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Fifty Plus (50+) Share the victories, challenges, successes and special concerns of bicyclists 50 and older. Especially useful for those entering or reentering bicycling.

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Old 07-20-13, 02:48 PM   #1
Digital Gee
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I know it's like riding a bike, but...

So many things are compared with riding a bike to illustrate that once you've learned that skill, you retain it and can recall it years later. Perhaps.

Here's the context for my question: I was a pretty serious and frequent cyclist from about 2005 to about 2010. I started out with a mountain bike and ended up with a beautiful road machine. I went from tennis shoes to bike shoes, from platform pedals to clipless, from jeans and a tee-shirt to jerseys and bibs.

Then I dropped out. Oh, I rode now and then, but it wasn't frequent, and I wasn't getting much out of it.

Now I'm getting ready to take it up again starting this fall when I get to my new home town of Reno, Nevada. I'm wondering if anyone can talk about the process they might have gone through to rebuild their skills (not their fitness, their skills) after having stopped cycling for a few years. I know I have to build stamina and muscle and lung power and all that. I'm wondering how much will I have to almost start all over in terms of skills - when to shift, being aware of traffic, using the mirror without turning my head, getting in and out of clipless pedals, that sort of thing.

Does it all just come back quickly, or is there a new learning curve? And if there is, how long does it last? When will I feel as competent as I once felt, back in 2010?
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Old 07-20-13, 03:00 PM   #2
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Rebuilding is a similar to the way you built skills in the first place, but in an abbreviated format. Start with some recreational riding and base miles/training then keep challenging yourself. As you meet each goal, set new ones. It won't take you long to rebuild both the physical and mental stamina and skills you had before. Even after a few weeks off the bike, I feel like I've lost a lot, but a few rides later it all comes back.
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Old 07-20-13, 03:11 PM   #3
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Hi,

3 years is nothing compared to 30 for some of the 50+ here.
Your way overthinking it, it should come back in a flash.

If you started late in life and developed the skills slower
over 5 years a 3 year hiatus is simply that. They stick.

rgds, sreten.


Riding a bike is a lot more complicated than it first appears,
but like everything you do a lot, like playing an instrument,
your nervous system develops to make it less and less a
apparently conscious effort.

e.g. your brain might think pedal but it doesn't control your legs,
the nerves in your legs develop more synaptic connections to
more finely control the muscles in the legs for riding a bike.

The end result is you will pedal smoother on a bike after 6 months
without trying to do so, than you can after 3 months no matter
how hard you try to do so, I find such tales quite amusing.

Last edited by sreten; 07-20-13 at 03:49 PM.
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Old 07-20-13, 03:16 PM   #4
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I laid off for 10 years or so, and the first couple of rides were a little uncomfortable. I don't mean the bike was uncomfortable, but more like I felt like I didn't belong on it - a little unsure of myself, especially in traffic. It went away fast.
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Old 07-20-13, 03:23 PM   #5
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Three years shouldn't be so bad. Just don't get discouraged at your performance on the first few rides. Eleven years off at 62 years old is another matter, lol. That's a little more like starting from scratch.
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Old 07-20-13, 03:38 PM   #6
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Don't worry about it too much, biking is supposed to be fun.
Just go out and ride.


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Old 07-20-13, 03:52 PM   #7
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ride lots
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Old 07-20-13, 03:56 PM   #8
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Just do it!

It'll all come back pretty quickly. Even if it doesn't, what's the alternative? You just have to redevelop skills and fitness from whatever point you're at this very minute.

Welcome back by the way. I was just thinking about you as I was congratulating myself for the photographer I selected to take our group photo of the Katy Trail Social. You would have approved.
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Old 07-20-13, 04:36 PM   #9
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Another, you're overthinking this, feeling here. From 1990 to 2005 didn't ride then got back at age 55. Rode around a bit then joined in at the back of some club rides. Never took a pull until I felt comfortable.

