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  1. #1
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    How Best to Re-Acquaint a 70 Year Old with Biking?

    My sister (70 years old) is considering taking up biking after a layoff of almost 50 years. I'm encouraging her, and she's expressed interest without any prodding from me, but she has strong doubts that she'd be able to stay upright. I tell her that the old saying that "once you know how to ride, you never forget" is literally true. (That's how it was for me when I returned to riding a bike - but I was 55....). Like me, she will be a casual rider at best. We have a municipal paved bike path through town and many flat, level, safe side streets with virtually no traffic.

    My question is - How do I get her started confidently? I thought that I'd take her to the bike path or my long driveway and let her ride my bike a very short distance just to prove that she WILL stay upright. (I have no doubt.) I know that it's second nature for those of us here in this forum to start from a standing start, but what should I specifically instruct her to do for her first "launch"? (Training wheels are out of the question. )Or... would it be best to just take her to our LBS and explain that she's considering getting back into biking (making her a potential customer) and letting them help her take her first spin around their parking lot on a bike that they recommend? (Would they even give instruction? I know that they allow test rides around their parking lot - they did for me 5 years ago - but would they want to get involved in actually giving some minimal instruction?)

    Any thoughts on how to get her re-started in biking would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks!

  2. #2
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    About a year ago I faced this same situation. Somewhere in the neighborhood of 50 years off a bike. I bought a bike and let it sit in the den for two weeks, just looking at it. I was almost afraid to get on it.

    One Saturday morning I rolled the bike out on the driveway and jumped on it. Jumped right back off. I almost fell over. Whoa ! I better do this on the grass. Five minutes later I was tooling around our cul-de-sac. Not real stable or confidant, but I was riding it.


    "once you know how to ride, you never forget"
    This is absolutely true. Let her get in the bike however she feels comforatable and pedal away.

  3. #3
    Senior Member downtube42's Avatar
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    Not all bikes are equally easy to ride. I'd take her to a LBS, preferably outside their busy hours. Pay close attention to how they listen and react to her situation. If they don't deal with her situation with with appropriate attention, go elsewhere.
    What is bicycle touring?
    "So I kept looking and eventually found that a spark plug had same threads. So I cycled next two days until I got to Jackson, MS with a spark plug instead of right pedal." - mev

  4. #4
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    I second the LBS approach, and the idea of catching them at a slow time. Assuming it's a good shop, they'll patiently listen to her desires and concerns, and match her up with an appropriate bike that fits. She might feel most comfortable with a step-through frame. They can help her decide how comfortable she is with gears and/or hand brakes. Also, most stores have a reasonable "testing zone" that should keep her out of harm's way (well, at least serious harm). They'll also provide a helmet, and calm words of advice.

    Remind her how much fun it is. And that it will be even more daunting to come back at it in another five years.

  5. #5
    Galveston County Texas 10 Wheels's Avatar
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    [SIZE=1][B]What I like about Texas[/B]
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PGukLuXzH1E

    Set F1re To The Ra1n ( NY Night Rain Ride)
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W7jfcWEkSrI

  6. #6
    Senior Member Northwestrider's Avatar
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    The LBS idea is a good one. Often times people have confidence in someone outside family. Failing that, trikes are not like they were 50 years ago, they can be quite nice IMO.

  7. #7
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    Thanks all. I think that we'll go with the LBS idea and maybe give serious consideration to a trike. I hadn't thought of that - Do they come with gears?

  8. #8
    Senior Member BlazingPedals's Avatar
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    Sure, trikes come with gears. They're not your grandma's trikes! Trikes are the fastest-growing segment of the recumbent market. Depending on where you are, there might be a dealer near you.

