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How many “Old guys” actually feel old?

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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.
View Poll Results: Do you Feel old?
No, I still feel middle aged
47
45.63%
I feel younger than I look
30
29.13%
Yes, I definitely feel my age
21
20.39%
I feel older than my chronological age
8
7.77%
Multiple Choice Poll. Voters: 103. You may not vote on this poll

How many “Old guys” actually feel old?

Old 12-27-23, 11:28 AM
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I'd say the biggest, noticeable improvement in bikes is in the gearing. According to what you read on BF, nobody rode triples BITD. They rode corncobs and Big A double chainrings up front. Give them those old setups and see how they'd do on the rides they do now.
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Old 12-27-23, 12:24 PM
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Originally Posted by seypat
Nope, still in good shape and a decent athlete. Nothing holding me back now except for the occassional overuse injury. But, I was a college level athlete over multiple sports at the younger age. 172-173cm tall 83-84kgs, but could dunk. Mid 4 40s, etc, etc. Still was dunking in my 30s. That went away as did some of the speed and quickness. Eventually had to move away from those sports because of injuries and I couldn't compete with the younger crowd. Still would be an elite athlete in my age group. Well, not in endurance sports. Good in the other sports means you're not good in endurance sports. Someone posts the usual "I'm as good at 70 as I was at 25!" I'm saying that's BS. If you're as good at --- as you were at 25, it means you weren't very good at 25. You might be elite for your age group now, against your age peers, maybe even a few age groups below, but you aren't going to be able to hang with the young upper to elte level athletes in physical activities day in and day out, period. Whether that's bike racing, weight lifting, soccer matches, distance running, etc, etc. That's life. Just be the best you can be. That's all you can ask for.

Every year since 2013, I run 2 fall marathons. The same 2 events. I've run 3 before. And every year those times get a little slower. Same for the centuries/long bike rides. That's life, I'm happy I can still do it. One of these years that will end.
You have changed the goalposts now. You said that people claiming to be fitter in middle age than in their 20s and 30s are talking BS, even though many people in their 20s and 30s are not that focused on fitness or a healthy lifestyle. Of course in my mid-50s I can't compete with current elite 25 year old athletes. I couldn't compete with them when I was 25 either! So how about an elite 55 year old against an untrained 25 year old? Who is likely to win that contest?

People are also talking specifically about cycling fitness here and are mostly endurance focused. Of course I was better at football (soccer for you guys) in my 20s, with faster responses and agility etc and I could bounce back faster from injury. But my cycling endurance fitness is actually as good, if not better today and it certainly hasn't dropped off over the last decade. That's from a combination of better training and nutrition. Of course I had more potential in my 20s, but it was never fulfilled through lack of knowledge and many other distractions. That doesn't mean I was a couch potato back then, far from it. But I didn't ride as much as I do today and I didn't pay much attention to nutrition.

You say that you have lost performance every year since 2013. Is that really just because you got older? That would only be the case if you maximised your full potential in each previous year, but very few people (even elite athletes) actually do that. In most cases if you are slower this year than last year it is because you didn't train quite as effectively or you had some specific health issue. Mark Cavendish alluded to this in a recent interview. You don't lose your physical performance potential over a single year, but mentally you can lose a lot.

It just sounds to me like you have mentally accepted that you will be a little slower each year and then it simply comes true. I'm just not there yet on that journey. It gets a little harder every year but I'm probably still only hitting say 80% of my potential, so there is always some headroom to improve providing I don't lose 20% of my physical capacity. I have no doubt that at some point in the future I will get slower and I don't mind that. But I haven't reached that point yet at 56 and it isn't BS. I'm not that competitive either, it is just an observation. If I was getting slower it wouldn't change my outlook. I would just observe the decline like you have.
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Old 12-27-23, 02:41 PM
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Originally Posted by PeteHski
You have changed the goalposts now. You said that people claiming to be fitter in middle age than in their 20s and 30s are talking BS, even though many people in their 20s and 30s are not that focused on fitness or a healthy lifestyle. Of course in my mid-50s I can't compete with current elite 25 year old athletes. I couldn't compete with them when I was 25 either! So how about an elite 55 year old against an untrained 25 year old? Who is likely to win that contest?

