All the Great Cyclists are Fifty Nine

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01/21/2005| 0 comments
by Paul Rogen
Fifty nine year old Don Anderson leads bunch up a long climb in Pyrenees. Photo by Thomson Bike Tours.
Fifty nine year old Don Anderson leads bunch up a long climb in Pyrenees. Photo by Thomson Bike Tours.

All the Great Cyclists are Fifty Nine

...or, how I had a better year on the Bike than Merckx.

the
Pyrenees or the
Alps.  But we are fifty nine and have seen the world and know how to climb, so Great Hill is a cakewalk.   Through the next six weeks we made casual references to the preponderance of great cyclists clustered at the same age.   We well understood how outrageous the claim but found small silly comfort anyway.   Such are the giggles of ageing cyclists.   As former runners, we cast glances at older runners along the road plodding and looking every bit their age.   We know that in all our gear, spandex and sunglasses we could fool them some of the time and look like, say a forty year old, if we held form and didn?t tarry.  

 


 

For the last ten years as I have become ever more engaged with cycling and touring.  I have challenged myself to keep up with better and often younger riders.   I still prefer my fifty year old riders but get great satisfaction out of riding well and surprising younger riders.   I have managed to improve my cycling performance steadily every year since turning fifty.   It was only in my mid forties that I started to ride seriously, dropping the chain and lock, getting decent gear and tight pants.   A vital piece of the gear included a speedometer, really a small on board computer that keeps all kinds of data about any ride and enables me to measure my progress.   I also ride a regular Thursday night training ride which over the years has attracted evermore younger and better riders.   Eight years ago we usually averaged between 18 and 19 mph on this training ride over a rolling twenty five miles distance.   About six years ago I finally broke the twenty mile barrier for an hour ride.   It was just three years ago that we broke 20 mph average routinely on the regular training rides.     This last spring we often got up to a score of riders, and by early summer we started to come in with averages over 21 mph.   This new rung of achievement must prove the axiom that we were not getting older, we were getting better.

 

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I then went to
Europe for nearly three weeks in July to guide a group of riders for Thomson Bike Tours and soak up the Tour de France.    Every year when I do this, I lift my level of cycling and am a notch up when I return.   This year was no exception.   I came back feeling strong and once again found small bulging muscles just over my knee cap.    For many years I have had two twenty mile courses from my home on which I can test myself without the benefit of drafting in a group ride.  Essentially these are time trial courses.   One goes down along the
Long Island shoreline and has just a few slight dips and rises.   It has a bit

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