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How to get older women back into cycling?

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How to get older women back into cycling?

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Old 06-25-18, 07:17 AM
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npsantini
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How to get older women back into cycling?

Ok so I'm not actually 50+ or a woman, but hear me out.


My mom is going to be 50 this year and wants to start riding a bike again after not having ridden one in probably 20 years. I need some help figuring out the best setup for her to make sure it isn't something she tries for a day, ends up uncomfortable, and never rides again.


I've been riding basically every year since I was able to walk, so I already know what works for me, what is comfortable, etc. However, I'm in my mid 20's and what works for me is probably completely different for her.


She isn't in the best of shape which is one of the reasons she wants to get back into it.


What style bike would be best? What type of saddle (I know it's different for everybody, but ballpark suggestions for slightly heavier people)? Any other gear she would potentially need and/or make her transition back into cycling more enjoyable?


I just really want her to be able to ease back into the sport that I love so much. Any suggestions or help on how to make that would be awesome!
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Old 06-25-18, 07:38 AM
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Rent several different bicycles and ride different places. Let her find out what she likes.

Just be sure to set the bicycles up correctly for her.
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Old 06-25-18, 07:48 AM
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This is easy, start out with something cheap and upright like a vintage mountain bike. They're available for little money on craigslist. All you need to do is buy some decent slick tires, perhaps find a more comfortable saddle, and tune the bike up. The cool thing is that if she does not like the bike, you can sell it. If she does, you can "upgrade" and keep this as a utility bike or sell it. Old mtbs are great bikes for someone starting out after a long break as you sit upright and have fat tires. They are very stable over all kinds of terrain.

I love my road bikes. But at the beginning of the season I ride my old mtb. It never fails to put a smile on my face and that's what it's all about, right?
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Old 06-25-18, 07:49 AM
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It's hard to know what type of bike. What kind of riding will she decide she likes? I think the first thing is to find a beginner friendly place (bike trail, maybe) and get started on a hybrid or a hardtail mtb. When I started I rode a too small 3 speed for 5 mile loops a few times per week.
Saddles are very personal. A woman I know started riding at 60 and I advised her to try different saddles and experiment with the adjustments and she is happy with a Terry women's saddle. The right shorts are also key to comfort.
If you could find other women her age group to help that would be good. I know some very good women riders in their 60s.
The main thing is to just get out there and get started. Bikes and saddles can be changed along the way.
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Old 06-25-18, 08:04 AM
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E-assist for the win.
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Old 06-25-18, 08:24 AM
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Originally Posted by Machka View Post
Rent several different bicycles and ride different places. Let her find out what she likes.
+1. As the old saying goes "Mother knows best."
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Old 06-25-18, 08:36 AM
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Start with a mountain bike and easy, non-technical trail or bike path riding, away from traffic.
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Old 06-25-18, 10:00 AM
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If it were me, I would start at my local LBS and discuss the situation with them. Ask if she can test ride some bikes. Even if she does not buy the bike from them, she will likely go there for repairs.

I would also review the safe riding videos on the LAB website which will provide confidence and suggests some riding skills she should practice such as stopping and starting, turning, etc.
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Old 06-25-18, 10:03 AM
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Originally Posted by Dudelsack View Post
E-assist for the win.
This suggestion has lots of merit.


-Tim-
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Old 06-25-18, 10:44 AM
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Honestly, I would start with walking/hiking. Build up her fitness and drop some weight first. This will go a long way to show motivation before spending money and time chasing around for a bike.
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Old 06-25-18, 12:49 PM
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Really hard to know without some input from your Mom. The mountain bike types suggested by others might be the thing to try initially, but also something like the beach cruisers or roadster style that was common in the 50s and early 60s before english style racing bikes became the defacto standard.

Whatever it is, I recommend inexpensive enough so that after she's gotten some use out of it and has some better idea of what kind of cycling she wants to do, that there will be money to get another and no problem giving the old one away if it won't serve any purpose for her after getting the new one.

It might just be me, but I think the beach cruiser / roadster style was the most comfortable bike to ride in a very leisurely style with upright seating position. It's not ever going to be fast pushing that much air out of your way because of that upright position.

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Old 06-25-18, 10:42 PM
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Originally Posted by TimothyH View Post
This suggestion has lots of merit.


-Tim-
It could also have a downside. People who jump on e-bikes, especially the faster ones, can suddenly go faster than they ever have without having learned skills or how to ride around others.
I'm not against e-bikes and I don't want to start a flame war but an e-bike may not be appropriate in this case.
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Old 06-26-18, 06:46 AM
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Originally Posted by big john View Post
It could also have a downside. People who jump on e-bikes, especially the faster ones, can suddenly go faster than they ever have without having learned skills or how to ride around others.
I'm not against e-bikes and I don't want to start a flame war but an e-bike may not be appropriate in this case.

The suggestion was e-assist, not e-bike.

An e-bike has a throttle and goes without pedaling.

