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Peak Age(9 posts)

Peak Ageupandcomer
Nov 6, 2002 10:00 PM
What do you think the peak age, in terms of strength and fitness, is for a racing cyclist? I'm 23 now and race Cat. 3. Should I expect to get stronger up to a certain age? The pro's seem to peak in their late 20's, but I'm not sure I should be comparing myself to them. Any feedback would be great.
A number of confounding variables...Wayne
Nov 7, 2002 5:10 AM
Not only your age (which probably wouldn't limit how "fast" you could potentially be until 35 or so at the earliest but almost certainly by 45 you will see a decline in ability), probably also equally as important is how long you've been training. Also "strength and fitness" in cycling have many components which may develop or decline at different ages.
Nov 7, 2002 6:18 AM
Not being a racer myself I'm probably out of my league here. I have read that the nature of comptetive cycling is such that physical condition is important but experience and tactical ability is almost if not more important when it comes down to winning a race.The longer you race the more you learn how to win.Where these two abillities intersect is probably based more on how young you started to race competively.

What I'm getting at is never disregard the importance of experience and the mental side of the sport.The old dog may still have alot of bite left.
re: Peak AgeSintesi
Nov 7, 2002 8:06 AM
Judging by results I'd say between the ages of 27-33 are the peak years for most. However, there are plenty of examples of successful, if not absolutely fantastic, racers in their mid to late 30's. Cipoliini, Museeuw, Dierckxens, Elli, Duclosse-Lasalle, Tchmil, and on and on.
Varies for different events, too, in my experiencecory
Nov 7, 2002 8:14 AM
I was a long distance runner until my knees gave out in my mid-40s and I started cycling seriously (I'd been a casual rider for years). My running times improved steadily from my late 20s to my early 40s, and might have continued to get better for a few years if I'd still trained hard (I had kids late and preferred to spend the time with them).
My sprinting and my finishing kick, though, started downhill about age 35.
I'm 57 now and still improving as a cyclist in distance events (I started very slow at 44, so that's not a huge deal). But all I can do is hold a pace--I have NO sprint, and I lose condition scarily fast if I take more than a few days off.
re: Peak AgeMcAndrus
Nov 7, 2002 9:26 AM
The conventional wisdom says that your physical strength will improve until 27-28. Then your skills will improve until 32-33. After that your physical decline will overtake any skills improvements.

In cycling I think endurance keeps improving. I'm 50 now and my ability to ride long rides (centuries, etc.) just seems to keep improving. I wasn't a cyclist in my 20s but I'll bet my strength is nowhere near what it would have been if I'd been riding hard then. I do know that at my age I can get in pretty good shape but I also lose form rapidly when I take time off.

As I once told a 20-something cycling buddy when we were having a similar conversation: I can get in decent shape but it takes longer to get there and it takes less time to lose it.
Aint that the truthPEDDLEFOOT
Nov 7, 2002 10:25 AM
Aint that the truthJon Billheimer
Nov 7, 2002 10:52 AM
In Cycling Past Fifty Joe Friel refers to a study of competitive runners who, contrary to conventional wisdom, actually improved their VO2 max values in their forties, experienced virtually no decline in their fifties, and cut the projected rate of biological decline in their sixities by 2/3s. The secret? Introducing more intensity into their training routines.

At 58, I can certainly attest to the importance of consistency of training, and maintaining some intensity year round, if even only amounting to 5% of training time. The intensity levels need to equate to at least 90% HR intervals or even higher. And yeah, the detraining effect is scary fast.

I envy you 35 year old guys!! However, my cycling hero, a man who, the year prior to his death at the age of 83 turned in a 1 hr. 1:30 40K TT, was in his early 60s still racing and holding his own in Cat 1/2 fields! Which goes to show that few of us ever really reach our full athletic potential. So there's hope for all. Keep hammering!
Hey Mick...merckx56
Nov 7, 2002 11:00 AM
What do you think the median age of the group is here in town? A quick guess, just by thinking about who we ride with, would be mid-thirties? And the group keeps getting faster every year!