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chasm54 08-13-12 09:27 AM

Fat Brit
So, injury has curtailed this 57 year-old debutant's first season as a bike racer. I'll be fit to compete before the season is over, but for various reasons my opportunities for racing will be limited, so I've been reflecting on what I've learned so far.

First, there's a big difference between being fit, and being race fit. Most of the time I have been in the races, but not really racing. I'm too near my ceiling just hanging with the bunch, and don't have the headroom to initiate anything or, often, to respond to the decisive moves.

Second, (and this is an extension of the first one) I'm FAT. Having got back into cycling, lost about 30lbs, and with a BMI of 25 become reasonably lean and fit compared with most of my age group, I got complacent about the weight and let it stall, settling at just over the 200lb mark. I have, belatedly, got below that, but at my current weight I'm 20% fat, and that simply isn't going to cut it when I already know I don't have power to burn. It's tough enough competing with the youngsters without giving them weight.

Third, my bike-handling still needs work. I'm not a bad bike-handler, but I'd got used to doing things at my own pace, and that's just not how it works in a race. I'm not comfortable enough with contact and I need to be more assertive in maintaining my position.

Knowing all this, and knowing how demanding it will be to address these issues, the question is whether I care enough to put in the necessary work? And the answer is yes, I do. Not because I will be left unfulfilled if I never win a race, but because I'd like to be as good as I can be; and racing, and training for racing, give a focus to and benchmark for that desire. And there's no denying that racing is exhilarating, and exhilaration is good for the middle-aged. Finally, I'd like to have go at time-trialling, it seems possible that it will suit me.

So I'm focussing on next season. It seems to me it isn't too early to do that, and to put together a robust training and nutrition plan that will ensure I get to next March, and the beginning of the new season, in decidedly better shape than I started this one. I'm optimistic. Knowing, now, what is required, and knowing that I'm close to being competitive despite having done so much wrong this time around, gives me hope.

I'll use this thread to record my progress, and maybe solicit some advice from time to time. Giving myself an obligation to post here will keep me honest during the winter days when having another beer might seem preferable to doing some intervals. LOL

AzTallRider 08-13-12 09:53 AM

Sounds like you have a great understanding of what it's all about and what you want from it, Chasm. Enjoy the journey.

And on the TT front, a guy that joined us yesterday for a post-race beer under our pop-up (one of our guys brings a generator and huge fan, and we are now pushing for a mister) is 60+ and clocked a 42:58 30K. That's almost 5' faster than the winning 55+ time, and I think he was top 5 overall. Outstanding, and a prime example of how to set age aside and just compete to win.

chasm54 08-13-12 10:26 AM

Thanks, AZT, I can't promise much, but I can promise to enjoy it.


Originally Posted by AzTallRider (Post 14599638)
And on the TT front, a guy that joined us yesterday for a post-race beer under our pop-up (one of our guys brings a generator and huge fan, and we are now pushing for a mister) is 60+ and clocked a 42:58 30K.

That would give him a long 56 for 40k, if he could hold the pace. Not bad for an old fart, to quote your esteemed coach. And confirms that we aren't being ridiculously ambitious in planning to celebrate our 60th birthdays by doing sub-60 minute 40ks.

AzTallRider 08-13-12 11:49 AM

I must admit though, that I wanted to throw him out of the tent on his non-existent butt when he told us his time. I think he is about 4' tall and weighs 80 pounds.

dadof7 08-13-12 04:03 PM

Think I'll just cut and past your whole post onto my own! Only a few changes to weight and age. Can't wait to read the journey.

Jamesw2 08-14-12 02:38 AM

At 60 years and 265lbs i can't do 15mph average. My no drop group dropped me and gave me directions back to the start on a 32 mile ride. Heat index was about 100 degrees. The only thing i proved was my heart won't blow up at 166 bpm. The only things i can say to myself are "intervals", "yoga" and quit eating peanuts. NO fig-newtons! And eat fresh fruit.

Hermes 08-14-12 01:12 PM

You will have a lot of fun with this. Timed events are a discipline in themselves.

shovelhd 08-14-12 02:24 PM

Enjoy the journey, chasm.

The Master's sample workout in the Training and Racing with a Power Meter 2nd Edition book is a great place to start if you don't have anything more specific. It's an FTP improvement program that will benefit all types of racing. I've been using it for the past two years during January-March. I taper off of it once racing starts in March.

chasm54 08-16-12 12:18 PM

Thanks, shovel, I'll take a look at it.

