Knowledge Level: Intermediate
One of the joys of cycling is that it’s genuinely a sport for all ages. From toddlers on their first balance bikes to club stalwarts riding every Sunday into their seventies and beyond, there’s no reason why it can’t be a lifelong pleasure. However, in order to get the most out of your cycling, it’s essential to take your age into consideration.
The decline in top end performance and other issues that you noticed in your 30’s will accelerate into your 40’s. However, this shouldn't spell the end of training and competition, and paradoxically some cyclists will be at their fastest, mainly through experience, maturity of pacing strategy and race savviness. Also, with children becoming more independent, many cyclists in their 40’s find they have more time and energy for training than they did in their 30’s.
Get small niggles looked at and sorted out and, if you’ve lost some mobility, work on this and change your position on the bike if necessary. The ultra low and aggressive position you rode in your 20’s and 30’s may be aero but, if you can’t maintain it and have to keep sitting up to ease your back off, it’ll be slowing you down.
For men, testosterone levels will decline during this decade and heavy endurance training can exacerbate this, compromising recovery, limiting training gains and increasing fatigue levels. Make sure that adequate recovery time is scheduled in and junk miles cut out. Male hormone replacement or “anti-ageing” therapy is not an option if you want to compete as, unless you’re able to obtain a Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE), it would result in a doping violation. From 40, women may well be needing to think about hormonal changes also as they might be entering the menopause, which will have a significant impact upon their training and, if receiving hormone treatment, eligibility to compete. Good nutrition is vital as it can help manage hormonal changes and there’s no doubt, if you put on a few pounds, they’ll be far harder to shift than 10-15 years ago!
Don’t accept convention and just grind out slow miles. Yes, your endurance will be your strength but, if you keep the intensity up, you’ll be able to ride fast and long, not just long. If you haven’t already tried them, shorter and faster racing such as track and cyclo-cross can be great for keeping sharp. Both have Veteran and Masters racing respectively.
Hit the gym as strength training is probably your biggest weapon for fighting lean tissue loss, prolonging your competitive career and laying the foundations for a healthy and active old age.
Cycling in your 20’s and 30’s
Cycling in your 50’s, 60’s and beyond