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Aging out for technical MTB trails?

Old 09-21-23, 06:57 AM
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Aging out for technical MTB trails?

I know that there are many factors involved, but I am curious how long some of we older riders manage to ride technical single track and other MTB trails as we age. I know that I have spoken to a number of local guys who feel like they have aged out of riding any of the local trails that they don't consider "flowy". I mentioned to a neighbor that I rode from the house and where I went and he said he'd have to walk most of what I ride. He drives to some nice flowy non technical trails about 20 minutes drive from home to ride. The 40 minute round trip drive, plus loading and unloading the car is a lot of inertia to overcome so it means he is way less likely to ride.

Any way it got me thinking. He is about 10 years my junior (I am 72) and apparently in good health. I know our life and health can be a fragile thing and can be taken away at any time, but I'd like to think there is a reasonable chance that I can still be riding the same kind of trails and make trips to destination rides another 10-15 years if I continue to be blessed with good health. I have always had decent skills for crashing gracefully and without serious orthopedic injury. I think that helps a lot.

We don't have long fast downhills here, but I'd love to ride some if we did. I have always been a fearless descender and I don't think I'd let my age stop me. I miss those descents having moved to Tallahassee. It is one thing I'll enjoy if I travel with my MTB. At present I have been kind of stuck at home and have not travelled for a while.

Am I kidding myself about the likelyhood of another 10-15 years of enjoying this?

What have you found that you have managed? Have you toned down your trail riding? Quit trail riding? Or are you still riding like you did whne younger?
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Old 09-21-23, 08:23 AM
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I think about this often. I have not done any long technical rides in a while but it's more because the people I do them with have moved, or stopped doing them.
I'm primarily a road rider as are most of my friends. It's harder to put together a mountain bike ride when I have to call and e-mail riders and discuss options, etc.
For a road ride all I have to do is show up to the club and go.

I was never a great technical rider, just too much of a wuss. I bought an enduro type bike in 2018 and it really helps make up for my lack of talent and has saved me many times. Lately when I go off road I usually choose less technical routes and I'm usually alone so a lighter bike would work, even a gravel bike for some of it.

One problem I have is I seem to have trouble seeing the line when in rocks and sections that require careful line selection. I can see where to put the front wheel for a short distance but the obstacles further ahead don't come to me like they used to. This might just be due to a lack of practice, idk.

For "flow" trails or even techy trails with less consequence I don't see why we couldn't keep going for years,(I'm 69). It gets us away from cars which is a huge plus. I'm so sick of cars I have started avoiding road sections that I have done for decades. I wish I had a regular off road group to get me off the road more often.
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Old 09-21-23, 08:52 AM
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At 59 and living in CT, I'm not willing to ride anything sketchy in the woods anymore. The risk of injury is too great, and it takes me much longer to recover now. I only mtb about a six times per year. I don't see me mtb-ing past 65 but I could be wrong.
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Old 09-21-23, 03:00 PM
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I've been doing non-technical single track until this last year at 83 yo. I only stopped this year because of changes in my home situation and my need to be 🏡 more. This involved some rocks and sand and going through brush trails and elevation gains in Colorado.
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Old 09-21-23, 04:07 PM
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I enjoy riding singletrack trails but I don't do anything crazy or dangerous. Flowy XC type trails with a little bit of roots and rocks nothing too extreme is what I enjoy riding. It's not worth it taking chances, I can't afford injuries. I ride for fun and health.
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Old 09-21-23, 07:27 PM
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know a number of guys in their 50’s and 60’s riding off road ... fairly challenging / technical off road ... some are in their late 60’s - but can’t recall if any are in their 70’s

some were long time road riders - and stopped road riding and now exclusively ride off road due to concern about distracted drivers etc

for some relative reading including pics - this blog includes some of the group

( includes some pics of Greg Lemond on some group rides )

https://chroniclesofmccloskey.com

.

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Old 09-21-23, 08:33 PM
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Currently 68, hopefully going on 69. After 15 years of single track, I stopped the technical stuff 3 years ago because my back could not handle the jarring. Mostly ran single black diamond and blue trails with wicked descents. I stayed off the stunts and jumps to reduce the chance of injury, even though I had a couple of pretty bad ‘offs’ anyway.

