How many years more gain do I have?

CptKernow Posts: 467
edited September 2018 in Training, fitness and health
Obviously a bit of a 'how long is a piece of string' question but any contributions / anecdotes / experiences appreciated. More for motivation that anything.

I'm just north of 45 and am reasonably quick. I don't race - would like to, but home life is too chaotic at the moment. FTP is around 4w/kg based on 8hrs / 150 miles a week.

For the past 5 years I've made steady improvements as I have upped the mileage and become a little more structured in my training. But, always at the back of my mind is next year I might train harder, but get slower.

So, as I head into the twilight years of my cycling career how much room do I have for improvement vs the inevitable decline?


  • craigus89
    craigus89 Posts: 887
    Surely this really is impossible to answer?

    But anecdotally: I sometimes ride socially with a guy who is over 60 who is the fastest out of all of us, he used to TT at a high level and age doesn't seem to have caught him yet.

    I would have thought you are definitely ready for racing though with those numbers (FWIW numbers don't seem to mean much at lower levels but a good guide as to fitness) if that is what you want to do. Why not start making plans to start next season, you've got all winter to prepare etc? Just do it, who knows what might happen that could prevent you in the future.
  • keef66
    keef66 Posts: 13,123
    +1 ^ If you'd like to race, just have a go. It's a bit like having kids; if you wait till you think you're ready you'll never do it.

    Then you'll have a better feel for how good / bad you are and if you enjoyed it, and take it from there.

    I'm 61 in a week or so, and I'm probably as fit now as I was in my 20s, so don't go fretting about your age just yet.
  • paulwood
    paulwood Posts: 231
    From 45 onwards your potential peak performance will decline. You can slow or even negate this for a while by working out what works for you and training smarter rather than harder

    I noticed it when I couldn't recover after hard training sessions fast enough to train again.

    it's not too hard to maintain fitness but it does get hard for an older already fit person to improve
  • VamP
    VamP Posts: 674
    Everyone I know wishes they'd started racing earlier - Don't put it off, it's not going to get any easier.

    I'm a bit older than you BTW, I've been racing for around 10 years and I still find some improvements here and there.
    As to your potential - you may be just at the beginning at 4w/kg, or you may be scraping the bottom of the barrel. You probably don't know, and we sure as hell don't. But there's more to racing than raw fitness anyway.
  • Improving performance involves much more than W/kg. But it really depends on what it is you are targeting. If racing then it's racing skill, experience and nous which play a big role in how much you can improve. But if it's other goals you have in mind there are likely other factors to help you continue to improve.

    Importantly, by maintaining fitness you will arrest the pace of decline that comes from not training/riding and for sure you may well still see power improvements as well. My best TT power came at age 46 and after a lower leg amputation. Motivation to train well plays a big part. At 8 hours / week you are likely not realising your potential, but doing more may not fit with your life, your mental desire or your interest.

    Pithy Power Proverb: "The power meter keeps an accurate record of my decline" - R. Chung
  • StillGoing
    StillGoing Posts: 5,211
    It is a how long is a piece of string question. When I was in the Army training for a particularly arduous course, the information pack with the joining instructions contained a piece from the Doctor around physical fitness. It suggested that if you were to train routinely throughout your life, you would never be as fit as you ultimately could be between the ages of 24-29. After that, you would gradually lose the ability to sustain the same levels of fitness. I don't know how true it was as I never passed the course, but I was fit as F*** then and ache on a daily basis at 57. :D Maybe all the injuries you submit the body to during the younger years catch up with you in later life?
    I ride a bike. Doesn't make me green or a tree hugger. I drive a car too.
  • Is your 4.0 you are stating for a textbook/classical hour or 45min, or is it for 20min? Just curious.

    Reason I ask is that I only average about 5 hours throughout an entire year, with peaks and valleys. I'm at a last formal tested value of 4.0w/kg for 20min. I'm up a bit on power now during a plan I'm on.

    I'd suspect I'd be further along if I had a full 8 hours like you do each week.

    Even so, starting from nil, I'm up 70w from this exact date last year. That curve will certainly slow, but hope I can get another 30w or so by this time next year.

    I've gone:
    Spring 2017: 210w
    Summer 2017: 230w
    Fall 2017: 250w
    Winter/spring 2018: 280w
    Goal, Fall 2018: 300w
  • CptKernow
    CptKernow Posts: 467
    Is your 4.0 you are stating for a textbook/classical hour or 45min, or is it for 20min? Just curious.
    Based on a 20 minute test on the road and 8 min tests on the trainer.

