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

My Story

Old 06-29-17, 07:46 AM
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My Story

Hi all:

The description for this forum is "Share the victories, challenges, successes and special concerns of bicyclists 50 and older. Especially useful for those entering or reentering bicycling" so that's what I'm going to do.

I've just turned 57, so that's where I stand at the moment. I remember cycling when I was in elementary school, cycling to school then and right up to highschool. I would cycle to my summer jobs in my teens and early 20s but after I got married 30 years ago, I would only occassionally cycle because there were periods when I didn't have a bike.

When I was younger and my dad was 54, he was on vacation and had a small heart attack, he finished his vacation and then went to the doctor (not the recommended order of events but that's what he did) and it was confirmed. When I turned 50, I vowed to reach the age of 55 without a heart attack so I started to eat better, lost about 40 lbs (I was 5'8" 205lbs) and decided to get a bike and cycle again. I didn't sign up with MapMyRide until the following year so I don't know how many kms I had done in the first year but in 2011, I rode 800km, 1800 in 2012 and have ridden between 3100 and 4300 kms/yr each year since.

In September 2015, I rode in a charity ride with other co-workers (we had to take vacation to do so), 900km in 7 days including one day of 178km. In September 2016, the same ride but a different route (and I wasn't sufficiently well trained to ride all of it) I rode 450 (of 585) km in the 4 days of the ride (there were lots and lots of hills, 1900m/5700ft of climbing on the second day alone and hill work was where my training was lacking, the missing kms were spent in the SAG vehicle, nursing sore and tired muscles) and this year, the route is 4 days, each a century (100mi or 160km) and I am well on the way for training for the ride (flat but consistently long).

As much as I admire cyclists my age and older who have ridden much greater distances, my early-20s sons and their friends admire my ability to ride. I was going to ride a solo self-supported 900km/9 day bike tour this summer but my wife, who is not a cyclist, wants to go on her first tour with me so we're doing a short credit-card tour that she can handle in place of my longer one which will have to wait until next year.

Cycling has been my life-saver, not just from a physical health perspective (I may have had a heart attack if I hadn't changed my life style but I haven't had one since I changed my life-style so we'll never know) but also from a mental health perspective (reduced my depression) and enjoyment of life and getting out on the bike and seeing the world (or at least, parts of my province that I haven't been to).

I hope that this helps someone 50+ consider getting on a bike and start to cycle for health benefits and enjoyment.
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Old 06-29-17, 08:32 AM
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Hey jrickards, I just turned 62 in March and bought an old Specialized Rockhopper and started to ride around my neighborhood. I have recently purchased a new Giant Roam 3 Disc and am now up to 50 miles/week and lost 6 pounds. I feel much better and am looking forward to riding much more. I monitor this site for very useful information and really like reading stories like yours. I know that I will eventually "trade up" to nicer machines but for now my Roam 3 fits me very well. Thanks.
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Old 06-29-17, 08:58 AM
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My father had a MASSIVE heart attack when he was 53. They had to jolt him back to life 5 times.

At that point, I decided to have my heart attack on the installment plan. I would hurt a little bit every day on the bike in order to avoid the big hit of a heart attack. In those early days and months, there really was some pain every day. I hadn't ridden a bike or run for a long time. But now, 26 years later, the bike has kept the promise. I'm still racing the bike occasionally. Not as fast as I once was, but still enjoying the journey. And there has been no heart attack. 10% body fat and, sadly, more fit than my kids.
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Old 06-29-17, 03:46 PM
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Originally Posted by jrickards View Post
Cycling has been my life-saver, not just from a physical health perspective...but also from a mental health perspective.
That has been my experience as well.
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Old 06-29-17, 05:18 PM
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Gave up cycling at age 17 when I got my first car. Resumed it in grad school a few years later when I needed a way to get from my apartment to campus and never quit riding from then on. The number of miles went way down as the years accumulated and it got less comfortable to ride even using expensive bikes. In 2000 I discovered the benefits of riding recumbent bikes and then trikes. I'm sure I rode three times the number of miles at age 60 as when I was 25. Like Clark Gable in Gone with the Wind, "My dear, I don't give a damn" (what anyone thinks of my riding these strange bikes and trikes).
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Old 06-30-17, 03:25 AM
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Welcome to the forum jrickards, fantastic accounting of why cycling is so important in your life. Cannot offer a better reason for our sport than to beat off the reaper, it certainly has done so for me. Good to have you share your story with us, much in common between us it seems.

