Riding smarter - concessions to aging. - CycleBlaze

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Riding smarter - concessions to aging.

Kelly Iniguez

We recently finished a Colorado Fall Colors Tour. I gave Jim the route, and he came up with the overnight stops. The layovers were friendly - we had an enjoyable amount of miles and climbing each day. Some of the days seemed a little short of what we would usually do, but ended up being good choices.

I'm now looking at routing for 2022, and am trying to route age/ability appropriately. 

Example - the day to Taylor Park was a highlight of the trip - but it was a tough climbing day. We are riding it again in summer, 2022.

Cottonwood Hot Springs is 6 miles/700 climbing feet up the pass. We could stay there and take a bite out of the 4,xxx foot climbing day over Cottonwood Pass. But, we would have to carry dinner/breakfast. Probably we would have better quality food if we stayed in town and ate there. Jacinto's suggestion for dinner is a rotisserie chicken and sides. That sounds reasonable. 

On the fall colors tour, our days were relaxed and we ate a restaurant breakfast almost every morning. As opposed to my standard oatmeal in the room. I felt I had far more energy and definitely didn't snack on the way. I can see the advantage to a full breakfast, especially before a big day.

I seem to have two topics going here. One is routing shorter/easier miles to be age friendly. The other is fueling appropriately. You would think I'd have the fueling thing down by now!

Commentary/experiences on either subject?

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1 week ago
Scott AndersonTo Kelly Iniguez

No thoughts on fueling appropriately, although coffee, beer and wine seem as much to the point as they did 40 years ago - more so, really.  

The age thing though.  Get used to it, is what I would suggest.  Develop an accepting attitude, be glad for what you could do in the past and be grateful for what’s still possible.  Adapt incrementally, pushing yourself but accepting that you’re probably not going to make it up Mount Evans at this point, just as Rocky and I won’t be carrying panniers over the top of Mont Ventoux again.  And keep your blog going, so you can remember and reminisce.  “Preserve your memories, they’re all that’s left you”, a wise man once said.

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1 week ago
George HallTo Kelly Iniguez

Kelly,

As much as I really want to say F%$#k the age thing,  you're only as old as you feel, age is a state of mind, etc. , I have discovered that it really is more of a challenge to do hard physical things now as I age and suffer the ravages of time.   Still, those of us who cycle tour for long distances are doing something that most folks half our age can't do.  But that sad rebuke of today's youth diverges from the discussion.  

So then, what to do in order to continue touring when you have less horsepower in the motor?   How to keep up with the younger folks that tour?   I offer the following points for consideration, in no order other than as they came to mind.  Many of them apply to cycle tourists of any age, but I think they are especially relevant for us more experienced folks. 

