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How do you transition from racer to enthusiast rider?

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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.

How do you transition from racer to enthusiast rider?

Old 12-04-19, 10:51 PM
  #26  
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Maybe take the Phil Gaimon route and go after Strava KOMs? I know a couple of 50+ fellows who held or still hold many local KOMs. They're strong and fast but don't race. One won't even participate in most group rides. I can see why after trying some fast group rides myself. Too many cowboys.

Age, illness and injury solved that dilemma for me. When I resumed cycling a few years ago after a 30+ year hiatus I figured it would take a year to get back into good enough shape for competing in my age class. Nope. Not even close. It took me four years to get back into any kind of shape that might be suitable for competing over age 60.

At 62 I'm usually among the oldest of the folks I ride with, but even the guys my age who stayed in shape are still much stronger. Anytime I join a group ride that averages faster than 16 mph, it's not a question of whether I'll get dropped, but when. Usually very quickly. When I first tried riding with the A group, I might last 5 miles. Now it's usually 15-20 miles before I get dropped. But it depends on group etiquette. One group has predetermined regroup points. And they ride pretty steadily even when it's a brisk pace. There's always one guy who gripes that the ride isn't fast enough to suit him, but the ride leader won't drop stragglers unless the slow folks say it's okay and wave the pack ahead.

The other group claims to be a no-drop ride, but that never works out. There are always a few guys up front hammering and the pack starts to accordion -- accelerating, slamming on the brakes, sprinting, braking, etc. Nobody calling out road hazards (nearly clobbered some traffic cones the other evening). They pause briefly at the turnaround -- just long enough for the fastest riders to get the longest rest break -- then immediately resume hammering when the last guy drags in. So the last guys always get dropped immediately on the return trip.

That pretty much clinched my decision to never race crits again at any level. It's not a matter of winning or doing well. It's dangerous to everyone -- me and other riders -- if I'm hanging on by my fingernails in a bunch and my reflexes are impaired by exhaustion.

I might try some time trials, but no more crits or reckless hammerfest group rides. A year long recovery from a broken and dislocated shoulder and neck injury after being hit by a car last year reminded me I ain't young enough for that stuff anymore.
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Old 12-05-19, 12:08 AM
  #27  
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Are you familiar with mindfulness? This could help: https://www.amazon.com/Take-Your-Time-Wisdom-Slowing/dp/1586380958/ref=asc_df_1586380958/?tag=hyprod-20&linkCode=df0&hvadid=316997250445&hvpos=1o1&hvnetw=g&hvrand=14573917714836026631&hvpone=&hvptwo=&h vqmt=&hvdev=c&hvdvcmdl=&hvlocint=&hvlocphy=9061082&hvtargid=aud-829758849484la-434730069063&psc=1&tag=&ref=&adgrpid=63441478952&hvpone=&hvptwo=&hvadid=316997250445&hvpos=1o1&hvnet w=g&hvrand=14573917714836026631&hvqmt=&hvdev=c&hvdvcmdl=&hvlocint=&hvlocphy=9061082&hvtargid=aud-829758849484la-434730069063#customerReview
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Old 12-05-19, 02:42 AM
  #28  
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I went from racer to randonneur ... go long!
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Old 12-05-19, 08:39 AM
  #29  
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Originally Posted by FlashBazbo View Post
Now that I'm approaching 60, I think I've decided that it's time to grow up. For decades, I've raced bikes of some sort. Kept a meticulous daily training log. Tracked my ATL and CTL every single day. No . . . didn't just track them. Lived by them. Obsessively. Feared what would happen if I missed a workout. Lived in terror of a missed week. And, approaching 60, the consequences of missed workouts just become greater. For 2020, I just plan to ride two gran fondos and lots of weekly group rides. No racing. (But I still like riding hard group rides with the fast young guys.)

