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Aging Tourists

Old 05-25-22, 05:35 AM
  #1  
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Aging Tourists

I know quite a few of us are no longer "spring chickens". I am interested in how aging has affected other's touring.

I am about to turn 71 and am blessed with pretty good general overall health. It has been a while since my last tour, but that is partly to do with other things in my life than my age or health. I have plans in the works for some trips in the not too distant future, but the first may not be bike related. In any case I have been back to working harder to get/stay at a better fitness level. I do worry that I am at an age where health or physical ability could go downhill more rapidly.

I never really had any motivation to do trips shorter than 9 or 10 days and these days am more hesitant to leave home for months at a time. So upcoming trips are likely to be moderate length, but not super short. I am likely to just do day trips before I'd resort to overnight trips. For some reason short tours just don't appeal to me.

I really hope to be able to do the TA on the 50th anniversary of bikecentennial when I will be 75. So I hope to have at least that one more multimonth tour in me. I think I could do it self supported with decent daily mileage at my current age. Hopefully in 4 more years my health will still be good. I'll make adjustments in trip format as needed if I have health issues and hopefully will still be able to do it at least in a modified format even if I am in poorer health.

Those of you who are a bit older than me, did you see much change in you abilities in your early to mid 70s? Should I expect pretty much the same slow changes as during my late 60s? Much more rapid? Any hints on training in your 70s?

At the moment I am just trying to stay active and in good general health. I row on my Concept 2 erg much more often than I ride and my bike mileage is actually pretty low lately, but I plan to ride more and row less before any tours. I went through a period where I was pretty sedentary when I was having some health issues. I do some kind of exercise every day and am feeling quite well now though.
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Old 05-25-22, 08:30 AM
  #2  
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I'm a year younger than you, having just turned 70. I've given up tennis and running, due to creaky knees. Walking and biking are my main aerobic exercises.

I had a month-long tour planned when CoVID hit. I was just rounding into touring shape, riding with full weight on the bike. I decided to continue doing my local rides fully loaded (2 front panniers, a frame bag, and a saddle bag for a total of about 20-25 pounds). I have done this now for over 2 years.

Recently, an opportunity arose that would allow me to do a 4 day tour down the California coast. I was able to fully train for it in a couple weeks! I then did 4 50-mile days. I was amazed by this.

No one knows the future. But, for now, I wouldn't hesitate to go on a month-long tour, even one with mountains. I don't tour like you. I don't camp. I don't know what camping each night would be like at our age and then riding each day. If necessary, I'd plan to do less mileage and take more rest days and a train or bus, if needed. I assume that if I can stay healthy, I'll eventually need to start using an e-bike for touring.

For now, my wife needs me at home, so no touring plans in the future. But, if the opportunity arises, I now know that I can be ready in a couple weeks.
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Old 05-25-22, 08:57 AM
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I am 68 years young, I will also be reading responses with great interest.
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Old 05-25-22, 08:57 AM
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I am 55 so I can't offer age specific advice you seek but I think that there is no need to push miles. If You do 20 miles per day without time constrains (retirement) I would say it's better than no touring at all. One can up mileage as pleasure desires.
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Old 05-25-22, 09:15 AM
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Originally Posted by PedalingWalrus View Post
I am 55 so I can't offer age specific advice you seek but I think that there is no need to push miles. If You do 20 miles per day without time constrains (retirement) I would say it's better than no touring at all. One can up mileage as pleasure desires.
quality over quantity.
total mileage is irrelevant.
don't push too hard.........stop when it hurts.
it's not a contest......go places you want to visit.
have backup/bailout plans.
have a good health insurance policy, carry a laminated card/document with policy contact details.
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Old 05-25-22, 10:41 AM
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Probably all good advice.