  1. I think it's more important than ever that us older folks train adequately prior to a tour.   We don't need to be ready for the Tour de France, but we need to show up knowing we are capable of riding the daily mileage planned.  For me this usually entails short rides during the week and a long weekend ride that increases in distance over several months until I reach the target goal of riding 20 miles further than the planned average daily mileage.    Older folks are more likely to injure themselves if they aren't adequately trained prior to commencing a tour. 
  2. Plan for shorter mileage days at the beginning of the tour.   This allows one to grow accustomed to the extra stress of riding a loaded bike.  On my recent cross-country tour I averaged 57-58 miles/day, but for the first week we kept the daily mileage around 40-45 miles.  This was very much appreciated, shorter days at first allow you to break into the rigors of touring and get your daily routine worked out before you amp up the mileage. 
  3. Take rest days more frequently at the beginning of the tour.   Your body needs it, and your mental state also benefits.  On Adventure Cycling group tours, they take a rest day after riding 3 days, then another after riding 4 more days, then another after riding 5 more days, etc. - until they reach the point of taking a rest day every 10 days.   I think it's very important that we older cyclists ease into a tour rather than plunging straight in - point 2. above and this point facilitate that.  
  4. Early morning starts are always a good idea, but are even more crucial for us older cyclists.   I like to commence rolling before sunrise while the youngsters are still asleep.  Heat is the biggest enemy on most of our tours, and heat-related illnesses are serious threats for us older folk.  Avoid the heat, avoid the traffic - roll early.  By the time the youngsters get on the road you can be halfway there.   The miles cost twice as much after noon than before, so I like to buy as many miles as I can while they are cheap. 
  5. Know why you are doing the tour and Stay Motivated.  The mental aspects of long distance cycle touring are much more challenging than the physical aspects.   People give up because they burn out or just aren't motivated - when the going gets tough, they forget why they are doing the tour.   We all have our own reasons for touring, and when things are going along smoothly it's easy to keep rolling along.  But when you are out of water and have to change a flat under the afternoon sun on a highway shoulder in Kansas, or when you are completely soaked and are chilled from the cold rain in Iowa and still have 20 miles to go, then it's challenging to stay motivated (I didn't even mention the challenge of dealing with a wisdom tooth going ballistic in the middle of Montana, cause that's a whole new level of anti-motivation).   While this applies to cyclists of all ages, we older folks have a built-in excuse to quit - after all, Grandad should just relax at home and "enjoy" retirement, right?   There's never a guarantee that anyone will finish any tour, but the odds are greatly increased if you can focus on why you are doing the tour and stay motivated.  Younger folks, with their strong muscles and lean bodies (I hate them, youth really is wasted on the young) are less likely to experience the physical difficulties we older folks have, so in that sense they are less likely to need as much motivation.  We have to out-motivate them to keep the wheels turning. 
  6. One advantage we older folks may have over the younger generation is that we can stay indoors more often.  We have more money than the youngsters!   While I enjoy camping, it definitely adds to the burden of cycle touring when you must camp all or most of the time.  So in this sense, age is a benefit - at least we have one benefit the youngsters don't have.  

As far as diet goes for older folks, I may not have a lot to offer.  I'm a huge fan of the cyclist tradition of "second breakfast" and seek that out as a high priority.  Often when you leave early in the morn, you may miss the free hotel breakfast.  So I always have instant oatmeal with me, and at the very least I can have oatmeal and coffee in the hotel prior to leaving.  Then after riding for an hour or more, any breakfast diner I encounter will get my business.  Because I leave early, about half the time I reach the destination around lunch time.  But, if not, I always have food with me so that I could survive for a meal or 2 on my emergency rations.   This is in addition to whatever snack food (crackers, energy bar, etc.) I have in the handlebar bag to nibble on for energy at brief stops along the way. 

Food is only part of the fueling need though, and I try and pack more water each day than I think I will need.  Usually I arrive at the destination carrying more water than I needed, but sometimes I end up rationing what I have and arrive thirsty.  It's a dangerous game for us older folks to be shy of enough water, so I really think it's prudent to carry more than you think you will need.   Early starts help conserve water as well.

OK, I've reached the point of rambling so I need to cease.  However, I feel that I should point out one other "advantage" that we older cyclists have over the youngsters.  The younger cyclists have sex more often than us mature folks - so they wake up tired and can't cycle as well the next day.   While part of me doesn't feel like that's a true advantage, it's getting harder to find any advantage to aging and I'm grasping at straws.   Ride a bike and stay young,

Buddy Hall

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1 week ago
Gregory GarceauTo Kelly Iniguez

I've made some adjustments to my bike touring style as I've aged, but I'm not really sure that it really has anything to do with getting older.  

I spend fewer hours in the saddle these days.  It's not because I get exhausted easily, or because my butt hurts, or anything like that.  I think it's because I get a little bored after about four hours of pedaling.  I will enjoy that four hours whether it's four hours of climbing, four hours of rain, four hours of view-blockers, or four hours of non-stop auto traffic.  Sometimes, with a good tailwind, I can ride 80 miles in that four hours.  Sometimes I'll barely make 25 miles.  If I ride too much beyond four hours, I get restless.  I want to hike.  I want to swim.  I want to laze at a campsite and listen to music.  I want to walk around the town I'm staying in and then veg out in front of the motel's TV.  I want to work on my journal.

That pattern pretty much follows my routine at home.   I ride my bike almost every day.  Four hours is my limit there too before boredom sets in.

