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  1. #1
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    Returning to cycling late in life - advice sought ( lots of advice)

    Ok so I'm turning 59 in two months time and recently returned to riding a bike and I'm hoping the forum members can give advice on doing this the smart way.

    I need to do some regular exercise but because of an old ankle injury, jogging is not an option as my ankle seizes up after a while. Where we now live in Colorado Springs we have a lot of running and biking paths in our neighborhood so a month ago my wife and I invested in a couple of bikes together. They're not $900 bikes from REI but also not $100 Junkers from Wal- mart either. We got middle of the road hybrids from our local Dicks which is not the local bike store I know, but it suited our budget and quite honestly it seems to be a pretty good bike that runs quite nicely. I've been riding pretty regularly and I'm really enjoying it on the trails which are a mix of concrete paths and a long gravel trail, now I'm up to about 5 mile rides without any problem in terms of pain or total exhaustion . As I said, I'm loving riding again - something I haven't done since I was (literally) a kid.

    But how do I get to the next level, and how can I increase my stamina? Is it just a matter of keep riding regularly and it will progress? There are some moderate inclines on the paths but I still get out of breath very quickly going uphill which concerns me a little. I will honestly admit I really haven't done any serious exercise for, well, quite a few years so it's not too surprising I don't have much stamina at the moment, but is there anything I can do to help improve it?

    My next question is in health matters. One of the main reasons I wanted to start riding again is that I am diabetic and I know that exercise in any form will help me control my blood sugars. I carry glucose shots with me in case I go hypo- glycemic (low blood sugars) while I'm riding, but is there anything I can drink as an energy supplement or replacement drink either after or during a ride that doesn't have a super-high sugar content which would defeat the object of lowering my numbers?

    I'm pretty sure I have many more questions but this might be a long enough post for my first new thread.

    Thanks for any help and advice you more knowledgable people can extend to me.

  2. #2
    Spin Meister icyclist's Avatar
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    "Is it just a matter of keep riding regularly and it will progress?"

    Yes, that's it. There's no magic formula - no food, no drink that will make you stronger and/or faster other than, for the most part, simply riding.

    Frankly, you're ALWAYS going to be out of breath going uphill if you push yourself. On the flats, too. And right now, because you're out of shape, you're pushing yourself.

    Keep riding, you'll get strong and faster.
    This post is a natural product. Slight variations in spelling and grammar enhance its individual character and beauty and are in no way to be considered flaws or defects.

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  3. #3
    Senior Member CommuteCommando's Avatar
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    The best way, in my experience, to build stamina, is to not kill yourself by pushing hard. Focus on cadence. Learn what is comfortable. Just think of lifting weights. Body builders lift some serious weights, but their workouts are short. Same thing with your legs. If you slog around in to low of a gear, you will wear yourself out too fast. Choose a gear that is low enough that you feel some resistance, but not so much that pedaling constantly wears you out. This is really important for people who have knee (or in your case ankle) problems.

    As for diabetes, Google search "Team Red" or "Red Riders"
    Last edited by CommuteCommando; 06-30-12 at 10:13 PM.
    As much as you paid for that Beemer [Mercedies, Audi, Escalade], I'm surprised it didn't come equipped with turn signals.

  4. #4
    Senior Member GFish's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by icyclist View Post
    Yes, that's it. There's no magic formula - no food, no drink that will make you stronger and/or faster other than, for the most part, simply riding.

    Frankly, you're ALWAYS going to be out of breath going uphill if you push yourself. On the flats, too. And right now, because you're out of shape, you're pushing yourself.

    Keep riding, you'll get strong and faster.
    +1

    If your goal is to ride further, faster and improve climbing, you'll need to work through the pain and suffering. As already stated, there is no magic formula to bypass the hurt in improving your abilities. It's just you and the bike.

    What can help, is keeping hydrated, having the right nutrition, comfortable riding apparel (shorts, jersey, shoes, socks, gloves, helmet, jacket, vest and cold weather clothing) and having the bike and gearing setup to fit your needs.

    There are hydration drinks without sugar and others have low sugar content. I'm using Nuun right now, it helps and has zero sugar.

    About your bike, don't worry, what every gets you out riding is what counts. The only person who matters is you and if your having fun, then your doing it right.

    All the best....

  5. #5
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    First of all, congrats on the return to cycling! As another rider who returned over the age of 50, I'd have to say that cycling is one of the best forms of low-impact exercise. And, as you've discovered, great for improving your cardio. As you've probably noticed, the slightest incline will give you a good workout right now, lol. And it's fun! It sounds like you're lucky enough to have some trails and paths close by to ride on, and I'm sure there's many others within a short ride or drive from where you live in Colorado Springs. It's supposed to be a great area for outdoor activities.

