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Advice for an Older 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.

Advice for an Older Rider

Old 01-25-21, 04:47 PM
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billmckay
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Advice for an Older Rider

I am pretty far past fifty but could not find an over 75 thread. My question is, if you are a 78 year old male in OK health and tired of being passed by younger guys riding a fancy bike, what should you aspire to regarding an average speed. A bit of background. I recently (six months or so ago) began riding a road bike again (My specialized hybrid which I didn’t ride much was stolen and I replaced it with a Cannondale R 800 2.8. Loved it. Began to ride frequently. Unfortunately it too was stolen.) Long story short, I am now riding a Lemond Buenos Aires (2003 I think) and love it even more than that cannondale. I had started out riding four days a week, six or seven miles and am now doing 17-18 miles and averaging between 13.8 and 14.7 mph (depends on the wind which in SW Florida can really blow, especially in the winter.) I ride by myself; never did get into group rides. The other day was a great day and I actually got a ‘rider’s high”; didn’t know it was possible on a bike. Would appreciate some wisdom from ‘experienced riders’, my way of saying really old guys what is possible for an end result if I really keep at it.
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Old 01-25-21, 05:27 PM
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Originally Posted by billmckay View Post
tired of being passed by younger guys riding a fancy bike....
I don't think you are going to change that and it's probably not the bike. You can still improve your riding to where you can have an enjoyable day on the bike. I'd concentrate on increasing your distance which is pretty minimal now. Try to get up to at least 30 or 40 miles, even if you have to reduce your speed a little. That will build muscle and endurance w/o putting undo strain on your cardio. I wouldn't suggest going whole hog into a training program with intervals and such unless you get an OK from a qualified doc. I think there is some evidence that really hard efforts may not be good for us old guys.
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Old 01-25-21, 05:51 PM
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I don't know. Sounds like you are doing okay, even for the short 18 miles you are riding. And especially if never rode in a serious way for fitness prior to your recent start.

When I started riding seriously for fitness over ten years ago, I was only a 14 mph average. But over the years I've increased it pretty well for the type riding I do. Time spent riding will give you some benefits. And there may be times you can do things someone younger can't. While a younger rider might always finish first, given a long enough and challenging enough route there'll be some times you might show well. Even if it's just that you get to pass someone on a hill that's finishing up their 60 mile ride and you are just starting out fresh with plenty of energy. As long as you don't find out their circumstance, you can smile and think good of yourself. I won't mind.

Don't just go by what you see posted for average speeds on Strava or RWGPS or other sites. You typically never really know if those others making their ride public were riding in a group pulling turns on the front or whether they were solo. Their speed solo will be well below what they do in the group.

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Old 01-25-21, 06:34 PM
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Nothing to add to the others advice. But if you look above the "Fifty Plus" when you bring it up, you'll see Sticky threads, one of which is 65-85+. Of course, you're more than welcome to post in either! Gotta love those LeMond bikes!!
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Old 01-25-21, 07:26 PM
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I'm 68, and I've been riding sorta seriously for a few years, especially the last couple. Our (she and I) monthly/weekly average the last six months has been 600/150, in flatland like you, where the wind is "character building". Our short ride is now 42 miles, and we average 13 to 14ish mph, but we are equally driven to increase our weekly miles to "touring ready" numbers.

Keep increasing your mileage. All else is window dressing, at this point in your life.
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Old 01-25-21, 07:54 PM
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14-15 mph for more than an hour is very good for JRA (just riding along) after only 6 months. Like Shelby says, increase the length if your rides slowly ( 10% per week is standard procedure for your long ridebof the week). You will likely find you shorter rides can be done faster with the same effort of previous rides. Give your joints and connective tissue another 6-12 months to get stronger before you start hammering in a serious way. AND do some trunk stabilization work (core) 30-45 minutes 3-5 times a week. You are having so much fun we would hate to see you sidelined with back issues.