But here's my question: How do I stop the daily obsession and the need to be fast? It's practically a lifelong habit. A lot of my identity has been wrapped up in it. And I suspect I will have to cut down radically on caloric intake to maintain a decent body composition. How do you happily move from obsessively-trained racer to being a respectable enthusiast rider (with a better life-training balance)? If it were a bad habit, it would be easier to quit cold turkey. But I don't want to quit cycling. I just want to enjoy it in a new, better balanced way. Is it possible?
Good luck slowing down. I am 75 and slowed down to pleasure riding and touring many years ago mostly because I didn’t enjoy getting dropped. It was difficult but I finally realized I just wasn’t able to be competitive and needed to move on. I have a friend who is 77 and tried to ride with the group of guys I ride with now (you know, the we’ll get there when we get there group) but couldn’t do it, he simply can’t slow down to ride at our pace and we can’t go his. So we still stop and talk, but never ride together anymore.

Getting old is hard to deal with, but for most it comes gradually and other than health issues it’s very pleasant not being in a hurry all the time. I never ride my road bike anymore just ride heavy slow bikes that there is no possibility of going fast on except downhill.
I really enjoy this type of riding get about 1500-2000 miles a year and stay in good enough shape to be able to tour when I can, which is my current addiction. I still keep mileage stats. but don’t track speed or avg.
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Old 12-05-19, 09:03 AM
  #30  
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Originally Posted by FlashBazbo View Post
Oh, man. You guys are killing me!

I HAVE seriously considered selling my racing bike and making my OPEN into my do-it-all, maybe only bike. On the OPEN, I'm too slow to race or stay with the young guys on the fast group rides. I'm not sure I'm ready to be a 'bent person. I don't even wear cardigans!
Are we worried about sterotypes, there? I'm sure the suggestion was only tongue-in-cheek. Whatever you do, don't get rid of your racing bikes. You can still enjoy those even if you're not racing.
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Old 12-05-19, 11:32 AM
  #31  
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Originally Posted by FlashBazbo View Post
That's kind of where I am now . . . or where I would like to be. I still work as hard as I did five years ago, but I'm not as fast as I was five years ago. Training hard, good weather and bad, is worth it when you're getting even slightly faster. But when training hard doesn't quite keep you as fast . . . it becomes a chore. Even though I've worked my hardest to stay ahead of it, age has caught up.
I feel your pain. Training (in most weather conditions) was a lot more fun when I wasn't getting my butt kicked in races.
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Old 12-05-19, 03:03 PM
  #32  
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Flashbazbo, I went through the same struggle as you. Raced from age 22 to age 45 on the road and off road. Kept detailed training logs, obsessed over getting in training time each day. Most of the time I was over training, but did not realize it due to the obsession. Yes, I got faster most years, and reallized gains, but at age 50 something changed in my head and I no longer desired to beat the crap out of myself, but wanted to ride and enjoy the freedom.

It has been 10 years since then and I can say I still like a hard ride once or twice a week, but in no way do I have the desire to get out there regardless of the weather. No longer do I concern myself with missing a ride, and this year I finally tossed the pile of training logs! FREEDOM!

Racing served some need for a long time, but I have yet to define what that need was. So much happier going out to enjoy the ride. This fall I joined a gym for the first time in 40 years and can say I really, really like it. Not obsessed, but it feels good. Come spring I will split time on the bike with time in the gym. Also built a touring bike this summer and look forward to time spent riding and camping.
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Old 12-05-19, 03:41 PM
  #33  
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When I decided to slow down a few years ago, I bought a comfy, heavy bike: cro-moly steel frame and fork, overbuilt for light touring use, bomber wheelset, etc. Then I put on a handlebar bag and started carrying lots of cargo. It's kind of hard to go fast on such a bike, so it led me to a more casual mindset: I started slowing down, stopping to take photos, even sometimes carrying along a sandwich and stopping for lunch on the shore of a nearby lake.

