Aging cyclists - why do we do it?

Does anyone over 40 ever think “why do we bother”?

I’m going through that phase at the moment. I’m never going to be as good as I was when I was younger, so why am I spending so much time training to race, just to get beaten up by skinny kids? Should I just grow up and accept the dying of the light?

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Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light

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48 here. I still observe many, many older cyclists who can outride, and more importantly, outthink their younger competitors. A mind for strategy is what separates good cyclists from great ones, and experience is important in that regard.

And yes, at some point, one needs to accept they may not recover as quickly as they once did and that they have to fight a little harder to hold onto that muscle and keep that pesky spare tire at bay. We may have to adjust our goals and expectations a bit to account for life’s realities, although I think some people overestimate age’s impact in many instances. Again, it is not uncommon to see older cyclists with incredible engines who can hang with most groups short of a pro peloton.

But, in the end, when all is said and done, it’s FUN to get on a bike and just ride. I’m going to ride as long as I can, and every day I get to do that is just a bonus as far as I’m concerned.

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Maybe it’s different for you if you trained hard in younger days. But I’m 52 and just bought my first power meter and a TrainerRoad subscription, even though I’ve been road riding for 40 years.

I’m still setting Strava PRs, and that’s good enough for me - and even if I find I stop setting PRs I’ll just set new goals. To be in the top 50% or top 25% for my age group (Strava shows me that for example).

Why I bother is because I still enjoy trying to beat my times, and it helps stave off the onset of aging. If you give it all up, before you know it you’ll be a sofa blancmange and as you get older that will take its own toll.

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Because it’s fun.

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My body is 60. My minds is young. As you age you realize the saying “Use it or lose it” is all too true.

I see all my buddies that dont do anything…they seem to be aging quicker then I am. They complain about the aches and pains. They are struggling to move. There is no focus on being active and moving. It isnt about the magic numbers you can do when you realize your health is good just because you are active regularly.

I see my kids who are late 20s early 30s that cant keep up with me, energy wise? Am I special? No? Been sick most of my life but the magic of surgery and being active the last 5 years changed my life. Being able to move and just doing it constantly dramatically improves your health.

Just do it…you wont regret it.

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Because I (you) want to be the fittest that (I) you can be.

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“I don’t ride a bike to add days to my life. I ride a bike to add life to my days” – Unknown

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All good answers, thanks people. I was looking through some old photos this evening and it got me a bit emotional.

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I started cycling again about 27 and whilst I was fit I never really started interval training until I was near 40, I enjoy the buzz. Then the last thing I was expecting happened when I was 43. I was struck down with bowel/colon cancer. I used training to help me get through that and the subsequent chemotherapy. That’s why I bothered then, now thankfully at 45 it’s back to enjoying the buzz :+1:

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I’m 52, still feel like a kid who is figuring stuff out in many ways. Maybe more self-aware, but still doing stupid stuff and learning. Riding bikes is for kids, love it. I also still love riding in the rain and playing in the mud. I hope I never grow up and stop enjoying that stuff. I road a bit when I was young, but never raced. I’ve had my best race results the last couple years in my 50’s.

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I can give you a little different perspective. I started really riding at 38 and purposefully training at 41. I really get a kick out of knowing that I’m in way better cardio shape and faster than I was at 30, but I also kick myself for letting 20 years go by doing nothing when I could have been building a massive aerobic engine. C’est la vie.

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You have to enjoy it at some level or it really isn’t worth it. We have too little time to spend it torturing ourselves. I will say, you need to find some form of exercise that is less bad than the others but that doesn’t have to be bike racing.

Some enjoy racing even if they will never be in line for a win but just to see how much better than can become. If you raced because of competitiveness but can no longer hang then perhaps look to different events or age groups. You can also train to enjoy the process of being fit and to enjoy long adventures/rides. There is much more to cycling than racing.

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Because it helps keeps me sober and in recovery. Raced in my 20s, stopped riding for 20 years and got back on my bike 5 1/2 years ago. I don’t miss the addiction but do miss when I can’t ride my bike. I’m 54.

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If you must play the comparison game, at least pick the right cohort.

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Funny. While riding my tt bike yesterday I thought why do I have this thing? I don’t do tri’s. Maybe 2-3 ITT’s/year. I’m not particularly good at it. So, it’s going up for sale.

I still enjoy masters races and group rides…but, “why I do it” has been on my mind as well. Overall, cycling still brings more joy than pain and I definitely need an exercise escape in my life. For now cycling does that.

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I’m 41 and kinda just getting seriously into it. Reading this is freaking me out!

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I’m 54. Just placed 14th out of ~53 in a 60mile gravel race last weekend. I revel in dropping riders half my age

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“Shall I still sigh for what I have not got,
Or try with cheerfulness to bear my lot?
Fill up my cup! I know not if the breath
I now am drawing is my last, or not!”
Omar Khayyam

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I’m 48 & absolutely need to ride my bikes, mostly mtb, to keep my demons at bay. It’s the best tool I have to fight depression. When I race, I’m really competing against the course & really don’t care where I finish as long as I know I went as hard as I could.

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