  9. #9
    Senior Member rumrunn6's Avatar
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    my in laws got back into biking for a while and had a few crashes (mostly into each other ...) before they stopped. the risk outweighed the benefit (for them)
    cycling is like baseball ~ it doesn't take much to make it interesting

  10. #10
    A might bewildered... Dudelsack's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by newbert View Post
    Thanks all. I think that we'll go with the LBS idea and maybe give serious consideration to a trike. I hadn't thought of that - Do they come with gears?
    Catrikes are state of the art type of Trikes, and thus are very expensive. I came across a cyclist on one last weekend. He had moderately severe (so it looked to me) Parkinson's disease and he still was scooting around all over creation. They are an excellent choice for an aging athlete, if they can afford it. You don't see many good models reasonably priced on Craigslist or Ebay.

  11. #11
    Senior Member Doug64's Avatar
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    Do it the same way we start kids riding. Remove the pedals, and lower the seat so she can get her feet on the ground. Then go to a place where she can use it as a strider bike. Once she is whizzing around with reasonable balance, replace the pedals. She will take off with confidence and a smile on her face. As her confidence grows, the seat can be raised to a more efficient riding height.

    Get her a helmet!

    Glide Bikes, Balance Bike, Push Bike for Kids - GlideBikes.com

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fgsyILemn2E

  12. #12
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    2 wheel Crank forward bikes like the Trek Pure Pure Lowstep - Trek Bicycle
    offer the secure feeling that when they stop, the ground is not to far off, to put a foot down.

  13. #13
    Senior Member Rich Gibson's Avatar
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    LBS should be good however if she's not real confident a quiet wide long straight path with few or no people. Last July I reacquainted myself with cycling after 43 years. I just got on and rode it and that was that. (In another lifetime I was a Navy carrier pilot so YMMV.)

    Rich
    ..life is like a roll of toilet paper. The closer it gets to the end, the faster it goes. ― Andy Rooney ...enjoy what's left!

  14. #14
    Bicyclerider4life
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    Quote Originally Posted by newbert View Post
    Thanks all. I think that we'll go with the LBS idea and maybe give serious consideration to a trike. I hadn't thought of that - Do they come with gears?
    Miami Sun makes a 3 speed "adult" trike, also a 21 or 24 speed recumbent trike.
    "Whenever I see an adult riding a bicycle, I know there is hope for mankind." (H. G. Wells)

  15. #15
    Senior Member BlazingPedals's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bicyclridr4life View Post
    Miami Sun makes a 3 speed "adult" trike, also a 21 or 24 speed recumbent trike.
    My idea was not this:

    but more like this:

  16. #16
    Ding! Bandera's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by newbert View Post
    My sister (70 years old) is considering taking up biking after a layoff of almost 50 years.
    Although "you never forget how to ride a bike" is a truism consider what the hardware was like the last time that she turned a crank. Balloon tire'd coaster brake models, what we'd consider a "beach cruiser" were the norm, operating handbrakes was in the esoteric realm of the exotic 3spd "English racer".

    If she never operated hand brakes & multi-gears "back when" there is no latent muscle memory to retrieve. Simple is good. A very basic "ladies" coaster brake model w/ the seat down low enough to tip-toe the ground on a flat zero traffic paved area is the place to start before moving on to a CF time trial machine.

    If she is healthy why consider that her balance skills are impaired and "needs" a trike?
    Get her on a 'cruiser and proceed.

    PS
    Since you don't indicate where on planet you are located the hardware could be very different than in the USA ~50 years ago. British female riders like Beryl Burton humbled many men & French Randonneuses rode advanced kit over very long distances.

    -Bandera
    Last edited by Bandera; 04-25-14 at 04:49 PM. Reason: beryl
    '74 Raleigh International - '77 Trek TX900FG - '92 Vitus 979 - '10 Merckx EMX-3- '11 Soma Stanyan

  17. #17
    Bicyclerider4life
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    Quote Originally Posted by BlazingPedals View Post
    My idea was not this:

    but more like this:
    the blue one is less likely to get her a speeding ticket though.

