What Did You Learn in 2023

With the end of the year quickly approaching, it is a good time to reflect on the year and apply the lessons to next year’s training. So, what did you learn in 2023?

For me, my single biggest lesson is that I need two days per week completely off of the bike. As I wrote in July (Under-Recovery Got Me), my work / life schedule limits my ability to recover, so I need to take days completely off of the bike, and I need to be ok with that. As I looked back at the first half of 2023, I rode almost six days per week. At the time it wasn’t acceptable to me to take more than one day off per week and I burned myself out … badly. Here are some of those lessons (some are repeats from the other post):

  • Most weeks I need two days per week completely off of the bike; Six days of riding per week should be the exception, not the rule
  • Stress off of the bike is real
  • Listen to your body
  • Listen to your spouse / significant other
  • Put away your ego; I don’t get paid to do this; It’s supposed to be fun and a stress reliever, not a source of burnout
  • Be flexible; Feel free to experiment with training, other platforms and programs, etc

I’m thankful for getting to bike at all and for exploring another training platform (JOIN Cycling). There is a lot of goodness to JOIN, TR, and other programs. Each brings a different approach and there are elements that work for me. Here’s a short list:

  • I need longer, more gradual warm-ups (15-30 minutes)
  • I prefer a more polarized / less pyramidal distribution of intensity
  • I can maintain / progress with as little as two days of intensity per week

Thanks for reading. I’m looking forward to learning from everyone else’s lessons!

  1. This.

Riding and training and even racing became way more fun the instant I decided I wasn’t doing Track Nationals.

  1. I need to figure out how to balance my coaching life and my riding life. Too many times this summer I didn’t want to ride because I needed a break from the bike after coaching. Not sure what the answer is - any tips from more established coaches?

I’m sure there’s more but these are the big ones that came to mind instantly.


Getting older sucks for fitness but presumably not as much as the alternative?


I learned a ton this year. Sorry for the long post.

I very much prefer long warm ups without steps. The steps are demotivating for me and I perform workouts better without them. I also like at least 15 minutes to cool down.

I did my first Kolie Moore FTP and found it to be much more accurate than a Ramp Test. I over perform on ramp tests and end up with an FTP far too high. Using the KM protocol lowered my FTP, but it gave me one that made my workouts align with the intent of the prescribed zones/workouts and kept me from always feeling gassed.

I don’t trust AI FTP any more. It overestimates and keeps pushing me up up up (I assume as a way to motivate me to continue to use the tool/plan/keep riding). The same goes for PL’s.

I need to keep my Z2 work low, and I don’t mind at all if it slips into Z1. Every time I try to focus on adding intensity to my Z2 workouts it impacts my ability to perform well in higher zone workouts. By keeping my easy rides easy, I can do more and work harder on my hard days, and I also keep some power in reserve for when I need it.

I can do lots more volume if I mentally allow myself to ride at lower intensity. When I try to add more intensity, I end up sick or injured. Doing more volume improved my fitness and overall health in many ways and I never got sick or injured. I lost 15% of my body weight in the last half of the year by going from 7-8 hours (with more intensity) to 8-12 hours (with 1-2 days of intensity), intermittent fasting, and keto. Prior to this, I was firmly in the “I need more carbs to perform” camp. That might still be true if I start to add more intensity, not sure. But…doing 2-3 hour rides on Sat and Sun, plus 1-2 harder 90 minute workouts and 1-2 60-120 min Z2 workouts during the week was all very doable with IF+Keto, plus it pushed my weekly TSS and CTL way up.

Consistency is king.

As always with all this, YMMV!


For me, the biggest gains come from volume. Adding more volume, more long rides, and just time on the bike has increased my fitness so much. It also has had benefits for my waist and my mental health. Going out for a 6 hour ride I could let my mind wander and it was like a therapy session.

I also learned that I apparently need to ride or I get antsy. My wife, on more than one occasion, has forced me to go for a ride because I was too antsy and it would give her anxiety. Which is awesome that my wife is cool with me going on long rides.

The problem now is work. Might be looking at a career change because my work right now is long and stressful and I realized I don’t need that in my life. I dread M-F and live for the weekends and vacation. And I don’t really get much out of it besides a paycheck. I know I’ll never really like or enjoy my work, but I think I can find something that doesn’t cause me so much stress. Probably benefit my training schedule as well.


Male 54
Mountain bike instructor and rider
Coach 3 or 4 days a week, typically ride 1 or 2 more.

This season I actually set some goals for myself and I found I achieved them!
Got my next level BICP certification; I got much better at jumping; and did stretching and strength training 3 or 4 days a week to prepare for hip replacement surgery.

Of the 3, being conscientious about my strength and flexibility proved to be a huge boon for my overall health, and my quality of riding! After 8 months, I have decided that I don’t need to get a new hip yet. Strength training should be a #1 priority for everyone over the age of 40.

Now, I still spend a lot of time on the bike during riding season, but I don’t worry about the intensity and challenge 7 days a week. My stretching and strength routine has had a much bigger impact on my on my physiology and riding than extra hours or days on the bike. This cross-training is way more important than extra riding. I’d say it’s probably a much faster way to improve your mountain biking than riding more. (Especially if you tend to ride the same trails all the time)

I would also add that I decided to remove ‘go faster’ from my list of defining riding skills and focus on movement, pressure control and jumping everywhere on the trail. I adjusted my definition of self-image, primarily to change the way I have fun on the bike. This is also generally tied to “risk” in that I knew I could not get hurt pre-surgery so I consciously thought about managing risky behaviour and scenarios and how to mitigate that risk. Did I slow down this season? No. Did I stop riding the hardest trials? No.

