to move akin to HIIT efforts. Having said that, for years I rode with my club on longer Saturday rides. But, because of the aforementioned and too many experiences with unsafe/ignorant riders on group rides, the past few years I have been riding solo or with a small trusted group. I don't do long rides because I don't enjoy being in the saddle for lots of miles. I have done Centuries in the past. I just don't enjoy them. So, these days it's 12-20 mile rides at a TT pace or at least an up tempo pace. Once I have some fitness that usually means 14-15 mph on a route with 60 ft/mi climbing. That's what feels good to me. Last June I turned 77. I don't think it's an age thing.
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Old 11-22-23, 07:55 AM
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I'm 68 and am not a fan of centuries...I get bored just riding along. But this year there was one in my area and many of the local fast boyz signed up for it and convinced me...sigh...did I mention they bore me? Well as it turned out the fast boyz went hard from the gun and immediately dropped everyone and I found myself in a small group going hard. Our average pace at the 50 mile point was just over 24mph...yikes. Well I wound up following the wheel of a very fast rider and there were only two of us, dropping the rest. Not bad for an old man on the wheel of a guy 20+ years younger...I was pretty happy...until...the rat bast..d attacked my on a hill at the 60 mile mark and rode away from me. No way I could hold his pace up hill though I tried for about 10 seconds lol. I rode my best pace and finished second overall with an average of just over 21mph.
While it was fun and I enjoyed knowing I could still ride well over such a distance it still bored me to tears...likely the tears were because my legs were sore lol.
I wind up doing one per year over the past couple of years...I still find them boring but if I'm with a good group it is more enjoyable.
Age doesn't prevent or slow me down...at least not yet...If I'm able to ride at 90 I'll be very happy just to ride, regardless of speed...
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Old 11-22-23, 08:38 AM
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I agree that century rides can sometimes be tedious. I think my favourite distance is around 60 miles. Short enough to burn plenty of matches at will and long enough to punish those who set out way too hot. They usually make for a fun ride at pace.
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Old 11-22-23, 08:49 AM
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Originally Posted by Bassmanbob
Well I'm happy to see these replies. My plan was to keep going until I can't, but it seems my "I can't" won't be for quite a few years.
If you have the time and the patience for it, you should be able to continue for a while. Iím one of those who prefers shorter rides. 60 to 90 minute rides are typical for me, and Iím pretty much always ready to be done after two hours. A double century sounds more like purgatory or punishment, but is definitely an endurance accomplishment. Best of luck!

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Old 11-22-23, 09:10 AM
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Turning 69 next month. Some days are long days and some are short. Although I do enjoy longer rides it seems like the cutoff point for me has been about 50 miles. Mostly just due to the time involved. I'm not necessarily beat after a 50 miler but it just eats up the big portion of a day for me. I'm taking into account the prep in the morning, the ride and then a shower and lunch. I still love doing it though.
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Old 11-22-23, 10:47 AM
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Originally Posted by PeteHski
I agree that century rides can sometimes be tedious.
The nice thing about organized centuries is riding in places you wouldn't normally ride - too far away to ride from home for example.
And being around lots of other like-minded people, with support and route markers and lunch.
And the challenge... just because.

But I've lost just enough of my balance and just enough of my quick reaction time, that I don't feel as comfortable in pacelines as I used to... and that was a lot of the fun as well.
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Old 11-22-23, 10:56 AM
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Fitness in terms of endurance increases with age which is why the best marathon runners tend to be in their 30's. There was a very famous Finnish cross country skier, Eero Antero Mšntyranta, who never stopped skiing until he died. The Finnish national country ski team was out training one day and saw a man ahead and they struggled for miles to catch up to him. It turned out it was Mšntyranta, the Finnish champion who at that time was more than twice their ages.
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Old 11-22-23, 11:17 AM
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Originally Posted by DiabloScott
The nice thing about organized centuries is riding in places you wouldn't normally ride - too far away to ride from home for example.
And being around lots of other like-minded people, with support and route markers and lunch.
And the challenge... just because.
I agree and thatís the only reason I do century rides. When I ride solo, Iím usually starting to get bored after a couple of hours.
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Old 11-22-23, 11:49 AM
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Originally Posted by Kai Winters
I'm 68 and am not a fan of centuries...I get bored just riding along. But this year there was one in my area and many of the local fast boyz signed up for it and convinced me...sigh...did I mention they bore me? Well as it turned out the fast boyz went hard from the gun and immediately dropped everyone and I found myself in a small group going hard. Our average pace at the 50 mile point was just over 24mph...yikes. Well I wound up following the wheel of a very fast rider and there were only two of us, dropping the rest. Not bad for an old man on the wheel of a guy 20+ years younger...I was pretty happy...until...the rat bast..d attacked my on a hill at the 60 mile mark and rode away from me. No way I could hold his pace up hill though I tried for about 10 seconds lol. I rode my best pace and finished second overall with an average of just over 21mph.
While it was fun and I enjoyed knowing I could still ride well over such a distance it still bored me to tears...likely the tears were because my legs were sore lol.
I wind up doing one per year over the past couple of years...I still find them boring but if I'm with a good group it is more enjoyable.
Age doesn't prevent or slow me down...at least not yet...If I'm able to ride at 90 I'll be very happy just to ride, regardless of speed...
Even in a pace line, if you can maintain 24 MPH at the 50 mile mark, hats off to you. Even in my 40s that would have been a real feat. In my 30s I did have one 20 MPH average speed over a century with pace lines and considered that amazing. You are beyond amazing. Either you raced, have incredible genes or both. Wow!