    Yes, it's a matter of just keep riding regularly. Start to increase your distance slowly, adding on to your mileage as you feel up to it. I've often found that exploring new trails and paths that I'd never been on were a great incentive to pushing myself farther. Hills can be tough, you just have to keep riding them. One day you'll notice that a hill that practically kills you wasn't as bad that time. Then you'll know you're really improving.

  6. #6
    Senior Member Kurt Erlenbach's Avatar
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    Focus on time on the bike, not speed or distance. Aim at about 45 minutes per ride several times per week. If you do that, and don't stop doing it, son you'll be going farther and faster. Rest and recovery are also very important. Just don't stop.

  7. #7
    Senior Member ericm979's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bunnicula View Post
    I've often found that exploring new trails and paths that I'd never been on were a great incentive to pushing myself farther.
    Yep. Just go out and explore. Have fun.

    "water" is one brand of hydration drink that does not contain sugar. It's cheap too!

    Unless you're doing multi-hour rides in the heat you don't need electrolytes. Most Americans get too much salt in their diet already.

  8. #8
    Time for a change. stapfam's Avatar
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    Get out and ride is the best thing you can do but once you get to reasonable mileage-Then think of rest days too. The sensiblre milage is down to you as to what it will be and Rest days will depend on your body and how it recovers. I try to do 3 sensible rides a week and if that is a hard 30 miler- then I don't ride the next day. If it is a harder 50 miler then a gentle short ride the next day- called a recovery ride- will ease any muscular pain.

    But a few points- Butt ache will stop you riding when it comes. But the cure for that is to ride more and only change the saddle when you are convinced that it does not fit. Find out what n+1 is and get storage for it within a couple of months. and enjoy your rides. Pushing yourself on every ride as it is your way to getting fit is hard and not enjoyable till you are fit. Take a few "Smell the roses" rides aswell and take the camera with you. Just so we can enjoy your "Roses" and see what Pie you take.
    How long was I in the army? Five foot seven.


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  9. #9
    Pedaled too far. Artkansas's Avatar
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    Push yourself as hard as you like, but no harder. Stopping is always an option. Aim for "Smiles per Mile" as your main criterion. On a ride, sometimes I will push and sometimes coast, all depending on how I feel at the moment. Stamina will come. As others have said, hills will always get you out of breath. If they don't you aren't trying hard enough. I've discovered that I treasure hills. They provide the most exercise in the shortest time. And intensity is the key to getting the most out of your exercise. But I'm lazy going down hill. A great way to turn hills into intervals.

    Water is the great hydrator. For refreshing your energy levels, try a little fruit. As long as you are not overdoing it on eating, while you are cycling and burning energy, you can be a little more generous. What works best for you will be something you will discover as you go along. But I wouldn't worry too much, as you observed, the exercise will tend to balance your blood sugars, so I bet that you probably won't need that glucose shot. On short trips like you are doing now, you probably don't even need any food. Experience will inform you best.

    Take it very easy on the pie of course.
    "He who serves all, best serves himself" Jack London

    Quote Originally Posted by Bjforrestal View Post
    I don't care if you are on a unicycle, as long as you're not using a motor to get places you get props from me. We're here to support each other. Share ideas, and motivate one another to actually keep doing it.

  10. #10
    Senior Member 009jim's Avatar
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    After a few weeks when you start to feel like you can further and faster, be very cautious because that's when you can overdo it. Just add a little bit. You could mix some swimming in with your cycling. As for the drinks, why not make your own then you'll know what's in it.

  11. #11
    Senior Member ukoro's Avatar
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    Welcome back to Cycling! I think another thing that may prove very useful is minor accessories that may make unexpected troubles much easier. a Rear Rack or Panniers may make a great friend. You can carry a small backpack with a cell phone, small tools to do a quick fix like changing a flat. Nothing worse than getting stranded.

    If you do start carrying items, take some time to get used to the difference in weight to make sure you're comfortable going further with the addition. I don't know too much about diabetes but it seems everyone is on the right foot with answers in regards. Bicycling is a great form of pleasure and exercise, but don't just limit yourself to just this.

    There are plenty of other fun activities that will work out muscles that simply bicycling cannot do alone. You could look into Tai Chi or perhaps Yoga. I saw swimming was mentioned and that is really wonderful too. Keep your mind open and your will strong and before you know it, you'll be right where you belong.

