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Born-Again-Biker
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I’ve been Mtn biking steady for 3 solid years, off and on before that. I ride 2 to 3 times a week (12 to 18 miles), and I'm the old man in the group (50). All my riding gang is in their 30's or early 40's. We ride year round; our style would be considered XC/trail with 1000+ vertical per ride.

My quandary is this:
My best shape seems to be equal to their worst shape. We ride most trails in segments and I keep up overall and have good endurance. But the only time I seem to be able to "keep in the mix" without getting dropped during at least one segment of the ride is if they have not ridden for awhile and I've kept my shape by ridding. I consider myself an athlete, but age is getting the better of me.

Is there some training and\or diet that could help me increase my performance and keep up a little better? I’m 6’ and my weight fluctuates between 180 and 188 depending on how tight I watch it. I usually take a goo shot mid ride.

I'm fully aware that my age is the biggest problem; however I don't really train or eat to ride better. Some days I can just climb like there's no hill there, other days I bonk big. I've never been able to make any sense of it.

My normal schedule is Tue, Thursday ride either on the trail or a road ride, then Saturday with the gang on the trail.
I'm willing to listen to any ideas.

Thanks
 

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Thanks for the share.Its always good to hear from fellow ole timers (me being 43).
You mentioned you ride 2-3 days per week with a grand worth of elevation to gain each time out.
Word my friend! Thats a heck of a lot of riding!
Could it be you're going too hard too often? The body takes time to rebuild.
How about other sports? Cross training like swimming could help big time.There too is such a thing a ones passion dying for their sport if done too often.
As far as nutrition goes,I find it plays a huge part in my energy.I go heavy on the carbs the day before my ride.As in a plate of whole wheat pasta.On ride day its more carbs for breakfast,like bananas.
Gotta eat healthy and increase the fibre intake as one ages.That means no white flour,not even in pizza crusts.Brown rice only.You know the big bellies men take on as they age? Its fat AND a clogged/sluggish colon.Some of those belly boys may dump twice a week! I too am 6' but weigh 155lbs.My plumbing is working juuuust fine.
Well,enough about waste,lol. Guess Im just trying to say,diet plays a huge part in any athletes life.
Good luck and have fun!
 

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A better explanation on carbs.

T
This is an excerpt from the Cactus to Clouds Hiking Guide, but it's relevant to all mountain climbing. The Skyline trail is an 8,000-foot climb. C2C is a 10,300-foot climb. I'm not criticizing diets that have a moderate amount of carbs with a healthy balance of fats, proteins, veggies, etc. I'm only bashing the extreme low-carb diets and clarifying the simple-sugar confusion.

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Hypoglycemia (Low Blood Sugar): Many runners and cyclists are familiar with "bonking." That's what happens when you run out of carbohydrates in your body, and it pretty much kills the fun-factor of the workout. You may feel like curling up and falling asleep, but you still have to get home first. Hikers can experience the same thing, especially on very long extended climbs such as Skyline. When blood sugar gets low the body goes into survival mode and relies on protein as a fuel source. While this is enough to survive and crawl up a hill, it's not enough to climb a steep hill at a reasonable pace. So despite what the latest diet programs will say, carbohydrates are essential for hikers, climbers, and runners (weight loss is a more complicated subject, and any effective long-term diet can be explained scientifically by the Satiety Index). Anyone on a low-carb diet will reach a dangerous level of hypoglycemia if they attempt Skyline, and the ranger station staff may have to rescue them, which can be a little embarrassing for somebody in really good shape. [edit: for aerobic exercise purposes] The body cannot burn fat without burning sugar at the same time. The reason is because the Krebs Cycle (chemical process used to metabolize fat) requires intermediary compounds that are only available through metabolizing glucose (blood sugar). When glucose gets low, the liver converts protein into glucose through a process known as gluconeogenesis. This allows people on low-carb diets to do a small amount of exercise, but the process is too slow to keep up with a mountain climber's metabolism.

[edit: yes, that's a major oversimplification of the physiology, but it's well-proven that people can no longer maintain the same pace after "bonking" hard, and it's dangerous for the brain to operate on ketones while exercising.]

The type of carbohydrate is not that critical but can make a small difference. Some sports supplement companies will scare people about simple sugars and how they crash blood sugar and destroy performance. This is a marketing tactic that plays on people's fears to get them to buy their products so they can make lots of money. There are three logical flaws with this claim:

1. During extended aerobic exercise and for about two hours afterwards, the muscles absorb glucose rapidly from the bloodstream. This is either metabolized immediately or stored as glycogen for future use.

2. Glucose can usually be metabolized at a faster rate than it can be replaced, especially if you are drinking water simultaneously to replace what is lost through sweat and breathing. This explains why some people "bonk" near the end of a marathon, even if they have been drinking sports drink at every aid station along the way.