Semper Fi, USMC, 1975-1977

I Can Do All Things Through Him, Who Gives Me Strength. Philippians 4:13

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Old 06-30-17, 08:18 AM
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I waited too late..
I wasn't really over weight, maybe a little but not bad. What I didn't know was the cholesterol issues that I inherited were already at work. My grandfather died of a heart attack at 62, my Dad had one at 52. Mine got me at 48! After that I decided to take my health more serious. I have bad knees and back so running was out. I figured biking was best for me. After a years wait (they did not want me riding on blood thinners) I bought a bike and started trying to get healthy. 7 years later I feel as good as I did in my 30s. That doesn't mean I can do what I did in my 30s but....I still struggle with eating right, but taking my mess and riding after work every day that I can 20 miles or so has me feeling like I might at least live till retirement.
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Old 06-30-17, 10:50 AM
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65 and a consistent 30+ year rider, not counting the kid and teen years.
Life changer = 100% sure, life saver = ???, but probably.

Life is Good
Ride On!
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Old 06-30-17, 10:55 AM
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You guys have taken the most important step in leading a life of satisfaction and enjoyment. That step is to live life deliberately and in doing that, each moment has greater value. When each moment has greater value, then a longer and healthier life is meaningful.

The Old Philosofer
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Old 06-30-17, 12:46 PM
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Great story jrickards. From everyone here, really. Inspiring!

In my early 20's I sensed the lure of cycling, the freedom of it, and assumed fitness benefits. I remember passing a bike shop that had a Raleigh in the window on a close-out sale. I could afford it, but didn't buy it. But I sure thought about it, dreamed about it a little.

At 27 I came across a co-worker who knew about cycling, bikes, and the history of the sport. He helped me buy a bike, and I was instantly hooked. Life changing hooked. Very quickly I became aware of the health benefits. I was already thin, and did a lot of hiking and some running and sometimes in the gym, but couldn't believe how much fitter I got. How much better I felt. It was just astounding. And it helped my mindset as well.

Over the next decade I rode my bike(s) more than I drove my car, I'm certain of it. Over 8,000 miles one year. I commuted, raced, rode group rides, centuries, and hundreds or thousands of solo miles on the lonesome road of elation. I took my bike on numerous trips across the western US and beyond. I had a couple years of minimal riding in my late 40's, but picked it back up more passionatly in the last three years or so.

Now, nearly 30 years later, I'm still going. I would ride 350 days a year if I could. The health benefits are still very noticable, and it makes me incredibly happy. Whether I'm riding solo, with a group, the road bike or the mountain bike, flats, hills, rain or shine.. Every moment on the bike is a moment I am alive.

No one lives forever. But the quality of life benefits from cycling is so very noticable to me as I age. I sometimes go on a fairly relaxed but still somewhat quick group ride, and there's a guy there who looks like he's in his 60's, and can almost keep up with everyone. He's actually 75. I want to be him in 20 years. If I keep up what I'm doing, I believe I will be.
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Old 07-04-17, 07:20 AM
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Yes, these are great stories. Thanks for sharing everyone!
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Old 07-04-17, 07:32 AM
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No heart attack stories from me, but at 54, cycling continues to help me forget about all the joints and muscles that ache every minute of the day. The only time I'm not in constant pain is when I am on the bike, and the longer I ride, the better I feel.

Congratulations and good luck, jrickards.
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Old 07-04-17, 07:53 AM
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I re-started in my mid 50s as well, after a break of 35 years or so. I live in an area that's very popular with local clubs as there is a unique selection of very nice rural roads with very little traffic. I always saw the riders and thought of how much I had enjoyed riding as a kid. But for some reason it never occurred to me to try riding again. Then my wife said she wanted to try riding around the neighborhood to gain a little fitness. She borrowed a bike from a friend and started riding. So I bought an old hybrid to ride with her. It was fun, but I didn't really get hooked again until I decided to get a road bike instead. I don't know if it was muscle memory from childhood, but as soon as I got on that bike I knew this was what I needed. So I bought a vintage ride that would have been the next step up had I kept riding - a bike I would have wanted as a kid but wouldn't have been able to afford back then. That was about 5 years ago and I've loved every ride since.

