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Cycling Later in Life

I did not start cycling until five years ago, at the age of 56. Now, cycling is my main outdoor activity, eclipsing day hiking, backpacking, and kayaking. I have found that cycling is less stressful on my aging knees than and allows me to see and experience more of the great outdoors than day hiking or backpacking. At my best I might hike twelve miles a day, but I can easily ride two to three times that distance in far less time. While I will often hike, backpack, kayak and cycle alone, I rarely enjoy paddling, hiking, or backpacking with more than one or two others, but at least monthly cycle with groups from half a dozen to two dozen. The social aspect of cycling with these groups has become as much a draw as the physical exercise and exposure to the outdoors.

aka "Boonerelli"


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10 Replies

@John 

I hear you on the social aspect. Cycling is one of the only outdoor sports where I actually prefer the company of others. I had the luck to belong to a socially-oriented cycling club in Tampa a few years ago...think of it as a conversation group on two wheels. It was pretty awesome -- not all testosterone-y like so many cycling clubs. 

Put me on a backpacking trail, however, and I quickly get annoyed with others. I need some solo time out in the woods 😉

That is pretty much my take. Thanks for the reply. On a side note, for safety reasons, I will not kayak moving water alone. I will, however, kayak solo on flat water.

aka "Boonerelli"


Superusers do not speak on behalf of REI and may have received
one or more gifts or other benefits from the co-op.

Good on ya! It's so healthy and awesome to find ways to be active at any age, of course, but even more so the older we get. I think people often undervalue their own potential to try new activies as adults.

For anyone cycling at 60+, though, please be careful in your choices and use all appropriate safety gear. I know someone in her late 60s who's enduring some painful recovery from a wrist injury after falling.

Even though I'm now months away from 60 I find that I still need to remind myself that I'm not invincible.  So I need to say "no" to trails that are too technical or simply beyond my skill set (or my bike's capability).

I ride every other day and want to continue to do so for many years to come.

It's great you can get out there and enjoy it. that's what it's all about.    Look at Hal Russel, he just finished his 6th Tour Divide (canada to mexico under 30 days) at age 70. 

I've been on a bicycle most of my adult life -- I'll turn 70 later this week. No matter my age, cycling never gets old.

I've been on a few cross-country cycle tours. Self-organized, but with other like-minded people; on long rides you usually hook up with new-made friends for a week or so, you can't get lonely. Cycle touring combines camping, exploring, hiking (spend a couple days at a national park along the way), wandering, map-reading, route research, minimalism (either that or pull an extra trailer)..... throw in ballooning and spelunking if you feel like it.

The TransAmerica Cycle Route has about 2000 cyclists on it during any one summer (my estimate, from a 3-month trip). I'd say 70% are college 'kids' on a break or after graduation; 10% are foreigners, mainly Europeans trying to squeeze it in on a 90-day visa; and 10% are us retired folks. On a cross-country trip I met over 300 cyclists, easy. None of them were riding "time trials", it's not that kind of life. It's campinig on wheels. Put me on a touring bicycle and I'll have the best summer of my life.

 You might give that a try. If a summer-long ride is daunting, start out with a week's camping trip. You don't need to train, the ride will do it for you. Just learn to pack light.

Depending on what part of the country you're in, you'll meet like-minded folks. That's what makes it memorable.

 

Edit: I found inspiration and a wealth of research help for the touring life, at crazyguyonabike-dot-com . It's a non-commercial site with hundreds of journals, from one-day rides to years-long world cycle tours. If you need inspiration, check it out....

 

Thank you. All of you are an inspiration to me as I've just got back on a bike in the last couple of months after many, many years. I turn 71 next week. I've yet to make connections with other riders but I'm sure that will change soon. I'm use to soloing most of the time. I've yet to take a long distance ride as even the roads around here, with just two lanes, can have speeds of 60 mph with no extra space to walk let alone ride a bike! So for now I take the same routes, varying it as much as I can. I ride at least 60-75 minutes , daily when I can, but because I'm getting stronger and faster I'm having to be creative with my basic two routes. Now I realize that I may have to drive to areas more conducive to bike riding. Bottom line, I'm really happy to be biking again.

I have been riding bikes for 60 years. at 72, i DO NEED TO REMEMBER my age.

Swinging my leg over the saddle requires thought. 

@terryjohn @NWRidgeRunner @John @heliotrope 

At 76 I still like a flat top bar bicycle frame, have not gone to a woman style step through frame and yes I can still swing my leg over my 1992 Novara XR frame. But I only ride that bicycle occasionally.  I like my 17 pound 2012 Ridley carbon fiber Excalibur, that is sporting an 11 speed force groupset, and my 2006 carbon fiber fork & seat stays 2100 Trek ZR 9000 with new Sora R3000 groupset the most.  

I recently purchase a 36 pound Stealth KBO Hurricane single speed belt drive to understand and learn about eBikes and I ride that bicycle every month for a week. The eBike weight was 37 pounds on my cycling scale when I first assembled it out of the shipping box, and after a bit of carbon fiber modding it lost 4 pounds making it easier to carry up and down narrow stairs.  

I also have a GoPro set up on a 2000 Jamis Ventura Race with carbon fiber fork & seat stays sporting a Campagnolo groupset. 

Guess I enjoy riding road bikes on pavement, I did not enjoy Gravel, or Mountain Biking very much, although I do have an early Mongoose Hill Topper that is over 40 pounds that I could use in a pinch. Unfortunately that original Mongoose bicycle is getting used less and less as it is heavy and becoming difficult to carry up and down the stairs. It also has a straight handlebar providing one hand/arm position and every time I ride it, my arms, shoulders and neck are sore for a week.  The reason most of the bicycle I enjoy riding have carbon fiber forks and drop bars to eliminate most of the road buzz from the pavement.

I keep spinning the pedals on shorter rides, but with Covid-19 about, I am riding with a mask by myself and not with friends or joining groups.  I have averaged almost 2,000 miles for the last 10 years, and have a goal of 2021 mile this year, I think I will be able to accomplish. My last Double century was in 2018, and have question if my knees could stand that effort today.  

We have had a few days this month when it cooled down overnight, and I have enjoyed Sunrise riding of 87.55 miles in the hottest month of the year.  Normally I do not ride in July and August, as I am uncomfortable trying to ride with a 90°F (32.22°C) sunrise temperatures as it seems to beyond a hundred before I can finish the ride and arrive home. I look forward to an injury free 500 miles in September, and maybe a little more distance in October.   

I certainly enjoyed reading the old-timer comments in this thread.  

JR