Getting back into cycling after long layoff, and am unsure how to start

First off, I love everything you all do for the sport and for us riders. I am a 57 yr old, long-time cyclist that has been sedentary for several years. I used to ride 2 or 3 century rides a year, raced Crits as a Cat 5 decades ago. Long story short, I’m 5’ 8" and 205 pounds, down from a high of 250 a few years ago. Haven’t ridden but a few, short times in the past 5 years. I’m ready to get back into better shape and do a Century in 2022. I have an old, 9sp road bike and a Fluid 2 trainer with HR, Speed & Cadence sensors that I’ll be using with TR software. I’m going to be getting the ratcheting tension knob to improve the tension consistency of my Fluid 2 trainer, and will check my tire pressure each session.

I’ve been checked out and have gotten the okay from my doc. There are no health-related reasons to not train again.

My first question is, can I even get far enough into the Ramp Test to get an accurate FTP? I’m honestly scared of the Ramp Test. ( yes, I admitted it ) Should I retest often as I hope to regain some power fairly quickly?

Secondly ,I work a very challenging shift that consists of 4 days a week. 2 of them are 6 pm to midnight and 2 are 6 pm until 8 am, overnight. All I do is sleep on the days after a 14 hour shift if I have to go back the same day at 6pm. I try to stay up very late when off in order to be able to stay on my work schedule.

I’m really struggling with how to come up with a feasible training schedule that will fit into my work/sleep schedule.

Any advice you can give will be most appreciated as I am now ready to invest in myself and make this work. It’s been far too long, and I deserve this.

Thanks in advance,

Michael Vere
Coastal North Carolina

For what it’s worth, I do 2-3 weeks of easy riding when getting back on the bike after a month or more. Just to get my basic cardio back to the point where it makes sense to start doing intervals.


I would suggest that you utilise the TrainerRoad Plan Builder. You can input a lot of the information you’ve given in your post into Plan Builder. This feature will help build a plan based on where you currently are, your available training time and your cycling goals.

With regards to the Ramp Test. You don’t have to get a certain distance into the test to get a result. Where you get to is where you currently are. TR will then calculate your current FTP from that test.

Do keep in mind that the Ramp Test isn’t your only option. You can still opt for a 20 minute test or the 8 minute version. I do believe that the current advice is to select a testing method and stick with that method. It’s also worth noting that quite a few TR users either under or over test via the Ramp Test.

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That’s kind of what I’ve been thinking, Bbarrara. Maybe try and get outside a few times a week to help condition my " touch spots" as well as get comfortable on the bike again. I’m eager to get back riding , but want to be smart.

Thanks for the quick response


PusherMan, Thanks for getting back to me so fast. I knew I picked the right community to join on this exciting cycling “rebirth”, so to speak.

My new schedule just came out for the next 6 weeks, so I’ll start getting familiar with Plan Builder and see what I can come up with.

I’ll give all the test options a lot of thought as I get in a little saddle time and decide on one and stick with that one.

Guess it’s time to start remembering my favorite movies and songs and start building my play/watch list too. Going to have to start with American Flyers and Breaking Away, of course. LOL

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IRO the ramp test you can set your FTP to start with yourself. I think it defaults to 200 but sure someone will correct if I’m wrong. You could nudge that down to whatever guesstimate you fancy which will make it theoretically a longer test as it will have smaller steps. Bear in mind it’s just to assess your fitness at that time and to anchor your training to.
It’s not a measure of you as a person or a comment on your self worth.
FTP s for many fluctuate over time and you can either do that or try the 8 or 20 minute tests but for those you need a pretty good idea of what your FTP is beforehand to pace.

Like @bbarrera suggests and you seem to accept I’d spend a couple of weeks just reacquainting yourself with some rides and see how they fit in your work/life schedule.

Remember too that low volume plans do not mean low intensity. They will take a bit out of you - but fuel well and you should be OK.

Bon courage! Best of luck and hope it all goes really well.

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First of all congratulations on dropping that initial chunk of body weight. That’s a huge achievement and will have made a massive positive difference to your health, longevity and also ability to now move back into cycling.

I’d recommend the following approach, (which I employed after a 4 month break and also broadly followed when I first started indoor training for the first time having only ridden a bike on and off for about 1 year). Also added in some tips I’ve picked up over time that have proved helpful.

This was based on searching this forum and collating / combining advice from multiple threads.

  1. Forget about FTP to start with - just ride your bike (indoors or outdoors) for a few weeks to get used to the sensations

  2. Start slowly and easy, building up time in the saddle at a gentle and achievable rate, keep it easy and let you body have time to make the initial adaptations - focus on fun and enjoyment for the most part

  3. When you do your first ramp test / other type of FTP test, don’t go crazy - bail out once you get to that really hard to define point at which to carry on would require an all out effort - this means your initial target power levels will be slightly lower than perhaps you could achieve in the moment, but ultimately will mean you leave some cushion and room to improve - the adaptive training on TR will do its thing over time for you anyway

  4. Use plan builder and make the most of the system to set a good plan that is the easier side of achievable in terms of intensity and volume (I almost certainly suggest going low volume) - **NB see note below

  5. If you are tempted to add any extra workouts or time in the saddle do this sensibly and keep the extra work as low intensity Z2/Z1 work

** note - as an older cyclist I’ve found huge benefits from changing out (elongating) the work weeks on the plans, adding in extra rest weeks during longer blocks and also effectively working to a 9-day cycle rather than a ‘normal’ 7-day cycle. This is perhaps the single biggest epiphany I’ve had in my indoor training that has allowed steady uninterrupted progress to continue - I also work long hours / struggle with quality sleep and am no longer a youngster and have found this approach really works. It’s not my idea, but one that was suggested on this forum so I have it a go and it worked! :grinning: I guess it’s just a manually adjusted ‘Masters’ plan approach that builds in more recovery time. I do this ‘on the fly’ sometimes, if I’m feeling I need more rest I’ll just push my intensity workout to the next day and instead do an easier one like Dans or Lazy Mountain.

