I’ve been coaching Elizabeth Wicks since she was “only” 66 years old and helped her to improve with age. In past issues of the RBR newsletter I’ve described her training and progress.
She just turned 74 and rode 74 miles to celebrate her birthday. She is retired and lives in Boylston in central Massachusetts.
She has set age 65-70 and 70-75 records in 12- and 24-hour races. As part of her training for ultra racing, Wicks does intensity workouts once a week. Several times a year since 2013, Wicks has ridden an 8.2-mile baseline time trial on the same course to test her fitness. She’s cut her time from 29:25 on April 7, 2013 to 26:48 on April 20, 2017.
My new eBook Anti-Aging includes the illustrative stories of 13 roadies: Gabe Mirkin, M.D. (82), Ken Bonner (75), Elizabeth Wicks (74), Fred Matheny (72), John Hughes (69), Malcolm Fraser, M.D. (68), Andy Pruitt (67), John Elmblad (66), John Lee Ellis (65), Jim Langley (64), Muffy Ritz (60), Michelle Grainger (57) and John Marsh (54).
Elizabeth Wicks’ Story
In the summer she exercises four to six days a week for 15 to 25 hours and in the winter she’s active three to five days a week for 10 to 15 hours. Winter doesn’t affect her riding — she rides 45 to 50 weeks totaling about 6,000 miles a year. She also walks, hikes and cross-country skis.
For 20 to 30 weeks outside the main cycling season, she does upper body, lower body and core strength exercises and includes stretching.
Recommendations for Older Roadies from Wicks
“I have found that ‘just keeping on’ with biking, hiking, skiing, walking and pushing myself to go a bit harder or farther has meant the most to maintaining my fitness and aging well,” she says.
“Having a goal and a challenge have been key over the years I’ve been riding. The more specific the goal or challenge, the better. Participating in bicycling events has worked best for me, starting with a two-day charity ride in Massachusetts for many years, then 200 km (125 mi.) to 600 km (375 mi.) brevets and 1200 km (750 mi.) events and now 12- and 24-hour races. And several bicycling trips, including winter training camps and week- or multi-week bike tours.”
“The training and preparation to meet a goal keep me motivated. If the training is structured right, it can actually be as much fun as the event itself. It gives me hourly, daily, weekly and monthly accomplishments and accountability.”
“Intensity, challenge, a variety of physical activities and daily habits also work well to motivate me.”
“Intensity means pushing myself really, really hard until it hurts and doing it again but for only moments or seconds at a time. I do so repeatedly over 45 minutes to an hour once a week at the most. I used to be able to do two days of intensity a week, but now the recovery takes longer. However, even one day a week works. I have felt and seen the results as I get to enjoy my riding more and continue to set records.”
“In addition to events, I challenge myself with specific workouts or chasing after people who can ride or walk/hike a bit faster than I can. They are not only motivating, but also fun and expand my own capacity.”
“Over the past few years, I have found that doing a variety of activities has helped keep me fit and made me stronger on my bike, while I’ve had a great deal of fun. Hiking, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing in particular are great cross training and provide great times with friends who may not ride as much as I do. They work my legs in ways that biking doesn’t, resulting in stronger legs as well as better upper body strength.”
“Daily habits and consistency, even if I don’t execute them perfectly or miss a day or two, have helped to maintain my capacity to be as athletic and in as good shape as I am. I eat nutritiously, sleep pretty well and seek out friends not only to ride with me, but to enjoy other adventures life has to offer.”
“The key to aging well is to keep riding. And find others to ride with. One of the advantages of road riding is that, unless you live in a rural area with only dirt roads, you don’t need to drive somewhere to take a ride. You can head out right from your front door by yourself or with others around the neighborhood, to do your shopping, to go for coffee or lunch in nearby towns you might not be that familiar with, to climb the nearest steep hills or mountain, to roll along on the flattest roads you can find … wherever your legs will take you on a given day!”
Don’t miss Coach Hughes’ new ebook, available now.
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.
Coach Hughes wrote this eBook for all roadies age 50 and older. It will teach you how you, too, can fight the physical effects of chronological aging.
Anti-Aging explains how to get the most benefit from your endurance rides, with sample training plans. The ebook also describes the importance of strength training and includes 28 exercises for lower body, upper body and core strength illustrated with photos.
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.
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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.