Now back to me again: Riding solo, my preferred distance is about 60 miles or a more impressive sounding 96 Km. I I only lived in metric land, I could be knocking out metric centuries right and left! A double wouldn’t be a stretch either. Think I will convert and keep fooling myself.
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Old 11-22-23, 12:57 PM
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There's a 70+ cycling group on FB and what some of those people do is amazing. It's all good and highly individual. Some people aren't cut out for speed or distance, others are. Even the best will eventually run into health limitations but there are people in their 80's who are still very strong riders. I'm with the "after about 60 miles I get bored" crowd. And now that I ride mostly indoors I'm with the "after about 30 miles my butt gets sore" crowd.
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Old 11-22-23, 02:39 PM
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Originally Posted by DiabloScott
The nice thing about organized centuries is riding in places you wouldn't normally ride - too far away to ride from home for example.
And being around lots of other like-minded people, with support and route markers and lunch.
And the challenge... just because.
THIS! Well this, and what I love about cycling is that I'm moving my own body from point A to point B with my own power. The bicycle makes me much more efficient, but it's still MY POWER that's getting me there. So for me, the farther the better. Eventually, upon retirement, I'll do a casually ridden Trans America Bike Tour.

After completing that one double century I did in April this year, I found a ride I wanted to do. The Florida 500. It's a 533 mile ride from Jacksonville to Key West, and it must be completed in 50 hours. But after figuring out how much training that would go into that, I decided to stay married. Oh well. The things I do for my wife.
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Old 11-23-23, 09:06 AM
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I’ve been surprised by not getting bored on long rides and I’m looking forward to doing a Super Randoneur series when I retire. I’ve only gotten as far as the 300k because I think I’d like to take off work Friday and Monday for travel and recovery. I don’t like leaving my students with a sub.

Studies came out a few years ago about the effects of Marathons on the heart which is concerning but I choose to believe that if repeated long rides are restricted to zones 1-3 I’ll be fine. Infrequent long and hard efforts reaching into zones 4 an 5 will take a toll but I want to believe that my heart will recover in time and once or twice a year should be ok. The Belgian Waffle Ride is on my calendar.
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Old 11-23-23, 05:07 PM
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The secret to endurance is zone 2 training., or steady state cardio...90%-95% of your time in zone 2, the remaining 5%-10% at higher intensity.
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Old 11-23-23, 08:29 PM
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Originally Posted by PeteHski
I agree and thatís the only reason I do century rides. When I ride solo, Iím usually starting to get bored after a couple of hours.
Me too. That's the reason that I have a group ride every Sunday that the weather is rideable. Which used to mean every Sunday that it wasn't icy, but now we don't start out in the rain anymore. Group rides aren't boring for me. Our group was started in maybe 1985. I joined the group in about 1995. The ride leader posted a double metric. I learned so much on that ride. Cramped so bad at the lunch stop that I had to slide under the table. Rode the last 50 miles by myself at 16 mph and luckily it was mostly flat. I was totally hooked. I've been the ride leader for the past 20 years. It's invitation only and we're all good friends. Highly recommended. We have maybe 120 people on the email list but we're down to 10-12 riders showing up most Sundays.
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Old 11-23-23, 08:32 PM
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Speaking to the OP's question, I started riding again at 50. I joined my group at about 55, so that was 5 years of gradually increasing weekly volume. I'd ridden one flat, solo century before that double metric, which was somewhat hilly and all the riders were stronger than I. The usual metric is that your longest day ride can be as long as your weekly mileage for the last few weeks if you rest a couple days before. So the way to increase your distance is to ride more. I rode a 154 mile, 9,000' event ride last summer at 77 y.o. The oldest rider to finish that ride that I know of was 82. Back in my late 50's and 60's, I usually had about 5000 annual miles. 100 miles a week will get you quite fit. I never averaged more than about 120 miles a week in the summer, but my one key ride was about 60 miles and 3000', ridden hard enough that I could hardly walk at the end and usually had to lay the bike down and step off of it to avoid cramping. For training purposes, a 4 hour, hilly long ride, ridden hard, is about right, never over 6 hours. Going longer mostly means you go easier to be able to do the distance and that's not as good training as going harder for 4 hours.

Anyway, I never decreased my longest distance, though I had to decrease my weekly mileage because it became harder to recover. It's sort of self-limiting, probably different for everyone. I didn't get much slower on that 154 mile event, going from about 9-1/2 hours to 10 hours over ~20 years. I once took a winter off the bike. It took me the whole summer to get it back and I never did that again. Consistency is the key. "Never give up." Some people say, "Never stop," which is about the same thing. It's kinda the only thing you need to know.
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Old 11-23-23, 09:48 PM
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In randonneuring it seems like the plenty guys keep on through their early 70s, but hardly any are still putting up big miles after 80. Of course everyone hopes to be that outlier.
At 63 I'm still riding grand brevets and feeling plenty strong, but some things are noticeably changing. Nighttime vision, low speed balance, heat tolerance. But then rando isn't supposed to be easy.

To op, just ride today, don't overthink it.
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Old 11-24-23, 10:44 AM
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Originally Posted by wolfchild
The secret to endurance is zone 2 training., or steady state cardio...90%-95% of your time in zone 2, the remaining 5%-10% at higher intensity.
"Do tons of zone 2" is not a secret, and it's also not clear that it's any better than other training plans.

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Old 11-24-23, 12:46 PM
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Originally Posted by terrymorse
"Do tons of zone 2" is not a secret, and it's also not clear that it's any better than other training plans.

All roads lead to Rome.
or Tokyo. (Menís 1500m run, 1964)

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