People are also talking specifically about cycling fitness here and are mostly endurance focused. Of course I was better at football (soccer for you guys) in my 20s, with faster responses and agility etc and I could bounce back faster from injury. But my cycling endurance fitness is actually as good, if not better today and it certainly hasn't dropped off over the last decade. That's from a combination of better training and nutrition. Of course I had more potential in my 20s, but it was never fulfilled through lack of knowledge and many other distractions. That doesn't mean I was a couch potato back then, far from it. But I didn't ride as much as I do today and I didn't pay much attention to nutrition.

You say that you have lost performance every year since 2013. Is that really just because you got older? That would only be the case if you maximised your full potential in each previous year, but very few people (even elite athletes) actually do that. In most cases if you are slower this year than last year it is because you didn't train quite as effectively or you had some specific health issue. Mark Cavendish alluded to this in a recent interview. You don't lose your physical performance potential over a single year, but mentally you can lose a lot.

It just sounds to me like you have mentally accepted that you will be a little slower each year and then it simply comes true. I'm just not there yet on that journey. It gets a little harder every year but I'm probably still only hitting say 80% of my potential, so there is always some headroom to improve providing I don't lose 20% of my physical capacity. I have no doubt that at some point in the future I will get slower and I don't mind that. But I haven't reached that point yet at 56 and it isn't BS. I'm not that competitive either, it is just an observation. If I was getting slower it wouldn't change my outlook. I would just observe the decline like you have.
You start off your rebuttal post accepting my 2 posts about losing fitness ability as we grow older as a given. What exactly is it about my posts do you think is/are not true? If you think it's attitude I don't have a problem with that. What I have a problem with is people saying it doesn't happen despite knowing that it does. For the record, I did hold PR pace for about 20 miles in this year's second marathon. Last year it was about 20.5. This year was a better training year, but the time was slower. Even if it had been only 5 seconds slower, that's still a decline. That's life. Maybe i'll catch lightning in a bottle next year.
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Old 12-27-23, 03:41 PM
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Originally Posted by seypat
What exactly is it about my posts do you think is/are not true?
Just this:-

Originally Posted by seypat
For those that say they're still close to what they were at a young age, I'd say that's BS. Even if we're talking about cycling, the bikes themselves have improved so much that comparisons to the past aren't really valid.
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Old 12-27-23, 03:58 PM
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Originally Posted by seypat
I'd say the biggest, noticeable improvement in bikes is in the gearing. According to what you read on BF, nobody rode triples BITD. They rode corncobs and Big A double chainrings up front.
That's nonsense. I've been riding derailleur bicycles since the mid-60s and that has never been the case except for racers. For the few years that I raced I ran corncobs and big chainrings. The rest of the time I (and everyone else that I rode with) rode much wider range gears. That said, triples generally did not come stock so it was an expensive endeavor (just as it is now) to change out the double chainrings for a triple crankset. For that reason many of us bike tourist types used doubles with wide-range derailleurs and 14-34T freewheels to get the gears we needed.
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Old 12-27-23, 04:02 PM
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Old 12-27-23, 04:10 PM
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Originally Posted by davester
That's nonsense. I've been riding derailleur bicycles since the mid-60s and that has never been the case except for racers. For the few years that I raced I ran corncobs and big chainrings. The rest of the time I (and everyone else that I rode with) rode much wider range gears. That said, triples generally did not come stock so it was an expensive endeavor (just as it is now) to change out the double chainrings for a triple crankset. For that reason many of us bike tourist types used doubles with wide-range derailleurs and 14-34T freewheels to get the gears we needed.
You'd be one of the few on BF that admits it. Mostly, it's, "BITD we did those climbs with 52/42up front and 14-18 straight blocks. Maybe a 14-24 at the most. Riders these days are soft."
BTW, I posted that same question about gearing in the C & V forum a few years ago. It was in regards to racing. Most of the responses I got said it was easier and cheaper to just take off the crankset and change a chainring/chainrings rather than having to carry the tools and an extra freewheel or two. I wouldn't know, but that's the responses I got.