Both of these points can be verified by exercise physiology textbooks. What this all means is that it's very difficult to spike blood sugar during extended aerobic exercise.

3. Whether carbos are simple or complex does not necessarily correlate with spikes in blood sugar. This belief was more common before the development of the glycemic index, but it's still a myth that does not seem to die. Studies show that maltodextrin (an artificial complex carbohydrate) is the fastest absorbing carbohydrate and can significantly raise blood sugar while at rest. Fructose (a natural simple sugar) will not raise blood sugar as much, given the same quantity of consumption, because it has a slower absorption rate and has to be converted into glucose by the liver.

The irony is that these drinks, gels, and powders contain maltodextrin, but the products are effective for the opposite reason of what their web sites and advertisements claim. Adding a little fructose to the mix may actually be a little better because the fructose contributes to blood glucose at a later time in the workout. Some studies support this theory. Again, there is irony here because fructose is a simple sugar.

For most outdoor recreation purposes, any type of carbohydrate source will work, as long as it is consumed with adequate water and salt.
 

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Three days a week isnt enough

In my opinion three days a week isnt going to cut it for someone over 50. I know if you look at some training schedules you will see some that have a real hard ride on Saturday, a short ride on Sunday and a medium ride on Wednsday but I think its tough to get in really decent shaped. I think you should be out riding 5-6 days a week about 90 minutes each ride or maybe more. you would see a noticeable improvement with 10 hours of riding a week. Do most of your training on the road.:)
 

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degrawmd said:
Is there some training and\or diet that could help me increase my performance and keep up a little better? I'm 6' and my weight fluctuates between 180 and 188 depending on how tight I watch it. I usually take a goo shot mid ride.

I'm fully aware that my age is the biggest problem; however I don't really train or eat to ride better. Some days I can just climb like there's no hill there, other days I bonk big. I've never been able to make any sense of it.

My normal schedule is Tue, Thursday ride either on the trail or a road ride, then Saturday with the gang on the trail.
I'm willing to listen to any ideas.

Thanks
My piece of advice is to read a few cycling training books. Go to Barnes and Noble and they should have Friels', Ed Burke's, Ned Overend's, and Chris Carmichael cycling books. Read through them; you'll learn something. I agree with the other poster than your probably not riding enough. Shoot for 4-5 days a week and always in two or three day blocks: {Sat, Sun} and {Tues, Wed, Thur}, for example. The books explain how to vary the intensity for maximum benefit, i.e., training smart.

As far as age, I think you're as fast as you dedicate yourself to be. I ride occasionally with a guy who is 60 and is currently faster than when he was 50. He is also the current Norba points leader in the 60+ category. I'm a top five sport class racer, 30-39, and this guy is as fast as I am; it's incredible!!

With age you'll lose some of your sprint and quick reactions, but can still build a big engine typically throughout your forties. I'm 39 right now and am still beating the aging curve, another words, my training is giving me more power than my aging is losing.

This probably has a lot to do with when you start training. I started 4 years ago so improvements will still be made; takes several years to platueu. Since you haven't started really training then you will probably be faster at 53 than you are now, once your implement the right type of plan.

Ponch
 

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ravingbikefiend
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I am screaming toward 41 but figure I can hold my own with guys who are a fraction of my age since I simply ride more then they do and take my training very seriously.

I try to put in at least 24 hard miles a day when I ride (I logged 240 miles last week) and will try to take a few days off / week to rest the body, especially before I go on epic rides or know we'll be hitting the singletrack with wanton abandon (and also logging some serious mileage).

I'll commute to work on my off days (it's only 3 miles one way) or take similar short rides but I wouldn't consider these anything more than a warm up.

I am presently riding more road than trail which really boosts one's aerobic capacity... my road trips are generally 30 miles and can be as much as 50.

Diet is really important and if you are training hard then you need to provide a sufficient quantity of quality fuel... I just upped my daily intake from 4000 to 4500 calories a day since I found that despite not feeling any undue fatigue or performance loss my body fat % was getting extremely low.

I have never eaten much in the way of red meat (although tonight's steak was delicious), I avoid processed and fatty foods, and consume a good deal of whole wheat pasta, brown rice, beans, fish, and chicken as well as some healthy quantities of fruits and veggies.

Since my cholesterol levels are really low (this is due to good genes, diet, and exercise) I can afford to have a few poached eggs with my breakfast of oatmeal, brown toast, and fruit which is usually bananas although with summer here I now have fresh raspberries and strawberries from the garden. Breakfast really is the most important meal of my day and tends to be my largest meal as well.

Improper hydration will cause problems on many levels and the best way to alleviate / prevent this is to simply drink lots of water. You can easily check this when you use the bathroom as if your urine is almost clear then you are most likely well hydrated. I drink a minimum of 3 litres a day and this also helps with maintaining regularity.

