Older Riders...Relatively New Older Riders...
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  1. #1
    I lowered my cholesterol!
    Reputation: rickreyn's Avatar
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    Older Riders...Relatively New Older Riders...

    I have been riding in earnest since August 2004. I am now 54. I am told by my pre-med son that muscles we have at birth are what we get. You can develop them, but not grow new ones. I'm 5'6" and about 148 lbs., slim rather than stocky, shorter torso, longer legs, confirmed fast twitch guy (sprinter in high school). So if I am stuck with the original equipment, and if I started relatively late in life, how much improvement to my capacity to ride fast and long can I expect in the future given good health. Am I fighting a losing battle? I'm mainly looking for testimonials from late bloomers like me, not 54 year old life long riders with thunder thighs and compressors for lungs.

  2. #2
    Cat 6 rider
    Reputation: California L33's Avatar
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    Your son might be better to ask than me, but as I understand it, you replace muscle all your life. Old cells die, new ones replace them. If you're exercising hard you break muscle fibers and two grow in their place. If you're not using all you've got, old cells die off and aren't replaced. When you get to a certain age it's difficult to build muscle mass.

    I'm a decade younger than you, also a high school sprinter, and have increased muscle mass and endurance markedly in the last five years. In terms of endurance I'm in the best shape of my life. Until I started riding and telling myself- hey, I can go longer, I was convinced I couldn't go long. Right now I think nothing of doing 150 mile weeks. My first ride was exactly one mile long.
    To the troll mobile, away...

  3. #3
    waterproof*
    Reputation: Creakyknees's Avatar
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    Just cause you're 54 does not mean the body's innate nature has stopped working.

    When you train, you overload, then recover and the body adapts. It works the same whether you're 5, 15, or 99. Maybe not as _fast_ but it still works.

    Assuming you're in the fat part of the bell curve for aerobic capactiy (i.e. capabale of training your aerobic system and not genetically limited) then you'll experience rapid progress at least for a few months, then plateau and have to come back here and ask how to get to the next level.

    Short answer to your question: plenty. Just do the training.

    Enjoy.
    * not actually a Rock Star

  4. #4
    RoadBikeReview Member
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    I agree. I'll turn 56 in July and my experience since getting back into riding when I turned 50 is that I've gotten faster every year. When I started riding again, I was about 50 lbs heavier than now and REALLY out of shape. A couple of years of dedicated riding and dieting got me down to my current weight of 175, not light weight, but I'm 6' tall and carry a good bit of weight in my legs. I started doing time trials at a local series about 4 years ago and my times have gotten faster every year, won the 50+ age group the last two years. I ride about 7,500 miles a year, typically 6 days a week, and do fast group rides with mainly younger riders about 3 times a week. You can definitely get faster, it just takes a little longer and the training hurts a little longer afterwards too.
    Best of Luck as you get faster.

  5. #5
    RoadBikeReview Member
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    After sitting on a couch for fifteen years, I started riding a bit at about age 40, and I started fooling around with racing at age 44. I'm now 49, racing Masters, and I've got faster every year. With little modesty, false or otherwise -- I am a competent Cat 3 who, on the right day under the right conditions, can be right up there with the 2's (not just Masters, either -- young guys).
    What I've seen anecdotally is that capacity does seem to start to diminish somewhere over 50, but I still know 53 y/o's that can do some serious schooling of guys half their age.
    I'm going to ride it out, as best I can. You should, too -- don't worry about what your capacity might be. Work hard and find it.

  6. #6
    Climbs like a sprinter...
    Reputation: bmxhacksaw's Avatar
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    I'm 47 (in about 3 mos.) and was always into cycling but never very serious. I don't think I ever rode more that 250 miles in a year and before last year the farthest I had ever ridden was a 50 miler once. Last year I rode over 3000 miles and got faster and faster as the year progressed. I don't know how this relates to others but I can ride with groups that average over 20 mph for 50 miles. I think that is pretty good for a guy my age and as fat as I was this time last year.