Last edited by seypat; 12-27-23 at 04:39 PM.
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Old 12-27-23, 04:41 PM
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Originally Posted by rsbob
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Not a good question/questions to ask. What is old? How do you know what it feels like until you get there?
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Old 12-27-23, 05:40 PM
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Originally Posted by seypat
Not a good question/questions to ask. What is old? How do you know what it feels like until you get there?
How about writing what you think is a good question to ask? It's really easy to criticize. It's much harder to write a question that suits everyone. And then everyone else can
​​​​​criticize it!

Last edited by gobicycling; 12-27-23 at 07:10 PM.
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Old 12-27-23, 06:48 PM
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Originally Posted by seypat
You'd be one of the few on BF that admits it. Mostly, it's, "BITD we did those climbs with 52/42up front and 14-18 straight blocks. Maybe a 14-24 at the most. Riders these days are soft."
BTW, I posted that same question about gearing in the C & V forum a few years ago. It was in regards to racing. Most of the responses I got said it was easier and cheaper to just take off the crankset and change a chainring/chainrings rather than having to carry the tools and an extra freewheel or two. I wouldn't know, but that's the responses I got.
I dunno. My I ran a 52-39 chainring and a13 or 14-28 rear.. I mostly road in town and distance rides. I'm pretty sure I changed the 42 to 39 for a bit more versatility when I'd come across hills. I didn't do criterium racing. My current bikes have a somewhat lower gear. But not by much. And that's mostly because now I'm almost never on flat ground.
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Old 12-27-23, 06:59 PM
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It an't flat where I am now.

It was back in Illinois where I bought my MB GR in 4/1972, lived & rode there until 11/2013. The stock 52/42f 14/24r was fine there for pretty much anything I encountered riding in NE Illinois.

Never made it out to around Galena though, that's a lot like where I am now.

So when I got back on the saddle earlier this year it became obvious to me the gearing had to change. Took awhile to find the stuff that's on it now, ready for the season when it warms up a bit next April: 52/47/37 front, 14/30 in back. The hills are still a challenge yet in what little test-riding I've done I've not felt so 'beaten up' by the grades as with the original 10 speeds.
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Old 12-27-23, 07:03 PM
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Originally Posted by seypat
Not a good question/questions to ask. What is old? How do you know what it feels like until you get there?
What we do have are reference points. How we felt in the past and how we feel today decades later. For some of us those feelings haven’t changed very much and for others they may have changed a lot. Within my own peer group there are people that have obviously changed far more than others. There are also people in this thread who are actually old who don’t feel that much different to their younger selves. I find that very encouraging and therefore I think it was a very good question to ask.
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Old 12-28-23, 05:33 AM
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I’m one of the many who was very athletic until I was 25 or so, then gradually fell into the typical sedentary, “office” world and had minimal exercise until my mid-40s, and now at 55 after being very fitness and diet conscious , is back in great physical shape again

I feel fantastic. And feeling great physically certainly helps feel younger mentally

Id just add that in addition to cycling/other types of cardio, and strength training, doing yoga has greatly enhanced this youthful feel.

Flexibility, if you think about it, is automatically associated with youth
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Old 12-28-23, 02:33 PM
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I am 70 years old and have been consistently running and riding bikes for the past 50 years.

I am running about 40 miles a week and my goal is to ride 100 miles a week. Running is OK in inclement weather, but only ride in good weather. Dry and temperature above 55.

Recently ran a half marathon with my 28-year-old daughter. We did very well finishing in the top 50% of the field.
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Old 12-28-23, 03:26 PM
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Originally Posted by PeteHski
So how about an elite 55 year old against an untrained 25 year old? Who is likely to win that contest?

