Do Old Guys Rock? Or Do They Only Win When the Young Guys are Out of Town?

Nico Toutenhoofd and Kevin Nicol approach the finish line at the 2010 Lookout Mountain Hill Climb in Golden, Colorado. Photo by Dejan Smaic

I got mentioned in this blog post about “old guys” and hill climbs. It’s not a big story, but the comments amuse me. The question is “Do the old guys (that’s me) only race well when the young guys are out of town?”

303cycling.com/master-cyclist-win-big-at-lookout-mountain-hill-climb

If nothing else, it does seem to me that there are fewer juniors racing, and more salt-and-pepper dads, then in the ’80s.

5 thoughts on “Do Old Guys Rock? Or Do They Only Win When the Young Guys are Out of Town?

  1. There was a quote in a recent velonews article with a guy from USACycling saying that their membership is about 75% masters now.

  2. It would be interesting to know how that percentage has changed over the past few decades. My sense is that it has gone up steadily since we started racing in the early ’80s, and if so, that should be the obvious canary in the coal mine for the sport.

    John, when you and I raced the Red Zinger Mini Classic in 1982 there were around 80 boys who signed up for the 12-13 age group. That was enough that the organizers decided to break it into two separate groups the 12-13A and the 12-13B, because they didn’t like the idea of 80 inexperienced boys, elbow-to-elbow in a criterium. The Zinger was slightly anomalous, and not completely representative of Cycling’s popularity among young people, but I’d say on a weekly basis we had 15-25 guys show up for the Intermediate category. That doesn’t appear to happen to me anymore.

  3. In New England there is basically no junior racing. Most road races don’t even have a junior category. Some of the criteriums do, but it will often be really short, 5-10 miles. It’s weird. And very unsatisfying when I tell people that I did a lot of racing as a junior – they are often totally unimpressed.

  4. First off, that’s a great photo of you, Nico!
    Second, I’ve always believed that the Masters category was the strongest, not only because of the numbers involved, but also due to the tremendous level of strategy that is on display in those categories. The young guys often win with strength or brute force alone. In the older categories, the fastest/strongest guy is often not the winner. I agree that HCs and TTs reward the strong and fast, but there’s some wily old farts who have figured out that efficiency is what’s really being rewarded–and that comes from knowledge and experience as much as slow-twitch muscles!

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