Thursday, July 10, 2014

A return to cycling in your 50's or tips for getting back on the saddle.

Time spent away from this blog is equal to time spent away from cycling. My new found passion for photography makes me walk a lot and brings me to use public transport more than pedalling my way around the city. I still managed to put in 4 good rides a year but weather and a back injury has kept me away from more than a year...until today.

I always ride back home on my first day of vacation. It gives me an opportunity to unwind and gets the work bugs out of my mind. Today's ride was an eye opener after such a long time off the pedals and getting close to the big 50. I got a rude reminder from my muscles that they had been idle for too long and the message was delivered by an insane amount of lactic acid in them. That one ride brought a bunch of things to the surface and hopefully these tips can help a few of you out there who are considering getting back in the saddle for a ride.

1.  Prepare.

Get your stuff together ahead of time. Don't wait at the last minute, your ageing mind will forget where you left that thing when you last used it years ago. Do a serious once over mechanical verification on your bike. The longer it's been parked the worst it can get. Even if it was pristine the last time you used it, time can still take its toll especially if it wasn't stored properly.

2. Plan your route and time table.

Try to avoid busy roads and look for low traffic alternatives. You don't forget how to ride a bike but the hazards of the road are many and you want to give yourself some room. You also want to give yourself some room time wise. Plan for more time than you think you might need to get to your destination. This way, you'll avoid pushing yourself too hard for nothing and you'll have wiggle room in case something unexpected happens.

3. Be aware and anticipate.

It's easy to get lost in the pain or the exhilaration of flying downhill. Keep your eyes open and anticipate all those things that can hurt or kill you like opening car doors, volcano crater sized potholes, loose gravel and texting idiots behind the wheel. Always ride as if you were invisible, not invincible. Wear a helmet, the older we get the more we hurt.

4. Don't ride hard

Get a feel for your bike before you start leaning hard into turns or zig zag between cars. Your reflexes might be a bit slower and your muscle memory might be a bit faded as well. Slowly get back in your old groove to avoid crashing.

5. Have a plan "B"

In case of a mechanical failure or your body decides to give up on you because it thought you were just joking, have a contingency plan to get you back home. Money for a cab or asking a loved one for a lift for the price of a "I told you so." and a slightly bruised ego is a lot better than walking.

Cycling is very good for us even when done with moderate effort. You don't have to start long distances right away, a bit every so often is very good and you'll just go further with time as your endurance improves. I'll be doing at least an hour a week from now on. I swear!

For those wondering, I did make it.

Until next time, Godspeed and ride safe.

Gerry :)