.
Your comparison of trained vs untrained individual makes no sense...How about an untrained 25 year old vs an untrained 55 year old ?.....Or how about a trained 25 year old vs a trained 55 year old ?.....There are no elite level 55 year old athletes out there, or on this forum, everybody here is just an amateur and recreational rider and not a pro...Majority of elite level athletes retire from professional competing when they're around 30 years old. How many 55 year olds do you see competing in Olympic events ?...Ok lets make another comparison. Give that untrained 25 year old 3 months of serious training and he would destroy a 55 year old even if that 55 year old has been training all his life....I don't care how good you feel or how fit you claim to be. Your 55 year old body has gone through physiological and hormonal changes and accumulated wear and tear and will never be the same as a 25 year old body....I am almost 54 years old and feel and perform great but I am also honest enough with myself and realize that I am not 25 anymore.
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Old 12-28-23, 08:03 PM
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Originally Posted by wolfchild
Your comparison of trained vs untrained individual makes no sense...How about an untrained 25 year old vs an untrained 55 year old ?.....Or how about a trained 25 year old vs a trained 55 year old ?.....There are no elite level 55 year old athletes out there, or on this forum, everybody here is just an amateur and recreational rider and not a pro....
Might make sense to people who read the question in the OP and assume that feeling older (or not) is all about maintaing, gaining or losing their place in an imaginary contest of bicycling fitness and endurance metrics.
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Old 12-28-23, 09:48 PM
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Originally Posted by I-Like-To-Bike
Might make sense to people who read the question in the OP and assume that feeling older (or not) is all about maintaing, gaining or losing their place in an imaginary contest of bicycling fitness and endurance metrics.
OR, I FEEL as good now (physically, mentally or health-wise) as I did when I was 30 or 40 or 50…. It’s not that complicated.

I better check with the OP to make sure though.
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Old 12-29-23, 08:10 AM
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Originally Posted by rsbob
OR, I FEEL as good now (physically, mentally or health-wise) as I did when I was 30 or 40 or 50…. It’s not that complicated.

I better check with the OP to make sure though.
Some compulsive people might feel or think "old guy" just like when they were 30, 40 and 50, and just have difficulty accepting that their life cycle goes on and that their body changes no matter how much they wish it would not.
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Old 12-29-23, 08:27 AM
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Originally Posted by rsbob
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Three Dog Night ... Mama Told Me Not To Come 🤣

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Old 12-29-23, 09:17 AM
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Originally Posted by wolfchild
Your comparison of trained vs untrained individual makes no sense...How about an untrained 25 year old vs an untrained 55 year old ?.....Or how about a trained 25 year old vs a trained 55 year old ?.....There are no elite level 55 year old athletes out there, or on this forum, everybody here is just an amateur and recreational rider and not a pro...Majority of elite level athletes retire from professional competing when they're around 30 years old. How many 55 year olds do you see competing in Olympic events ?...Ok lets make another comparison. Give that untrained 25 year old 3 months of serious training and he would destroy a 55 year old even if that 55 year old has been training all his life....I don't care how good you feel or how fit you claim to be. Your 55 year old body has gone through physiological and hormonal changes and accumulated wear and tear and will never be the same as a 25 year old body....I am almost 54 years old and feel and perform great but I am also honest enough with myself and realize that I am not 25 anymore.
All I’m saying is that lifestyle and conditioning has more effect on your physical ability than age alone. At least up until mid 50s in my case. I’m now 56 and compete in open age endurance cycling events, regularly finishing in the top 20% overall and often higher. I even won a minor regional event outright when I was 54. The level of competition was low, but there were plenty of 20 and 30 year old guys competing.