By the way, it didn't work. The bike takes wide tires, which led me down more gravel roads. And then I decided to try this whole gravel racing thing. And then I bought a killer new gravel bike and started signing up for races. And then...Well, you get the idea.
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Old 12-05-19, 04:09 PM
  #34  
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Are you near a velodrome? I wonder if you could get by with less volume (although higher intensity) for track.
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Old 12-05-19, 04:54 PM
  #35  
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Originally Posted by FlashBazbo View Post
I never said I want to quit. To the contrary, I still intend to do a couple hard interval workouts every week. But I'm thinking that dropping from 14 hours per week on the bike to 7 hours might give me better work/training balance -- a better life. (And besides . . . why do 14-hour weeks if there are no races to win? It seems foolish.) But getting slower will be hard to deal with.
Do you have recovery in your plan? Adding more recovery might be healthy, if you don't have much.
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Old 12-05-19, 05:02 PM
  #36  
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Originally Posted by Wildwood View Post
Approaching 60 puts you approaching a new Masters age category.
Double your training and make history.
This right here. Keep the training. Is someone forcing you?? Dude, Iím 62 and still logging the rides and watching for people to bump me down on Strava. My bikes are vintage criterium racers. Time will come when you cant ride fast so enjoy the hobby part of analyzing and pushing for PRís.
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Old 12-05-19, 05:10 PM
  #37  
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I know a lot of ex-pros in other sports that still love the game get into coaching.

Sounds like you have a wealth of knowledge and experience that could be passed down to a younger generation.
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Old 12-05-19, 08:47 PM
  #38  
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Old 12-06-19, 09:39 AM
  #39  
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Toss the Garmin and take up photography.
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Old 12-06-19, 01:45 PM
  #40  
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Originally Posted by Biker395 View Post
Toss the Garmin and take up photography.
Mount the Garmin under the saddle and download the data for record keeping. One does not have to look at the data but it is available for reference in the future if so motivated.
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Old 12-07-19, 12:37 PM
  #41  
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Originally Posted by OldsCOOL View Post
This right here. Keep the training. Is someone forcing you?? Dude, Iím 62 and still logging the rides and watching for people to bump me down on Strava. My bikes are vintage criterium racers. Time will come when you cant ride fast so enjoy the hobby part of analyzing and pushing for PRís.
I don't think I pose much danger to your place on Wildwood Heights Rd climb.
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Old 12-07-19, 03:35 PM
  #42  
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Originally Posted by BlazingPedals View Post
I don't think I pose much danger to your place on Wildwood Heights Rd climb.
That hill is now logging 660 riders! Must be the Dalmac bunch plus the growing popularity of Strava. I did clock a top 10 before all the semi pro folk discovered it. I do like to ride it but the only person I can bump anymore is myself.

In your defense here, you were on your last day of a challenging tour I can only dream about plus you were on a Ďbent when hitting that hill. Job well done!
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Old 12-08-19, 09:22 AM
  #43  
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Well, while I don’t recommend it you could crash hard on the asphalt, break your femur neck and get a hip replacement on your strongest leg........You’ll be able to eventually ride again but the loss of top end speed, wattage and overall fitness during recovery might just get you mentally past not performing like you used too. Afterwards you’ll be able to stay with the faster riders on flats but hills and surges might be where you just let them go, sit up and enjoy the surroundings!!
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Old 12-09-19, 11:21 AM
  #44  
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I was not a cyclist in my youth but I was a college QB and I have that competition gene. The way I stopped it was this....leave your Garmin or computer at home and just go ride.Pick a day or two to do a TT to get your competition fix.
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Old 12-09-19, 12:34 PM
  #45  
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Originally Posted by FlashBazbo View Post
Now that I'm approaching 60, I think I've decided that it's time to grow up. For decades, I've raced bikes of some sort. Kept a meticulous daily training log. Tracked my ATL and CTL every single day. No . . . didn't just track them. Lived by them. Obsessively. Feared what would happen if I missed a workout. Lived in terror of a missed week. And, approaching 60, the consequences of missed workouts just become greater. For 2020, I just plan to ride two gran fondos and lots of weekly group rides. No racing. (But I still like riding hard group rides with the fast young guys.)