    Looking back to 2015 my FTP was around 210w this year it is around 260w. I don't have figures for how much I've increased in hours per week but it works out at about 20 miles per week / per year - so probably an additional hour each week every year.

    I don't have FTP as my main target, although it is a useful number. I have a few local loops that I like to try and increase my avg speed on. As long as this keeps ticking up I'm going in the right direction...
  • bobmcstuff
    bobmcstuff Posts: 11,196

    Reason I ask is that I only average about 5 hours throughout an entire year, with peaks and valleys. I'm at a last formal tested value of 4.0w/kg for 20min. I'm up a bit on power now during a plan I'm on.

    He's stating FTP which is normally taken as 0.9 of your 8 minute test value or 0.95 of your 20 minute test value.

    So your 4.0 W/kg for 20 min is equivalent to an FTP of 3.8 W/kg
  • I'm in a very similar position to you.

    I'm 43, FTP is about 295w/72kg, based on 309w for 20 minutes. I have small children and a time-consuming job, so i manage about 10 hours a week.

    I'm not interested in road racing and I'm doing more sportives and gran fondos, doing a major european one each year. Next is the Pyreneean Marmotte.

    Anyway, I have found that over the last few years, my top end power has gone, compared to my mountain biking days about 10+ years ago. Although I go fairly well on long and steep hills (Yorkshire Dales) and usually manage decent times in very hilly sportives, I really struggle on the flat chaingang. 290-300w for 20 minutes at a time, repeatedly, is fine. However, a few short efforts of 6-800w on the chaingang and I'm out of the back. I'd be absolutely rubbish at road racing!

    For me, with age I'm changing my targets, with my training goal being about raising FTP and improving endurance, rather than pursuing flat-out speed.
  • joey54321
    joey54321 Posts: 1,297
    Age effects your peak ability to perform, which is why many sports stars start retried around mid-30s or so (depends a little on the sport) but if you aren't operating at your peak (which most amateurs aren't) then things like motivation, sensible training, diet, desire, and genetics will make far more difference than your age. I know guys more than twice my age who can absolutely cane me on a bike.

    Also, at 4w/kg, providing your PM is accurate and your equipment isn't holding you back you should be competitive in 3/4 races and with a bit of tactical nous should be looking at podiums, top 5s and definitely top 10s.
  • neeb
    neeb Posts: 4,467
    paulwood wrote:
    I noticed it when I couldn't recover after hard training sessions fast enough to train again.
    I'm beginning to find that (51 yo). When I was younger however hard a session I did I'd always be fully recovered two days later and able to do the same again. So I could get to a high level of fitness on a fairly small volume per week by just going really hard every other day and resting completely on the off days. Now it's beginning to take three days to fully recover from the hardest sessions which sort of completely scuppers that approach.. :D

    How did you deal with it?
  • Hi. I hit 54 this August and am like you all interested in the notion of how long you can improve for. Went to the Alpe d’ Huez area in July and managed to knock 2 minutes off my PB up the Alpe d’ Huez climb over many previous years ridingThis was a time to official Tour finish and was my most ‘comfortable ‘ ride to date. Lots of factors in this for sure so can’t be fully scientific. Knowing the route up really well now does help, attacking it from the bottom and getting back on to the wheel of my daughter’s boyfriend all helped. I had more in the tank I believe as I slowed a little to help him up the last 3 bends and having to dismount near the top and go round a parked lorry!
    I’d used the climb up as a real focal point for training this winter on Zwift which kept my motivation high throughout.
    Like others have said I’m finding that recovery periods can be longer now. We’re eating healthily which helps, don’t drink that much at all , but I would still like to lose some weight. I also found breaking my hip and having to have a hip replacement has been a positive thing with me striving to be better than before my accident. ( And also knowing how lucky I am compared to others in terms of my health and a humbling from having a brief period of disability and comparing this to others who live with this permanently ) Use of the Wattbike and Zwift have definitely helped although for a 6 week or so period I had to ‘ back off’ as I think I’d overdone it. Experience ensures good fuellliing when riding in comparison to my daughters boyfriend for example.
    So the challenge now is to train suitably for next July in the French Alps! I’m optimistic, but time will tell!