A bike with e-assist has no throttle and the rider has to pedal. The assist only makes pedaling easier and it cuts out when the bike reaches 20 MPH. The idea is to give the rider a little help when the going gets tough, that's all.


-Tim-
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Old 06-26-18, 06:59 AM
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Make sure that her first few rides last no longer than 10 or 15 minutes. No traffic, no hills. She'll likely eventually feel confident enough to start taking longer rides.

Note, though, that leisurely rides on a cruiser or hybrid or mountain bike burn fewer calories than vigorous walking.
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Old 06-26-18, 08:18 AM
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If older women(or anyone else for that matter)truly wanted to get into cycling they would just do it.
Same as with any other form of exercise or activity.
Anyone can do enough quick, basic research to get started.
There is no easy or special way to get someone out on the road.
Imo the worst thing you can do is get them obsessive over fit and gear before they get going.
Basic fit and basic gear is by far the best start. Then let them progress how they may from there.
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Old 06-26-18, 08:29 AM
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On my local MUP Iím seeing more woman these days. One that I chatted with (50+) was riding a 70ís mixte frame bike and doing really well. A quick search on our local craigslist returned lots of these in the $100-300 range. Lots of different variations too. Maybe you should have a look in your area. Best I think to get your mom started in an inexpensive safe way and see what happens. Good luck.
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Old 06-26-18, 08:29 AM
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E-assist is a good option imo
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Old 06-26-18, 08:30 AM
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Some people want to remain seated at stops, with feet on the ground. Not a recumbent. Many companies offer this style of crank-forward design.

Also agree with e-bike, or e-assist as a possible advantage. My 70 yo brother recently retired and bought an e-bike, in his words, ĎMuch more enjoyable to get in shape at 12-15mph instead of 7-10mph.í

Remember, nothing worse for a newbie than pushing a bike up a hill.
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Old 06-26-18, 08:48 AM
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Originally Posted by TimothyH View Post
The suggestion was e-assist, not e-bike.

An e-bike has a throttle and goes without pedaling.

A bike with e-assist has no throttle and the rider has to pedal. The assist only makes pedaling easier and it cuts out when the bike reaches 20 MPH. The idea is to give the rider a little help when the going gets tough, that's all.


-Tim-
Thanks for the clarification. I still think it's best to leave out the "E" at least for now.We don't know this woman, she may get in shape quickly and start kicking ass. She's only 50, she might surprise everyone. I've seen it before.
Get her started on some easy rides and see what happens.
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Old 06-26-18, 10:02 AM
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E-Assist was the best way for my wife to get going again riding a bike...About 7 years ago she bought a bicycle to start riding again, and... first year about 150Km, second year about 150Km, third year about 150Km, fourth year 0Km... I bought her a BionX E-Assist kit and the fifth year she did about 1,200Km, using the assist a lot, the sixth year about 1,200Km, using the assist at 30%, the seventh year she did about 1,200Km, hardly using the assist at all...

EDIT; We have now also done 2 bike tours of about 800Km each in the last 3 years, and have one planned for this year in the Yukon...

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Old 06-26-18, 12:48 PM
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Sure, getting the "right" gear is important but I think that shouldn't be the main focus for what you're trying to do. I run a bike club that is roughly 60% women. Almost all our riders are over 60 years old and many are in their 70's and even 80's. The one thing that keeps many of our riders coming back is not just having the right bike; it's having the companionship of other riders. This seems even more important to many of the women who ride with us.

To encourage someone to ride, I think the best way to start out is to find them people to ride with. It doesn't need to be a whole bike club. You can start small with just one other person or maybe start a little MeetUp group. Without question, there are plenty of bike riders who will just go out and ride by themselves but, given the remarkable growth my club has experienced, my two cents is that it's more fun to ride with other people who are willing to ride at least somewhat the way you do (speed, distance, terrain, traffic, time of day, weather, etc).

If I were in your situation, two of the first things I would try to do, assuming your Mom is interested in riding, is to: 1. find compatible people for her to ride with and 2. find a bunch of really safe, scenic and not-too-hilly routes she could follow.
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Old 06-26-18, 04:46 PM
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^^ Someone with actual experience.

Listen to her.


-Tim-
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Old 06-26-18, 07:55 PM
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One of the bike shops in my town is owned by a woman and she hosts weekly rides for women. I happened to stop by the shop one evening just before they departed and it seemed to draw a crowd. Look for opportunities like that at local shops and clubs. Try to get her connected with some riding buddies who are about at her level. There's nothing like friends to hold you accountable to any positive change in your life.
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Old 06-27-18, 09:19 AM
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Old 06-27-18, 09:42 AM
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Originally Posted by big john View Post
It could also have a downside. People who jump on e-bikes, especially the faster ones, can suddenly go faster than they ever have without having learned skills or how to ride around others.
I'm not against e-bikes and I don't want to start a flame war but an e-bike may not be appropriate in this case.
I agree.

A bike going 20 MPH a potential danger to a neophyte.
Motorized bicycles are very expensive.
She'll be denied the pleasure of getting in shape (her goal) and seeing her speed and abilities increase with time.
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