Mountain Biking Stronger at 53 Than I Was at 43, Wanted to Share How
Life takes work, lots of work! I used to train so I could race well, then I stopped racing and stopped training, mostly due to nagging back problems.
When your body hurts, it hurts to train and a downward spiral happens. You stop training which feels better but you get weaker.
In 2016 I signed up to race the UCI World Masters Championships in Italy and started training. Unfortunately, my back and right arm were not up to the task.
The harder I trained the more my body hurt, in the fall of 2016 at the ripe old age of 50 I quit riding. I thought, well you made it to 50, not bad for a guy who lost so many battles with gravity!
It hurt too much to ride. I was at a constant pain level of 3 and 20 minutes into a ride it would be at 7 or 8 and all I could focus on was getting home.
I went to South Africa to figure out what to do after mountain biking. Then one day, in January of 2017, while taking off my wetsuit my back went out.
I had to crawl around the house for three days. That was the start of my new life and being able to ride again!
Months before, when I gave up on the World Masters and quit riding I bought the book, Foundation: Redefine Your Core, Conquer Back Pain, and Move with Confidence. After throwing my back out I finally decided to read it.
That book was the start of a two-year transformation. After just two days of the Foundation exercises, I was riding without pain.
The back pain would return every now and then when I pushed too hard or missed a couple of workouts but in general, I was feeling great.
After 6-7 months of this I started feeling so good I stopped doing my yoga, foam rolling and stretching and still felt great! Until the lack of mobility caught up with me.
In December 2017 I went for a ride on a cold, windy day with my friend Robbie. I was climbing strong and feeling good when snap! My back started hurting bad again.
I had had enough, there were too simple choices, do all of my work or suffer through back pain the rest of my life. I choose to do my work!
I’ve been basically pain-free ever since. I’m getting stronger every week, it feels great!
I bought a downhill bike and I am going to race the World Masters Championship again this year!
Now I race so that I have to train! More accurately I train for life, the harder I train the more I enjoy my life.
Until last Friday I had forgotten how good it feels to have a couple of extra gears on a steep climb. So much more fun than suffering! I would get to a technical section and just cranked right up it instead of hoping to make it!
I’m feeling stronger than I have in a decade. It’s amazing, I’m happier and more confident than at any other time in my life.
So, how did I make this dramatic change? I put in my work, six to seven days a week (three ride days and three workout days, stretch and roll every day). I miss on average two workouts (including mobility work) a month or less.
I also changed how I eat, my new way of eating has given me more energy and nearly eliminated my allergies! More on that in my next blog article.
I workout in airports, hotel rooms, in my van, at the rec centers in many towns but I do my work. It’s the only way.
My work consists of the most advanced Foundation workout in the book (they have more and better workouts online, for free https://www.foundationtraining.com/ ), lifting weights (consult a trainer, James Wilson and Dee Tidwell have great training programs for mountain bikers), do my foam rolling and lacrosse ball rolling and do my yoga (I love yin yoga, focus on hip openers (pigeon pose rules!), back lengthening and hamstring stretches).
Yesterday, after doing a half enchilada (Kokopelli to town) I spent an hour and a half doing yoga, rolling on my foam roller and lacrosse balls.
I also do a quick dynamic warm-up before my rides and stretch the moment I feel overly tight on a ride. No more pushing through it, the second I feel too tight I stop and stretch it out.
Do your work! Take care of your body and it will take care of you!
Some bonus are better posture, better self-esteem and a feeling of ease (I don’t move like an old man anymore!). Did I mention I used to take three 200mg ibuprofen pills before most rides and then 3-4 that night? Well, I have gone from an average of 1,200 mg a day of Ibuprofen to about 1,200mg a month!
Do your work, for life! Seriously, the more consistently you do your work the better you will feel! Instead of a downhill spiral feeling worse and worse you will feel better each day, which really motivates you to keep working!
Let me know what you have done (or are doing in your 30’s and 40’s so you don’t have to suffer my fate) to stay fit past 50. Feel free to share this with anyone you think may benefit from it.
Create your strongest ride yet!