Text Size: A A

Fifty Sense: Common Sense Ideas for Thriving after 50
Fifty Sense: Common Sense Ideas for Thriving after 50

Cycling: Getting Started

As you know, one of the best ways of living a long and healthy life is through regular exercise and bicycling is one of the most popular forms of exercise. Cycling is an excellent way to get fit, stay happy and healthy and reverse some effects of ageing. The more active you are, the more oxygen that flows through your body and to the brain, which all leads to a happier and healthier life.Once you're active, you will find that you have more energy, sleep better, feel more self confident, have reduced stress levels and you can more easily control your weight, blood pressure and cholesterol.

Finding places to ride used to be a real problem, but local governments are increasingly providing off road cycle paths and on road bike lanes to encourage more people to ride for pleasure, sport and even transport. Most chambers of commerce will be able to supply you with information on the bike paths and trails in your area. It's important to have a clear vision of what you want to do with cycling. By that I mean off-road trail riding, onroad, mountain biking, or a combination of these. There is specialty equipment for each of these activities as well as crossover bikes for almost any situation.

If you haven't been biking for a while, I'd recommend a visit to a bike shop where the associates are riders themselves. Be very clear about your initial goals for riding. If you want to progress into racing, that's a whole set of prerequisites. If you want to ride on roads and streets, that too has specialty bikes and accessories. Remember, not everyone wants to become and X-biker and that's just fine.

Speaking of types of biking, don't forget creature comfort. Too many people settle for uncomfortable seats because they don't realize they have a choice. Many stock seats on road bikes are very uncomfortable. There a great many choices of gel seats available to suit any physique that will make the experience much more enjoyable. It may also make sense to have more than one seat to use for different activities. It is very easy to change the position, angle, height of the seat on bikes, as well as switching seats altogether.

Some tips for starting out cycling

  • Finding an off-road path is a great way to start. Choose a flat, easy route to begin with, start slowly and try to make cycling a regular habit rather than an occasional one. Many regional and local parks have excellent bike paths.
  • Finding a friend or cycling group to ride with will double your enjoyment and is a great way to make new friends.
  • Get your local bike shop to assist with the choice of a bike to suit the sort of riding you want to do. Remember that bicycle design has changed a lot over the years.
  • When riding on roads remember to wear visible clothing, be aware of the traffic around you and ride predicably at all times. Don't be shy about using mirrors to keep an eye on traffic behind you.
  • Don't forget that as a bicycle rider you are also classed as a vehicle on the roads, so you must obey the rules like any other road user. This includes wearing an approved helmet.
  • If you have any concerns about your fitness for cycling see your physician for a check up.
  • Remember to start out slowly and gradually increase your length and difficulty. If you're peddling correctly, you will be sore! You'll be using different muscles in different ways than walking, running or most other activities. So it's not unusual for you to be sore - your legs, your back, your shoulders, even your hands. As you round into shape, the soreness will disappear and your enjoyment will increase tremendously

Biking: The new phenomenon

The hot spot for active boomers isn’t the golf course anymore, it’s the bike trails.

Since Lance Armstrong won and set records for the Tour de France, biking has become the newest fad in sports. Even though the sport has lost some enthusiasts a new surprising demographic is starting to take over. When ever you look at people out enjoying an afternoon bike ride, take a closer look. You might be surprised to notice they are retirees or near retirees.

People ages 45 to 64 account for 20% of all those over the age of 7 who rode a bike at least six times last year. That is up from ten years ago. Demographics don’t tell the whole story. After all, golf – the usual 50 and over sport – is moving in reverse. Last year, for the first time, more golf courses shut down than started up, and the number of frequent golfers declined.

The appeal of cycling is most pronounced among the youngest baby boomers (ages 45 to 54), who are also tacking other vigorous leisure activities including hiking, and running marathons. These pursuits embody the active later lifestyle that much of the boomer generation has come to adopt. Regular exercises lower cholesterol and blood pressure, keeps weight don and improves mental outlook.

If you have been eager to take up the sport but are put off by the discomfort of a traditional bicycle, take a second look. Many of today’s models come with bigger seats and higher handlebars – easing the strain on bottoms and backs – and automatic gear shifting. The hottest part of the market is road bikes, which also appeals to boomers who may be giving you yesterday’s phenomenon – the less comfortable mountain bikes.

With its grayish skew, could cycling become the new golf? A number of things suggest it already is. Stories are beginning to surface of business people cutting deals or doctors trading medical techniques while on a ride as opposed to the links.

Trek Travel (trektravel.com) arranges cycling events around the world and is benefiting from the graying of the sport. 85% of its clients are ages 45 to 60. while most of their trips are for business groups, the majority are still folks taking up the sport as a means of maintaining or establishing social groups and staying connected with kids and grandkids.

Email us your favorite cycling stories!

Back to top of page ^