I wasn't really riding for fitness and hadn't been substantially overweight since my early 30s, but I did lose about 20 pounds and it's kind of fun to be the same weight I was in high school.
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Old 07-05-17, 10:29 AM
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I was a nerdy, uncoordinated kid completely devoid of athletic ability. We tend to gravitate to our strengths (music, math, construction toys in my case) and avoid our weaknesses, and the relatively low level of physical activity led to obesity.

The summer I turned 12 I finally figured out how to balance a bicycle (please don't laugh), and I bought a Schwinn 2-speed "middleweight" from a friend. Quickly hooked, I requested and received a low-end Bianchi road bike for Christmas that year. Bicycling was a complete game-changer -- freedom to explore, physique-changing exercise, camaraderie with classmates who shared my interest in the sport.

As a grad student at UCLA I got a weekend and summer job at a bike shop to help make ends meet. I recognized one of our customers as the father of a boyhood friend and west Los Angeles neighbor, but it took him quite a while to figure out who I was. "Oh ... you were that little ROUND kid."

My current fitness regimen involves three workouts at the YMCA per week, a lot of bicycling and fast walking for transportation, plus some (not enough) pleasure cycling. Cycling remains the only sport I have ever truly loved, and it has saved me from family tendencies of obesity, diabetes, etc. I have met some delightful people on the road and online, and I have spent pleasurable time building, maintaining, and restoring bicycles.
"Far and away the best prize that life offers is the chance to work hard at work worth doing." --Theodore Roosevelt
Capo: 1959 Modell Campagnolo, S/N 40324; 1960 Sieger (2), S/N 42624, 42597
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Old 07-05-17, 11:45 PM
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yes, yes, and yes. Cyciing is improving my physical health, improving my mental health, and giving me a fantastical additional reason to want to live.

It's my personal savior (no religious connotations intended).
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Old 07-06-17, 03:14 AM
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I remember the dark ages of cycling in America, the fifties, when practically no adult, or anyone old enough to drive, dared be seen on a bicycle, lest he be laughed at. Eisenhower had a heart attack in 1956, and his heart doctor, Paul Dudley White, was one of those few Americans who did ride a bike. He was also an advocate for the health benefits of cycling and walking. I think that was the beginning of America's awareness of the benefits of exercise and cycling.

I got up the courage to resume cycling in the early sixties. There were some snide remarks for a few years, but by the end of the sixties cycling had become popular, so I didn't have to listen to stupid remarks any more.

So far, so good, but I don't know what tomorrow will bring.
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Old 07-06-17, 06:14 AM
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Originally Posted by John E View Post
The summer I turned 12 I finally figured out how to balance a bicycle (please don't laugh).
I was about that age, probably a year younger (grade 5 I think). We all learn when we're ready. Until recently, I wondered why I couldn't do stuff on bikes that other people could do - hand signals are still problematic. Turns out one of the effects of bi-polar is lousy balance and guess what. Funny thing is, I've been riding these here bike thingies since my teens, been building bikes since then, done things that were really rather ambitious, yet have never achieved anything significant by the standards of what you read on this and other forums.

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Old 07-06-17, 11:33 AM
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Back in my early 20s I lost 90 lbs. in 9 months through cycling and diet change (not dieting). At 52, I commute/run errands, do road rides for fun and fitness and do self-contained tours. Last Saturday I finished a two-week, self-contained tour in NW Montana (with one night in Idaho). Around this time last year I bought the second car of my life. It currently has fewer than 2,700 miles on it. Locomotion via bike and foot is an integral part of my daily life.
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Old 07-06-17, 09:35 PM
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As I recall, I started at about 57 myself. I quit smoking and lost and have kept off 65 pounds. I'm retired now, but in the last few years of my working life, I found cycling to be cathartic. The stress of work seemed to melt away with the miles and smiles. Also, I met a lot of neat people.
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Old 07-14-17, 06:59 PM
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Great write up.
BTW, I see you are from Sudbury. My wife was a Sudbury girl. The bridge over hwy 69 at Estaire rd is named in honor of her father.
" Well, the girls are out to bingo and the boys are gettin' stinko ....."
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