You Are Never Too Old

I’ve heard a lot of excuses when I ask people why they don’t try cycling for exercise but the big excuse is age. People think they’re too old to bike and that’s just sad. I see people biking who are much older than me (I’m 63) and they swear by it. Once more, they’re healthier than their non-biking counterparts still getting aerobic exercise well into their 80’s and keeping their cores strong.

That handsome fellow in the featured image next to me is Dave, he’s 83 and still going strong. We’ve been biking together occasionally for the last 2 years after meeting on the trail. After seeing me this year me he told me he was impressed with how I look and how my biking has improved since last year. Music to my ears I worked hard for it.

I have a good friend in Oakland, CA whose approaching 70 and he’s been riding for decades. He belongs to the Yellow Jackets who host rides and more. If you go to the website you’ll see photos of him. He keeps up with the younger riders and is an impressive hill climber

These are but a few people enjoying the benefits of cycling into old age. Biking has kept us all looking good, moving well and thinking fast. Depending on your comfort level and skill set there is a bike out there that will fit you, personality and all. So what’s stopping you?

Your health is everything!

When I think of turning 60 or over I fear the same health problems as most older Americans fear:

  • dementia
  • diabetes
  • heart problems
  • hormones
  • stroke/blood clots
  • high blood pressure
  • bad joints/wear and tear
  • falls/bad balance
  • loss of bone density/breaking bones
  • being overweight

If you haven’t figured it out already most of these (if not genetic) are caused by being overweight and spending hours sitting. New studies have shown that sitting for hours on end is as bad as smoking cigarettes and even modest exercise may not be good enough to combat it. And that’s not all!

As a fellow American, I think we should be ashamed because we are fat when compared to other countries. Roughly two-thirds of adults, nearly 30% of children are overweight or obese.  The numbers continue to rise despite interests in eating better, diet and exercise fads.

Not everyone who has these serious health problems is overweight but the majority are. Even a few extra pounds tipping the scale can be the culprit that’s making you sick. Being heavy can affect many things you wouldn’t think about:

  • the way you move
  • your mood/depression
  • your skin and hair
  • your back and joints
  • quality of sleep
  • energy level
  • pain
  • self worth

ME 2016

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In 2015 at 198 pounds and terribly depressed I finally got fed up with myself starting a diet of 1,200 calories a day. I needed both knees replaced and they always hurt. I was having some problems with vertigo, I walked with a cane and couldn’t walk very far. I had a lot of falls.

When I look at this photo it’s still a little painful, I was 30 pounds overweight and covered in fat. When I went to the doctor my heart would be racing and I had to have EKGs. Heart problems were around the corner and my father had adult-onset diabetes.

I needed to lose around 30 more pounds and I had some hard places to lose it in, like my stomach and thighs. I had back fat that looked terrible in a bra and I was desperate to get rid of it. That’s when I dragged out my old Schwinn and decided to ride it every other day. It was the hardest thing I ever did-not riding the bike-but making myself do it.

ME 2017

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NOW-Almost 2 years after “getting serious” I’m proud of myself. My hard work paid off and the changes are remarkable. My doctor just told me I don’t necessarily need knee replacement now because it might be a tendon problem (being treated.) I am strong and so is my heart. The only medicine I take is for my thyroid and sometimes a pain pill. My pain and mood have been much better.

I realized that if I could do this by myself that anyone could. I did it by eating good food, working on getting a better nights sleep and riding my bike regularly. I followed my diet and rode my bike every other day increasing my miles per ride. Soon I could ride up hills, go further and with my experience came confidence. It felt great.

You are never too old to ride a bicycle.

During my rides, I meet and see lots of older people on bicycles. Some of them look comfortable but I still see beginners and reflect back on my first months of riding after years of neglect. I may not know them but feel proud of them for being brave and tough enough to get out there and do it.