My tours tend to center around the riding. I do keep the plans flexible. Being retired makes it easier, but I never had fixed schedules or fixed end dates for my tours though. I ride until I feel like stopping for the day. That can mean long hard days or easy days. Sometimes the existence or lack of a place to stop drives the choice. The tour ends when I get to the end or decide to quit. I have always been inclined to start out doing modest daily mileage especially the first 10 days to 2 weeks on a long tour. That helps ease into what ever the correct mileage will wind up being. I don't typically plan much as to how far I will ride each day other than what the situation demands. I love meeting folks along the way and seeing things, but spend my time riding or taking it easy when the riding is too much. I typically don't take days off much, but do take "half days" or real easy days when needed. I do prefer to ride at least a few miles every day. I believe that active rest is better than full rest days.

Maybe I'll change my tune over time, but it never occurred to me that camping would be a limitation for me with age as long as I am still touring. I hope I am not kidding myself there. I won't rule out getting a room here or there or even all the time if that becomes a requirement at some point. Have folks here who loved to camp soured on it with age?
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Old 05-25-22, 11:26 AM
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I was sitting on the side of my bed this morning rubbing IcyHot into my knees, thinking, 'You're only as old as you feel."

Rimshot.

@9:40 this cycling couple meets a 91 y.o. cyclist...riding up the west side of Vail Pass!

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Old 05-25-22, 11:29 AM
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Originally Posted by saddlesores View Post
quality over quantity.
total mileage is irrelevant.
don't push too hard.........stop when it hurts.
it's not a contest......go places you want to visit.
If you've always been a destination cycletourist (NTTAWWT), no doubt the transition will be hard and you'll experience some sense of loss. If you've been a journey cycletourist...there's no transition to be made.
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Old 05-25-22, 01:01 PM
  #9  
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At 79 I've slowed down some, and recovery takes a little longer. I do OK if I don't have to dig down too deep into my reserve.

My wife and I still camp when we can, but it seems like we don't hesitate using a motel as much as we used to.

We plan on finishing our ride across Canada, Toronto to Halifax, this summer or next year. It depends on how good of shape I can get. A short tour with our daughters next month will be the test.


L

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Old 05-25-22, 01:58 PM
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Originally Posted by Doug64 View Post
...
We plan on finishing our ride across Canada, Toronto to Halifax, this summer or next year. It depends on how good of shape I can get. A short tour with our daughters next month will be the test.
L
I found that Cyclesmith bike shop in Halifax was very helpful when I was there in 2019 if you need any bike shop help at the end of your trip.

Have a great trip.
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Old 05-25-22, 03:12 PM
  #11  
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Great to hear from others especially some who like Doug64 have a few years on me and are still touring.

I just remembered a guy I met when I was riding the TA. He said he wished he could do what I was doing, but he was too old. I was a mere child of 56 and he was at least 10 years younger than me. I pointed out that he was much younger than me and I wasn't particularly old. He said he was older for his age than I was or some such nonsense.
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Old 05-25-22, 03:17 PM
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I started slowing down 28 years ago at age 45 when I had a heart attack that went undiagnosed for 24 hours, thus some permanent heart muscle damage. I'm now 73. I recovered from that heart attack and from several subsequent ones and continued to do long tours. On each tour I would get slower. Being leader of several ACA tours I was required to ride sweep or assign another to do so. I'd always do it because it gave me an excuse to ride slow!

But the mandatory statin drugs have devastated my muscle tone and beta blockers have sapped my energy. I can only tour vicariously now through Bike Forums and ride locally with e-assist.
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Old 05-25-22, 04:21 PM
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Originally Posted by staehpj1 View Post
...
I just remembered a guy I met when I was riding the TA. He said he wished he could do what I was doing, but he was too old. I was a mere child of 56 and he was at least 10 years younger than me. I pointed out that he was much younger than me and I wasn't particularly old. He said he was older for his age than I was or some such nonsense.
My first bike tour, my touring partner and I saw a picnic table in the shade near the trail, stopped there to make lunch. A couple other bicyclists came by, the older one said that he tries to get a bike tour in each year, he said he was 85. His touring partner was pretty quiet, I suspected he was a son that did not want to be there but felt obligated to keep an eye on dad. When they left, both my touring partner and I said to each other nearly simultaneously, I hope I can still do that when I am 85.

