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Old 08-03-09, 04:39 PM   #1
arkansasgal
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60-year old+ riders and the challenges they face

Hi Everybody -- I'm new here, and have enjoyed reading the various threads. I don't know how many of you are 60+, but I started cycling at age 62 and am now 68. I become head of a bike group called the Ozark Roadies. I never intended to be in this position, but a couple people riding with me told some others, and then they told some others, and now we have 40+people on the email list for our Saturday rides. We typically have 15-25 people on our rides, and we do different rides every Saturday which I plan, sometimes ending with lunch and a great social time. The average speed is 14-15 mph and mileage is usually 40+. Most of the rides are in hilly terrain.

We are a group that rides for fun, fitness and social connection with like-minded people, and our ages range from 30's to 60's (I'm probably the oldest). It is great fun. We have attracted a lot of new riders this year who are much younger and faster. We have a no-drop policy and regroup frequently for slower riders. Since we have these new faster, younger riders, I am having more difficulty being in the lead group. I don't want this speed/age thing to detract from my enjoyment of riding. I am never very far behind the faster riders, but sometimes it is frustrating not to be "leading" and yet I know I cannot keep up with them. Evidentally it is not a problem for them because they keep coming back, and telling others about the group. And, I know this is making me a better cyclist. Am I making too much of this?

Comments please.
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Old 08-03-09, 04:43 PM   #2
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Set up 2 groups.
Original slower folks take off first with you as leader.
Faster group rides the same route but leaves 1/2 hour or so later.
You still all stop/socialize at end of ride.
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Old 08-03-09, 05:08 PM   #3
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Good suggstion, zonatandem!
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Old 08-03-09, 05:09 PM   #4
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Start a 65+ group?
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Old 08-03-09, 06:01 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by arkansasgal View Post
Am I making too much of this? Comments please.
Yup. I think you're making too much of it. If people didn't like the way the ride is run, they'd simply stop coming. If they keep coming back and bringing new people, it's because there's a panache that they like.

Incidentally, I once sold a fellow his FIRST bicycle when he was 79. He immediately started a riding group that sounds much like yours. In the interest of full disclosure, while he didn't have a bicycling background, he had been a speed skater all his life so, at age 79, he was in pretty good shape. Really a nice guy too.
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Old 08-03-09, 06:45 PM   #6
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I agree with the two group suggestion - see if you can recruit a leader from the faster group and coordinate. Several things might happen:
1) The faster people don't really like the new group and they come back to ride with you at your pace.
2) The two groups coexist and regroup at spots or at teh end of the rides to socialize
3) A seperate faster group is formed and you are back leading your original group.

In our club they sometimes coordinate an fast pace and a tour pace group, the fast pace riders may do 5 or 10 more miles but everybody joins back up at the end for lunch or Pizza.
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Old 08-03-09, 07:19 PM   #7
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Hello arkansasgal. There are several good riders in your section of the state and they seem to be very active. Good to know you are contributing with some needed leadership.

I also believe you are making too much of the different speeds. We have that all the time with our rides, including the one we finished 1/2 hour ago. We also regroup frequently and make sure the slower riders get a few minutes to catch their breath before we take off again.

If you are the ride leader your are always the leader, whether you are in front of the line or not. It is not your speed that makes you a ride leader, it is the fact that you organize the ride. Thanks for being there from a fellow 60+ rider.
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Old 08-03-09, 07:57 PM   #8
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Thank you BikeArkansas for your nice comments. And, thanks to others for their input. I look forward to other comments to improve my bike group.
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Old 08-03-09, 08:34 PM   #9
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My contribution is an observation about speed vs safety.
I bike a route of suburban residential streets, park roads, IL-Highway 173 and a paved bike path. It is about 50 miles round trip. I am doing this for some years with a Trek Madone 23 mm tires. The pavements are terrible in places and my wrist hurt and I fear for my safety since there were two bad accidents in my immediate family. All biking caused and bad road conditions caused.
Because of this I have switched to a Cycle Cross Bike with 32 tires and profile 80 PSI. They are much safer and slower.
I have been in group rides where I was with the fastest with my Madone. Now I have to pedal very hard to keep up.
So what is it? Be safe or Fast?
I am suggesting that single minded pursuit of top speed may not be best in all situations.
Especially with large group rides. Pace line biking can produce some horrific accidents.
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Old 08-03-09, 09:49 PM   #10
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Consider letting the group ride in different paced groupings.