    I think it really has to do with how you train what you got. If you train for explosive power for short durations that is what you will get. If you train for long distance endurance that is what you will get. It is the reason why sprinters don't win grand tours and tour winners don't win sprints.

    I rode with a guy last year that was 63 and he drug me around for 40 miles usually up over 26 mph! It's all good.
    "It's turtles all the way down."

  7. #7
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    A guy in my racing club started riding only a few years ago. He's racing in the 55+ and winning. He does well in 45+ races too. This is in Nor Cal where we have a lot of strong masters.

  8. #8
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    I'm almost 54 and didn't start road racing until I was 49. I raced MTB for a few years and did a lot of riding before that, including a cross country unsupported tour way back in 1986. I've never been faster or fitter than I am right now at this moment.

  9. #9
    Game on, b*tches!
    Reputation: Kram's Avatar
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    There's hope

    What others have said. You can still make gains by training and training right. I just turned 49 and have been riding for about 15 yrs, but only racing since last yr. I've made big improvements since then and still (I hope) continue. Main thing at our age is that you don't need to cut back on intensity but you DO need to cut back on volume. Rest is key. There are cross racers in my area older than you that beat me and other guys younger than me on a rather frequent schedule.
    Originally Posted by tetter
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  10. #10
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    I'm 57. Started about 5 or 6 years ago. Weighed about 190 when I started, now weigh175. In the beginning averaged about 16 mph. Improved about 1 mph each year (on the same 20 mile course) from losing weight, better equipment, improving my bike skills, and just working harder. Now can occasionally (perfect conditions) average 20 on my road bike. Dont really expect to ever average 21. Started TTing 2 years ago. My goal is to do a 40K in less than one hour but so far my best is 1 hour 3 minutes, so I've got some work to do. A lot of speed can be purchased with proper TT equipment, but that last 3 minutes is going to have to come with better position and more work. I find that my goal of 1hr in the 40K is motivation all year long to keep working. I'm addicted to this sport and wish I had started 25 years ago.

  11. #11
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    rickreyn, you likely can continue to improve. Focus your training, but have fun. I'm a bit older-62 this year-and have evry intent of matching or lowering my TT times. I had faster times at 61 than at 60, which I attribute to better training. Megmarc's observation about motivation is also very important. Good luck.
    megmarc, good to see that you are still out there and doing TTs. Hope to see you at a race sometime this year.

  12. #12
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    Overhill, good to hear from you. At 61 or 62 you are still faster than me. I'm going up to chicago next weekend to race in the new Chicago TT series. Sounds like a pretty nice 6 race series. Only 23 signed up for the first race right now, but as we get closer there may be more. I think it will be fun. This early in the season it could still be cold and windy but I'm bound and determined to do a 40K in less than one hour this year and nothing like a real race to get started. Have about 8 on my schedule right now, so by mid July or August hope to be at or around the 1 hour mark. Do I recall reading that you too bought a TT bike. I've bought about all the speed I can. Now it's up to me and my legs. Look forward to seeing you again as well.

  13. #13
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    I'm similar to others. Mid-50's, been at it 3.5 yrs, and getting stronger all the time. Last night I did a solo ride, 32 mi, 1700 ft climbing and 18.4 mph avg.

    I've got a great group of people to ride with that range in age from 30's to one guy in his 80's. One of the strongest guys in our club is 64.

    Again, as others have noted, keep it fun and your improvement will only be limited to the amount of time and energy that you want to put into the sport.

  14. #14
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    I'm 58 and did my first century of the year a couple of weeks ago in 5:31 total. Plan to be under 5 hrs at the end of the season. Started riding again at 52 after a 25 year vacation from riding. I now train harder/smarter every year and get faster. Can't wait to hit 60.

    Set some goals, write down your plan and go.

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