Roger is 70. He is fit, active and very competitive (in a good way). We met about a year ago when he called me asking for info about a Retul bike fit. He had a several physical complications, and I remember telling him that I could help him with his bike fit if we worked together. He is a vet, so knows about anatomy (yes, even human anatomy!), and was very aware of how his body was put together and what worked for him. We spent several sessions tuning his bike fit, getting him both more comfortable and a finding a bit more power out of his pedal stroke.
He was curious about me as a coach, and we talked about whether I could help him to get more fit and to occasionally compete. We set up a Lactate Threshold test to get a baseline on his current level of performance, and a few months later (after ski season ended), we started working together to prepare him for the Diablo Challenge. We had 4 months to try to improve his time.....his goal: to ride up Diablo faster than his age! Last year, at the tender age of 69, he rode it in 1:13: 34. OK, gotta help him lose 3:35.....at least.
We began a series of progressively more demanding monthly training plans, and tweaked them as his schedule and recovery needs demanded. He and his wife travelled to France in July to ride many of this year's Tour de France climbs (!), and he PR'd on Alpe d'Huez by a fairly sizable margin. Another sign of progress happened in early-August when he got a follow-up Lactate Threshold test. He'd made substantial gains in this "lab" setting, and it was showing in his on-the-road performance too.
The final 5 weeks prior to the Challenge contained many practice rides to the summit of Diablo, using various length intervals to get there. Even though we both knew he was getting stronger (he established a new PR of 72 minutes in early-September), there was some doubt about whether he'd reach his goal. I sent out a final note to all of my athletes racing the Challenge a few days before the race, and in that note, I outlined the times they needed to be at at various points on Mt. Diablo in order to reach their goal. Roger needed to get to the Junction (half-way point) in 35 minutes, something he'd NEVER done before. The other challenge (pun intended) that Roger needed to overcome was his tendency to start out too hard and then burn out towards the end of a big effort.
The day of the Challenge was a big one for Roger, as he not only had his personal goal, but he'd established a new sponsorship for the race called "Ride your Age", in which everybody who rode at or below their age would get a prize. He desperately wanted to get one of his own prizes :-)
Roger didn't just beat his goal time, he demolished it by riding the Challenge in 1:08:11 (!!!) beating his time by 5:23, and besting his age by nearly 2 minutes.
I share Roger's story as athletes like him give me the inspiration, challenge and joy to keep giving my best and try to raise the bar on my own performance as a coach. Roger's triumph was one of my highlights of this season, and serves as a great example of how, when I'm able to use all of the tools available to me, combined with incredible hard work on the part of my athletes, amazing changes in fitness and performance are possible. Way to show us how it's supposed to be done Roger. You are an inspiration!