Enjoy your renewed journey to strength and wellness.
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Old 07-20-13, 05:07 PM   #10
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First few rides will be painful. That's the good news.
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Old 07-20-13, 05:30 PM   #11
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I hadn't ridden a bike since I was 14, making it about 35 years later that I started up. Don't worry, just ride.
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Old 07-20-13, 06:13 PM   #12
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Just
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Old 07-20-13, 06:14 PM   #13
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Go
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Old 07-20-13, 06:15 PM   #14
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Ride !
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Old 07-20-13, 06:29 PM   #15
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Think less. Ride more.
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Old 07-20-13, 08:18 PM   #16
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I can relate to this. . . from the quest I went through to find my PASSION for the ride.

I first experienced that at 15, and stupidly threw it away. Odd times through adulthood, I went after it again, to no avail.

I didn't touch a bike from age 16-1/2 until 26, from 28 to 34; the few times I DID were a letdown. I was beginning to think I'd never find it again.

Until a morning in January, 2001, sneaking up on 42-y-o; a few days after a snowfall, with mostly clear roads (that I wasn't ready to ride on, being apprehensive about stupid and impatient drivers) and sidewalks full of plowed drifts. My old rigid MTB, the "green Monster", was occasional horse for the 7-mile commute. I was a bit 'rash' that morning, deciding to ride in temps in the low teens. Bundled in my insulated coveralls, I headed out. A mile from work, I decided to 'be a kid', and rolled over a frozen plowdrift about 2 feet or so high. . . .

And there it was. I was suddenly AT HOME on the bike again!

I've never looked back, and I've never lost it.

All of my teen skills never regenerated -- can't seem to ride no-handed any more -- but it's been a wonderful rollercoaster for the last twelve years!

Once the foundation is there, you can rebuild the structure any way you want to. You just have to do it, ONE STEP AT A TIME.

ENJOY it, that's the first key!
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Old 07-20-13, 08:31 PM   #17
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Getting back into riding will be easier than getting back into the swing of this forum.
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Old 07-20-13, 08:47 PM   #18
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I had not been on a bike since my mid teens and several weeks ago took up cycling for fitness at age 65. It came back to me in a few minutes. Being able to ride a bike at least. The physical part took a few weeks. My first few rides were less than a mile with my heart almost pounding. Now about two months after those first few rides I am doing 13 ~ 15 miles a day at a reasonably good speed for a hybrid bike. I average between 14 and 15 mph most days for the entire ride. A stiff head wind still knocks the stuffing out of me, but I can feel myself getting stronger going into the winds.
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Old 07-21-13, 10:07 AM   #19
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DG - Just do it but don't overdo it.

My hunch is that you will quickly get from feeling like a complete newbie to wanting to make up lost ground by exceeding your fitness level. I predict sore legs from doing too much, too soon.
Have fun!
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Old 07-21-13, 12:46 PM   #20
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DG: It took me 2 or 3 rides to get used to traffic, after which the skills came back very quickly. I didn't even go Tombay.
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Old 07-21-13, 01:14 PM   #21
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DG: It took me 2 or 3 rides to get used to traffic, after which the skills came back very quickly. I didn't even go Tombay.
All good news, thanks, everyone. I'm told (often) that I overanalyze everything. I'm trying to figure out whether that's a good thing or a bad thing.
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Old 07-21-13, 06:06 PM   #22
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It took a bit to re-gain skills after a 30 year hiatus when I got the comfort/hybrid. When I went to road bike, again, it took a few rides to regain skills, but I managed much faster than when I went to the hybrid/comfort after the 30 year lay-off.
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Old 07-21-13, 08:24 PM   #23
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When you forget to unclip after you come to a stop, you will remember to do it next time!!!
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Old 07-21-13, 09:08 PM   #24
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Before you go screaming down Mt. Rose Highway, get some saddle time to reacquaint yourself with cornering. Other than that, just ride.
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Old 07-22-13, 02:14 PM   #25
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Originally Posted by Digital Gee View Post
All good news, thanks, everyone. I'm told (often) that I overanalyze everything. I'm trying to figure out whether that's a good thing or a bad thing.
Welcome back. Good luck in Nevada.

I'll look into your evaluation about overanalysing. Should be able to give you a reasoned view in a couple of months.

Ride safe, and lots
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