For the last 5 years my club has run with 4 different pace groups for Sunday club rides, 10-12 mph, 12-14 mph, 15-17 mph, and 16-20 mph.

Each group has its own ride leader, generally a different person each week, who selects the start location, start time, and route for the group. The details are advertised in advance in a monthly newsletter and on a web site. The ride leader is also responsible for pre-checking the route, making any necessary arrangements along the way, keeping the group together, and making whatever decisions are needed during the ride.

Sometimes the 10-12 and 12-14 mph groups have a destination or objective. Examples would be visiting a sculpture park, a fall ride along a river with photo stops, stops at nature preserves, or a ride to and around some historic site or especially scenic area.

Once a month the different groups plan rides that end at a common location for some kind social event , e.g. at a picnic grove, or at a restaurant. There are also 3 or 4 overnight or long weekend credit card tours during the year.

Main web site: http://www.folksonspokes.com/
Ride scheule: http://www.folksonspokes.com/cgi-bin.../m-1175870758/

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Old 08-03-09, 10:29 PM   #11
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As your group continues to grow, you will have to deal with this. And it's not an issue of age, it's simply the logistics of a larger group.

No-drop rides don't seem to work well for groups larger than about 10. If everyone regroups, then the lead riders get longer rest stops than the trailing riders. So the tired riders get even more so. Tired riders are more apt to do unsafe things, and larger groups can cause safety problems in busy traffic.

Multiple pace groups, whether formal or informal, are an easy solution. If you're going to stay no-drop, then you will need to designate group leaders. Otherwise it becomes a free-for-all, which is fine too.

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Old 08-03-09, 10:30 PM   #12
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My bike club has 160 members, all 55+. Of course, not all are active riders. But it is not uncommon for 40 people to show up on our ride days, but there are several different groups. The "Top" 3 groups usually ride separate routes, but often cross-pollinate. The faster riders either branch out on their own, or regroup at the top of hills or other usual spots. Maybe a second leader in your group is a good idea.
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Old 08-04-09, 08:45 AM   #13
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Ever do a "Sweeps and Corners" ride?

A rider who has a distinctive jersey is appointed to be the "Sweep". His duty is to keep the last rider in front of him.

The leader designates a "Corner" at every turn. Everybody else just rides their own pace. When the corner guide sees the sweep rider approaching, they jump on their bike and continue the route.

Faster riders, if they want a workout, should volunteer to be corner workers. When they see the sweep approaching they can sprint as fast as they want to the head of the ride and get another corner assignment.

Slower riders can't get lost or dropped because there's always a corner worker telling them where to go and a sweep rider following the group.

I think that it works best in urbanish areas with lots of turns.
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Old 08-04-09, 12:28 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zonatandem View Post
Set up 2 groups.
Original slower folks take off first with you as leader.
Faster group rides the same route but leaves 1/2 hour or so later.
You still all stop/socialize at end of ride.
Or the faster group take in an extra loop so they can lose their energy.

We used to have ride like this of around 50 miles but after 20 the "Fast" boys took in a 5 mile loop that also took in 1,000ft of climbing. Made no difference though- The fast group still got to the cafe first.
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Old 08-05-09, 06:32 AM   #15
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Thanks to everyone for their comments. Some good suggestions here.
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Old 08-06-09, 10:36 PM   #16
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I understand how you feel, but (cliche coming) it's good to focus on what you can do, not what you can't.
I started cycling in my mid-40s when my knees gave out after 20 years as a runner, and was fairly competitive (in group rides, not races) until 62, when I was diagnosed with myasthenia gravis. Vision disturbances kept me off the bike for a year--I was strong enough to ride, but I couldn't see well enough.
We're getting that under control now, and I'm doing some local mid-day rides (I retired last year, so I can get out when there's not much traffic). I'd love to be able to knock off 50-milers like I used to, and it's not impossible that I will (though I'm probably not going to do the three-month cross-country tour I'd been halfway planning for 15 years). But just being able to get out is such a treat that I'm enjoying that. I'm not an "every day is a blessing" kind of guy, but when you get to our age, every day IS a blessing. A lot of people don't make it this far. My advice is to enjoy every ride and don't waste a day. You never know how many you have left.
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Old 08-07-09, 07:36 AM   #17
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Originally Posted by Retro Grouch View Post
Ever do a "Sweeps and Corners" ride?
Brand new to me. Thanks!
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Old 08-07-09, 11:31 AM   #18
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Velo Dog -- you are absolutely right. Every day is a blessing, and I am so fortunate to be in great health and able to get out there. I have been having a little chat with myself the past week or so on this very topic. Thanks for your comments, and I hope your health will continue to improve and that you will have many more years of biking pleasure.
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Old 08-07-09, 01:01 PM   #19
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Kudos to you ArkanasGal/I hope every one in the forums notices this spirit lifting post.Im a lone wolf ;we all have our way. But if I was someone,young or old looking to bike in a group.Im sure thay would like your's. Thanks for your hard work./Kenneth
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Old 08-07-09, 05:22 PM   #20
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Sounds like both clubs I ride with. Both have multiple groups. The multi-group concept will help the club to grow. Newbies come in and learn how to club ride with senior riders like yourself. Being younger, many will move on to faster speeds with a faster group. Keeping them interested in your club will help it to grow which in turn ads prestige to your group. Neither of the two clubs I ride with are particularly fast, but they are two of the most recognized and respected clubs in the area due to their large size.
Multi groups is the answer.
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Old 08-07-09, 05:30 PM   #21
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Is bigger better?
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Old 08-08-09, 07:43 AM   #22
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Challanges

