Age is sort of Irrelevant?

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I saw an article which Chris Horner is talking about being 44 and that the field at Tour of Utah won’t ride with him, implying they are scared of him.   That doesn’t surprise me much, as it shouldn’t Chris, since he was the one saying that since Tom Danielson isn’t racing, he is the race favorite.  If he thinks he is the favorite, and verbalizes it, then most likely the rest of the field sort of thinks the same way.  He might be talking a little too much again.

Anyway, this isn’t about Chris Horner, other than his age.  I think Chris is implying that he’s old, at least old for racing bikes.  I could tell Chris, by my experience, that at 44, I think I was probably in the best shape for bike racing of my whole career.  Honestly, if I could be feeling at only one age forever, to race bicycles, it would be somewhere in my early 40’s.

I had the knowledge to race efficiently, both on the road and off-road, plus the endurance for longer, harder events, and I hadn’t lost much snap for sprinting.   But, everyone is different.

The first asset, the knowledge is key to being a good all-around cyclist.  It takes a really long time to gather the skill set to be able to handle most conditions.   When I switched over to MTB racing from the road, I’d say it took a good 8-10 years before I felt confident in racing in all conditions.  That is a pretty long time considering.  Same for cyclocross.

Now, being 10 years older, it is a completely different deal.  The knowledge is there, but the physical is more hit or miss.

This morning I started thinking about this because I woke up feeling sort of beat up.  That surprised me, since I just rode an hour and a half around Lake Dillon yesterday on my road bike.  That is the shortest times I’ve spent on my bike in 3 weeks.  I’ve really cut the riding time down the last few days, hoping to be a little more rested.   It seems like I feel better riding, especially up here high in the mountains, when I ride hard the day before.  That is counter intuitive.

Recovery is way less predictable now.   And I believe that aging is the difference here.  I’m not sure taking more rest days is necessarily the answer, but since it is new territory, I probably won’t know the true answer until I can look back and see how it went.

Two years ago I started riding less, by that I mean taking way more complete days off on rest days.  When I did that I felt stale, like I was never attaining any good form.  Then last year, I decided to ride a ton.  I had a couple 100 hour months leading up to Quad Cities at the end of May and I felt like I was riding super good.  Then I broke my hip in a crash and was back to below square one.

So, bigger blocks of training seemed to be paying off.  I’ve been doing that here, trying to ride longer, harder miles.  Riding MTB bikes is always hard.  It is nearly impossible to rest when you are climbing forever with no air.

I’m a little worried that I’m missing the racing.  I’m sort of thinking about going down to Louisville and do a criterium on Sunday.   I could probably use the intensity.   I think hanging out high in the mountains, you end up losing power because you’re muscle aren’t getting enough oxygen so the muscles don’t work that great.

I’ve been wearing a heart rate strap the last few weeks and it surprises me how low my heart rate is.  Check out Christoph Sauser’s Strava recap in the photo below.  Talk about a low heart rate.  That is a crazy fast time and a crazy low heart rate.

Anyway, I can’t say I mind being older and trying to figure out how to negotiate through this process.  It is at least interesting.  And, like I said above, I think it is different for each of us, so what works for one person won’t necessarily work for someone else.

That being said, even though I feel beat, I’m heading over to Leadville again, with Vincent to go ride above 11000 feet. After that we are heading over to Hotchkiss and he is getting his new puppy.  Can’t beat that for a pretty good day.

Logan Owen winning yesterday in Utah.  Pretty great for a young "cyclocrosser'".

Logan Owen winning yesterday in Utah. Pretty great for a young “cyclocrosser'”.


Christoph Sauser's Strava from 2013 Leadville.  Max heartrate  of 159 and average of 138?  Crazy.

Christoph Sauser’s Strava from 2013 Leadville. Max heartrate of 159 and average of 138? Crazy.

10 thoughts on “Age is sort of Irrelevant?

  1. Old friend

    I know this isn’t about chris, but am I the only one that gets tired of Horner talking about himself like he’s the king of cycling. An article a month or so ago he says “there’s not a more popular american cyclist than me”. Every article he’s in he talks about how great he is. its totally odd and totally comical.

  2. Robo

    “Can’t beat that for a pretty good day.” Amen.

    Sauser’s strava data looks suspect – 59W wtd avg power? 168 avg cadence?

  3. Ricardo

    Steve I couldn’t agree more. Looking at some recent results (and taking my helmet and glasses off) I realize that I am the old Cat 1 and am racing with guys 10-15 years younger (I’m 43) and couldn’t feel better. It’s nice to have the experience, fitness and power to double up on crits and be competitive in both, then take the helmet and glasses off for the kids to see it was an old man they were racing with.
    Keep up the good work.

  4. bill humphreys

    I am going to take the time to tell you my experience with getting older regards way back when I was 55.

    You had the room next to me in 1999 at the Master’s Worlds in Bromont, Quebec.

    Rest was just becoming recognized as something to consider in training.
    I had been racing MTB’s since 1994 and would beat myself up in the woods 4 to 5 days a week.

    Then observing all the former Euro Roadies taking over the World Cup points I realized that training on the road was key and beat me up less. I had the basic bike handling skills for the woods that not everyone my age had at the time so I did not have to train off road that much and used the leg speed and round pedal stroke to my advantage in the woods.

    At Bromont I brought my road bike along with the family. Got up early and went out for 20 miles in the rain then back to motel. Total change of clothes and then rode my mountain bike the 5 or 6 miles to the start. Warm up was key…..Short story is I got serious chain suck while getting separation with 3 other guys (the medals) before we hit the woods. I ended up 3rd and felt 2nd was well within my capabilities that day.
    Looking back on my season I realized that I had only ridden my mountain bike maybe 10 or 12 times (mostly races) from April to September that year.
    Don’t know exact date of Leadville either this weekend or next? But consider just riding the road bike and not killing yourself on the mtb until race day.
    Best of luck,

  5. Steve Tilford Post author

    ScottO-It’s obvious by looking at the real Strava profile that he isn’t riding with a power meter, thus no cadence. But his average speed is correct, as I assume is his heart rate. He was wearing a heart rate monitor if you look deeper into his ride at Leadville.

  6. ScottO

    Counter to your assumption, I would suggest the file he uploaded was corrupt, which would account for both the wacky HR and power, or that it was intentionally modified before uploading. If there is no power data in the file, Strava will estimate it, and it would not estimate 59w average for 17mph over 6 hrs on that terrain.


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