Even though none of my injuries required hospitalization, a very close friend crashed on a technical trail prompting a brain bleed that nearly killed him. Another did a face plant on a log losing vision in one eye and almost losing the other. Evidently trauma to one eye can cause a sympathetic reaction in the other in some cases. I know others with multiple injuries as well who aren’t dare devils, just unfortunate mishaps.

Do I miss mtb? You bet. It was thrilling, technical, skill building and exhausting. There is a definite community of mountain bikers that just doesn’t seem to be present with roadies. I miss that too regardless of age.

I know I controlled far more variables and risks when I mountain biked, but the back is now more comfortable on the road bike - with no distance limits. I accept the risk when road riding and am glad I am able to do it. Am happy as well that you can do it and enjoy yourself and enjoy it for me,
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Old 09-22-23, 03:52 AM
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After a couple hard falls, I find my body is not as resistant to tree roots and rocks as it used to be. So, no, I am not riding technical trails anymore, which is sad, as there are some really wonderful trails here.

On the other hand, I am putting a lot more miles on road, and there are some wonderful, always smooth and well-maintained, in the countryside of Japan.
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Old 09-22-23, 06:36 AM
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I crashed on my CX bike riding some practice laps in a local park in June. I don't know what happened. I got a severe concussion which landed me in the hospital for 24 hrs and gave me three days of memory loss. I found out a week later when I revisted the scene (with GPS data) that someone built two jump features in the middle of the trail. I either thought I was twenty again and attempted them, or I was looking at the nearby river and didn't see them (they were new). I'm still recovering from the accident. Amazingly I rode home from the accident two miles, one mile of which is a hard climb. Don't remember any of it. Bike was covered in blood, helmet cracked, nose broken, lip split open and needed stitches. I musta been a scene to drivers who saw me.

So be careful out there older folks mtb-ing. Dirt still packs a punch.
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Old 09-22-23, 06:38 AM
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I am 66 with advanced arthritis in both knees. About 80% or more of my riding is now on gravel bikes, with the rest split between road and mountain. My mountain bike is a steel hardtail 29er. Most of the trails that I ride are old-school cross country. No big drops or crazy stuff, but still some difficult technical sections. (I'm in Connecticut).

The only thing giving me a bit of pause these days is that I tore some meniscus in one of my knees about two years ago. I was able to get past it with six weeks of PT, but I still occasionally get a pinch in the knee when climbing and moving around on the bike on steep technical climbs. So, yes, I have scaled back a bit on the mountain biking and find myself avoiding the real technical stuff. I will eventually need two total knee replacements, and my fear is that if I really screw things up on the mountain bike and injure one of my knees, I will be forced into a TKR before I really "need" one.

The other concern I have about mountain biking is the loss of core strength as we age. I know some really good mountain bikers who have had serious crashes in their 70s.
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Old 09-22-23, 07:54 AM
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This is the easiest single track that I have ridden at age 82. Some of the other areas are more challenging, but this is real close to my house.

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Old 09-22-23, 08:05 AM
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Originally Posted by RB1-luvr
So be careful out there older folks mtb-ing. Dirt still packs a punch.
True, but I temper that warning with the fact that at least off road you are in control of the risks you take. On the road drivers are often the ones who are making choices that affect your safety. As a former adrenaline junkie I have had far more brushes with death doing other stuff than I ever did on a bike and the ones on a bike were most often on the road. I am not suggesting that road riding is especially unsafe, just that I find my daily trail rides safer in the sense that they might be less life threatening as compared to riding on the road. Falling and getting banged up a little now and then is the nature of the beast though. Having some experience and skills in falling goes a long way in mitigating that. I have gotten banged up plenty in my 35 or so years of mountain biking, but never too seriously. Other sports have resulted in far more time off for recovery from injuries or surgery. I guess if I find that I am breaking bones when I fall I may need to ride less rechnical stuff or switch to gravel only. So far I am not concerned.

