As a mature rider myself I often stop and chat with other ‘silver cyclists’. We cover many subjects! however, there are some common topics that reoccur – hence this post, my top 5 tips for silver cyclists.
I hope to illustrate a few key considerations for any mature rider returning to a saddle or those thinking about coming to cycling for the first time. These tips are equally useful for girls and boys as cycling is for everyone!
So, let’s dig in..
Tip 1 • Cycling doesn’t recognise age. Just ride!
It must be said, it is never too late to take up cycling. In fact, taking up cycling later in life can bring huge rewards.
Cycling opens up a world of exciting opportunities otherwise completely closed to us. There are many types of cycling covering many types of terrain. We can reach places on a bike we can’t on foot and we can build up to cover distances you would otherwise think impossible!
These opportunities can turn into exciting new opportunities! Social riding, local sportive’s, fun and charity rides, fitness training, family days out, a new green mode of transport and the pure adventure of it all too! It’s also an opportunity to learn new skills, see new places, get lost, get wet and feel fitter, healthier, stronger in short – alive!
It’s never too late to take up cycling. – Spike
Imagine organising a cycling adventure for the grand-kids and being able to keep up! Evening rides from town to town in search of a well-earned glass of your favourite tipple. Perhaps challenging yourself to a long-distance ride or entering a local sportive? Simply enhancing daily life with improved, strength, endurance and mobility?
Low impact, variable effort cycling offers this and so much more besides!
BEWARE! The freedom cycling offers is intoxicating. Never push beyond your limits, especially in the early days.
Accordingly, it is always worth speaking to your GP before undertaking any new exercise routine. However, even with existing medical conditions, cycling is often regarded as an ideal way to keep fit, lose weight, build strength, what’s more, it can even help reduce/reverse some existing medical conditions too!
Tip 2 • Before you think bike, think terrain.
So, your getting close to thinking which bike, but with so many types available, what’s the right one for you?
The best answer is, the one that will be most comfortable and least likely to limit your time in the saddle.
Bike choice is subjective to some degree but the typical terrain you might regularly ride isn’t.
Firstly, think terrain and riding conditions then look for the right tool to do that job. There’s no point buying a mountain bike with suspension if you intend to ride mostly flat road or paved surfaces. By contrast, it would be a mistake to buy a commuter bike if your intention is to venture into the woods, and so on.
When your clear about your terrain, bike type and riding ambitions then your Local Bike Shop (often referred to as your LBS) can undoubtedly help you make your final buying decision.
A good LBS will offer equipment advice, provide servicing and repairs not to mention bike setup help too. If you don’t have a LBS there are many great online videos available to answer every possible question.
Additionally, I recommend GCN (Global Cycling Network) videos on YouTube. These guys offer professional advice on a broad range of topics. So without delay, here’s an example for you on this very subject…
Tip 3 • Research twice, buy once!
There are many bicycle types today, each with a particular riding style and an environment in mind.
We need to consider many factors in order to make good buying decisions. For instance the difficulty of gearing, rider comfort, seated position, controls, suitable tyre types and also the ability to carry luggage.
Here are two videos to illustrate some of the key differences for you.
Above all, research! Consider your physical needs, terrain requirements and choose the bike that best fits you.
It’s worth noting, if the cycling bug bites, you may acquire a second or even third bicycle. Thinking of your first bike purchase as your primary set of wheels might just make the buying decision a little easier.
Another huge thing to take into account is that your ambitions will change as your ability develops. When your in the saddle you’ll gain confidence quickly! So, don’t buy a bike to give you confidence. Think beyond confidence & buy the bike for when your confidence is high and your initial riding skills are developed.
Entry-level bikes can be purchased for a few hundred pounds but are usually heavier & fitted with lower quality, less durable parts. Mid-range bikes are perhaps the ideal starting point if you have a budget of around £1,000. These bikes can offer robust mechanical’s, more easily serviceable parts and lightweight alloy frames too.
