What sort of cyclist am I?

I’m beginning to ask myself the question of what sort of cyclist I am. It’s not a full blown existential crisis, but I’m curious to see if others have had similar phases that they’ve gone through. To put it another way - my best bike is about 7 years old and I’m struggling to justify replacing it with something shiny and new as I’m doubting that I’ll get enough use out of it.

Bit of background: I’m in my mid 40’s and returned to cycling about 15 years ago after recovering from major surgery (for underlying medical condition which I’m stuck with). I’ve been following MV volume TR plans for the last 5 winters, and can still handle the intensity and volume (although I’ve gone back to the original, and now optional, endurance weekend session rather than sweet spot). Looking back, my motivation for cycling up to this point was initially improvements in health, and then moving onto increases in fitness. I’ve ridden a couple of TT’s, and Fondo type events, but I’m not a racer. I live in an area where the standard of cycling is very high, and I’m still managing to sneak into the upper levels of Strava leaderboards. As age begins to creep up on me, I’m having to work/recover harder simply to maintain fitness. I’m still at a fitness level that I’m happy with, but I’m definitely not seeing year on year gains. No doubt the next stage will see me working hard simply to limit losses, and that’s got me wondering if I’ll lose motivation to continue at some point in time.

All of that has got me thinking about what will come next, and will I find a reason to keep on cycling. I have other hobbies that get me closer to nature and the great outdoors than cycling ever will, so getting on the bike just to enjoy the scenery probably isn’t going to be enough motivation. Added to that, the roads are getting ever more dangerous, and I’m already choosing to only head outdoors when the weather is nice.

Part of me wonders if this is the beginning of the end of calling myself a cyclist, or maybe I’ll find a new goal/purpose/reason for getting on the bike regularly.

I’d be very interested to hear from others who have been through this transition already.

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Go off-road and join a club?

No cars and a good laugh with your club mates makes for a fun hobby.

I ride because I enjoy it, the fitness gains and Strava battles are just a side hobby within. Sounds like you’re bored with cycling, I still enjoy just going out for a ride so I keep riding and training, but you don’t have to be fast to have fun either.

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If you’re riding bike to win you’re doing it for the wrong reasons. There’s about 3 guys that have a 50/50 shot of winning wherever they go. If you ride because you enjoy the experience of training and riding… then keep riding your bike until you can’t. And if you’re going to keep riding until you can’t and you have the means to buy a sweet bike… buy a sweet bike. You only live once, may as well enjoy it.

What sort of cyclist? A pretty fast one by the sounds of it.

If you are in your mid 40s and your best bike is 7 years old it would seem like a great time to treat yourself to something shiny & new if you fancy it and can afford it. You certainly have plenty of time for many more years of cycling if you want to carry on enjoying the sport and lifestyle.

Just do you.

Whatever you want to do. There doesn’t need to be a reason to do anything.

Don’t over think it. Motivation comes and goes, and changes shape and other interests develop. That’s all there is to it.

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I’m kind of in the same boat, tried racing a bit, didn’t do much for me. I’m perfectly happy to smash it in my training and shoot for FTP gains or KOMs (on flat ground, lol). Do whatever feels good and makes you happy. We’re probably solidly in the ‘aggressively recreational’ category :sunglasses:

Unfortunately for me (32), some of the fastest guys I know are pushing 50! So I’d say you still have time left.

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Just as an interesting note, here’s the ages of everyone signed up for my 6hr race in April. I’m the one guy in the late 20s age group (And I’ll probably be in the back of the pack!). As you go up to the 12 and 24hr categories, the age ranges actually go up even more.
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You don’t necessarily have to be crazy fast or have a high FTP to go out and have fun at events like these. Heck, I’m slow as dirt and only train a few hours a week and I’m out there. It’s usually a bunch of laid back folks just competing against themselves (probably the key part) and having a good time on the bike, although the top guys are indeed fast. And age/experience is usually a bonus; you need to have the patience and discipline to ride within yourself all day and not burn it all up in the first couple of hours. Additionally, while your top end tails off with age, endurance usually doesn’t fade quite as drastically, which is presumably why the fields at these races are much older than RRs or crits.

I realize these types of events are not every one’s cup of tea (and these types of events may not be super common in your area), but it’s just another thought.

Fitness does decay over time but the potential is still quite high. We have a local legend in his 60s that could mix it up in any field.

The reinforcement of winning went away when I reached cat2 on road and track. It’s the same experience, huge dedication required just to be pack fodder in the p12 at this point. Now, I get less fun out of racing but I do really like feeling fit. When I can do my favorite rides at tempo and feel like a machine, it makes my day. Contrast that to getting out of shape, feeling a little winded going up stairs or coming back to the bike and feeling slow.

Maybe you should take your head unit off the bike or leave it in your pocket and just ride. I don’t enjoy indoor TR workouts, I see them as a means to an end which is fitness. I would never run for fun. I’m over going to the gym. I love to eat so I have to do something active. I’ve been fortunate to live in great places to ride, so riding outside also brings joy and stress relief.

I’d recommend group rides as it’s fun to socialize or thrown down in a hammer fest but social distancing is still a priority at this point.

Another option is to go zag when most people zig. Get a mountain bike or a gravel bike if you have been road riding up until now. I think if speed weren’t my main concern, I’d get either one of them, depending on the terrain nearby. Once you get offroad, there are less or no cars to worry about and riding tends to be more relaxed.

Some great ideas for mixing it up here.

I’m more than 30 years older than you, @tag, and still riding. I still like the outdoors and cycling is the preferred means o being there [two knee replacements make walking contra-indicated]. But that’s not why I keep training and pushing to keep up.

I try to limit my losses and perhaps even improve sometimes. I remember a great line: potential performance declines inexorably over time {though training will slow down that rate of decline], but we amateurs / weekend warriors are so far below our potential that this decline is largely irrelevant. You can raise your performance in relation to your potential – and for a long time to come, that proportional improvement can be an actual improvement.

So why train and push? Well, it turns out that numbers of my friends ride bikes and a couple of my sons are good riders. If I can keep up, then I can spend quality time with my friends and sons – time that I’m unlikely to have otherwise. But to keep up, I have to train harder than them. So, in order to “just ride around and enjoy it on tours or long days with my friends and sons” I have to put in a lot of extra effort.

The current world hour record for a 100 year old cyclist is nearly 27 km. By the time that I get there, it will be ~29 km; by the time you get there it might be 32-35 km. That’s a good target to aim at!

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