The Atheist Training Bible for Old Bicycle Racers, Chapter 23: Brokedown palace

I get tons of emails every single day asking for training advice. The last one I got, in 2013, was this one:

“Dear Wanky: I just turned 57 and am getting the feeling that I am not as strong as I used to be. I also seem to have lost some recovery. Any suggestions about adaptations I should make as an older athlete?”

Wow. Just wow. The delusion in this one is strong.

So first things first: There is a book called “Fast After 50: How to Race Strong for the Rest of Your Life.” Joe Friel has been selling some of the best, most highly refined snake oil on the market for years now, and if you are uninterested in facts and a slave to mythology, this book is a good place to start, despite the fact that the first three words in the title are a bloviating lie.

But back to your question. It’s true that you’re not as strong as you used to be, but only in the sense that this sentence is true: “The surface of the sun is slightly warm.” In short, the best way to analyze your present and future performance potential is through the metaphor of a worn old old shoe with toes poking out the end and holes in the sole, with the last bastion of protection between your feet and the rocks, nails, glass, and sharp edges of pavement being a ratty old sock.

And no, you haven’t lost “some” recovery. You have no more recovery. You are a slowly depleting battery in a Chevy Volt that is 10,000 miles from the nearest electrical socket.

Nevertheless, here are some key differences between the near-dead athlete (you, and by the way you’re NOT an athlete), and a young person.

  1. Young Person thinks, “When can I ride?” whereas Old Shoe thinks, “Do I have to ride?”
  2. Young Person rides miles per hour, Old Shoe rides hours per mile.
  3. Young Person does back-to-back-to-back hard rides, Old Shoe does back-to-back-to-back naps.
  4. Young Person rides scantily clad in the worst weather, Old Shoe bundles up for sunny days if it dips below 60.
  5. Young Person trains, Old Shoe explains.
  6. Young Person longs for trick, full carbon gear, Old Shoe longs for a top 10,000 on a Strava KOM.
  7. Young Person’s shaved legs look sexy, Old Shoe’s shaved legs look like hairless tree bark.
  8. Young Person has sex after riding, Old Shoe hires someone to have sex for him.
  9. Young Person populates calendar in January with all the races he plans to do, Old Shoe populates calendar with excuses for all the races that he’s not going to do.
  10. Young Person looks fresh and great in worn out kits, Old Shoe looks worn out in great fresh kits.
  11. Young Person keeps a training log, Old Shoe hopes for a morning log.

Hope this helps.

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9 thoughts on “The Atheist Training Bible for Old Bicycle Racers, Chapter 23: Brokedown palace”

  1. Until reading number 11, I had not contemplated the degree to which an athlete’s(!) log can change over time.

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