But here's my question: How do I stop the daily obsession and the need to be fast? It's practically a lifelong habit. A lot of my identity has been wrapped up in it. And I suspect I will have to cut down radically on caloric intake to maintain a decent body composition. How do you happily move from obsessively-trained racer to being a respectable enthusiast rider (with a better life-training balance)? If it were a bad habit, it would be easier to quit cold turkey. But I don't want to quit cycling. I just want to enjoy it in a new, better balanced way. Is it possible?
Simple answer: don't obsess. I'm 76, still do a program through Training Peaks and tons of STRAVA segments. I am no longer a threat to KOM's, but cherish beating my PR's and moving up standings. If you have a need for races you will find plenty on ZWIFT that correspond to your fitness and ability. Also, I do weekly group rides during the outside season and now have group rides on ZWIFT. Lot's to do and no reason to back off (or down) (don't let the old man in as Clint Eastwood says).
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Old 12-09-19, 01:07 PM
  #46  
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Get a knee replacement. Guaranteed to slow you right down and let you smell the roses.
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Old 12-09-19, 01:16 PM
  #47  
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Originally Posted by FlashBazbo View Post
That's kind of where I am now . . . or where I would like to be. I still work as hard as I did five years ago, but I'm not as fast as I was five years ago. Training hard, good weather and bad, is worth it when you're getting even slightly faster. But when training hard doesn't quite keep you as fast . . . it becomes a chore. Even though I've worked my hardest to stay ahead of it, age has caught up.
I still maintain my USAC license and do local time trials to guage my fitness. Crits were always my favorites, but it requires lots of (Ugh!) intervals to be good. You might consider the Huntsman Sr. Games held each October in St. George Utah. I always had a lot of fun there and you've got Snow Canyon to hike. Still do Gran Fondos, mostly in New Mexico, and then go hiking. Good luck with this!

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Old 12-09-19, 01:39 PM
  #48  
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Age 64 here. I've never been at your level in terms of bicycling, but I relate to the challenges along some different lines. The physical trainers where I live define fitness as "the ability to safety and comfortably meet the demands of one's daily work, and enjoy appropriate recreational pursuits within the limitations of talent and age." My chiropractor agrees in principle that that definition.

So a while back I began redefining goals and activities with that definition in mind. However, you have been a competitive cyclist (while I've been an enthusiast only). So for what it's worth I would suggest that you stay in the sport, and contribute to the sport.

To wit:

1. Stay in cycling for the fitness benefits, but reframe your goals to stay functionally fit for reduced riding plus other daily demands.
2. Begin investing what you know in others.
- Cycling: Is there a high school team nearby? Or, if there is not a team, is there a school nearby where might you sponsor one?
- Wrenching: chances are your knowledge of the mechanics can be passed on along with what you know about riding itself. Find those openings and give some kid "a leg up" with the tutelage of a wise mentor.
3. Recognize we all have to embrace our end-game. No matter what our life work, we can face the changes of aging with a plan that gives us a sense of dignity and worth on the way out, or, we can lapse into denial and stumble our way to the end without value to our-self or others. Your choice, that. I think you can glean which approach I'm taking.

Naturally all of this is offered as my humble opinion. If it helps so be it, if not, no sweat.
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Old 12-09-19, 02:08 PM
  #49  
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Originally Posted by clubman View Post
Get a knee replacement. Guaranteed to slow you right down and let you smell the roses.
Not necessarily. A good friend of mine had both knees replaced last winter and this summer he was much faster than ever before.
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Old 12-09-19, 03:15 PM
  #50  
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Originally Posted by FlashBazbo View Post
Not necessarily. A good friend of mine had both knees replaced last winter and this summer he was much faster than ever before.
85% of people are satisfied with their replacements. Mine was a tragedy...both times.
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