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You donít have to get slower because you get older

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You donít have to get slower because you get older

Old 09-27-23, 02:40 PM
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You donít have to get slower because you get older

Obviously as we age, our physiological limits decrease. However, for the vast majority of us, we operate so far below our maximum theoretical capability, we can still get faster, stronger by capturing a greater percentage of maximum capacity.

Broke my PR today for Elk Mountain Scenic Highway by a minute and a half. At 64, Iím breaking PRís frequently, and am climbing about as fast as I ever have. The data shows that Iím faster at 64 than 50. I donít have data from my 20ís and 30ís, but Iíd bet my 30 year old self was a bit faster sprinter, but I could kick his butt on a very long ride with sustained climbs.

My times in an absolute sense are pedestrian, but in a relative sense, with more time to train, and diligently following a training plan, Iím still getting faster.

With the tools and knowledge we now have, itís definitely possible to continue to get faster, at an age our parents were retiring to their rocking chairs.
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Old 09-27-23, 03:59 PM
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At 63 I am playing the same game. I know I was faster years ago and didnít maintain my high end, but I can go forever. The trick for me is needing to regain some more high end so the long rides are easier. That is my goal for next yearís Garrett County Gran Fondo; 125 miles and 16,000í Iíve ridden it 5 times and finished 4. This year kicked my ass so I am focusing on next year so if Iím stupid enough to do it again Iíll finish in ď style ď.
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Old 09-27-23, 04:10 PM
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I mentioned it elsewhere - I'm much faster at 65 than I was at 50, because at 50 I was about 20-30 lbs heavier and rode maybe 1/4 as many miles/year. So, there's a way to get faster as you get older - be slow when you were younger.
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Old 09-27-23, 04:18 PM
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All of the cyclists I know who are at/near retirement age are crushing it on mileage.
The 65+ age groups in those big gravel races can be pretty intense. Those guys have all the time in the world to train and they show up ready to rip each other's legs off.
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Old 09-27-23, 04:27 PM
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I was faster in my 40s, but at 65 I've resolved to to get close to my prior fitness.

90 minutes up Mt. Hamilton Road (18.3 miles, 3745 ft) is my goal, which I could do in my 40s without too much suffering.

Best time recently was 111 minutes, so I'm getting closer. But now the road's washed out and being repaired. Grr.
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Old 09-27-23, 04:39 PM
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Years ago, I was trying to figure out why the masters class is often faster than the next younger age class in racing. My conclusion: people in their 50s and 60s have more time to train, since their children are likely grown and moved out, their marriages are stable and even stale, and retirement means almost limitless riding time. People in that age bracket also tend to have more money than younger folks, which means nicer equipment.

I was semi-retired at age 54, and fully retired last year at age 59Ö iím riding well over double the mileage I was putting in 20 years ago. Still not as fast as I was 20 years ago, though. I suppose thatís because I had a job that allowed a lot of flexibility, so I was training pretty hard even back then.
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Old 09-27-23, 04:53 PM
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Originally Posted by merlinextraligh
...Broke my PR today...
BRAVO! Merlin...

When I was in my 20's over in Italy the only guys I could ride with were the old guys. The guys that were my age considered me a pest! The old guys were the only ones that I could keep up with. Plus, they welcomed me, did not mind teaching me, and of course had excellent stories and wine as we rode.

Now I am as old as they were. I can barely keep up with myself most of the time.

Breaking your personal best is a very good thing at any age...
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Old 09-27-23, 06:20 PM
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Originally Posted by merlinextraligh
Obviously as we age, our physiological limits decrease. However, for the vast majority of us, we operate so far below our maximum theoretical capability, we can still get faster, stronger by capturing a greater percentage of maximum capacity..
Your message is that for those who were not serious about going fast when they were younger, if they get serious about it now they can go faster than the younger non-serious "you" by training seriously and by dumping cash into modern technology to buy your speed.

I was serious about going fast when I was younger, and I am not going to go faster than I did in the 1990s on equipment similar to what I used back then, and I am not going to dump tons of cash into a pile of carbon-fiber "aero" to try and buy an extra mph or two. I will just be happy with what I can do at my age with what I have now. Glad you are having fun though.......
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Old 09-27-23, 06:41 PM
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Originally Posted by 88ss
Your message is that for those who were not serious about going fast when they were younger, if they get serious about it now they can go faster than the younger non-serious "you" by training seriously and by dumping cash into modern technology to buy your speed.
He didn't say anything about "dumping cash" or "buying speed".
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Old 09-27-23, 06:43 PM
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I disagree with the thread title. I think you do have to get slower, it's just a question of when. This varies by person, obviously.
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Old 09-27-23, 07:47 PM
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Originally Posted by 88ss
Your message is that for those who were not serious about going fast when they were younger, if they get serious about it now they can go faster than the younger non-serious "you" by training seriously and by dumping cash into modern technology to buy your speed.
..
So, most of my life, Iíve been somewhat serious about riding, racing, being a moderately successful Cat 3 racer.