Always check with your doctor first, but riding a bike is the best way to get in shape especially for older people. It’s the easiest aerobic exercise you can do (sitting on a saddle and moving your legs up and down) and there’s no need to target any body part because it works on your core taking fat off just about everywhere. It’s one of the top calorie burning exercises, you’re playing outside and if done regularly you won’t have to diet again.

A word to all of you not lucky enough to be able to ride year round. There are spin classes (riding a stationary bicycle inside) offered everywhere. There are many kinds of classes to choose from like Soul Cycle and you can find stationary bikes at the gym. Most have recumbent and regular style bikes.

Take your time and start slow.

Remember, I have very bad knees and all it did was make them much better. I can walk 4 miles easy and no more cane or falls. I had problems with my back and once I learned to relax in the saddle that went away too. My heart is strong and my doctors are patting me on the back. I have a new body and attitude.

Don’t be afraid of breaking bones or falling. Take your time and start slow, it took you time to get out of shape and it will take time to get back in shape. You will need to work on your balance, be patient with yourself. Rest on your days off that’s what they’re for. Eat healthy foods and get 7 1/2 to 8 hours of sleep a night. The calorie burn and weight-loss start immediately!

Riding outside is much healthier than spinning yet both have the same results as far as weight loss and muscle building. Getting sunshine is an important source of vitamin D for our bodies and balancing a bicycle while riding is a core strengthening exercise (much needed in older people) you don’t get while spinning. Avoiding bumps and maneuvering a bike is also an important core exercise including strengthening the arms. You have to steer a bicycle that helps the arms and overall our whole bodies get into the act. Not so when spinning.

My rides differ from day to day and I will ride outside even in the rain but if it got too cold for me I’d consider spinning. It’s the next best thing. If you wanted to try spinning before biking outside I’d advise you to just get a bike and ride outside. I’ve found it to be a fountain of youth and so amazing which is why I do this website.

If I could I’d get everyone on a bicycle. You don’t have to hunch over the handlebars or get an expensive bike either. Make sure and get the right bicycle for you and it will be the last weight-loss equipment you’ll ever buy. No matter what age you are. You will thank yourself someday.

Thinner, taller, faster, stronger!

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Bike Like Me

Every time I see a new article about biking I get excited. After reading it, not so much. I feel that my kind of bike riding is totally ignored by the so-called specialists or athletes and that’s just not right.

It’s no wonder more people aren’t motivated to get back in the saddle and ride because like them I’m not interested in racing or setting up my bike so that I can be hunched over my handlebars trying to be aerodynamic wearing skin tight clothing.

Most of the people I see on the Bay Trail are like me, people on their bikes just trying to have fun and maybe lose a little weight. I see whole families biking together with big smiles on their faces and I know that’s what it’s really about!

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I smile at other bikers on the trail as they pass by me smiling back on a beautiful spring day.

Another thing that I notice is how many people seem to be riding bicycles that don’t suit them. They go to look at bicycles and buy the first shiny thing they see getting misdirected by the seller or pressured by their friends to buy a bike they aren’t going to want to ride. Or even worse a bicycle they will hate riding because it’s not the right type for them.

I see people on mountain bikes that never go on trails or expensive high-performance bikes made just for racing looking uncomfortable. If you don’t get the right bike for your body and where you ride you may be asking for a painful ride that will never get better.

If you are older you may not want to bend over on a ten-speed bike anymore and if riding on pavement most of the time you don’t need a shock absorber on your front fork you need a decent seat with springs underneath. Of course, that depends on you, we all have different needs and there are many types of bikes to choose from.

A warning up front, bikes are not made like mine anymore (my bike is 31 years old) and if you aren’t careful you could end up with a cheap bicycle that will break down more than you’d wish. Chains coming off easily, derailers with plastic parts that snap, bad breaks and pads, I’ve seen it all. Expensive doesn’t always mean quality spend a little time when you look. Get on the bike and take a test ride most good shops will let you ride first.

