Cycling and Beyond 50
The conversation among cyclists often goes like this: The older cyclist says to the younger one, I got into cycling in my 20’s, I still like it in my 40’s, and I strangely suspect I’ll still like it into my 80’s. If you’re Robert Marchand, into his 100’s. Cycling is a beautiful sport and like a good bottle of red wine, it only gets better with age. The health benefits are fantastic, leading to better physical and mental health. Cycling keeps you connected with your inner child, tapping into those first memories of freedom while riding a bike. Unlike other activities, cycling is a unique because it can be done for life. The thrill of competition never gets old and the average age of cyclosportive riders continues trending upwards. Cycling is the new golf, many are trading in their clubs for a bicycle.
There are several examples of great bicycle racers who are 50, and even 100 years old. Thurlow Rogers, who competed in the 1980 Olympics, still races regularly in the master’s class and does extremely well. Recently, at 105 years of age, Frenchman Robert Marchand set the world hour record for the fastest 100+ years old in a velodrome. There are countless examples of men and women well into their 80s who ride thousands of miles per year touring, racing, and just living life.
Many considerations affect the aging cyclist: health, bike fit, training, training, nutrition and recovery.
Cycling decreases your physiologic age. Older cyclists represent an impressive example of successful healthy ageing. Ageing is a continuum of biological processes and with the passage of time, older cyclists can expect weakening hearts, declining lung function and loss of muscle leading to reduced strength, oxygen uptake, and exercise capacity. Any subsequent mobility limitation can initiate a viscous decline in physical function and health. But there’s good news ahead as cyclists are living and thriving even into their 90s and 100s.
Few limitations exist for the ageing cyclist, but the health issues must be periodically addressed. A cyclist needs to be in good health in order to ride. Many discover cycling coming back from injuries or an operation. After age 50, maintaining your general health can be a tall order. Most health issues often revolve around the joints, heart, prostate, menopause, osteoporosis, and cognition. Perhaps most important is finding a like-minded doctor who can help you maintain optimal health in line with your goals. Look for health practitioners who also participate in sports and will go that extra step in ordering the appropriate tests. Too often we go to the doctor and spend 15 minutes with them only to be told that you are “fine.”
Next time, Cycling beyond 50 and Cardiac Factors