Back in the late 60s and on thru the early 80s I competed AAU.
I did long distance touring
I did races like the Red Zinger Classic.
Comming back into cycling and learning I had COPD was one of the hardest points in my cycling life.
I've worked at conditioning and am no longer struggling to keep up with even the B+ riders but the days of keeping pace with the A crowd over a long haul are gone.
Sure, I can hang with em if we keep the distance to 25 miles or so.
Yeah, I can do the 3 mile sprint to the finish on a flat terrain and stay well above 23mph.
But..when the hills hit (as they did doing a ride into Niagara on The Lake in Canada last thursday) I've had to accept Clint Eastwoods observation: "Man Needs To Know His Limitations"
To be 66 and ride with a group where-quite often-you're the 'kid' in the group and find yourself at the back of the pack took some getting used to.
They say the scenery never changes when you're at the back.. I disagree.
I 'see' the colt racing along the fenceline keeping pace with us as we whirr on by.
I notice the change in colours from spring thru summer and then into late summer
and...I 'see' the holes everyone else hit (sometimes leading to a nasty pileup..we oldsters bruise easy and bleed hard)well enough before hand to dodge em with ease.
At some point (with me anyway) it stopped being the destination and became..the journey.
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Old 08-08-09, 08:20 AM   #23
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Off topic but there are some great thoughts, great writing and great reading in this forum. I am still a poser as I don't qualify until September 29th. You are all making me look forward to 50!
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Old 08-08-09, 01:23 PM   #24
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The Roadies did a 38-mile ride today, with temps at 89 degrees and a feel-like temp of 96. Darn, it was HOT. After the main ride, we returned to the cars, and had a cool-down under a shade tree with cold drinks and snacks and chatted. Several of the riders decided to do more mileage and went back out. The ride was really good, with the group naturally splitting into mainly two groups, the riders moving back and forth between the two groups, with little periods of "hammering". We regrouped and chatted at various points to let any slower riders catch up and have a moment to rest.

I want the group to continue to grow to a certain extent, but found myself thinking today how nice it is to have a smaller group. We have gotten to know each other better and share things about our lives because we are not split into "multiple" groups. We are not really big enough to do the multiple-group thing at this point, but who knows what the future will bring. Bigger does not always mean better. We have another bike club in this area, and they do good things encouraging new riders, etc. The club is very
large, with multiple large groups and rides. I have ridden with them several times, and it is just not the same experience. It was more of a "lets get out there, get it done and go home" experience.

As Ranger63 and Velo Dog have said, it really is about the joy of just being out there and the journey, and sharing the road with a great group of people.
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Old 08-08-09, 01:56 PM   #25
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I was going to retire to Fayetteville, but my son talked us into moving down here and you talk about HOT. Anyway it sounds like you have a pretty nice club going for you. Me and an other guy have been trying to get a group started down here and it just wont happen. Most of the people are retired and only 3 of us get out on the road. There's a scatted bunch of people that just ride around the sub division, but that's about it. Oh well, they are happy with what they are doing. You very lucky to have the group you have, enjoy.
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