I used to rip rides in college, and moved to a very bike-unfriendly town and stopped riding. For years.
Now, I’m 62 and pushing a hip replacement and some surgery excursions, so ‘real life’ is what it is. I could kick myself to the moon and back because I quit riding (it was self preservation) and for stopping running (had the biggest neuroma the podiatrist had ever seen) and for marrying a woman that hated to ride bikes (she seemed like a good choice at the time).
But in the end, currently, I have a 233 FTP, and pre-pandemic, used to ride 6 to 7 days a week and ranged between 60 and 180 minute rides.
But, am I going to get faster? Not likely. My days of 300+ FTP are gone, and I’m not sure if it was even possible, my body would survive it. And I have a clean bill-of-health. All of my doctors have said I will outlive them. My resting heart rate is in the low 50’s. I still ride at least 5 days a week, still often 7.
I was in a number of the local club’s ride groups, and would struggle in the wicked winds we have in the spring/summer. I have been advised to ride with the ‘old people’ many times before but the ‘old people’ can drop me too with their dogged determination (they say we will ride x speed, and they ride that speed, for an hour. Kills me…
I have found that zone 2, 3, and 4 rides have really helped. I think the ones that have the over FTP intervals with sweet spot ‘recovery’ really help, but those are painful too. I figure I need to coax that FTP to go higher, and prove to my body that I can go hard, and go almost hard and use that as a recovery. But I know at least I can’t push that hard continuously. I have a few workouts that I do ex-TR that are slightly less punishing that the ones on TR. So I rip them when I feel I can get them. I mean, in this year’s TdZ, I have blown away most of my previous PR’s, and it’s fun, but it sure bites hard too. I once asked a cardiologist that I was consulting with, ‘when will I have to slow down’. He thought about it for a while, and said that I would know. So far, I don’t know how much my own knowledge that I’m still only human and that I’m still not dead will play out. I do LOVE riding. I DO love sweating and suffering, and it IS fun (only indoors) and I do enjoy it, but who knows what the future holds.
I guess all this comes down to what I think about my situation. I ride ‘a lot’. I often try to take the higher of the productive workouts, and then try riding them ‘lighter’ if I have issues doing the whole thing. I don’t ride outside much (the weather is horrific here) but have nearly decimated Zwift. I figure I’ve transformed into a lab rat and am trying to be the best lab rat I can be.
I rambled, and hope some of it might help.
Basically DO NOT stop riding. Do NOT stop trying to be better, but realize that ‘better’ might mean a couple of points on the FTP. My previous was 227, so I improved 6. The Tour de France is safe from me. My wife asked me why I ride and train so hard: ‘For the next Mrs’. She usually laughs…
On a related note: a friend that was older than me said that I shouldn’t be so discouraged because as I get older and if I can keep riding like I do, I will start winning races. He said that when he was in his 40’s, he would be in the top 10% of that age class and still not podium, but when he hit the early 60’s, he stared winning races. We both laughed. shrug