p.s. I had a 2003 LeMond like yours and it is a very fast bike. Google Joel Friel and read some of his Fast after 50 stuff. He's well past 50 now like you.
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Old 01-26-21, 07:08 AM
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Originally Posted by billmckay View Post
I am pretty far past fifty but could not find an over 75 thread. My question is, if you are a 78 year old male in OK health and tired of being passed by younger guys riding a fancy bike, what should you aspire to regarding an average speed. A bit of background. I recently (six months or so ago) began riding a road bike again (My specialized hybrid which I didn’t ride much was stolen and I replaced it with a Cannondale R 800 2.8. Loved it. Began to ride frequently. Unfortunately it too was stolen.) Long story short, I am now riding a Lemond Buenos Aires (2003 I think) and love it even more than that cannondale. I had started out riding four days a week, six or seven miles and am now doing 17-18 miles and averaging between 13.8 and 14.7 mph (depends on the wind which in SW Florida can really blow, especially in the winter.) I ride by myself; never did get into group rides. The other day was a great day and I actually got a ‘rider’s high”; didn’t know it was possible on a bike. Would appreciate some wisdom from ‘experienced riders’, my way of saying really old guys what is possible for an end result if I really keep at it.
I am 75 and a former college football (QB) and baseball (SS) player. I am never going to be 20 again and neither are you. I ride to get fit, to stay healthy and to enjoy the connection between man-machine-environment. I was trained to be competitive so it wasn't easy to get to this point. But, trust me, this is "the way." If you want to be aspirational, test yourself against previous efforts to see how you're doing. Then go have a burger and a beer and enjoy the time you have.
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Old 01-26-21, 11:01 AM
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Only 70 here.
When I ride speed is one of the least of my concerns.
Just keep at it - as fast or 'less than fast' as you please.

The best benefits (at 70+) come from consistency.
Keep the rubber side down.


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Old 01-26-21, 12:55 PM
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OTOH if some one passes you he has bragging rights, and if he has 78 cents, he can get a senior coffee at McDonalds. What is your hurry?

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Old 01-26-21, 01:30 PM
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Sounds like you're on the right track.
It seems to me, the same tried and true method of base phase, strength phase then speed phase still applies here...but then again what do I know I'm "only" 57.
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Old 01-26-21, 01:38 PM
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I'd lose zero sleep over someone passing me. I used to be pretty fast and I'd do at least one sub 5 hour century a year. Not any more. I make sure that I get quality work outs on a regular basis and have down time to have fun.
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Old 01-26-21, 01:42 PM
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Genetics, health, and willingness to train for speed are the inputs affecting his fast you will be.

The answer to your question about how fast people are will depend on where they are in those areas. Data from people on the extreme is not necessarily indicative of what's possible for you. The only way to know is to try.
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Old 01-26-21, 02:03 PM
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I'm 81 y.o.and until a few years ago was riding 100 miles per week 3000 miles per year. Cycling is an endurance sport and there is no substitute for distance. The fly in the ointment is that the longer your rides the more you need to pay attention to the recovery process, especially us oldsters. A typical long ride for me is/was 50 to 60 miles and the following day I could do short rides around town. My longest ride has been 72 miles and I was not back to full strength for 4 or 5 days. That is when I began to pay close attention to the recovery process which has specific requirements. As suggested above, Joe Friel's book "Fast After 50" is what you need. https://www.target.com/p/fast-after-...E&gclsrc=aw.ds
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Old 01-26-21, 04:08 PM
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Thanks for the comments. Funny, I never thought much about distance being a key; I would always be checking on the average speed. I will put a premium on increasing the distance. It is just int he past week that a normal ride is 20 miles or so and there is no need for a nap when I get home. It is amazing how slow it is to build strength when you get older.

As for competing with the young guys, I have long ago accepted that I am not going to compete with the young guys and instead focus on competing with myself. I had been adding on a mile or so a week; maybe I will crank that up. Any thoughts on what would be a reasonable distance per week for a goal? I usually am out on the bike four days out of seven.