I've been re-reading Friel and considering what I need to do. I want to be in shape to race in our local Spring series in March. In the first place I have plenty of time to prepare, and in the second, the early season races offer some opportunities because not everyone is dedicated enough to train as they should in our damp, chilly, January and February weather, and I might catch some people cold.

Obviously, the priority is to shift the excess weight and to do so before I need to be in the most intensive periods of training. So that's step one. I weigh 197 today (progress!) and intend to be 180 by Christmas. That's only 1lb per week, should be do-able.

Because of the shoulder I have had a pretty easy month, despite the work on the stationary bike. And although I have a big endurance base, I'm not going to skimp on preparation or on base miles. So I think I'm now going into an extended preparation phase, riding enough but focusing also on strength training and cross-training, for the next six weeks or so. Then from early October I'll move into Base 1, and spend the full twelve weeks in the three base phases before building through January and February. And in accordance with Friel's advice for masters, once I've completed the base periods I'll scale back on the endurance stuff and concentrate on muscular endurance and power, with a particular focus on TT efforts.

Comments welcome, as always.

Allegheny Jet 08-16-12 12:38 PM


It takes both fitness and skills to race. Make sure that you are adding some skills into your training plan. Being comfortable riding within a pack or nailing turns saves mental and physical energy that is needed for other things during a race. Riding rollers, a cross bike or MTB in muddy conditions or with buddies riding crits in cemeteries will help develop those skills.

I discovered in my first season of racing that it took all my energy an attention to just stay with the pack (only a few times). My second season was much better as I was able to ride comfortably and have something left for the good stuff at the end of races.

Best of luck and I'll be monitoring you pages.:thumb:

chasm54 08-24-12 11:39 AM

Well, I've been having fun starting an extended preparation phase before going back into Base 1 at the start of October. Just mixing it up, running, strength training, doing whatever I feel like on the bike and, most of all, making sure I drop some weight. It feels like an indulgence, but a productive one. I feel healthy.

And today was my biggest day back on the bike since recovering from the shoulder injury. (Off-topic, my insurance company tells me that the driver has admitted liability, so there may shortly come a time when I'm in the market for a new bike!) An ex-colleague of mine was going out for a ride and I went with her. She isn't as quick as me so that was about 40 miles at pretty much recovery pace for me, but when I left her I ramped the pace up a bit, did around 25 miles at tempo and finished off with a 20k TT effort twice round a 10k circuit that I've scoped out for myself a few miles from home. Desperately slow at close to 36' for the 20k, but I am recovering from injury and I had already ridden close to 70 miles before I started, so I'll forgive myself for that and go faster next time.

I'm pretty much toasted now, but feeling very good. There's nothing quite like that feeling of slight effervescence in the legs, don't you think?

chasm54 11-05-12 01:43 AM

Well into base training again, and just back from one of the biannual Spanish training camps for junior racers at which I help out. A great experience, as usual; very talented and enthusiastic kids and a nice mix of adults - the two coaches who organise the camp and a bunch of parents who have come along for the ride. The latter worked out very well for me. All the adults had brought their bikes but some of them are not serious cyclists, so I got the chance to alternate hard days with the kids with easy days leading some of their parents on what were moderately testing rides for them but recovery rides for me. Ideal, and a total of about 30 hours on the bike spread over ten days.

I've been doing a lot of different stuff in training, not all of it on the bike. The course of physiotherapy following my shoulder injury ended only four weeks ago, so I've had an extended period of more systematic upper-body work than I wouod normally do. I'm going to continue that, with an emphasis on bodyweight core exercises. I also intend to keep up the running, at least until towards the end of base training. I feel stronger for it, it's very time-effective in terms of aerobic gains from short workouts and I have a theory that it's a good thing to work on the leg muscles that aren't fully engaged on the bike. Anyway, I find I quite like it. And just to complete the eccentricity of my off-season training regimen, at the end of September I hiked the West Highland Way with a couple of old friends. Ninety-six miles on foot over six days through some of the most beautiful scenery the UK has to offer, with beer and hilarity thrown in. It didn't even rain much, which in Western Scotland is notable in itself.

Now another month of base before I start getting serious. In early December I'm going back to Spain, this time to stay for a full three months so I can spend our winter doing warm-weather training. It should be interesting - a chance to improve my Spanish beyond the merely transactional, for a start - and come the start of our racing season in March I will have no possible excuse for not being in top shape.

I have absolutely no idea how I ever made time to hold down a job. LOL

Racer Ex 11-05-12 08:59 AM


Originally Posted by chasm54 (Post 14914580)
I have absolutely no idea how I ever made time to hold down a job. LOL

Same here. I'm actually considering taking a full time job just to make the days and weeks slow down somewhat (see: Dunbar in Catch 22).

