By Jeff Balton
This article will help the over-40 crowd get into cycling with ease!
Some say that cycling is a young person’s sport. I beg to differ! Cycling can provide people of any age an outlet for exercise, enjoyment, and positive stress relief. The biggest problem that many older generations face is that they don’t know how to get into the sport. With the bike industry changing so quickly, this is no surprise. Read on, and learn how to comfortably get into cycling when you are over 40.
Buy the Right Bike
This is where many people go wrong when trying to get into cycling. If you love being in the woods and riding off the beaten track, don’t buy a road bike, buy a mountain bike. The same goes in reverse. The problem is that people are convinced of what they want by others, rather than listening to themselves. Don’t let that be you.
To get full enjoyment of cycling, you need to ride the terrain that you want to ride, on a bike that will help you through it. If you aren’t sure, borrow a friend’s bike, or even rent to try out a few different styles to see what suits you best.
The same goes for comfort. Being in the bent over position of a road racing bike may prove uncomfortable for many older riders who already have a sore back or similar issues. If that’s the case, buy something that will have you sitting more upright.
Remember that there are thousands of different bicycles out there, all designed differently. Some you will find comfortable, and some you will not. You should read different bike reviews to pick the right one out there. One thing is for sure though, if you buy something that you don’t find comfortable, you probably won’t ride it as much as you intended.
Adjust your bike
There are also plenty of adjustments you can make to a bike to make it more comfortable for you personally. A shorter stem for example will have you reaching less, resulting in a more upright position. Ergonomic wing shaped grips can help take some of the weight of off your wrists.
A gel seat can offer the cushion that some older riders seek. Seat angle will again adjust how comfortable your body is when riding. On a mountain bike, setting up the suspension correctly will ensure the best traction and bump absorption possible.
There are so many little adjustments that you can make to fix comfort issues. If you don’t know what to do, ask a bike shop, fellow cyclists, or even us!
Wear the Right Clothing
Now that you know that having the right bike is important, you should also realize that having the right clothing is as well. When choosing clothing you want it to match the type of riding you do. However, you should also only buy something if you feel comfortable wearing it. If you want to ride road but don’t like how tight a lot of the clothing is, look at some looser fitting trail bike clothing. If you don’t feel comfortable in it, you probably won’t wear it.
Choose a good helmet. The most important part of any bike outfit is the helmet. Do not cheap out here. Cheap helmets do a poor job of protecting your brain, and are usually uncomfortable and poorly vented. If you buy a good quality helmet, you probably won’t have issues wearing it either.
When choosing clothing you shouldn’t worry about what the young ones are wearing or what current trends are going on. Just pick stuff that is comfortable, and that you personally like.
Don’t Overdo It
If you are above the age of 40, you have probably realized that you don’t recover as fast as you used to. This is one of the unfortunate realities of life. Why does this matter when you are just starting out? Well it is a good reminder to not push yourself too hard.
No matter what age you are, if you put the time in, your riding and fitness will improve. The hard part is trying to decide how hard to actually push yourself. Since it is up to the individual, the only real advice I can give is to listen to your body. Don’t try to keep up with people that having been cycling much longer than you have. Go at your own pace, and you will notice improvement on your own.
Start by going on short rides and gradually work your way up to longer ones. The same goes for route difficulty, start on easier roads and trails to get a good feel for the bike and your balance. As you improve, start trying harder routes. If you go into a difficult route without understanding what it takes to ride it, you may become disheartened.
Ride in Company
One of the most enjoyable aspects of cycling can be the social side of things. Meeting up with friends for group rides encourages a healthy lifestyle and gives you something in common that you can talk about. You will also find that during discussions, you will hear lots of pointers that can help your riding improve.
Riding with others is also great from a safety standpoint. If something ever goes wrong (such as a crash), it is nice to know that you have someone there that will be ready to help you out.
Even from a mechanical standpoint riding in company is better. Perhaps you get a flat tire but forgot tire irons. One of your riding buddies might have some, saving your ride, and making it so that you don’t have to call someone to pick you up, or walk all the way back.
The final positive note to riding in company is the motivation that it brings. Riding alone can get boring, and boring rides mean you will be less likely to get out on your bike! Groups of cyclists often plan weekly rides, and with such a schedule, you will be more avid to go out and ride.
Eat Right and Drink Lots of Water
As with anything physical, you need to make sure you stay properly hydrated while cycling. Water will increase your performance, and keep you feeling alert on the bike.
The next thing to worry about is food. If you eat a greasy burger before a ride, chances are you won’t ride as well as if you had a healthy meal. Some young riders may get away with it but that will fade for them too eventually. You may not be in the best shape of your life right now, but with the proper nutrition, you’ll be on the right track!
One last thing to mention is the idea of stretching. Most people ignore this but it is an important part of any ride. Especially if you are 40 and over! Stretching before and after a ride will help you feel less sore during the ride, and for the days following it.
Overall, getting back into cycling at the age of 40 plus should not be a difficult experience. With the right information and some perseverance, you will be out having the time of your life on your bike.
Jeff is an ex pro cyclist who now spreads his knowledge to help others. He rides, reads and blogs often on cycling related topics on Bicycle Guider.
It’s only his knowledge and his inspired writings that help others find their way to cycling and find motivation to take on this great pastime for themselves.