Got a bike buzz again today. This is as good as running which I havn't been able to do for a while.
Bill McKay
PS If anyone ever runs into a decent deal on a lemond Zurich or better, size 53 or so close to Sarasota, FL, let me know. I definitely need a second bike.
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Old 01-27-21, 11:27 AM
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2 hour rides more or less are my typical ride. And while I try to ride at least 3 times a week, sometimes I go a couple weeks with no riding. Especially in Winter, though it's generally mild here compared to others that enjoy riding in 30°F temps and lower (brrr). I'm not out for anything but my own health and enjoyment. And I don't have to "be my best". But I do suffer an addiction to riding at a high effort when on a road bike.

There are times I might do a week with 3 or 4 rides over 3 hours each. It's just what ever I have time for and how much I enjoy doing it. And once you get used to the challenges of longer rides you find out there really isn't anything to them other than planning for water and nutrition during your ride and immediately after.

Though a lot of people will say they don't eat or drink anything during their long rides and felt fine during the ride, what they don't say is how they were a few hours after the ride. And maybe they were okay. But for me, if I don't hydrate and replace carbs and electrolytes adequately during long rides then I will quite often feel overly tired for a long time and get leg cramps later that evening or while sleeping.

When I hydrate and add the correct carbs and other nutrition needs during a long ride, then I don't experience anything but a good feeling and leg muscles that appreciate the rest. No overall feeling of tiredness that I have had when I don't do those things correctly.

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Old 01-27-21, 12:05 PM
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Would appreciate some wisdom from ‘experienced riders’, my way of saying really old guys what is possible for an end result if I really keep at it.
Obviously, the answers to your questions are dependent on a wide range of factors too numerous to delineate.

The riding details you supplied demonstrate a "driven" personality type - this goes hand-in-hand with someone who trains hard. (sometimes compulsively)

I am happy you have rediscovered the positive aspects of the "training effect." As you continue to keep track of your progress, you will soon feel the limits of additional physical benefits. And at your age - trying to approach the limits of your physical ability will carry an ever greater risk of injury.

How far you improve until this risk/benefit is not a static metric. Some day every cyclist will have their last great ride - and no one - I think thankfully - knows just when that day will be.......

.
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Old 01-27-21, 10:41 PM
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I think mileage and average speed are less important than time and intensity. I don't know what my average speed is but I'm sure it's different each time out as my rides vary quite a bit.
I ride about 15 hours per week with lots of climbing. My interest is being able to enjoy the rides I like to do. It doesn't matter what the speed is. I don't even have a computer on my bikes. I'm only 66.
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Old 01-27-21, 11:25 PM
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Only 75 here. I do a long event ride most years, hoping to do it again this year, but maybe not without vaccines. It's about 150 miles and10,000' of climbing, a long day ride. The last year I rode it was 2019, I was 74, and I averaged 14.9, moving time. That's somewhere near as good as it gets for ordinary folks. Every year, the oldest finisher is about 80 and they sometimes have trouble coming in before the course closes, so a 15 hour ride. Riders slower than that are swept off the course.

But back to reality. The big problem for an older rider just starting out it this age limitation business. Every year you're weaker, so that really sucks. On the other side, if you train smart, every year you're stronger, so there are a few years where you come out even or maybe even gets stronger. Training aerobic ability is very slow, takes years.

So that's the good and the bad news. IME the best way to start out is, as mentioned above, to increase the length of one ride a week, making the rest of them say 1 hour. As also mentioned, consistency is key. I usually only take 1 day/week off, though some of my rides are fairly easy. When I was starting to increase my distance, in my early 50s, I'd ride away from home until I was tired, then ride back. The other thing I did was to ride up every hill I could find, not on my long ride day though. Cycling is all about riding up hills. I used a heart rate monitor from the very beginning. And you should have your doctor's permission to do all this. Most doctors encourage this sort of thing, but not necessarily for everyone.