I was never an elite level athlete, just a relatively fit, normal sporty guy. From the age of 20 right through to 56, my cycling performance has correlated far more with my fitness regime and lifestyle than it has with my age. I have no doubt that my underlying maximum potential has dropped off over the decades (for example my max HR is now 193 vs 200+ when I was in my mid 20s), but this is pretty much hidden when taking all the other lifestyle parameters into account. At some future point I’m sure age will outweigh everything else, but I haven’t reached that point yet.
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Old 12-29-23, 09:42 AM
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Originally Posted by I-Like-To-Bike
Some compulsive people might feel or think "old guy" just like when they were 30, 40 and 50, and just have difficulty accepting that their life cycle goes on and that their body changes no matter how much they wish it would not.
The encouraging thing is realising how much personal control you actually have over the ageing process. There is nothing “compulsive” about leading a healthy lifestyle.
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Old 12-29-23, 11:33 AM
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Originally Posted by PeteHski
The encouraging thing is realising how much personal control you actually have over the ageing process. There is nothing “compulsive” about leading a healthy lifestyle.
Couldn't agree more. I've noticed through my years on this planet that there are 2 types of people more or less, those with drive and those without.
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Old 12-29-23, 12:40 PM
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Originally Posted by wolfchild
.Ok lets make another comparison. Give that untrained 25 year old 3 months of serious training and he would destroy a 55 year old even if that 55 year old has been training all his life....
I think you'd lose that bet.

Here's why. The Masters record for the One Hour Time Trial at ages 55-59 is 49km387. Do you honestly think you can get an untrained 25 year old fit enough to average over 30 mph for an hour on an indoor track with just three months of training? Good luck with that. BTW, in the 50-54 category the record is 51km013. That record bests all the records in Masters from aged 30 on up. For reference, the Elite record is 53.037 km. As a further reference, the best Juniors distance (17-18 years) is 50km792.

The 90 - 94 age record is 34km498. That's an average over 21 mph - for an hour. Perhaps an untrained 25 year old could get to that standard with 3 months of training. But it would have to be the right 25 year old. I'd bet that on average, the 25 year old would fail.

There is no doubt that peak performance declines with age. If you look at that records page in the Masters categories this is obvious. But any individual's decline will depend a lot on what their best peak ever was. And I bet a lot of people here (like me) started at moderate levels. So the decline may not be obvious or even actual - depending on how they trained and are now training. Further, even among elite athletes the falloff isn't dramatic - if they continue to train at high levels. It is enough to take them out of elite competition though. Because even small differences mean an awfully lot there.
https://usacycling.org/resources/nat...tional-records

Getting back to the poll and original question, the answer will vary wildly depending on the individual. And as I said before, it is also a subjective question.

Last edited by Jay Turberville; 12-29-23 at 12:45 PM.
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Old 12-29-23, 01:56 PM
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Originally Posted by Jay Turberville

There is no doubt that peak performance declines with age. If you look at that records page in the Masters categories this is obvious. But any individual's decline will depend a lot on what their best peak ever was. And I bet a lot of people here (like me) started at moderate levels. So the decline may not be obvious or even actual - depending on how they trained and are now training. Further, even among elite athletes the falloff isn't dramatic - if they continue to train at high levels. It is enough to take them out of elite competition though. Because even small differences mean an awfully lot there.
https://usacycling.org/resources/nat...tional-records

This was the point I was trying to make. Thank you!

Through a combination of mediocrity, improved training methods and nutrition I have been able to comfortably maintain and even improve my modest cycling performance with age. Any age-related drop in potential has been shallow enough to not be the dominant factor so far (at age 56).

Partly as a result of this and partly because I still like to learn new things, I don’t feel old yet.
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Old 12-29-23, 02:06 PM
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Bikes: Historical: Schwinn Speedster; Schwinn Collegiate; 1981 Ross Gran Tour; 1981 Dawes Atlantis; 1991 Specialized Rockhopper. Current: 1987 Ritchey Ultra; 1987 Centurion Ironman Dave Scott Master; 1992 Specialized Stumpjumper FS

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I voted for the "middle aged" option, but none really work for me. I don't really feel middle-aged (I'm 63...), so probably should have answered the "Younger than I look" one. But that's a tough one - I'm balding, but have very little gray, so people don't often guess my age.

All I know is that since really getting into cycling in my late 20s (after kid- and college-riding) and going on a couple of fully-loaded tours, I feel pretty much as fit as I did when I went on those tours 30 years ago. Give me a week of touring, and I'd be 33 again.
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