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Old 09-22-23, 08:05 AM
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I think mountain biking is a great workout and it also keeps you sharp and trains your body and mind in ways that road riding never will. I've seen so may cyclists who lack strength, coordination, skill and ability to ride up or down a simple curb or some other simple obstacle. They have to stop and walk their bike and these aren't really old guys, they're still younger men, what a shame...If you regularly mountain bike then riding over curbs or some other obstacles is easy.
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Old 09-22-23, 02:05 PM
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Until I was 50, rode nothing but mtn.bike trails-from mild to wild. Now, at 72, only want to ride what might be considered a bit more than mild, but not real technical. A fall (not bike related) which ended up with a metal plate and 8 screws in my left wrist has me realizing that things break more easily now-or maybe I just fell exactly the wrong way-but not taking chances that it could be older bones.
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Old 09-22-23, 03:12 PM
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Originally Posted by staehpj1
True, but I temper that warning with the fact that at least off road you are in control of the risks you take. On the road drivers are often the ones who are making choices that affect your safety. As a former adrenaline junkie I have had far more brushes with death doing other stuff than I ever did on a bike and the ones on a bike were most often on the road. I am not suggesting that road riding is especially unsafe, just that I find my daily trail rides safer in the sense that they might be less life threatening as compared to riding on the road. Falling and getting banged up a little now and then is the nature of the beast though. Having some experience and skills in falling goes a long way in mitigating that. I have gotten banged up plenty in my 35 or so years of mountain biking, but never too seriously. Other sports have resulted in far more time off for recovery from injuries or surgery. I guess if I find that I am breaking bones when I fall I may need to ride less rechnical stuff or switch to gravel only. So far I am not concerned.
I rode off road motorcycles for 10 years and started riding road bikes to get in better shape for the motorcycle. Started riding mountain bikes after I quit motorcycles but still mostly a road cyclist.
The worst injuries I ever had were from a road bike crash on the bike path at the beach. All of the serious injuries suffered by friends have been on road bikes.
In the last 15 years I have had one fall on the mountain bike with injury and I wasn't even mountain biking. I was in a parking area and went to ride around a closed gate and stuck the front wheel in a hole and it slammed me onto my hip. Kinda sucked. So I think about that when I ride any bike.
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Old 09-22-23, 04:17 PM
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Born and raised in the Metro Vancouver area I grew up mountain biking starting in the Delta watershed (primarily tame single/double track) then in my teens/20's riding SFU/Burnaby Mountain (good mix of flowy and more technical trails) finally in my late 20's & early 30's riding the infamous North Shore trails. At this point I had a coworker who was also early 30's, lived and rode the Shore. He was a very skilled rider but absolutely fearless and had the battle scars (broken bones) to prove it. The day I crashed at the bottom of Fromme and dislocated my finger, my then 8month pregnant wife had to pick me up at the hospital. After then I started mountain biking less and got into road riding.
I turn 50 next year and still miss MTB but don't miss the risk of injury.
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Old 09-22-23, 05:23 PM
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At 71 I'm still riding the rocky and rooty trails every Sunday. Steep ascents with loose rocks have become more difficult as I age; a combination of deteriorating balance and loss of power for the quick bursts of energy that are required for that kind of climbing. The plus side is that I'm going so slowly that I can usually dismount before I fall, and if I fall it's at very low speed.

I still do fine on the fire road descents, but my reaction time is a bit slower so I need to slow down a little on the twisty single track descents.

I also have to slow down when descending in lightly forested areas where my eyes don't adjust to alternating sun and shade as quickly as they used to.

I find myself avoiding miles-long rocky descents that beat up my ageing back and neck.

Since any thread is better with photos here's my current MTB. My arthritic thumbs don't allow me to ride flat bars any more so the frame was built for me by an old friend to accommodate the drop bars.

Growing old has its challenges but so far it beats the alternative.



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Old 09-22-23, 07:18 PM
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I still ride some technical singletrack with loose flat rock, babyheads, and other interesting features, but when I come up to a jump or supershortsteep climb, I dismount and walk briefly. As I accept the good-natured razzing from the kids on their $5000 carbon fiber bikes, I smile and say "I don't bounce anymore." They wave and we all keep riding.

