Today’s question is about being too old to even bother getting started bike racing…

I am a 57 year old male and I am toying with the idea of road racing.I started training back in the late fall and my base is coming along ok. Do you think I should throw my hat in the ring this season or is it to late at my age to even try? Thanks for your input!

-Old Owen

Hi Owen,

You’re never too old to start racing!

Unless a doctor (or significant other, or someone else that’s very important) forbids you to race for a legitimate reason, I don’t see why not. I have ridden with and raced against guys older than you, and quite a few of them can still put the hammer down! Heck, just the other day I was emailing a guy who is 61 years old and a cancer survivor – and he still puts a hurting on some of the other riders in his group!

Since you’re asking about it, I think it’s safe to say you have an interest in racing. Especially since you’re talking about your “base.” You sound like a racer already! So I say, do it!

You will want to be familiar with the pack riding dynamic before entering your first race, but once you are used to having riders in front of, behind, and on each side of you, you can learn everything else as you go along. And I would start with some relatively safe races (time trials and smaller road races) before jumping into competitive criteriums where there is a big pack of riders and lots of sharp corners.

To sum things up, make safety a top priority, but don’t let your age hold you back from doing what you want!

(If anyone else has words of wisdom, or encouragement, for Owen, please chime in in the comments.)

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5 Comments
  1. I agree with Levi’s comments. I’m 69 yrs. I do both mtn and road biking, but started doing mostly road rides about 4 years ago. I’ve done smaller bike races (really small)and time trials. I also do xc-skiing and whitewater kayak races (where i’ve done national races). This winter, I added spinning classes. However, I feel that my group bike rides are now competitive enough for biking. In the summer, my group grows to about 15-20 riders and splits into “C” and “B” groups — trying to keep up with the “B” group satisfies my competitive juices. So, find a fast group and hammer down.

  2. Time trials at Senior Games would be an easy start. The various 2011 local games will begin soon, followed by state games. It makes you feel really fast when you smoke others the same age as you! Having a gold medal (or two or three) to show off isn’t half bad. BTW, the National games this year required that you qualify at the state level during 2010. Your next shot at Nationals would be through the 2012 State games, and the corresponding Nationals would be in 2013.
    http://www.nsga.com/

  3. Great comments guys. Hopefully “Owen” is following along!

  4. Owen,
    I’m 51, been cycling for all my life as a commuter and hobbist. I’ve never much for group rides in the past. I’ve been riding an old Peugot touring bike, up until last Oct. when i added a 2010 Specialized Tarmac to my inventory. After, winter training (indoor) working on the base core, intervals and some endurance spinning. The thought of making a go at the local competitive ranks surfaced. However, my long time goal has always been to ride a century ride. While it’s great to get that competitive flow and excitement. I also have to realized the pros and cons, the risk of injury or the recovery period of such is much greater at this age. My bones are now more akin to the carbon fiber racer as opposed to the metal Peugot. Another concern might be the shattered confidence level, which is quite daring at my age. In conclusion, I’ve signed up for a May Century ride. This should help me adjust to pack riding, give me the opportunity to make a go at race strategy in a more controlled environment, work on recovery techniques. After that lets see what my MoJo says.
    If your up to it and in the area of Forest,Va. (http://www.bikereg.com/events/register.asp?eventid=12301)come and join us, I’ll race u for 100 miles…Heh Heh or die trying.
    Ride Safe,
    Patrick

  5. Owen, you need to take that word “old” out of your cycling vocabulary.

    Briefly, I used to race back in the 1970’s during the John Howard, Greg Lemond era. then I stopped cycling in 1981.

    Took cycling up again in 2007 at age 64. Lost 100 pounds by riding and today I ride with guys my age who also used to race. We don’t race but train like we do.

    A typical week looks like this: Two rides are full out pacelines, one solo interval session, one solo tempo ride, and one long, slower ride of 75 up to 125 miles every week.

    On each ride, we meet much younger guys training for the coming summer races and I can tell you, we can hold our own with most any of them. We might not beat the fittest ones but, will give them a awfully hard time and rarely get dropped.

    Give it a go, otherwise you’ll be sorry.

    Gary

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