As we age, we need more strength training and protein to match. Sarcopenia is a geezer's enemy. I don't recommend going to a gym this year, thst's for sure, but there are inexpensive dumbbells on Amazon. https://www.amazon.com/AmazonBasics-...dp/B071WSFSGC/
I bought 2 sets to get enough weight, still inexpensive for what they are.

There's a 65-85+ thread at the top of this sub-forum page.
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Old 01-28-21, 07:39 AM
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You're already in the top 1% of the top 1% of your age group. Most folks in our age category don't have the ability (or interest) to ride that much or that fast if/when they do.

Best advice I can give you is the best riding advice I ever received: Ride Your Own Ride.
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Old 01-28-21, 08:24 AM
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Originally Posted by berner View Post
I'm 81 y.o.and until a few years ago was riding 100 miles per week 3000 miles per year. Cycling is an endurance sport and there is no substitute for distance. The fly in the ointment is that the longer your rides the more you need to pay attention to the recovery process, especially us oldsters. A typical long ride for me is/was 50 to 60 miles and the following day I could do short rides around town. My longest ride has been 72 miles and I was not back to full strength for 4 or 5 days. That is when I began to pay close attention to the recovery process which has specific requirements. As suggested above, Joe Friel's book "Fast After 50" is what you need. https://www.target.com/p/fast-after-...E&gclsrc=aw.ds
I was 81 last year, and during the warm months, Im in the snowbelt, as always I rode right at 100 miles a week.
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Old 01-28-21, 08:33 AM
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80 years old and I ride 3 days a week alone. On most of my rides I average 12.5 to 13. It’s pretty windy here in Texas.
I just had a younger guy block me on Strava . I guess I wasn’t fast enough for him. 80 years old with RA and osteoarthritis, I’m just happy to be riding. Yes I’m riding my own ride.
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Old 01-28-21, 02:11 PM
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.Carbonfiberboy writes But back to reality. The big problem for an older rider just starting out it this age limitation business. Every year you're weaker, so that really sucks. On the other side, if you train smart, every year you're stronger, so there are a few years where you come out even or maybe even gets stronger. Training aerobic ability is very slow, takes years.

I can attest to that. Three years ago I went back to Massachusetts for the funeral of my brother in law who was the same age as me and just about as overweight as me. It was a real teaching moment for me and I went back to Florida and made some changes in my lifestyle. Healthy eating moderate amounts, strength training at the gym, walking every day. Two years and forty five pounds later I had cut out half of the medications I had been taking and reduced the dose of the remainder by half. I never get night time cramps any more. I have been seeing the same doctor annually for quite a few years. He does not exercise and has really slowed down of late; I was pretty stunned talking with him the other day. I am thinking that getting into riding a bike is the best of all. At least it is fun. I am convinced that I am much more able to do things today than I was four

A note for trent who sent me a private note. I can not respond since I do not have enough posts; since I do not want to make a number of bs posts to get to the magic number, please write me and include your email address.

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Old 01-28-21, 02:20 PM
  #23  
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There's always someone faster, you should gauge yourself against yourself. This is why I mostly ride alone. I ride where I want, at a speed I want and as long as I want.I'm faster than many younger and slower than some older.

I remember when my son was 19 and in a 1/3 marathon was beat by a 75 year old woman. I told him he has 56 years to beat her time.

He still drags my a$s up many climbs when i ride with him.
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Old 01-29-21, 07:19 AM
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I wouldn't say there's any "typical" speed at which you're supposed to ride. Ride at a cadence and speed that's comfortable. If you want to get faster, get a coach or training program like TrainerRoad. But it really all depends on what your goals are. Why do you want to go faster?
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Old 01-29-21, 08:06 PM
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I think you are doing fine, speed-wise and attitude-wise. Keep doing what you're doing!
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