Thus, itís not that Iím more serious now, maybe a bit more focused. Itís more that, with better knowledge about training and nutrition, modern training plans, power meters to implement them, and more time, and fewer constraints itís possible to achieve more.

To the extent thereís an element of buying speed, itís paying for professional coaching and a power meter. The power meter is now pretty cheap, and the professional coaching is a luxury, that I could do without if I spent the time to geek over the data, instead of paying to outsource that function.

My point in this thread is more to be a vote of encouragement for still achieving, and not allowing age to be an excuse for giving in.

Ē We donít quit playing because we grow old. We grow old because we quit playingĒ
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Old 09-27-23, 07:49 PM
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I doubt I could match my 20s unless I get on trt. Certainly won't be pulling 4+ plates again. :'(
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Old 09-27-23, 07:50 PM
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Originally Posted by big john
I disagree with the thread title. I think you do have to get slower, it's just a question of when. This varies by person, obviously.
Valid point. At some point you run into the upper limits. At 64, Iím pretty sure Iíve hit that for sprint speed. I donít think I have for climbing speed, or events like Gran Fondos.

I just think that the limits are higher than many think if you want it enough, and at least in your 60ís people are capable of more than most think. Iíll see how long that holds true.
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Old 09-27-23, 08:09 PM
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Originally Posted by merlinextraligh
Valid point. At some point you run into the upper limits. At 64, Iím pretty sure Iíve hit that for sprint speed. I donít think I have for climbing speed, or events like Gran Fondos.

I just think that the limits are higher than many think if you want it enough, and at least in your 60ís people are capable of more than most think. Iíll see how long that holds true.
Some of us deal with a-fib or irregular heartbeat. Some switch to e-bikes. I haven't done that yet but if I don't hammer so much it doesn't get too bad. If I chase the fast riders I pay for it later. I think I am not going to get any faster.

I can still climb and can still hammer a bit. I just have to let the rabbits go. It's not that I could ever keep up anyway. I'm 69.
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Old 09-27-23, 08:28 PM
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I can offer a similar anecdote, although I'm much younger than a lot of you guys at (almost) 37. I started riding and racing road bikes around the same time in college, ~2008 or so.

15 years later and I'm basically at the top of my game aerobically. I don't have the same sprint power as I did in my twenties, but I still have a sharp acceleration and can (and still do) win sprints from breakaways or reduced groups. Being 145 - 150 lbs helps with that.

I'm still a category 2 but at this point, things may stay that way since I am focused on Master's racing. I had a killer season this year in the Master's 35+ with three wins, a third in a major stage race (Valley of the Sun), another third, and one fifth, pretty much all from breakaways or reduced groups in hard road races.

As an amateur with a day job, my ability to train will wax and wane just like anyone else - case in point, my wife and I just had our first child. But still, this season will impart an important psychology, where I know that I can be one of the better Master's guys in SoCal if I can apply myself to training and racing. That's the great thing about bike racing - there's always the next age group up! My club (SDBC) sent some Masters 50/55+ riders to nationals this year. A couple of them can still hang in an elite field in most ride or race scenarios.
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Old 09-28-23, 02:06 AM
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Don't care. I put in a lot more miles, I see more of what is around me, I stop more often. I cannot say I enjoy riding a bike more, but, I enjoy the rides more. I certainly still like to kick up the pace and go fast, but only for as long as I care to. I usually check my average speed at the end of a ride, that is curiosity.
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Old 09-28-23, 03:16 AM
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Originally Posted by big john
Some of us deal with a-fib or irregular heartbeat. Some switch to e-bikes. I haven't done that yet but if I don't hammer so much it doesn't get too bad. If I chase the fast riders I pay for it later. I think I am not going to get any faster.

