The Golden Age of Cycling

When I wrote my last blog post about potential impact on cycling goals as we age, I was quite unprepared for the amount of engagement on social media. It has certainly been one of my most discussed posts in recent years. It’s very clear that age is no barrier to adventure, and many older riders say that they are fitter later in life than they have ever been. Possibly having extra time in retirement helps with being able to consistently ride. We all know that we can continue well into our later years, and it’s been interesting to note that whilst for some, there are a few physical issues that have featured, none have alluded to lack of energy being a problem. The speed of a journey is not the main consideration for most. It’s the ability to be out and travel at their own pace and seeing the world that’s important. Maybe our later years really are the golden age of cycling. Would you agree?

I’ve decided to keep this post simple, and let the comments speak for themselves. And in case you wondered, every single one of these comments is from a woman. We are rocking life on two wheels!

Discovery

tourist lying in camping tent near shore

“I’m going to be 55 in April and I have no intention slowing down. I just bought a mountain bike! I rode a fantastic trail with a date yesterday on my upgraded city bike. Some injuries have made me look at sports that won’t continue to hamper me (running). I also do strength training (good for your bones ladies!) and some yoga. I want to have experiences that let me explore places and people…biking seems to be that fit.”

“I’m 54 and just started riding consistently for the first time in my life last year. I’ve made new friends and have gotten as strong as I’ve ever been. I did my first race (gravel) last year too! It’s exciting to take up a new sport. And so many new people to meet. I do have arthritis in my CMC joints but so far I’m dealing with some pain to have fun on a bike. So rather than slowing down, I’m just ramping up my cycling!”

“Fast approaching mid-50s and just about to do my first multiday bush rides. Camping, so loaded bikes & I can’t wait. 5 months of daily yoga & I feel strong enough, definitely not cardio fit enough, a little daunted but mostly very excited. Biggest concern is about lack of mechanical knowledge.

“I didn’t start cycling until I was “middle-aged.” My one worry now is that, if I ever end up being killed on the road, that the news report will refer to “Elderly lady hit by car” instead of referring to the “Fit, long-distance cyclist hit by car” that I now am” 

Any time I question myself I read about Leah GoldsteinFirst woman to win RAAM (aged 52)

I started riding a bike last December at 69. I managed 2000 miles in one year with my longest ride is 46.1 miles. I currently have logged 2495 miles and don’t plan to stop anytime soon. Since I have never ridden a bike (more than 4 miles 40 years ago) I have nothing to compare. I am simply trying to improve my speed & endurance as I will turn 71 in July.

I’m 70. Started cycling four years ago… I’m past even middle age and I am not slowing down. Have some big miles planned this year. Age is a number, that’s all

Adventure

Travelling in the Netherlands

“I’m 52. I bought five bikes last year. I’m focusing on the experiences I want to have on the bike. That might mean I go slower, but not cycle shorter distances. I want to keep riding until I can’t!”

“I’m 62 and ride 80% gravel; I realize that I’m not as fast as I used to be, but I strive to be the best version of me at whatever age. I’ve always been more about the fun aspect, not putting it all on the line and not really enjoying the ride. I hope to ride for many more years.

“Just had this conversation with my partner. Do we stop gravel riding because it’s risky at our age (54 & 55)? Easier to break bones and longer to recover? We decided that it’s better to keep on keepin’ on, and perhaps be cognizant of the types of terrain we travel. Not saying we will only do easy trails, but maybe the stuff we rode when we were out mountain biking as 30 somethings isn’t something we should be doing in our 50s.”

No plans to slow down, but definitely understand that it can be forced on you. A variable recovery timeline is my biggest frustration at 50, and I seem to have zero sense of how things might affect me. I think most of what I do now in my daily life would have crushed me at age 30, but that doesn’t mean I’m not still extremely annoyed when I’m tired

I am 64 and have been going on two-month length tours since I retired at 55. I have ridden up the eastern side of Italy, done a tour in Tuscany, in France, I have ridden the Canal du Mere from Bordeaux to Sete on the southern coast, I have also ridden across France on the EV 6 from St Nasaire to Basel Switzerland and up to Manheim Germany on the Rhine route EV 15. I have arthritis in my hands and back, so I got my bike fit to minimize the stress on those parts of my body. If you want to keep riding there are ways to adapt to the changes in your body and stamina as you age.