What happened was I reframed how I approach difficult riding situations and I added for myself and option “don’t do it today”. I’ve become more considered about what, when and how I’m going to ride something, and I end up riding 99% of the trail, and occasionally skip a feature. I think this is helping me build self-awareness and forcing me to think about what skills I need to use out on difficult trails.



Random list:

  • my body can’t tolerate modest volumes (7-10 hours/week) without strength training
  • at my age I can’t stop strength training, and kettlebells rock my world :metal:
  • my half life of strength training is around 3-4 weeks
  • after 3 years of coaching I’m pretty good at programming workouts, and look forward to bringing my coach back in 2024
  • if you want to better understand training, adaptation, etc, skip the vast majority of podcasts and sign up for a future (group coaching model) JoinBaseCamp.com session

You can still set PRs at 50


50 is not too old to start lifting.


I recently made a note about what I’ve achieved in 2023… Here are the relevant ones (the others are professional and personal based)

  • 4w/kg is my “off the couch” power to weight ratio - but, I’m underweight and that’s caused health issues.

  • I don’t need to religiously track calories or macros - years of doing so has put me in a position where I can make good guesses when required.

  • I don’t need to have a race or goal as motivation - ultimately, I enjoy the process. This has been reflected in my move away from Triathlon races.

  • I value riding outdoors more than I thought, but this has a time and place, when I want to follow a strictly structured workout, my preference is the turbo.

  • I enjoy the TR forum more than other TR products (I don’t use the training platform)

Here’s to 2024 - It’s going to be a run-focused start to the year for me as my bikes are in storage whilst I relocate!


Oh if only.


Right?! :flushed:

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This was one long year for me.

Injured in May. Saratorius muscle. Only took 8 months to fix my problem. Physio, xrays, ultrasounds and Sports med doctor who took 10 minutes and said…do this and you will be better in 3-4 months. So it took just under 3 months after seeing her.

Riding zone 2 still maintains my fitness somewhat but the lack of harder rides definitely resulted in a downward trajectory for power.

I do better when I get some VO2 workouts in during the summer to maintain my power.

Yes I can ride 5 days in a row with lots of climbing. Thanks to my trip to Spain to show me what I can do.

My bike trip to Spain with Trek Travel was unbelievable. Best trip I have ever had. Likes it so much doing another trip this year…but to Portugal. Not yet retired but getting there.

Work stress. It is amazing how much more I can ride and how easier it is when I dont deal with the office. Work stress definitely plays a toll on me. Learning to dump work that causes me more stress as I transition into my plan to be retired in a few years.

Flexibility and strength are crucial to me retaining mobility.

It sucks getting old. My brain still thinks I am young but the body sure knows I am not.


Cool topic, here are my top 3:

  1. Getting good sleep seems to be the most important thing for me to function well overall, have patience and the clarity to think at work, stay consistent on the bike, and not get sick. My wife and I started sleeping in separate beds, and that helped a lot, over the summer I slept in the basement where it was cool, dark, and quieter.
  2. Strength and flexibility need to be prioritized, and consistent year round. Too many nagging injures last year caused time off the bike and compromised sleep. I just finished the Dialed Health Total Body Conditioning program, will be starting the XC Strength program, then will do the summer maintenance program. I have never liked doing strength in the summer when its nice out and I could ride, so this summer my plan is to set up to workout on my patio or in the garage so I am outside.
  3. Shorter events (marathon distance MTB) are better for me at this point in life. I feel like the long ultra distance events get more recognition, and I have gone down that rabbit hole in the past, in 2024 I’m doing more, but shorter events.
  1. Shorter events (marathon distance MTB) are better for me at this point in life. I feel like the long ultra distance events get more recognition, and I have gone down that rabbit hole in the past, in 2024 I’m doing more, but shorter events.

Same. While I usually find myself wanting to do whatever distance of an event is the most populated, sometimes it is just more fun to do the 100k vs the 100 mile or the 100 mile vs the 200 mile. I’m more able to race those versus just riding or surviving and the recovery is much easier to do it again the next weekend.

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2023 was the year of SALT:

  1. If you have upper body muscles of any sort as a cyclist, you must be on gear.
  2. The most common denominator with all the fast guys and gals is: They have no kids.
  3. Pink is so last year.
  4. Dropped from the A group? No problem, just flex on the B group and shatter them.
  5. Indoor cycling doesn’t count.
  6. First in the sprint? Post up. Get dropped?..it’s a workout not a race, brah.
  7. Aerobars and group rides don’t mix.
  8. Never volunteer but always complain when races are cancelled.
  9. 15% bodyfat? Might as well call yourself Shamu.
  10. Always attack the paceline, all the cool kids are doing it.
  11. “Hold the wheel!” is code for “I don’t want to get dropped but I don’t want to work either!”.
  12. Tubeless is cool until you spray the guys and gals behind you.
  13. Helmets save lives…but miss me with that imma ride dirty in the group and scream at you that I don’t have a helmet on so be careful.
  14. Descents are neutralized…except when the fast guys are getting dropped.

Do. Strength. Training.


#1 lesson learned… if you go out for a ride, don’t come home to get more water and snacks and then go back out again. The wife doesn’t like that. :rofl:


I can handle way more volume than previously thought. I just need way more recovery than previously thought.

Volume is king.


Definitely think about how to change that. Work is the #1 place where you spend the most time, and you can certainly find something to do that you are GOOD AT, that you ENJOY, and that PAYS well enough. Ask those questions in that specific order.

I haven’t had a bad day at the office since 2005, and the thought of going to work brings a huge smile to my face. There is no reason why you should live miserably in a career/job you hate. You’ve gotta do the work to make the right change, and do it smoothly, but it absolutely can (and should!) be done.