High-end we move towards aerodynamics, carbon fibre & state of the art hybrid e-bikes. Consider these specialist tools as they reach into several thousand pounds and arguably deliver far less bang for your buck.
Tip 4 • Start small and watch it grow.
Cycling is generally seen as a leading exercise and fitness sport. It’s progressive low-impact, cardio nature boasts benefits many other sports and physical activities cannot. The most important thing is, it’s open to everyone!
There has been a lot of research done to illustrate the benefits of cycling on our well-being, however rather than quote science to you, I think this subject is rather personal and best researched individually. What’s of interest to one person may be of no consequence to another.
What I can say is that cycling helps build strength, stamina, maintain joint flexibility and over time it can help regulate and support the bodies natural digestive, sleep, vascular, respiratory and immune systems. What a gift!
If you want to read some ‘science’ and find out more, here are a few credible links to set you on your way..
Obviously, we want to stay safe, avoid injury and have fun. So start small, build your skills & fitness gradually.
After your new bike arrives and your setup (something I’ll be covering in future posts), it’s time for a test ride.
Decide on a short local route, away from traffic, obstacles or large numbers of pedestrians. If that’s difficult pick your time. Early morning or late evening can be magical on two wheels and are usually quieter too.
Test your slow speed balance, go up and down gears, keep coming to a stop and setting off again and again.
Welcome! You just joined the cycling fraternity. – Spike
Rinse and repeat this for several days and then take a day off. Recover your ride muscles, sit bones and work out a slightly longer route. Perhaps a local cycle path, forest trail or national cycle route? The national Sustrans website www.sustrans.org.uk offers a wealth of information across the UK and it’s a great place for ideas.
Watch it grow! and chart your progress. You don’t need a bike computer to begin with. Simply keep a journal of your routes, rate how you felt and your perceived effort. Try scoring each out of 10, it’s great to refer to later.
I’ve written a Garmin Edge 820 review with tips your welcome to click/tap if interested and I’ll cover Strava in a future post. To be notified when new content is published your welcome to join the tribe, right here…
Tip 5 • Set goals then think BIG!
One riders marathon is another’s warm-up so setting our own individual goals really can help maintain your relationship with cycling. No goals can lead to a loss of interest and before you know it, the bike ends up at the back of the shed with flat tyres, covered in cobwebs
So, setting small, sensible, achievable goals are really useful!
One goal could be to change your chain this week? It doesn’t need to be faster than last week or ever growing distance. Learning to maintain and repair your bike can be extremely rewarding not to mention useful.
The good news is most common emergency repairs can easily be done at the side of the road. Multi-tools to tighten things that work lose, a puncture repair patch or spare inner tube with compact air pumps are everywhere.
Anything more terminal and mobile phone, a few quid for a cuppa and written down emergency contacts are essential. I’ll be posting a guide on what to carry when cycling soon, so please join the tribe to keep updated.
Eventually, as your small goals become easily reached, push yourself. Dare to think BIG! I’m not suggesting you rush out and enter a 200km Audax, but set an epic goal to work towards. That’s could be a local 5 mile ride, a 50km charity event or maybe you just dream of visiting a local place of beauty under your own steam? Dare!
As our ambitions grow so do the considerations; sensible preparatory training, appropriate spares to carry, the right tools, food for fuel, sufficient quality hydration, luggage and appropriate clothing etc.
Keep setting goals and dare to think big! The more we invest in cycling, the more we are rewarded.
Cycling is amazing… What else gives us an excuse to play outside, ride through puddles, get muddy, go on adventures, try new things, make new friends, witness wildlife, sit on kerbs, read great books, become inspired, get fit, feel strong and dream big!
Please don’t think! just do it.. then come back and share your cycling experience in the comments below.
If you’re finding the bike decision difficult feel free to email me via the Contact form & I’ll do my best to help.
Stay safe, be seen and perhaps you’d like check out my other post on How To Clean Your Bike.