Don't get too wrapped up about weight (worrying about a kg or two) if you're not doing a lot of uphill rides and races; but at our age(s) it is good to keep the BF% down from a health perspective, especially if you're running.

Enjoyed the read.

AzTallRider 11-05-12 10:03 AM


Originally Posted by Racer Ex (Post 14915420)
I'm actually considering taking a full time job just to make the days and weeks slow down somewhat (see: Dunbar in Catch 22).

I've always loved that philosophy. Of course, time also goes more slowly when you are young, because each day is a greater percentage of the life you have lived. We can't go back to our youth, so Dunbar seems to have the only available approach to stretching things out.

shovelhd 11-05-12 10:30 AM


Originally Posted by AzTallRider (Post 14915660)
We can't go back to our youth

EPO, testosterone,coke, hookers and booze. The Pantani method.

chasm54 11-05-12 11:28 AM


Originally Posted by shovelhd (Post 14915810)
EPO, testosterone,coke, hookers and booze. The Pantani method.

Don't forget shaving your head. Major aerodynamic gains.

Hermes 11-05-12 01:32 PM

Spending some time in Spain training and learning Spanish sounds wonderful.

chasm54 11-05-12 01:52 PM


Originally Posted by Hermes (Post 14916694)
Spending some time in Spain training and learning Spanish sounds wonderful.

I thought so, too. The crash has made it extremely economical. Spain's financial crisis has nothing to do with Government profligacy, the Spaniards were the only country in the Eurozone, including the Germans, to strictly obey the rules about borrowing. The problem was entirely about a bank-financed property bubble, and the aftermath is a massive oversupply of recently-built homes. As a result it is possible to rent quite nice places for peanuts. The apartment I am using will cost me less in rent than I would have spent heating my place in the UK. Ridiculous, really.

AzTallRider 11-05-12 02:04 PM

I've always wanted to visit Spain... sounds like I should make it happen.

Racer Ex 11-05-12 03:37 PM

I'm sure I could talk my wife into it...

chasm54 03-03-13 01:30 PM

Back from Spain last week, and straight into the first race of the season today. Cat 4 circuit race, about 30 starters, 1.8km/1.125m circuit. Not an ideal course for me, with a nasty kick up about half way round and a 300m drag up to the finish line. Plus this is easily the most potent Cat4 field I have encountered, with a bunch of strong time trialists and a couple of known cross racers who have decided to go road racing this year and are in this category only because they haven't had any opportunity to acquire British Cycling points on the road.

So, plenty of reasons why a podium finish might be a challenge. Nonetheless, I am in much better shape than I was this time last year so I expect to be able to sit in with the pack and see what emerges as some of the less experienced newcomers go off the back.

What follows is a chastening experience. As usual, everyone goes hell-for-leather from the start, but that's fine, I'm near the front of the group and all is good. The first attack comes half way around the first lap as we hit the sharp climb. As I'd expect, I lose some places there but there are plenty of wheels to latch onto so I'm not concerned, and I make up some of those places on the run down to the bottom of the finishing straight. Still comfortably in touch at the top of the long drag to the finish line.

Lap two, a repeat of the first with the addition that a rider I haven't seen before, probably a newcomer, hits his brakes in front of me approaching a turn, which doesn't help me, forcing me wide and nearly off. One match burned as I sprint to re-establish myself in the bunch and have to work hard to settle back in in the finishing straight. Similar story on lap three, and lap four. By this time the attacks on the short climb are putting me in serious trouble, and when on lap 5 a few of the strongest decide to hit it even harder the field starts to fragment. Effectively the rest of my race is a supra-threshold training ride with a couple of fellow-sufferers.

So what do we learn? Not much that we didn't know already. Need to do more speed work, need to continue losing weight. C'est la guerre.

sarals 03-03-13 02:16 PM

Good job, Chas! You learned something somewhere, because it seems you rode a smart race. You can't help what lunacy another rider may display, but you certainly can mitigate it. And you did! What you need to do to improve resonates with me, we're in the same boat. Congrats on a good race!

nacler22 03-03-13 10:42 PM

Nice job Chas.

Might I suggest a modification to the thread title...........seems things have changed. :D

Cleave 03-03-13 11:03 PM

Hi, I find it almost impossible to stress my body in training the way I stress it in a race. Sounds like you got a great racing workout and learned a few things too. Looking forward to hearing the next report from across the pond.

Hermes 03-03-13 11:42 PM

Great racing.

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