I can't explain why I camp less often these days, but it sure isn't because, as George said in his post, that I have more money.  Staying in a motel often seems EASIER, but the nights camping end up being so much more enjoyable.

DIET?

Am I the only one here who rarely eats in a restaurant while on the road?  On the odd occasion when I do eat in a cafe or diner, I feel sluggish for at least the next hour of pedaling.  Perhaps that's another sign I'm getting older?

Pre-ride coffee gives me plenty of energy before I start cycling.  While on my four hours of riding, I generally satisfy my nutritional needs with snacks like beef jerky, almonds, Fig Newtons, and spoonfuls of peanut butter while straddling my bike along the highway.  At the end of the day, I make my own meals and eat like crazy.

Beer and wine are also good things, as Scott said above. 

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1 week ago
Graham SmithTo Kelly Iniguez

Hi Kelly others have already covered the age question well. My additional thought is that a cycle tourer’s age is only one of three main indicators of whether a route will suit them or not. The other two determinants are general fitness, and amount of experience (tolerance) in lightweight camping.  

Fitness (aerobic, flexibility, injuries) is only partly related to age and other posts have already mentioned this.

Camping in the great outdoors is something people either love or hate. Sleeping on the ground, camp cooking, not having daily access to a shower and clothes washing are things which seasoned cycle tourers take for granted, but some others never really become used to regardless of their age. Some really need to be able use cabins, motels or similar roofed abodes.

As I’ve become older, I’ve noticed the ground has become harder, so on long tours I do prefer to stay in pubs and cabins if possible. That said I still thoroughly enjoy camping in good locations, especially in wilderness areas. So that’s something I factor into route setting. 

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1 week ago
Edward HitchcockTo Graham Smith

Hello Graham and others

I find there are fewer and fewer old cylists.  Because for me old cyclists are those older than me.  

Seriously though, many of the above posts don't make a definition of an old cyclist.  The comments are interesting, but the actual age of the cyclist helps the reader interpret the opinions.

I am 69 for a few more weeks.  I make increasingly more effort to avoid sleeping on hard ground.  But perhaps more importantly I try to avoid needing to prepare or eat food at ground level.  I do not feel myself to be slower, but more often notice fatigue the day after a long or difficult ride.

Perhaps talking about this issue is a sign of an 'old cyclist'.  Talking about cycling instead of doing it?

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6 days ago
Edward HitchcockTo Graham Smith

Hello Graham and others

I find there are fewer and fewer old cylists.  Because for me old cyclists are those older than me.  

Seriously though, many of the above posts don't make a definition of an old cyclist.  The comments are interesting, but the actual age of the cyclist helps the reader interpret the opinions.

I am 69 for a few more weeks.  I make increasingly more effort to avoid sleeping on hard ground.  But perhaps more importantly I try to avoid needing to prepare or eat food at ground level.  I do not feel myself to be slower, but more often notice fatigue the day after a long or difficult ride.

Perhaps talking about this issue is a sign of an 'old cyclist'.  Talking about cycling instead of doing it?

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6 days ago
Kelly IniguezTo Kelly Iniguez

Thank you to all who have responded - I've enjoyed reading your replies and different points of view. Keep them coming!

Kelly

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5 days ago
Mike AylingTo Kelly Iniguez

Late to the party as usual and in agreement with all the posters. I am a 1942 model and now look for shorter days and flatter terrain. I could not cope with Kelly's mountain tours.

Nobody mentioned the e  word yet?

Mike

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5 days ago
Kathleen JonesTo Mike Ayling

I’ll mention the e word, Mike. 

Once upon a time I was reluctant and looked down on e-assist. And then I tried it. Now I wish I’d done it years earlier, although the tech has improved so much the last few years I’m glad I waited in that regard. 

It flattens the hills and extends the ride. It’s like having a tailwind on demand. E-assist’s batteries and motors bring their own complications to touring, but so far it’s been a positive development for me. 

Don’t be afraid, Mike. C’mon in, the water’s fine. Heh heh heh.

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5 days ago