At age 69 I’ve been a roadie for almost two-thirds of my life.
When I started riding in my 20s, each summer friends and I would load our panniers with camping gear and take off for a week or two of touring in the Sierra Nevada mountains in California. Each spring we rode centuries and the annual Davis Double Century to get in shape for touring. We rode for fun!
From Competition-Focused to Fit- and Fun-Focused
In my 30s I found that I excelled at long-distance riding and I became very competitive. I set two still-standing ultra-cycling records across two states. I set course records at two qualifiers for the Race Across AMerica. I did solo RAAM and have ridden seven 1,200K brevets.
While road cycling remains my primary sport, I’ve incorporated a number of other sports and activities into my overall recreation. For aerobic exercise and to keep our bones strong my wife and I hike with packs in the summer and on snowshoes in the winter. We XC ski together a lot — we’re planning a trip to Norway to ski to celebrate my 70th birthday. To keep my muscles from atrophying, I do strength training with simple equipment at home. And because I’m a roadie, I ride my road bike year-round for cycling-specific exercise.
I exercise for recreation — to re-create. Different physiological systems inevitably start to worsen with age. However, by enjoying re-creation in many ways I’m fitter than I’ve been for years and I have more FUN getting this fit than I’ve had in years.
You Too Can Be Fitter Overall and Have More Fun!
Almost half of the RBR readers ride for health and fitness, commuting and casual recreation rather than trying to meet specific performance goals. Further, as we get older our goals shift. Don McGrath interviewed 50 people for his 50 Athletes Over 50. “Their most important goal typically changes from performance to wanting to be active for a long time. … They want to have good health, enjoy their sport and have fun with their athletic friends! They also work at being injury-free, since as we get older, recovery from injuries is slower.”
All but two of my coaching clients are over 50, most are in their 60s and one man and one woman are in their 70s!
Each of my clients has a specific performance goal — that’s why they hired me to coach them. I have a compact with each client that my job is to help him or her reach that goal while having fun and staying fit overall! Intensity training, particularly structured intervals based on power, produces the most fitness and best performance. But at our age, who wants to do that? Each week I devise different, fun activities to build fitness while having fun. A husband and wife play “catch and release”. One of them takes off down the road; the other waits a few minutes and then chases. Almost as good as training with a power meter and a heck of a lot more fun!
My new eBook, Anti-Aging: 12 Ways You Can Slow the Aging Process, will include interviews with a dozen roadies ages 54 to 82. They all exercise for intrinsic reasons — to enjoy the feeling of being fit and having fun while doing it! You’ll discover that, like them, you can have a heck of a lot of fun and that adding a variety of non-road activities to your physical play can actually make you a fitter roadie who has more fun, too.
Anti-Aging: 12 Ways You Can Slow the Aging Process is your comprehensive guide to aging well. The 106-page eBook is available for $14.99
Anti-Aging includes an annual plan to put together all six of the aspects of aging well: cardiovascular exercise, intensity training, strength workouts, weight-bearing exercise, stretching and balance. The book concludes with a chapter on motivation.
The book describes the physiological changes that take place as you age, how to assess your current fitness and the training principles that apply to older roadies.
Coach Hughes incorporates the latest research and most of it is new material not published in his previous eArticles on cycling past 50, 60 and beyond.
Anti-Aging: 12 Ways You Can Slow the Aging Process gives you the tools you need to slow the inevitable decline in your health and fitness.
Anti-Aging describes the physiological changes that take place as you age, how to assess your current fitness and the training principles that apply to older roadies.
My long-time friend Ken Bonner, 75, is retired and lives in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, about 60 miles south of the 49th Parallel. He rides five days a week year-round for a total of 25,000-30,000 kms per year (15,000-18,000 miles).
Bonner says, “I found my niche sport … overcoming adversity.”
So far, Bonner has ridden 54 randonnées of 1200 km (750 miles) or longer and 54 1000 km (625 miles) randonnées and has run 174 marathons. In 2017 he rode a cold, tough 1000 km on Vancouver Island and a hot, windy Gold Rush 1200 km in California.
He says, “Do what you enjoy, whether it be a type of physical exercise, mental exercise, reading (fiction and/or non-fiction), religion, political involvement, discussion, socializing. In my mind, there is no magic elixir so do what is right for you, and the end of life will come when it comes. What kind of life is it if one lives a life, which is ‘supposed’ to be good for your body and mind, but if you don’t enjoy it, then what is the good of it?”
The book is over 100 pages, incorporates the latest research and is your comprehensive guide to aging well.
Next article: Three Advanced Techniques for Roadies
Coach John Hughes earned coaching certifications from USA Cycling and the National Strength and Conditioning Association. John’s cycling career includes course records in the Boston-Montreal-Boston 1200-km randonnée and the Furnace Creek 508, a Race Across AMerica (RAAM) qualifier. He has ridden solo RAAM twice and is a 5-time finisher of the 1200-km Paris-Brest-Paris. He has written nearly 30 eBooks and eArticles on cycling training and nutrition, available in RBR’s eBookstore at Coach John Hughes. Click to read John's full bio.