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Old 06-02-12, 10:31 PM   #1
SacRider
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Suggestions on getting started safely

Im 64 years old, and hadn't ridden a bicycle in MANY years. About 6 weeks ago, I bought a Specialized Crosstrail. Have been taking it easy as I try to get this old body accustomed to riding again. Really enjoying it. Love the way I feel. Am now riding about an hour on each outing, but not high speed. Have stuck to paved streets, with virtually no hills. Thinking it's time to add some hills, and maybe try some mountain trails. Want to minimize the chances of injury from overdoing it.

I'd appreciate any suggestions based on your experience... How many days/week? Is it safer to give my body more time on flat terrain before pushing it on hills?
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Old 06-02-12, 10:51 PM   #2
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I'm three years older than you, and did about the same thing 12 years ago. If you have some athletic experience (I was a runner for 20+ years), you already know the phrase "listen to your body." it's usually recommended not to add more than 10 percent a week to your mileage, though that seems less rigid in cycling than running. I've never had a cycling injury except with a fall, and I was always sore when I ran. Fit and setup are important, but the "right" way you read about in books is often aimed at 19-year-olds and racers. Us geezers may need the bars higher or closer or whatever to be comfortable. Some people, even in bike shops, will urge you to force yourself into the pro position. It IS a little more efficient, but if you can't hold it for more than 10 minutes, you'll probably lose in the long run. Don't be afraid to experiment.
You don't have to abandon flats to ride on hills. Just add a climb now and
then, push yourself occasionally (insert traditional warning about consulting a
physician before beginning an exercise program here) and take a rest day, or at least an easy day, once or twice a week. At our age we can get faster but not fast, and it's more important to me to be riding at all at age 72 or whatever than to be riding fast at 67. If it's not fun, why bother with it?
There's at least one book on this, called (I think) Cycling Past 50, by Joe Somebody, that was helpful to me. I have it upstairs but I'm too lazy to go find it...

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Old 06-03-12, 12:53 AM   #3
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Just being helpful, here's the book you suggested:
http://www.amazon.com/Cycling-Past-5.../dp/0880117370
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Old 06-03-12, 12:59 AM   #4
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6 weeks and an hours riding is not bad for an "OldUn" Listen to you body is good advice so remember that if you are on an out and back ride- Turn back well before you feel it. Pointless talking about getting speed unless that is your aim- it will come naturally. Just gradually increase distance and get the body- legs and lungs attuned to riding. You haven't mentioned Butt Pain yet so it is either not a problem or it has not bothered you yet. That will ease with more time on the saddle.

Before adding Hills- get used to the bike and gears. Hills will come easy but just gradually up the length or severity of the hills as you progress. One thing most newcomers will have trouble with is Cadence. That is pedal speed on the legs (RPM) most start slow and think they are being efficient. it is not. Up the speed of the legs to 70 or above and you will find hills easier and you take pressure off the the knees. check by counting how many times the legs turn a full revolution in 15 seconds and mutiply x 4. 70 and above will be ideal-eventually so work up to that. the aim is whatever you want it to be but most here try to get above 80. Fit Bu**ers will be above 90.

As it is you are getting out on the bike and enjoying it. Perhaps time to work on distance- speed will come- and ride as often as you want. It will be good to put some effort in on the ride so you can improve but do it gently. Slight up hill near the end of the ride and instead of turning the pedals- Go for it. 200 yards at a time is enough. That will help on speed- strength of legs and Heart rate.

As it is you are doing fine. Except for the Pie bit. you haven't mentioned it yet so I assume you are not taking any on the rides. set a goal. 20 mile ride with a cafe after 10 to 12 miles. Stop for a coffee and Pie. when you can do that- you are into cycling.
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Old 06-03-12, 02:14 AM   #5
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If you do single track, you won't be minimizing chance of injury.

I would just pedal around and enjoy yourself. Ignore average speed and distance threads here like the plague.

Your body will let you know when it's bored and wants to be pushed a bit harder.

Most here will tell you it take about two years to acclimatize to your bike. I think that sounds about right.

The best training device is a.....camera. If you carry one and stop and take pictures of interesting stuff you see on rides, it will keep your speed Ina safe range and make your posts a LOT more interesting.
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Old 06-03-12, 05:19 AM   #6
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OK, I'm a big advocate for the Rails to Trails program but then I watched one being built for 16 years. Of course, I moved 1000 miles away and they now have 87 miles of that trail completed. It was the Pere Marquette Rail-Trail that got me inspired to return to biking 11 years ago. Unfortunately, I had a bike that didn't exactly fit me, so I never rode that trail.

What I'm gonna suggest is, find a rail-trail and give it a try. I was gently reminded yesterday, when I faced a paved rail-trail, that there are inclines and declines. Surface will vary: Asphalt (my favorite), Crushed Stone, Gravel, Ballast, Sand. It's like riding thru the woods, they can be scenic. The lady I met on the trail yesterday, told me, I was in a "one horse town". Well yah, any time you ride a rail-trail, you may go thru some towns. That's what was nice about the Pere Marquette Rail-Trail in MI, it went thru alot of little towns and for me, I knew every one of them. Would have been easy to stop for some pie since some of the old rail depots are now actually restaurants.

Here is the link to the rails-to-trails conservancy website. They list current trails state by state. Just don't trust the parking & trail access info. I did that and had to bike 1/2 mile just to get to the beginning of the trail where I found a parking lot next to the trail. http://www.traillink.com/
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Old 06-03-12, 07:12 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SacRider View Post
Im 64 years old, and hadn't ridden a bicycle in MANY years. About 6 weeks ago, I bought a Specialized Crosstrail. Have been taking it easy as I try to get this old body accustomed to riding again. Really enjoying it. Love the way I feel. Am now riding about an hour on each outing, but not high speed. Have stuck to paved streets, with virtually no hills. Thinking it's time to add some hills, and maybe try some mountain trails. Want to minimize the chances of injury from overdoing it.

I'd appreciate any suggestions based on your experience... How many days/week? Is it safer to give my body more time on flat terrain before pushing it on hills?
Hi, YOUNGSTER,

Listen to your young body. Hey, if you think you are old, you will be.

Push things a bit now and then and see how your bod reacts. A few aches and pains are a good sign that you are progressing. At this stage, allow some rest after a good workout.
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Old 06-04-12, 11:11 AM   #8
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I think you are going about this cycling thing in just the right way, learning about your and the bikes capabilities as your body becomes stronger. The experts on training tell us that as our bodies adapt to vigorous physical demands, muscles grow capillaries to carry the needed blood as well as getting stronger. Bones and connective tissue change to handle the loads. The trick seems to be to push the body just a bit but not too much early on. This process can take several years so there is no need to rush.
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Old 06-04-12, 09:23 PM   #9
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If it's not fun, why bother with it?
Welcome, SacRider. Glad you are enjoying the new bike. You've come to the right place (50 + forum) for a lot of good cycling advice.

I'm just going to repeat what everyone else has said: listen to your body and gradually increase the length and intensity of your rides. I started riding one year ago, I followed this advice, and I recently completed my first "metric century" (i.e., a ride of 100 km or 63 miles).

Always keep your own goals in mind. For instance, my own goals in cycling are recreation and fitness, so I tend to just skim the posts in this subforum, and especially in the Road Cycling subforum, which are about racing.
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