I can still climb and can still hammer a bit. I just have to let the rabbits go. It's not that I could ever keep up anyway. I'm 69.
The flip side to hammering when younger is tachycardia. I know a number of people who were competitive cyclists and nordic skiers who now in their 50ís and 60ís have tachycardia. There may not be a link but there is speculation.
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Old 09-28-23, 04:45 AM
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If you were serious about going fast when you were under 45, and you are now in your 60s, you will never be able to match your speed when you were under 45. That is because between the age of 45 and 80, athletes lose half their capacity to extract oxygen from breathing, and nothing is going to make up for that. If you were not training as well or as hard as you could have been five or ten years ago and you are in your 60s, then sure, you could start training correctly and match your old speed from five years ago. And yes there is a correlation between being athletic when you are young and ending up with an irregular heartbeat when you are older. You can always learn to appreciate being able to ride more than when you were young though, but as usual people put speed as some sort of necessary thing to enjoying cycling or even life itself. You can tell by the way they drive to work in the morning..........
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Old 09-28-23, 05:22 AM
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It nice we have endurance/slow twitch sports. It's certainly not that way in fast twitch sports. Probably not that way in track cycling either.
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Old 09-28-23, 05:27 AM
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Originally Posted by genejockey
I mentioned it elsewhere - I'm much faster at 65 than I was at 50, because at 50 I was about 20-30 lbs heavier and rode maybe 1/4 as many miles/year. So, there's a way to get faster as you get older - be slow when you were younger.
Yep, you only slow down if you were actually at peak fitness to begin with.
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Old 09-28-23, 05:48 AM
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Originally Posted by Jughed
Yep, you only slow down if you were actually at peak fitness to begin with.
My key to increased fitness, speed and constant PRs at 63...the 40 previous years of sloth!
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Old 09-28-23, 08:58 AM
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Indeed! You just need to respect your body's limitation and stretch more. The stem usually goes up with the age
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Old 09-28-23, 09:23 AM
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Originally Posted by 88ss
If you were serious about going fast when you were under 45, and you are now in your 60s, you will never be able to match your speed when you were under 45. That is because between the age of 45 and 80, athletes lose half their capacity to extract oxygen from breathing, and nothing is going to make up for that. If you were not training as well or as hard as you could have been five or ten years ago and you are in your 60s, then sure, you could start training correctly and match your old speed from five years ago. ..
So, several responses, your maximum potential VO2 max does decrease with age. However that does not mean you are destined to be slower year after year.

1) How many of us ever achieved 100% of our potential even while training “seriously” at a younger age. An elite professional 30 year old likely was functioning at such a high level, that there would be little room to make up for the physiological losses over time. For the rest of us with more time, fewer constraints, more concerted effort, smarter focused training, and the benefit of power meters, more scientific training and nutrition, there is substantial opportunity to improve, even with age.

And even elite pros of 30 years ago, are not achieving what elite pros now achieve with modern tools and methods. Just because you trained hard 30 years ago doesn’t mean you can’t train smarter, better today.

2) VO2 max is not the be all end all for cycling performance. Much more important is power at threshold, and the ability to hold that threshold power for prolonged periods. While your maximum aerobic potential is coming down slightly each year with age, you can still increase your FTP as a percentage of your VO2 max. https://trainright.com/4-training-my...-50-and-older/

So my point, your potential is getting lower, but you can still improve by capturing a greater percentage of that potential, provided you’re willing to pay the price and you’re smart in your approach.

3) VO2 max is somewhat trainable. I had my VO2 max measured in a lab in my late 20’s, and again late 30’s. According to Garmin, which admittedly has a bit of margin for error. My VO2 max is within 1 ml today compared to 35 years ago. On an age adjusted basis I’ve gone from around 75th percentile to 99th percentile, from the cumulative effect of years of training, better, training, and more time to devote to training.

So while your max potential VO2 max is coming down, your actual realized VO2 max can be improved or at least maintained.
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Old 09-28-23, 09:36 AM
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Originally Posted by 88ss
. You can always learn to appreciate being able to ride more than when you were young though, but as usual people put speed as some sort of necessary thing to enjoying cycling or even life itself. You can tell by the way they drive to work in the morning..........
You seem to imply that there is some problem with wanting to be fast, strong. I have no issue with people who do not want to be competitive, and do not care how fast they ride. This discussion was intended to be about it still being possible to be fast as competive even as we age.

For me, while my days of racing crits are likely over, I still want to challenge my self with events like the Ride Across Portugal, Haute Route Dolomites, and Dirty Kanza I refuse t acknowledge the Corporate imposed name) Racing motivates me to get of the couch, and gives a sense of accomplishment. I get that is not appealing to others, and there are many other rewards from riding a bike.

My simple point is that age shouldnít deter people from pursuing their goals.
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Old 09-28-23, 09:58 AM
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Originally Posted by merlinextraligh
You seem to imply that there is some problem with wanting to be fast, strong. I have no issue with people who do not want to be competitive, and do not care how fast they ride. This discussion was intended to be about it still being possible to be fast as competive even as we age.

For me, while my days of racing crits are likely over, I still want to challenge my self with events like the Ride Across Portugal, Haute Route Dolomites, and Dirty Kanza I refuse t acknowledge the Corporate imposed name) Racing motivates me to get of the couch, and gives a sense of accomplishment. I get that is not appealing to others, and there are many other rewards from riding a bike.

My simple point is that age shouldnít deter people from pursuing their goals.
Going fast is fun. I never raced but have done thousands of club rides. Trying to hang on is fun. Pulling a group into the wind is fun. Sprinting against friends is a blast. Bench racing after a fast, brutal ride is fun.

Lots of great memories.
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