I've been a serious cyclist for 20 years, and still ride every day. Cycling is a huge part of my life, but now that I've just hit 40, is it all downhill from here? I can't imagine getting much pleasure if I could not climb as I am used to or cover large distances at speed. What's the secret to carrying on enjoying serious cycling into middle and old age without just pottering around or touring?
Piers Taylor, via email
My view, from the advanced age of 42, is that you've still got a few good years. There is a gradual but inexorable decline in cardiovascular capacity as you get older (the rule of thumb says about 1% a year after 40). Hormonal changes also mean that we tend to lose lean muscle mass and acquire fat. Recovery from intense effort also takes longer. But the good news is that, if you stay trained, you can minimise these processes and delay onset considerably. There is a thriving masters' and veterans' racing scene: competition is a great stimulus and inspiration - I get my butt kicked regularly by guys who were pros when I was in nappies.
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