  12. #12
    Senior Member Gravity Aided's Avatar
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    Look into cycling specific stretches , so you feel better, day by day . Keep an awareness of the condition of your feet . Any problems that develop will be slow to heal because of your diabetes . Stay well hydrated, keep an eye on your blood sugar . Diamondbacks are a good deal better than box store bikes , so you've made a good choice . Keep the rides enjoyable, so you always look forward to the next one .

  13. #13
    Senior Member teachme's Avatar
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    Welcome to the forum! Echoing what everyone has said above... All good advice; keep it fun, improve your diet and nutrition, stay safe.
    Official member of the Brotherhood of Clyde...

    Lets stop diabetes! Click here: http://main.diabetes.org/site/TR/?px...nal&fr_id=8067 to donate to the Tour de Cure.

  14. #14
    Galveston County Texas 10 Wheels's Avatar
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    I started road riding when I was 65, a Type 2 diabetic and did not know that at the time.
    Also have 2 herniated disc's, no thyroid gland and breathing problems.

    5 mile rides worked for me. Ride 5 miles, Rest, Then ride another 5 miles.

    Started on a $15 Craiglist bike.

    http://i256.photobucket.com/albums/h...s/DW_C2213.jpg

    Got in 50 miles one day, 5 miles at a time.

    Stayed in the neighborhood for 1,000 miles.
    Then one day met a group of 5 riders coming down the main road.

    http://i256.photobucket.com/albums/h...at10908004.jpg

    Joined them for a 50 mile ride. Been with the group for 5 years.

    http://www.bikeforums.net/showthread...League-City-TX

    Ended with 11,200 miles the first year.

    Riding is my diabetic medication.

    Ride much and rest when you need to take a day off.
    [SIZE=1][B]What I like about Texas[/B]
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  15. #15
    Senior Member donheff's Avatar
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    Welcome back. I too returned in my late 50s although I always owned a bike and occasionally rode small distances. +1 to everyone who said just ride. As to the energy sources you will probably only need to worry about that if you begin to seriously train. Normally riders can easily build up to 20 mile moderate speed rides without worrying about anything other than water. a brief stop for a snack midway and a 30 mile ride is easy as well. It is when you really start to crank up the miles or begin riding at speeds that challenge you that you may start needing to pay attention to gels, electrolytes and the like. As a diabetic you may face other issues that you and your doctors will know more about and that others here will, hopefully, chime in on.

    And always, drink plenty of water.
    Every man is, or hopes to be, an Idler. -- Samuel Johnson

  16. #16
    Senior Member OldsCOOL's Avatar
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    Rule #1....have fun. When it ceases to be fun, it's all over. Even the grueling training that some of us go through is alot of fun, so get out there and enjoy it every chance you get. Your abilities, strength and endurance will progess quickly the more you ride. It just happens.

    I'm type 1 diabetic so I carry little "gummy bear" packets for snacks in the seatbag. They are not used for meal replacement but just for those quick sugar-ups that is needed for the insulin dependant types. Always have a cell phone with you and maybe someone that can be on standby if you need backup for a ride home. I've had to call my wife twice last year, once on a 53mi ride and once for a 81 when on both occasions the heat was 90deg. And the heat is going to slow you down, factor that in.

    Congrats on getting back into a world of fun and good health.
    Having a flat tire as part of the total cycling experience is highly overrated. Knowing how to fix one quickly is not.

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  17. #17
    Around now and then DnvrFox's Avatar
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    Welcome

    Ride, ride, and ride some more. Flats, uphills, downhills. Long and short. Be sure to enjoy what you are doing.

    I started back at 58yo in March, 1998, and did the "Ride the Rockies" in June, 1998.

    Here I am on RTR in 1998 at 58yo. Yes, I rode a mtn bike!!

    Last edited by DnvrFox; 07-01-12 at 06:01 AM.
    DnvrFox - still bicycling, swimming, walking and weight lifting at 74yo is participating a bit in BFN 50+.

  18. #18
    Saved by Grace lphilpot's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by andykay View Post
    I've been riding pretty regularly and I'm really enjoying it on the trails which are a mix of concrete paths and a long gravel trail, now I'm up to about 5 mile rides without any problem in terms of pain or total exhaustion . As I said, I'm loving riding again - something I haven't done since I was (literally) a kid.
    I rode 29 miles yesterday with a friend. In the grand scheme of things, that's definitely fair-to-middlin', but it's measurable progress for me. I don't get to ride as often as I'd like: ~835 miles logged since I started riding 'again' in mid 2010, although nearly half of that is on my new bike since January. That's about weekly mileage for many here but my point is that I've gone from exhausted after five miles to 'merely' tired and somewhat wobbly after thirty humid miles. I'm not fast nor strong, but I'm getting better on both at age 53. As many others have pointed out, just build time in the saddle and do everything you can with whatever (bike) equipment you have to make it fit as well as possible.

