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How long can you go between rides without losing a little fitness?

Discussion in 'Training, Fitness and Health' started by Wild Rover, 11 May 2012.

  1. Wild Rover

    Wild Rover Regular

    Just wondering really - I've not been out on the bike for 5 days due to work pressures, but hope to get out tomorrow (I'm usually out every other day). I know I'll feel it in the lungs and legs, and will have lost a bit of speed (not that I've got much of that) and stamina. Yet I know guys who can take 10 days off the bike and it makes no difference. I wonder if it's an age thing? (I'm of the slightly more..ahem.. 50+ 'mature' persuasion).

    What's your experiences? (Would be useful to know your approx. age too - don't be shy:smile:
    whiskywheels likes this.
  2. A good question! I used to know the answer, but I find that if I don't use my memory for 2-3 weeks it starts to deteriorate. Hang on, that rings a bell..........
    Seriously though, I do find this fascinating and look forward to the replies, especially those based on research. Personally, I'm often surprised to find that a couple of weeks off the bike sometimes seems to give me a boost, but 3 weeks or more and I'm starting to go 'off'! I wonder how much 'base fitness' comes into it as well. I started cycling seriously again at the age of 39, and nearly 20 years later with consistent racing and alpine riding under my belt I often feel I can get away with long gaps in riding. But not too long; last year I managed to stay off the bike for all of July and August, and I feel it took 5 months to get back up to par, helped by riding in Spain in November, and Mallorca in March (ie a few days of high mileage, warm weather mountainous riding).
  3. Glover Fan

    Glover Fan Well-Known Member

    I find any longer than 10 days of absolutely no exercise I feel "off" on the bike. Once a week hard ride keeps my fitness topped up, which during our rubbish April was a bloody good thing!!!
  4. Hacienda71

    Hacienda71 Mancunian in self imposed exile in leafy Cheshire

    Wilmslow, Cheshire
    I find sometimes a week off the bike allows me to recover and feel stronger and fitter. I am only in my early forties though.
  5. Moodyman

    Moodyman Veteran

    7-10 days. If it's 10+ the first day back is tough
  6. 7-9 days, after that it just feels a bit more like hard work.
  7. You can hang on to your endurance a lot longer than your speed. A lot will depend on how regularly you were riding before you took five days off...
  8. edindave

    edindave Über Member

    Auld Reeker
    I've just had 3 weeks off the bike due to holiday... and have Etape Caledonia (81 mi) coming up on Sunday. :ohmy:
    Prior to that I've been putting in the miles and did a 100 mi sportive on the weekend before the 3 week break.
    We'll see what happens.
  9. alans

    alans black belt lounge lizard

    A 7 day break is about as long as I can do without feeling sluggish when I ride again.
    10 days & more makes it a bit of a struggle.

    I did very little riding from begining of Sept. to end of Dec. last year.It's taken me from Jan 1st to a couple of weeks ago to get back to where I was last August.

    I'll be 60 in a few weeks.
  10. Monsieur Remings

    Monsieur Remings Veteran

    Yatton UK
    Just had a conversation today with a dear old friend who does a lot of running. We both agreed that you just have 'off days'.

    Now, I know this isn't strictly an answer to the question but it's like this for me; as others have implied in regard to short absences, if I have anything up to five days without a ride it sometimes gives me a boost; almost like a welcome back from the bike, because your legs have missed me. Anything over and a few conditions that aren't quite right - a headwind or crosswind and it feels like a struggle. Saying that, I don't really know it any other way than to have gaps between riding and what I'm more interested in is the effect, not being a commuter, that riding everyday would have on me...?

    This week for instance I did 83 miles on Tuesday, 47 on Wednesday and 35 yesterday. This isn't usual for me despite an average of 150 or so a week. Well, when I left yesterday my legs felt like crap despite adequate recovery, a bath and all the usual routine stuff I do. I found that after an hour in the saddle however, I was right as rain. (I sometimes find that my legs are aching after a day's work - I'm a part-time cabbie and full-time father - but rather than cycling making it worse it seems to sort it out).

    I know I'm rambling here but I'm becoming more and more analytical of the little details that could be reason enough for having a bad/slow/gruelling ride even when all other things seem equal: sleep, attitude, food and fuel, weather conditions, windspeed and direction.

    Somebody once said to me that if you only cycle once a week you don't improve. I tend to agree but only because the more you cycle, the more you are likely to know how to cope with 'off days'; headwinds, tiredness etc. Then again, sometimes you think you have all the ingredients for a perfect ride - teetotal the night before, healthy food, a good night's sleep, recent service on the bike, right mental attitude...hang on, why is this hill so damn hard? I did this yesterday, after a few jars, less food, no energy gels with more wind and rain...?

    I know I'm posing more questions but they interest me.
  11. simon.r

    simon.r Person

    Personally I benefit from 2 or 3 days off the bike occasionally, but much longer than that and I struggle a bit when I get back on it. Anything over a week off and it's really hard work when I get back on. I'm 48.

    According to this site http://sportsmedicine.about.com/od/anatomyandphysiology/a/Deconditioning.htm fit athletes take about 3 months to lose 50% of their fitness, 'beginning athletes' lost all fitness after 2 months.
  12. edindave

    edindave Über Member

    Auld Reeker
    I'd hazard a guess that the average cyclist is more likely not to reach their potential due to "over-training" as opposed to losing any gained ability due to "over-resting".
    Glover Fan likes this.
  13. Glover Fan

    Glover Fan Well-Known Member

    +1, far too many people go for quantity over quality. Commuters have no choice, but IME training more than 3 times a week is detrimental to physical development and potential fitness. I don't think you can ever over emphasise the importance of rest and relaxation for recovery purposes!
  14. Andrew_Culture

    Andrew_Culture Internet Marketing bod

    I talked this over with my brother-in-law (who just ran the London Marathon in 3 hours 6 minutes) and his trainer heavily emphasised the importantance of rest days.

    In his words 'you can't just keep ripping your muscle, you have to give it a chance to rebuild'.

    I'm 36 in a couple of weeks and this Wednesday when I rode after five days off (I commute so never have more than one day off normally) my legs felt super-powerfull!
  15. S1mon

    S1mon Well-Known Member

    Well I've had 8 months of zero exercise or cycling due to illness and ops was very capable of 50 now it kills to do 10 i hope it doesn't take me 6 months or summer will be over!!!