I figure if I do not keep being active, I will probably expire early, so in part I keep doing stuff that I enjoy less than I used to. I did not do any randonneuring during the pandemic, until two and a half weeks ago. Then did a 200k brevet in 12:17, I must be getting out of shape as I did that same route in 2019 in 10:51. But in 2019, I did that a few weeks after I did a five week bike tour, so I was in prime condition for a long bike ride without any panniers on the bike. But at 68 years young, it is less enjoyable now than it used to be.

I am planning a two week backpacking trip on the Superior Hiking Trail in Northern Minnesota, and a nine day solo canoe trip in Boundary Waters Canoe Area in October. Plus maybe a bike tour with a friend come fall depending on how he feels.
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Old 05-25-22, 05:02 PM
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This thread hits home for me. As I get older, I have had more sleeping problems (while at home). Last fall I was touring in California near Lompoc. In a short amount of time my left leg started to really kill me. (could not bare weight). It turns out that I have deep vein thrombosis. (blood clots in my leg veins). Even though I have been active/ biked up to 12k year for the last 44 years, my body does not produce enough of the stuff that keeps your blood from coagulating/ producing these blood clots. Getting old really sucks. Looks like I'll be using blood thinners for a while.
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Old 05-25-22, 05:26 PM
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One of the advantages of getting old is training doesn't seem to make much difference, so I skip it. Another advantage is, being retired, I can tour without a schedule. Last year I started in Buffalo, and took the Pittsburgh Spur of the Underground Railroad to PGH; there I picked up the GAP/C&O combo to DC. Riders I met on the trail were not impressed by my snail like pace, but were impressed by my not having an end date for getting there. Touring in our eighth decade is sort of like the dog playing checkers, and losing every game. The wonder was not that he did it so badly, but that he did it at all.
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Old 05-25-22, 05:58 PM
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I know you don't generally care to tour like I do, that is, I'm the King of the 1-2 week tours, a half dozen or so a year. But what I have found so frustrating is that when I hit my mid 60's is that my average speeds just continue to diminish. It's not like I'm not trying or that I've put on extra weight but the legs won't do what they did even compared to my mid 50's. And because of that, I simply can't cover the same amount of ground that I once did which forces me to shorter mile days which affects one's daily choices or options. That stinks but I continue to remind myself that almost no males with my Y chromosome have ever lived to be 70 so it could be worse : )
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Old 05-25-22, 07:38 PM
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All very good thoughts. My only addition is that 2 years ago my kids pitched in and paid for a new recumbent touring bike for me (Bicchetta Giro) in honor of my abused low back (20 yrs firefighting, 33 yrs military). I don't worry about tackling a bunch of miles but the recumbent makes it a lot easier to do 50-60 miles with loaded panniers.
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Old 05-25-22, 10:21 PM
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Not at 70 yet, but still feeling it.
Less mileage
Changed bike style (more upright)
But, the biggest change is sleeping. Much less camping and more beds with a bathroom nearby
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Old 05-26-22, 01:29 AM
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I see several comments here about less camping and more indoor sleeping with age.

Not me, but the other active thread on sleeping pads reminded me that I have steadily increased the comfort of my sleeping pads over time. The closed cell foam gave way to self inflating pads, only to be replaced by thicker air mattresses.
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Old 05-26-22, 04:22 AM
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Originally Posted by headwind15 View Post
Getting old really sucks. Looks like I'll be using blood thinners for a while.
I became the proud owner of a mechanical heart valve at the age of 25. August will mark 32 years on blood thinners.
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Old 05-26-22, 04:40 AM
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Oh, ye of little faith.
Some of us refuse to acknowledge such heresy.
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Old 05-26-22, 04:55 AM
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Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN View Post
I see several comments here about less camping and more indoor sleeping with age.