“I’m 62 and have been bike touring for most of my life, including bikepacking the Baja Divide at age 60. I grabbed life by the ovaries decades ago. My body is showing no signs of slowing down. I’ll be touring in Europe for three months this year.”

“I am 73 my husband is 75, we cycle here in Cheshire UK most days, but looking forward to our return to France in early June to repeat the La Velo Francette Normandy to the Atlantic eurovelo 43. We do now have both e-bikes and ordinary bikes though! Happy cycling everyone

“I just keep going at my own pace. Usually on my own. Did 12,000 miles last year. I’m now 79 and planning several tours this year. Slowly!!

“I’ve been pondering this with my friends who are older than me and we think the way is- keep the adventure big and simply adjust the pace. That’s what my grandfather did and he was round the golf course and up the mountains into his late 80’s. Let’s not pretend that he didn’t stop for a lot more picnics and naps in sunny spots. But I thought his new approach looked even more fun than the powering round that he used to do when I was young

Challenge

“I’m 64, still working full time, and I spend every spare minute on a bike, whether it be road, gravel, or MTB. I’m in better shape now than I was in my 30’s. I’m not as fast as I once was, but my endurance is still there. I definitely try to be more careful, as I’ve broken a wrist and an elbow on separate occasions in the last 3 years while cycling. I participated in my first MTB race last year and had a blast. Keep doing what you enjoy as much as you are able. At some point there will be an e-bike in my future. But not now!”

I love that “never give up on your dreams… it just may take a little longer”. I’m 62 and have always been a short-distance gal. Short, hard, done, where’s-the-food-and-beer. But I love new goals and the journey they take me on. So this year my big goal is to race a marathon MTB event (3+ hours), something I wouldn’t previously have even considered. My professional life is hard and tiring so rest and recovery are at a premium. But I’ve started this journey and if I fail this year, I’ll try again. For sure, looking forward to retirement but living for today.

“I’m 61. Just before the pandemic, I did a 227 mile ride across Wisconsin in one day. Averaged about 17 mile per hour. So yes, one can but it does take some dedication, need to work on core continuously, and have to enjoy riding a lot. I love to go long. I usually ride more than 4000 miles a year. I also do not own a car so I have to ride for transportation. Just keep doing it.

Physiologically, the body slows down in the 50’s however that doesn’t mean you have to stop doing what you love. I work with people with disabilities and am constantly amazed at how some people achieve things they shouldn’t really be able to. It’s a lot to do with mindset and determination but also about being smart – knowing how your body works and doing it how YOUR body needs to do it. I struggled at the start of my 50’s with the decline in my ability to be as fast as i used to be and with needing more recovery time. I also had big surgery on my hips so took up cycling and got hooked. I’m also planning lots of big trips this year and am a bit anxious about whether my body can do it. Signing up with a coach and approaching it knowing my limitations but also my strengths will give me the best chance but there needs to be an element of uncertainty or it just wouldn’t be a challenge. And it’s an investment in my health both physical and mental. So I say be brave, be smart and have a blast!


I really hope that the enthusiasm shown here has inspired you to keep on planning and riding your challenges and adventures right the way through all stages of your life. I’ve certainly been inspired, and am looking forward to my own Golden Age of Cycling

2 thoughts on “The Golden Age of Cycling

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  1. Great! Thanks for your sharing. I think any age can be suitable for the bike. What is important is how we use them to suit our health, our needs and our health. Bicycles help us improve our health a lot, so even if you are old, you can still use a bicycle to improve your health. I will always keep my passion for cycling and have no intention of giving up anytime soon.

  2. Turning 60 this year, looking forward to more challenges. Strength training def helped this winter. Keep pedalling, however you want to di it.

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