    (p.s. if you get the blue one CHANGE THE SEAT to a regular or "cruiser" seat. Those tractor seats are very uncomfortable.)
    "Whenever I see an adult riding a bicycle, I know there is hope for mankind." (H. G. Wells)

  18. #18
    Senior Member BlazingPedals's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bandera View Post
    If she is healthy why consider that her balance skills are impaired and "needs" a trike?
    Maybe because it was stated at the beginning that balance was a concern? BTW, you don't *need* a trike in order to enjoy one.

  19. #19
    Ding! Bandera's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BlazingPedals View Post
    Maybe because it was stated at the beginning that balance was a concern? BTW, you don't *need* a trike in order to enjoy one.
    Sure she's concerned, it's been awhile.
    Expressing a desire to give it a go shows good old fashioned gumption.
    Why fall back to Plan B w/o a proper good old fashioned try at riding an old fashioned bicycle?

    Not denigrating trikes & their riders in any way but if one wishes to ride a bicycle, have at it w/ familiar technology in a safe setting & w/ proper kit.


    -Bandera
    Last edited by Bandera; 04-25-14 at 05:38 PM.
    '74 Raleigh International - '77 Trek TX900FG - '92 Vitus 979 - '10 Merckx EMX-3- '11 Soma Stanyan

  20. #20
    Senior Member Dave Cutter's Avatar
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    Sure balance is a major concern for many older (50+) people who aren't active. But leg strength can also be an issue with older people. I took up cycling in my late 50's and could hardly stand on my shaking legs after even just a short ride. My mother and a friend of hers (both near 90) tried a trike and found leg strength to be a big issue as well.

    Cycling includes injuries... it always will. Is your sister prepared for a cycling related injury?

  21. #21
    Ding! Bandera's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Cutter View Post
    Is your sister prepared for a cycling related injury?
    As I exit this thread the air of implied incapacity and doom for a Senior willing to get back into a life affirming activity that we all enjoyed since childhood from members of a cycling forum is simply appalling.

    50 years ago: "Girls shouldn't ride bikes: They'll get all sweaty, and it's too hard."
    Today for the same person now advanced in age: "Bullsh_t!"

    Risk nothing, curl up & wither or have at it?
    Her choice, not you Kill-Joys, another old lady plootering about on a bicycle is a positive sign.

    -Bandera Out
    Last edited by Bandera; 04-25-14 at 06:46 PM.
    '74 Raleigh International - '77 Trek TX900FG - '92 Vitus 979 - '10 Merckx EMX-3- '11 Soma Stanyan

  22. #22
    Senior Member Doug64's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bandera View Post
    As I exit this thread the air of implied incapacity and doom for a Senior willing to get back into a life affirming activity that we all enjoyed since childhood from members of a cycling forum is simply appalling.

    50 years ago: "Girls shouldn't ride bikes: They'll get all sweaty, and it's too hard."
    Today for the same person now advanced in age: "Bullsh_t!"

    Risk nothing, curl up & wither or have at it?
    Her choice, not you Kill-Joys, another old lady plootering about on a bicycle is a positive sign.

    -Bandera Out

  23. #23
    Senior Member
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    I would go on Craig's list and get her a hybrid for $100 - $200. You could start her on hard dirt as she may fall initially. After a couple pedal strokes she will get back her muscle memory. As she gets better get her into a recreational riding group with seniors. An LBS may have beginners ride. If she likes it get her a "real" road bike. She will develop friendships and get hooked.

  24. #24
    Senior Member rydabent's Avatar
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    My wife that just turned 70 says that a trike is the only way she will ride.

    BTW check out Terratrike. They have some trikes that wont break the bank.

  25. #25
    Senior Member BlazingPedals's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bandera View Post
    Why fall back to Plan B w/o a proper good old fashioned try at riding an old fashioned bicycle?

    Not denigrating trikes & their riders in any way but if one wishes to ride a bicycle, have at it w/ familiar technology in a safe setting & w/ proper kit.
    Actually, you are denigrating trikes and their riders. You're designating trikes as "Plan B;" not the choice of REAL bike riders.

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