Even my roommate bought a mountain bike, it has 21 gears (versus my 10 gears) but when he rides with me on the Bay Trail he has to go through his gears constantly because they are for offroad use. Where my bike has stiff springs under the seat that make my bike incredibly smooth to ride, his has a front shock for landing on the wheel while doing jumps or taking large bumps on dirt paths. My bike has large wheels that roll further when I pedal and he has small knobby tires. It makes more of a difference than you’d think.

Touring bikes are your best bet you can ride them on the street but take them on the occasional trail or gravel road but they have changed! Most come with without fenders, have tiny seats without springs and drop handlebars (like a ten-speed bike.) There are “city (or commuter) bikes” that are meant for city streets that have almost straight handlebars and may or may not have fenders. The “dutch-style bikes” look more like the old touring bikes with fenders, good seats, and upright handlebars. There are so many different kinds of bike styles now so decide what you want on your bike and stick to it.

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Here you can compare a touring bike and a mountain bike. These are both Schwinn bicycles one old and one new. My frame (the sliver bike) is a girls “dutch style” bike and the red one is a unisex mountain bike. Mine is a 10-speed geared for the street and the other is a 21-speed bike geared for the dirt.

If you aren’t going to cram your bike into a trunk or car don’t get removable wheels. It makes your bike easier to steal, something else to go wrong and the front/rear breaks are affected because if the wheel comes off the breaks have to be opened up for that to happen. It does make it easier to change flats but it’s better to have fixed wheels and breaks in my opinion. You can always get a bike carrier for your vehicle.

I hope I’ve given you some things to think about. The important thing is, get the right bike for you so that you’ll be comfortable riding it because you’ll keep riding it. Get fenders if you don’t want to get wet or muddy going through puddles weather does change. Make sure the bike frame fits you and you can get on the bike. If you want an easier ride, get gears on your bike. Go to a reputable bike store and let them help you but be firm about what you want. Shop around and you’ll find that dream bike and love it as much as I love mine.

If you love your bike it will take you places and put a smile on your face!

Bicycles And Christmas

The holidays are upon us and my mind turns to…bicycles and Christmas! Let’s not forget the New Year but one holiday at a time, please!

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Visions of, and internet searches for, a new touring bike have been buzzing around my little head this season. I have seen some amazing bikes. Not that I can afford one but one but I’m saving my bucks.

I love my old bicycle I really do but I don’t have the talent, tools or room to refurbish it like I’d like to do and it needs work. I like the fact that it’s made really well, a 10 speed and I don’t have to pedal to switch gears. This was a thing that Schwinn came up with in 1986.

There are many things I like about my bike but there have been updates to bicycles and parts in 30 years.

When the time comes I’ll have to decide just what I want to do probably this spring. I could see my old bike refurbished/repainted it would look great! Something to look forward to in the New Year.

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I got curious about what kind of artwork I could find about bicycles and Christmas. I found some great things to share.

Above and below are postcard type Christmas cards.

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'Dear Santa, if you leave a new bike under the tree, I will give you the antidote to the poison I put in the milk.  Timmy.'

One way to get a new bike…

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An old Schwinn holiday commercial. Look at that white flocked tree!

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I would love to own and proudly wear this sweater! Ugly, or not?

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A 12-metre tall Christmas tree made with 230 bicycles has been installed at a shopping mall in Shenyang, China, this year.

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Santa Cycle Rampage Day in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin.

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Laurence Crossman-Emms’ 2015 Christmas Shot.

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The 2013 ZeroCelsius Christmas Tree bicycle parts repurposed from the dump to the Wealth Studio.

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Christmas Tree Made of Bicycles Unveiled At The Rocks

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I’m making a turkey on Christmas day with garlic mashed potatoes, giblet gravy, roasted carrots and some other goodies. Some rice pudding for desert. Right now I’m drinking egg nog with dark rum. I am splurging for Christmas but in moderation watching the waistline.

Hope you enjoyed the artwork. Whatever your plans I hope you have a nice Christmas. Wishing you all the best in health and bike riding!

Love, Bekkie

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Tis the season to be jolly!