Fast After 50 – Book Review and Applications

Fast After 50: How to Race Strong for the Rest of Your Life


Joe Friel wrote Fast After 50 as he was turning 70 years old. Now, this guy’s a lifetime coach and athlete himself so he’s earned the right to be listened to. He’s pulled together the latest, most current, and the best science, from the best universities. Now, understanding that science is always moving. But, learning what he can learn from the people that have gone before us. I really appreciate that. It’s real put-your-money-where-your-mouth-is kind of book. And, without taking action it’s kind of worthless. So, I’m really trying to put into my life what he’s pulled out from his experience and make a change.

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3 Week Vegan Challenge #hclfvegan Almost #rawtill4

I just finished a 3-week vegan challenge / experiment and I want to report what I learned from the experience.

First a bit of the backstory.  Out here in Chiang Mai, Thailand we meet other road bikers as we ride the wonderful hills and local loops.  The community isn’t that big so we tend to bump into the same people quite often. On one of those chance meetings a bunch of us were invited to attend the 2016 Vegan Bike Festival.  It’s not the purpose of this post but these guys put together a health conference where the venue was at the top of the mountain and everyone is expected to ride, run, or walk there.  This is a real put-your-money-where-your-mouth-is event and that intrigued me.  Anyway, I ended up riding with the group and attending the conference every other day.  The whole thing was a positive experience.
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Riding over 50: My Top Ten List

  1. I ride because I can.

Wow! Elephants!
Wow! Elephants!

While I have never been very coordinated, I was given a bike early on and I learned to ride. My body never forget that skill.

Someday I’ll be too old to ride. I’m probably more than half way there.

Right now it turns out I’m a better than average rider.

I never mastered board sports or a guitar, although I desperately wanted to be great at both. So, I ride.

  1. I ride because riding is enjoyable.

Getting on a bike brings joy. Sometimes it’s getting out. Sometimes it’s riding fast. Sometimes it’s working hard, getting sun, breathing fresh air, accomplishing a goal, being with the guys, or being alone. Sometimes it’s simply riding – and that’s better than doing nothing (or doing work). Because Punching People Is Frowned Upon

  1. I ride because riding is something I can do until I can’t.

Not the same as reason #1. Someday each of us is going to have to stop doing what we find enjoyable. I’m mainly thinking that physically getting old will eventually force me off the bike. But, responsibilities to family, friends, and work, or illness, or the seasons, or a broken bike can happen first.

Someday that thing will happen, ‘till then I ride.

  1. I ride because riding changes my body.

Interval training, aerobic zone training, stretching, and just moving all are associated with better health. Regular hard riding burns a lot of calories, builds strength all over, not just the legs, increases muscle tone, builds stamina, is heart-healthy, helps improve coordination, reduces stress, and feels good.

The day is better after a ride.

  1. I ride because riding changes my mind.

Exercise changes the mind. Humans think better when they have been exercising – regularly. Biking is a good way to exercise. Ergo, biking makes us smarter.

But, that’s not what I’m talking about. Riding, especially, fast, hard riding, either alone or in a peloton takes my entire mind. Perhaps this is what is meant by mindfulness. I don’t have extra brain cells to sing, talk to myself, or daydream. The road, cars, my legs, feet, gears, hands, breathing, heart rate, cadence, sunburn, pot holes, the saddle, and what’s happening around me are seamlessly integrated into the moment. Just a few minutes of riding like this changes the entire day.

It is good for the soul.

  1. I ride because riding is simple.

Almost any kid can ride a bike. It isn’t much more difficult for me.

  1. I ride because riding is complex.

For me, as an older rider I’m interested in getting better and more fit rather than just getting older. I used to be sick and physically not able to participate, but now I am riding with the guys—this makes me excited. I push myself physically, read up on and try out riding techniques. I ride with riders that are better than me. I watch and listen to the mechanics working on the bike. I freely admit to being a fan of Strava (a social networking ride tracking website) and love to see each of the improvements that come after working to become a better rider.

I dream of a better bike, but I know the one I have is still beyond my ability – but I research and gather opinions when I can. I have upgraded my bike computer so that I have up-to-the-second performance data to encourage me to be my best and not slack off. I have become a student of the road and can describe several different surface finishings for asphalt and concrete.

Every facet of riding brings with it a complete universe.

  1. I ride because riding is cardio exercise.

The American Heart Association says the maximum heart rate for a guy my age should be around 164 beats per minute. The highest I’ve ever recorded on the bike is 165 BPM. That measurement was taken somewhere in the middle of a ride and I pushed on for miles after and didn’t die, so, I assume there are a few more beats per minute left in me. But 165 is the best I’ve measured.

  1. I ride because riding is strength exercise.

Look at a really good rider.  They are lean, strong, and tough as nails.

That’s my goal.

  1. I ride because I get to wear bike shorts and shoes I can’t walk in.

Bike Shorts & Shoes.
Bike Shorts & Shoes.

Who can’t resist an old guy in bike shorts and shoes he can’t walk in?

Why ride and write?

Me and the elephants on a typical Thailand ride.
Me and the elephants on a typical Thailand ride.

Because riding has been good to me.

I’m 56 years old and started riding seriously about 6 years ago. I learned to ride as a kid and put a lot of miles on my ten-speed Schwinn Continental in high school and college. Somewhere after that I lost track of the bike as I got married and moved away. I have a memory of the bike in my parent’s garage but I didn’t take it with me.

Life moved through graduate school, high-tech jobs on both coasts, and finally a move to India with my family to serve as a volunteer biomedical engineer in an association of rural hospitals across North India and Nepal. My job was to implement the new Indian Bio-Medical Waste (Management and Handling) Rules in about 20 hospitals, teach hospital staff safety and infection control, and help manage the technical side of the hospitals that requested help. This job put me in contact with really nasty stuff and after about 7 years I started to get sick and none of the doctors could figure out exactly why. We were able to confirm I had not contracted HIV or anything identifiable but I kept getting sicker and was living off more and stronger steroids and other medications.

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