A healthy digestive system will do a better job of absorbing nutrients and fluids... I know where I usually am at 11 am and any devieance from this routine stop is an indication that something isn't right.

I haven't stopped riding since I took the training wheels off in 1970 but have only gotten back into serious riding / training over the past few seasons.

The outcome of all of this is that I feel like I am in the best physical shape I have been in since I was in my mid twenties (and there's still room for improvement) and many folks often mistake me for being much younger than I am.
 

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some ideas

I turned 40 this year and, due to a few things that I've done, my riding has NEVER BEEN BETTER and I began more than 10 yrs ago. I'm not superconscious of what I eat so I could really get some additional umph into my conditioning if I paid attention to this. What I have done is this:
1. I cont to ride 2-3 times/week with an emphasis on speed. I'm trying to ride more in the big ring and this has really helped. I'm keeping up momentum, going much faster, and having a lot more fun.
2. I have returned to weight training which has been a big plus. I've committed myself to doing some serious leg work with the idea that it takes some strength to turn the big ring mile after mile.
3. I'm doing SOMETHING physical every day. Using some cardio equipment like an arc trainer has helped me be able to stay out of the saddle(and keep it in the big ring)for longer periods of time.

I used to have trouble hanging with my riding buddies but not any longer.

Oh, and another thing: I'm not 50 yet(I just turned 40) but I have to wonder about a little psychology here. If you are getting dropped, it might be that you are attributing some physical deficiencies(in comparison to your riding partners) to your age that might not really be accurate. You can't change your age but, let me tell you, the attitude you take to the trail has a huge part in determining your riding performance. When I employed the above changes, I saw performance improvements that really boosted my confidence....and for a while I thought I was lagging because of my age!!!

Good luck...and have fun with your training and riding!
 

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i am only 25 so i cant really relate myself but i ride with many people in their mid 40's to 56 years old. I see when they slow down and when they get strong and 90% of the time its because they simply arent riding enough or hard enough. The 56 year old i ride with used to be one of the fastest guys in the bunch until be baught a house. Then he only had time for 1-2 rides a week @ 17-25 miles and 1500-3000 feet of climbing each and it shows. This has gone on since the beginning of the year and he still cant get back to where he was. Now i see him attending more rides and he has been getting a bit faster lately but still has a ways to go. Much of it was that when he was the fastest guy, he worked hard to maintain it. Now he knows he wont be ahead so i think he just doesnt push it as hard as he used to.
 

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Here's some more tips from the Friel Book for Master's Riders (no, I don't own stock in this book):

1. Strength train year round. Greater strength means lower perceived exertion at all power levels.
2. Train a minimum 7 to 10 hours a week during the year. 350-500 hours a year.
3. Take a full 12 weeks of base training, don't cut it short. This will maximize endurance, strength (via weights and hills), and speed (via fast pedals, isolated legs, form sprints) prior to upping the intensity.
4. Once the base is established, put greater emphasis on intensity and less on endurance (than a younger rider would). Great attention to jumps, sprints, intervals, and time trailing during build phases.
5. During intense training, allow for more recovery time. Few Master's riders can handle more than two or three high-quality workouts a week and get away with it for very long. For example, in the build period: at mid-week perform a speed endurance or sprint workout combined with a muscular endurance workout, then race or do a hard group ride on Saturday. Every other day should be active or inactive recovery. Weight training should be low load with high repetition and just once a week.
6. If needed during the build period, workout for two weeks between the recovery week rather than three.
7. Train in the heat once or twice a week. (older people have trouble with heat??). Be very cautious of hydration. Use sport drinks during your rides. Sip water throughout the day.
8. Stretch after every workout then again later in the day. Try to be more flexible then you've been in years.
 

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ride more frequently

At age 55 I find riding a couple of hours a day for 3 days and then resting a day or two brings my fittness level up fairly quickly. At least two of the three rides will be high intensity. After a couple of weeks of that routine I need three days rest to feel refreshed again. Two key things as you age.........ride with intensity and don't forget to rest.

Now if you want to start training for racing the routine becomes more specific but if it's a matter of hanging with the young guys on the recreational rides the routine I outlined works for me. (Of course I have some considerate riding friends that will pause when I'm dying...........*G*)

Andrew
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
AndrewMcD said:
At age 55 I find riding a couple of hours a day for 3 days and then resting a day or two brings my fittness level up fairly quickly. At least two of the three rides will be high intensity. After a couple of weeks of that routine I need three days rest to feel refreshed again. Two key things as you age.........ride with intensity and don't forget to rest.

Now if you want to start training for racing the routine becomes more specific but if it's a matter of hanging with the young guys on the recreational rides the routine I outlined works for me. (Of course I have some considerate riding friends that will pause when I'm dying...........*G*)

Andrew
This makes sense to me, thanks for the tip. Are all your rides during the week Mtn rides, or do you road ride also?
 
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