There was a time at the 6 ft dropoff on my usual route when I stopped and dismounted and I heard "boooooo" from some nearby hikers. I gave them the "don't bounce anymore" explanation, and they said "We just wanted to see how you were going to clear it!" I reminded them that if my jump hadn't gone well that hanging around giving statements to paramedics wouldn't be the best use of their outdoor time, and they agreed.
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Old 09-22-23, 08:11 PM
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I rode single track, technical until I was 70 when a MRI showed that the two neck discs on either side of two fused discs, were deteriorating. My doc said, keep on riding bikes, but better give up mountain biking. But before I hit 70, I was making changes. At 65, I stopped riding rock gardens when I found out that a couple of years before I had broken a rib landing on rock gravel. At 68 I found that my reaction time was not what it used to be, resulting in riding much slower. After that, it wasn't as much fun.
I still ride road bikes and take my MTBs out on a non-technical gravel trail, but no more technical trails. Yes, I do miss it quite a bit.
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Old 09-22-23, 09:25 PM
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Originally Posted by obrentharris
At 71 I'm still riding the rocky and rooty trails every Sunday. Steep ascents with loose rocks have become more difficult as I age; a combination of deteriorating balance and loss of power for the quick bursts of energy that are required for that kind of climbing. The plus side is that I'm going so slowly that I can usually dismount before I fall, and if I fall it's at very low speed.

I still do fine on the fire road descents, but my reaction time is a bit slower so I need to slow down a little on the twisty single track descents.

I also have to slow down when descending in lightly forested areas where my eyes don't adjust to alternating sun and shade as quickly as they used to.

I find myself avoiding miles-long rocky descents that beat up my ageing back and neck.

Since any thread is better with photos here's my current MTB. My arthritic thumbs don't allow me to ride flat bars any more so the frame was built for me by an old friend to accommodate the drop bars.

Growing old has its challenges but so far it beats the alternative.



Brent
Have you tried using OTC Voltaren? Started this year getting the same and it really works.
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Old 09-22-23, 09:40 PM
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Originally Posted by rsbob
Have you tried using Voltaren? Started this year getting the same and it really works.
Thanks for the excellent suggestion. I use the prescription strength version of Diclofenac (active ingredient in Voltaren) Sodium gell and it definitely helps, but not enough for the pounding I get gripping flat bars and squeezing the brake levers on steep descents.
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Old 09-22-23, 11:32 PM
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57. My crazy send it bmx days over back in HS. I like doing technical trails that are low risk if I make a mistake no big deal. I am not doing a oops I slipped and fell down 30 feet down a cliff or some crazy jump. ha-ha those days over and tbh I don't miss it all.
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Old 09-23-23, 02:14 AM
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When I retired at 67 the first bike I bought was an mtb. There are a lot of dirt trails in my area which I wanted to try out. Loaded up the bike on the back of the Jeep and drove out to the area known as the State Trooper trails. Got out and was looking over the area, when out of nowhere, my body says to me: if you crash I will not save you. I looked at the trails again and said "see ya".
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Old 09-23-23, 05:14 AM
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Originally Posted by RCMoeur
I still ride some technical singletrack with loose flat rock, babyheads, and other interesting features, but when I come up to a jump or supershortsteep climb, I dismount and walk briefly. As I accept the good-natured razzing from the kids on their $5000 carbon fiber bikes, I smile and say "I don't bounce anymore." They wave and we all keep riding.

There was a time at the 6 ft dropoff on my usual route when I stopped and dismounted and I heard "boooooo" from some nearby hikers. I gave them the "don't bounce anymore" explanation, and they said "We just wanted to see how you were going to clear it!" I reminded them that if my jump hadn't gone well that hanging around giving statements to paramedics wouldn't be the best use of their outdoor time, and they agreed.
Yes, at our ages we do start to have to give some additional consideration to our limitations. Getting off and walking certain drops or sections is better than not riding the trails at all IMO. Also riding some sections slower is okay with me. At 72, I am happy to still be riding the trails daily.
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Old 09-23-23, 05:19 AM
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Originally Posted by rsbob
Have you tried using OTC Voltaren? Started this year getting the same and it really works.
Yes, good stuff. My wrists/thumbs are still my biggest joint complaints these days though. My other joint issues seem to be much better to almost non existent since I gave up the other sports that abused them.
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