Aging is an illusion, not a bad dream!
Sunday night we had a reunion of about a dozen long-time riders in the Denver Rocky Mountain Cycling Club. Many of us had been riding together since the 1980s. We’re in our 60, 70s and 80s now. Our well-established riding program was designed to train us for one- and two-week club Contrail tours with 100-mile days. We trained for our annual Denver to Aspen one day ride of 200 miles through the Rockies. We trained for 200 to 1200K brevets (125 – 750 miles). We trained for these with back-to back-centuries: climb fests on Saturdays and recovery centuries on the plains on Sundays.
Many of my friends read these columns in RoadBikeRider and we talked a lot about aging and how we were adapting.
Brian and Bonnie loved riding tandem on ultradistance rides. Now after about 75 miles his shoulders feel like “red hot pokers are in each one.” This week they’re volunteering for the club’s 1200K (750 miles) randonnée in the Rockies.
Randy was a club founder and is built like a climber and excelled at mountainous rides. As a play on his name he carried a plastic tyrannosaurus on his hydration pack. He and our friend Charlie once rode my Pacific Crest Tour through the Sierra Nevada range. Charlie founded the club and organized our spring and summer tours. He died a couple of years ago and before dinner we toasted Charlie. Randy has had carpal tunnel problems so bad he’s had surgery on both wrists. “It’s clearly the result of riding.” He got a road bike with front and rear suspension and tubeless tires, which he runs at 50 PSI. His bike had integrated brake and shifting levers so to shift he had to bend his wrist several hundred times during a long ride. He changed to electronic shifting – he just taps a button. He put on a higher shorter stem so less weight is on his hands. He’s had no problems since he made these changes.
Jack was another club founder and did many of our long tours. While working he could only do the weekend rides … unless they were snowed out. Retired now he rides the Denver bike paths for an hour or two Monday, Wednesday and Friday. If the weather is bad he may skip a day or ride a different day. Weekends he enjoys his seven and eight year old grandkids. Family first!
Bill, another club founder and veteran of ultradistance rides, had heart surgery and was on meds, because of which he lost a lot of fitness so he bought an eBike. I told him an eBike is in my future and at some point I’ll trade it for a trike with a big basket so I can ride from the future retirement center to do the grocery shopping.
Jan is a skinny climber and former racer. She now enjoys travelling to different parts of the country to sightsee and ride. She’s heading to Washington state to meet a friend. He’ll drive her to interesting places including the Olympic peninsula. I encouraged her to do the 6,000 ft. climb to Hurricane ridge on the Olympic peninsula. She’ll start in a rainy forest with rich with ferns and climb through different climatic zones until she’s in sub-Artic conditions at the top.
Carl and Karen tour with bikes and a car. While one rides the other would drive ahead to the motel, ride back to meet the partner and both would ride together. This made multi-day tours feasible because each of them had an easier day every other day.
Ted and Mike volunteered for years as support on our tours. They’d alternate driving the sag van and setting up rest stops with riding. They got plenty of riding and enjoyed hanging out with friends.
Mike’s moved to Breckenridge and now rides his mountain bike to places to fly fish. He has a friend – a neophyte MTB rider – he’s helping train for an MTB race in September. He consulted with me on how best to prepare his buddy.
I’ve ridden many long brevets with Randy, Charlie and Joe. We weren’t fast but we always finished. Joe and his wife Jane have a folding tandem and every year tour in Europe. She has a bad back so now they do bike and boat trips. They take their tandem and also Joe’s folding bike. Depending on how they’re feeling they may ride all day and meet the boat at night, ride part of the day on the tandem and then continue on the boat or she may enjoy the cruise while Joe rides his single. Joe has also joined the Colorado Mountain Club and leads rides and hikes for the Over the Hill gang. The rides are 10 to 12 mph, slow by his old standards, but he enjoys the camaraderie and teaching bike skills – like changing a flat – to newbies.
In 40 years of riding I’ve completed the solo Race Across America, seven 1200Ks and numerous brevets and centuries. I write for RBR to share what I’ve learned. John and I met riding brevets together in ’83 and after he retired we started riding weekly. We have two rules. We never pass anyone because we’re riding to talk, not to go fast. And we always stop for breakfast or lunch. When he turned 70 he bought a new bike after carefully selecting one he can ride as he ages. He’s a volunteer mechanic in a not-for-profit bike shop. He loves wrenching and talking bikes every Wednesday. And he’s my personal mechanic!
I still love the feeling of being on the road and I’ve also adopted new sports. I cross-country skied 90 days last winter. I mountain bike two or three days a week now. Carol and I ski together most of the winter but in the summer she was a cycling widow so we bought a kayak and every week we go on the water, often with friends. These are good recovery days from mountain biking and I’m always pleasantly tired by the time we paddle back to the shore. We have a small trailer and take our kayaks and bikes camping with friends in different state parks.
We all had big smiles at dinner and talked enthusiastically about our current activities. We have re-created our cycling to adapt to the changes, which are part of aging.
- Brian and Bonnie give back to the sport.
- Randy modified his bike to prevent injuries.
- Jack changed his priorities.
- Bill got a new bike to meet his current capacity.
- Jan combines riding with visiting friends and seeing new places.
- Carl and Karen expand their touring options by also using a car.
- Ted combines crewing and riding.
- Mike changed cycling disciplines and mentors a new rider.
- Joe and Jane adapted so they can continue touring and he mentors new riders.
- John gives back to the sport doing something he loves.
- I’ve become an author and adopted many new sports.
My eBook Anti-aging 12 ways you can slow the aging process has chapters on:
- Physiology of aging
- Assessing your strengths and weakness
- Endurance riding including sample weeks and months for riders of different levels
- Intensity training – not for everyone!
- Strength training including an illustrated program using things you have around the house.
- Stretching including an illustrated program
- Weight bearing and balance exercise
The 106-page eBook Anti-aging 12 ways you can slow the aging process is $14.99
Coach John Hughes earned coaching certifications from USA Cycling and the National Strength and Conditioning Association. John’s cycling career includes course records in the Boston-Montreal-Boston 1200-km randonnée and the Furnace Creek 508, a Race Across AMerica (RAAM) qualifier. He has ridden solo RAAM twice and is a 5-time finisher of the 1200-km Paris-Brest-Paris. He has written over 40 eBooks and eArticles on cycling training and nutrition, available in RBR’s eBookstore at Coach John Hughes. Click to read John’s full bio.