All this will mean a gentle but sustainable level of reintroduction to cycling that will hopefully keep you interested, motivated, injury free and capable of making some steady initial improvements.

Don’t neglect the off the bike work (stretching / yoga etc) as I found this helped immensely to keep injuries at bay, so see if you can build this into your regime.

Also stick to an eating plan you can sustain in the long term, rather than any super strict ‘diet’ that may mean you fall off the wagon at some point. I’ve also upped my protein intake a fair bit, following reading some on line research pointed to on this forum suggesting this as being beneficial for older male athletes - search this forum for links.

Make sure your training rides are properly fuelled (the well used phrase don’t diet on the bike springs to mind).

Best of luck! :+1:t2::+1:t2:

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Johnnyvee, Great info, thanks. I’ll look and see what the TR Software set my FTP at based on the original info I entered. Hopefully, I’ll find the perfect balance between when my legs/lungs give out and my back-side surrenders. Starting back is always such a pain. Now, If I could just find my massage stick and rollers… BEFORE I need them.

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My only advice is to take a long term perspective and start slow and easy. Focus on finding a schedule of simple, short workouts that you can consistently hit. Then build from there once you’ve got a few months of consistent success. You’ll feel great and have much to be proud of and see some great gains if you get a few months of consistent training in, even if it is all pretty easy and short.

Also think about what motivates you and incorporate that - could be tons of data capture and analysis, Zwift, YouTube videos of cycle races or climbing passes in the Alps, outside riding, strength training, etc…

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Thanks for the kind words. That weight loss was very empowering. Your words/advice are helping to keep that fire stoked.

Your advice sounds motivating, honest, and very sound. All good things. I will definitely look into rest days and a longer cycle rather than the 7-day “norm”.

I’ve started back into some very easy yoga and stretching. I learned a long time ago the importance of that.

I’ll be sure to look for Dans and/or Lazy Mountain when I get into using TR on the trainer.

As for diet, I’ll be going through some old logbooks and re-try what worked in the past as a starting point.

Thanks again.


Thank you. I am thinking “long term” for sure. I did not get this out of shape overnight, and I know that it will even longer to get back to where I’d like to be again. I’m thinking Tortoise, rather than Hare. I’m sure it will feel that slow in the beginning, but, I’m okay with that. I’m looking forward to just feeling the wind in my hair again. ( what little I have left, and under my helmet, of course )

I have had a series of health problems which has blocked my ability to follow a TR programme for 2-3 years now. I tried SS earlier this year and I literally couldn’t do it. Then I thought about Keegan S. doing lots of Tempo. I’ve built myself up to 4x 10 minute tempo over the past 7 weeks ( plus rest weeks every 3rd week as I’m 55).
I have recently added a session of 3x10 30 sec V02 max intervals to raise the ceiling
My next step is to add in some SS within those tempo blocks (very short at first)

Alongside this, I’m using a strength programme from Dynamic Cyclist.

I don’t doubt that the TR plans are more effective than what I’m doing for most people, but for the first time in years I am actually making progress. Chad says you don’t need to train pre TR training, but for me this seems to be working.
Good luck :slight_smile:

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Sounds like this is the first challenge to address. Before picking a TR training plan, just start riding your bike for 60 mins at a time (60 mins is a very standard duration for a TR workout) to figure out what schedule works best.

This will require some deliberate experimentation on picking days/times for your rides, and seeing what works. I’d recommend scheduling your rides for the week ahead on a calendar (the TR calendar is a good choice) and then hold yourself accountable to doing those rides. After a few weeks, you’ll know what days/times work, vs what don’t, and how many realistic training windows you have in a week.

Once you know your training windows, you can pick a TR plan and drop the workouts into those windows (again, the TR calendar is great for this). Choose a Low Volume plan to start with (usually 3 workouts per week). If you want to add workouts to the TR plan, start by adding easy rides (eg at endurance pace).

Getting into a new routine will be the hardest part. Once you have your routine established, you’ll start to view the ramp test and workouts as welcome challenges - that is until you start hitting those 3 min VO2max intervals :grin:

Best of luck with your journey!


Bullseye, Congrats on finding what works for you. I’m finally getting things in order and a looking forward to seeing just how badly out of shape I’ve gotten. Time for a long, hard look in the mirror so to speak.
I’ll look into Dynamic Cyclist too.
Please, feel free to message me with how you’re doing and what’s working.

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Your advice seems right in line with where I am headed. I just gotta get on the bike and get riding and get over the " analysis paralysis " In other words, stop the stinking thinking and just ride the darn bike for a while again. Do you recall seeing any posts on riding at odd, 2 am or so, hours? I might shoot Chad a message and see what thoughts he has on that topic.

I’ve been digging in the TR Calendar. I think it’ll work just fine once I know what my schedule will be. Trying to get the boss to make my days off a bit more regular.

Looking forward to those VO2max intervals about as much as a root canal… LOL

Thanks for taking the time to give me input. Always appreciated