Competition at 50 and Beyond
If you are healthy and your medical exams check out, then do not hesitate to get out there and race. Certainly, with age we are not as brave as we once were. Cycling gives you a chance to be competitive, which is healthy. Aspire to compete in a national or world’s master championship. In fact, competition better maintains your muscles and hormones than just riding around. But with competition comes intensity and risk. Veterans must be careful with intensity, especially if you have difficulties recuperating after an effort. If you go too long, recovery becomes more difficult. One of the reasons is that VO2 max and muscle mass decreases with age. Perform some type of stress test to be sure your body can handle the efforts, especially if you are just returning after a period off the bike. As always, listen to your body.
If you are 50 and competitive, invest in good help, either from a friend or coach who knows how to train older athletes. As you train, you will discover your strengths and weaknesses. If you are a good climber, you may want to focus on mountain races and hill climb time trials. If you find that you are not a good bike handler or fear riding in a group, keep it real and avoid criterium races.
Invest in a good indoor trainer. Perhaps that idea of training indoors seems absurd to some, especially if you are retired, but there are workouts that can be done on a trainer that might be harder to perform outdoors. With the advent of smart trainers and Zwift, indoor training has never been better. Trainers are important for warm ups. Older cyclists need a good warm up. Warming up improves blood flow to the muscles and the joints, especially helps those with osteoarthritis. A typical warm up is about 10 – 20 minutes.
Carry on with cycling throughout the years and you will never return from a ride without a smile on your face. Age is not a malady or pathology and cycling over age 50 is compellingly natural. Cycling is something we can all do for life. Like a good wine, the cycling gets better with age.
Next and final post in Cycling Beyond 50 is the interview with Masters World Champion Mark Sommers