    Len Philpot - 2012 Specialized Tricross Sport
    I start out slow and then taper off from there...

  19. #19
    Semper Fi, A way of life. qcpmsame's Avatar
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    Welcome to 50+ and to BF, a lot of our members are returnees to cycling. Several diabetics on board so you should get lots of information from them. I'll reinforce the sentiment that the way to build stamina and strength is to just ride miles. Be sure you hydrate this time of year before and during your rides. The idea of knowing what to carry on rides was already crossed and I'll just second their thoughts, especially carrying a phone in case of an emergency, I never leave the house without mine due to health problems that could strike me unexpectedly and quickly.

    I take my inspiration for riding more and better form the members here, they will support you if you just ask. Dnvrfox has replied, he has a lot of good advice as do all the others that replied. I am 55, soon to be 56 and the rides are an important part of my day. They have brought me back from a deep hole of pain and not exercising to where I enjoy getting out again and enjoying life more. All my best wishes and positive thoughts for your riding.

    Bill
    "I Can Do All Things Through Christ Who Strengthens Me" Philippians 4:13

  20. #20
    Senior Member Bikey Mikey's Avatar
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    Ride, ride, ride. Push, but don't overdo. But, most of all, enjoy. If it becomes a chore or "work"(not as in exercise, but in drudgery) you will likely quit. Cycling has brought back my health, energy and vigor, but, most of all, I enjoy cycling and enjoy the results.

  21. #21
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    "Late in life?" I figured you would be 80 something years old when I read the title. It's great that you've started cycling at 59. You have years of cycling enjoyment ahead. I too have returned to cycling after a long absence (20 years). At age 63, I'm finding my morning rides to be among my favorite retirement activities. Luckily for me, I was in good health and physically fit when I started in late May. Our local bike shop (LBS) has a group of mostly retirees and a few shift-workers who ride three days a week for 30 to 40 miles. Riding with a non-competitive, friendly group is a great way to put on miles painlessly.

  22. #22
    just keep riding BluesDawg's Avatar
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    I won't repeat all the good advice supplied by many in this thread so far other than to reinforce that you should just keep riding and improvements will come. It takes a while to develop the fitness and stamina to ride farther and faster. Ride lots.

    If you can find a club or other riders in your area who will ride wjth you at your pace, offering tips and encouragement, it can help a lot. I am not suggesting you join the local hotshots on their training rides. Many experienced riders are more than happy to help new riders and finding others who are also learning can work wonders for your motivation, even if it is only once in a while and you do most of your riding alone. As a club leader I have worked with dozens of beginning riders, many of whom can now ride circles around me.

    Climbing especially takes time to build the strength and endurance. It is also possible that technique is a factor in how much climbing tires you. Using too high a gear can drain your energy quickly. Learn to use low gears and fast cadence to climb better with less tiring. This is also something that an experienced riding partner can help with. I would be able to give better specific advice after one short ride with you than with dozens of online discussions.

    Enjoy!
    The more you ride your bike, the less your ass will hurt.

  23. #23
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    1. Get out and ride.

    2. Slow way down when going up-hill. If you run out of air (and I'll wager you do.) - you'er going too fast. Slow down

    3. As the miles build up you will find your self going up the hills with less effort.

    4. Don't try too much to soon. It gets better. There is no hurry.

  24. #24
    Pedaled too far. Artkansas's Avatar
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    You might be interested in reading Sugar Nation by the editor of Bodybuilding.com, Jeff O'Connell. It details his journey after he discovers that he is pre-diabetic, and wants to avoid the fate of his diabetic father and grandfather. His perspective is unique because he comes at it from an exercise background. He also digs into the history of the diabetes industry.
    "He who serves all, best serves himself" Jack London

    Quote Originally Posted by Bjforrestal View Post
    I don't care if you are on a unicycle, as long as you're not using a motor to get places you get props from me. We're here to support each other. Share ideas, and motivate one another to actually keep doing it.

  25. #25
    Senior Member yodatic's Avatar
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    I have just returned to Pensacola FL from Colorado Springs, last night. I ran a few 5k's while there and the most vivid memories were the 5% humidity and the lack of oxygen at the higher elevations, 5'000+ compared to sea level here. If I were to stay there I would carry water and adjust slowly to give myself time for the blood cells to carry more oxygen. It is a very beautiful place and the scenery is almost overwhelming!

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