Not me, but the other active thread on sleeping pads reminded me that I have steadily increased the comfort of my sleeping pads over time. The closed cell foam gave way to self inflating pads, only to be replaced by thicker air mattresses.
I thought I was done backpacking and so on at 45. My back was really pretty bad. I bought a huge thick basecamp type thermarest self inflating pad that must have weighed close to 4 pounds. Just what I needed, more weight to carry with my bad back. So I didn't go backpacking (I wasn't yet touring). I went to one physical therapist after another over the years with poor resultd until I finally hit on one that got me straightend out. Since then the back has been pretty good with a minor change to the stretches needed to maintain it now and then.

BTW, while on the topic of back health... For me going more upright has not been necessary or even desirable. I can see possibly some changes in position related to age over time, but an upright posture is harder on my back than a more aggressive one IME. I can't say for sure that will always be true, but at almost 71 I have not yet seen any sign that it will change.
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Old 05-26-22, 06:05 AM
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Originally Posted by staehpj1 View Post
I thought I was done backpacking and so on at 45. My back was really pretty bad. I bought a huge thick basecamp type thermarest self inflating pad that must have weighed close to 4 pounds. Just what I needed, more weight to carry with my bad back. So I didn't go backpacking (I wasn't yet touring). I went to one physical therapist after another over the years with poor resultd until I finally hit on one that got me straightend out. Since then the back has been pretty good with a minor change to the stretches needed to maintain it now and then.
....
I have had back issues for decades, I think that the scoliosis is the reason that I am almost two inches shorter now than a couple decades ago. And have had a pinched spinal nerve since the early 90s. Saw a physical therapist for months just before covid hit. Covid is why I stopped going to gym, and quit doing a lot of the exercises I used to do at the gym. I need to get back to doing that.

All my self inflating pads are the shorty version to cut bulk and weight, from Camp Rest on the thick end to the Prolite on the thin side. I learned during the era of the blue closed cell foam pads we used to use that I could just use clothes under my bag in the knee and foot areas. And I often had a sit pad of blue closed cell foam that I could put under feet. But I bought air mattresses that are full length, I do not think I have ever seen a shorty version air mattress.

I find wearing the modern backpacks that have really good hip belts and the part that goes against your back is well designed to be almost therapeutic. If my back was hurting in the morning when I was packing up my tent, after I have hiked an hour I have forgotten that my back had ached.

I have had bad knees since I was in my 20s, that is not an age thing. But discovered patella bands work wonders for me.
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Old 05-26-22, 07:25 PM
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I tried a westbound TransAm in 2016 at the age of 65, not having toured or ridden much (despite years in the bike biz) in the meantime. My previous tour was months abroad in '79. You can do the math.

The problems I expected did not materialize and unforeseen issues did. I'd been worried about living outside and sleeping on the ground when I should have been worried about my expectations. And it rained for a month.

Map 12: Random thoughts on 8.5% of a westbound TransAm, truncated.
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Old 05-26-22, 08:03 PM
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I am not a Touring guy but have had many years doing solo camping. The Texas Bastrop State Park is just down my street and on my daily rides through there I used to often stop and talk to the Bicycle Touring Guys from all over the country. One thing I noticed was the great similarity of the older 70+ Tourers. First of all they are LAID BACK! The weather and temperature, was of minuscule importance to them, or if it was they certainly did not show it. If they got stuck in one place for an extra day, no biggy Second they had a common thing of having multiple areas to stop if they wanted and were not tied down to a schedule or even a specific route. I got the feeling with these older guys that they were just out for a ride be it a day or two or twenty.

I met a couple in thier late 60s from Germany. He was a German Petroleum Engineer who had flown into El Paso for a quick contract and then got another in Texas City with a 21 day break in between. In El Paso he and his wife purchased two bikes at a Goodwill then went over to Walmart for thier camping gear and were now 10 days out and well on heir way to Texas City. Their bikes and equipment were heavy but it appeared to me they had experience in thier selection. Both bikes used strapped on plastic trash cans for panners. They had a Tyvek Tarp and a little pup tent to keep off the mosquitoes. It was the AM and while we were talking another camper brought over some Mexican Barbacoa he had cooked up over night and we ate on just cooked flour tillas with wild chili pequins picked off the bushes. They stayed an unexpected three unplaned days in Bastrop before moving on...
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