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Old 04-24-14, 06:53 PM   #1
newbert
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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!
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Old 04-24-14, 07:27 PM   #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.


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"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.
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Old 04-24-14, 07:43 PM   #3
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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.
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Old 04-24-14, 09:53 PM   #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.
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Old 04-24-14, 09:57 PM   #5
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Lots of folks going with 3 wheels.

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Old 04-24-14, 10:10 PM   #6
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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.
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Old 04-25-14, 07:59 AM   #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?
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Old 04-25-14, 09:23 AM   #8
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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.
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Old 04-25-14, 09:38 AM   #9
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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)
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Old 04-25-14, 09:58 AM   #10
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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.
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Old 04-25-14, 01:16 PM   #11
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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!

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Old 04-25-14, 01:58 PM   #12
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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.
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Old 04-25-14, 02:17 PM   #13
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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.)

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Old 04-25-14, 02:29 PM   #14
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Quote:
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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?
Miami Sun makes a 3 speed "adult" trike, also a 21 or 24 speed recumbent trike.
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Old 04-25-14, 02:35 PM   #15
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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:
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Old 04-25-14, 04:24 PM   #16
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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.

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Old 04-25-14, 04:57 PM   #17
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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.)
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Old 04-25-14, 05:05 PM   #18
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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.
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Old 04-25-14, 05:15 PM   #19
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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.


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Old 04-25-14, 05:41 PM   #20
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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?
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Old 04-25-14, 05:55 PM   #21
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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.

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Old 04-25-14, 07:00 PM   #22
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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
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Old 04-25-14, 07:35 PM   #23
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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.
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Old 04-25-14, 07:41 PM   #24
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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.
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Old 04-25-14, 08:19 PM   #25
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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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