Cycling at any age is a joy, especially cycling past 50. Here's our guide to getting into cycling, and getting in shape, at any age. We spoke to #TeamRutland ambassador, Malcolm Smith, about why you should start cycling at 50? Find out more about Malcolm >
It's never too late to learn new tricks... or something along those lines! We adore cycling and know just how much joy and adventure there is to be had from riding a bike at any age.
50 is the new 40 and getting into cycling at 50 (and beyond!) is a great way to get in shape, socialise and embrace new adventures.
There is never a wrong time to start, just follow our advice to ease you way in and pick up a few essentials to make your entry to cycling a joy.
Why start cycling at 50?
Whether you're a former cyclist who has taken a break or you're joining a local cycling club or looking for the perfect way to travel and explore at the weekends - cycling past 50 is a wonderful idea. From...
- Health & wellbeing
- Cardio, strength, low impact exercise
- Social - meet new friends who also love to cycle
- Go on an adventure
- Always consider your physical needs and consult a doctor if necessary
I have been into endurance sports after being inspired by Alf Tupper 'The Tough of the Track' in comics from the late 60s and early 70's. Yes, I am over 50!
The running lasted until my early 20's when my dreams were irretrievably dented by injury. About this time I went to Goodwood to watch the 'Worlds' which Sean Kelly should have won. I was then hooked on bike racing.
I kept up the racing...then sportive riding going throughout the early years of my children and then got back into full-on racing again in my early 40s. I shed a lot of accumulated weight (98kg to 85kg fairly quickly) and felt great. I knew that in a professional environment I had more energy than all of my over 40 colleagues and most of the under 40 people I met in consulting role.
I am now 55 and despite work getting in the way of training from time to time I know that I look and feel much healthier than most colleagues and I have additional purpose and passion in my life. I still dream of world championship success.
Having a purpose to compete on the bike in masters events is an excellent regulator... I think before tucking into the second bottle of wine over dinner and watch the quantity and type of food I consume. I still live but my consumption is a little more considered. Weight does go on around your waist area very easily the older you get.
Cardio, strength and low-impact exercise:
There are a few age-related issues I face but these do not affect the joy I get from riding a bike purposefully. Interestingly my ankles and knees which were the issues I had to stop my running from have never troubled me on a bike.
I sometimes struggle to walk without pain but I am good on the bike. I do not recover as quickly from big efforts in racing or heavy training sessions, but I have to take this into account in what I do. I tend to train hard every other day on the bike and go to the gym for a stretching session.
My back aches...it has done since carrying the kids around all of those years ago. I have to incorporate stretching and core training to counter the effects of this. I do cycling specific stretches and lots of core strength work such as press ups, planks, side planks and crunches. I also concentrate on my posture at the desk.
Cycling is also a bond. My personal social group comprises people I met through cycling. We have a few social groups which my wife and I engage with but for me the strongest ties are with people who ride bikes purposefully.
This has also helped in business. Prior to the cycling explosion anyone in business who was interested in bike racing was far more engaging than those who had no real passion outside of work.
Interestingly the are now plenty of people across all of my social groups who ride. It perhaps helps that I organize the Tour of Cambridgeshire Gran Fondo which gives a lot of local people something to aim for each year.
I was touched recently when one of the older guys in my cycling network lost his wife to cancer. The journey though his emotional state was terrible to observe however I know that the weekly rides with his cohort was a real saviour. The comradery, the exercise and fresh air helped moderate the trauma of his existence. He openly thanked everyone a year or so after becoming a widower.
Having seen people getting into cycling in recent years, whether to pursue unachieved goals from their younger selves or just to get around locally and enjoy the countryside and keep fit, I know that cycling is so accessible and inclusive. Certainly around bike shops like Rutland Cycling there are group and club networks which orbit and facilitate the energy connecting these diverse structures.
If you have been out of exercise for a while then it's a good idea to consult your doctor before participating in any type of physical activity. Performing exercise for the first time can put a lot of strain on your heart and muscles so make sure you have the all-clear beforehand.
Get a Great Fit
- Why is comfort and correct fit so important?
- Posture, avoid injuries and recovery time between rides
- Bike Fitting Service
The thing that puts an early dent in the interest of people wishing to get into riding a bike is comfort. However nice a bike might look in a shop it won't look anywhere near as attractive after an hour or so when you are suffering with lower back pain, bottom ache, numb hands, sore neck, knees, and ankles. Buying the right bike for your purpose and state of fitness is crucial.
There are a huge amount of angles to consider when buying a bike but the most important of which should be to get one which fits you. At Rutland Cycling, they offer a service to set you up correctly on a bike so that your body will be lest affected by the unusual position.
Interestingly there are plenty of experienced riders who have suffered over the years trying to make their bodies adapt to the position they are forced into on their bikes 'But this has been my position for the last 25years' is a cry I have often heard. Small adjustments can make a huge impact to comfort.
I personally rode in the same position for years as well. I the early 1990's I rode a three-day stage race in Kent, The Tour of the Hopfield's, I was a third Cat at the time. The race was for 1st,2nd and 3rd cat riders. Over 100miles each day.
I lost all sensations in my fingers and my undercarriage to the extent that I went to the doctor to find out if I had permanent damage...not least because we were thinking about having children by then! My first bike fit was a revelation. A few very minor adjustments to my set up made the word of difference to my comfort. My first bike fit as we know them today was in 2010!
- Buy a Bike
- Electric bike perks
- Saddles for extra comfort
- Kit, gear and accessories
Buying a bike:
I have always thought that buying a bike for the future was a bad idea, particularly for kids, buy it for now is my advice. If you want to improve it in the future buying the wrong bike for now will spoil the experience to the extent that there may not be a future and the inappropriate bike will be in the garage hardly used.View all bike buying guides >
There are many perks to riding an E-Bike, I know of one former British Champion (from the 1990s) who rode the Tour De France several times on top team and now has a heart condition. In order to ride with younger guys these days he uses an electric bike. Why not? This incredible innovation has transformed accessible cycling for a new generation. Certainly as an older rider, male or female, the electric bike option should be considered.
E-Bike guides and help
Being an older rider who is getting older (strangely enough!), while continuing to enjoy a cycling career, involves adapting to physical changes. I now have some larger veins emerging on my inner thigh. These can sometime ache when I am training hard 'on the rivet'. In discussing this with Ian Halliwell in the Rutland Cycling Peterborough store I was advised to look at different saddle options. In fact I was allowed to try a few different options and chose a bizarre looking thing from Specialized called a Power saddle. The problem has certainly been moderated.
The right clothes
Comfort on the bike is also a huge function of the kit you wear. Most attention should be placed on the touch points - bars, seat and pedals. Then it is a question of the season and weather you are riding in.
Investment in the right kit is a key consideration. The thinking about kit is using layers, each of which has a purpose but which can be removed or added as the weather / temperature changes while on a ride. This can be an expensive purchase because you need so much but a good sales person will guide the selections.
Clothing guides for all seasons
Starting out as a competitive track runner, Malcolm turned to cycling following an ankle injury in his early 20s, and started off with some 3rd category racing and a burgeoning sportive scene around Paris, where he was based for work. On his return to the UK, and with more free time to ride in his early 40s, Malcolm progressed through the ranks of British Cycling and LVRC racing, winning the LVRC National Road Race Championships. In 2014 he won the British Masters Road Race title, the LVRC time trial title and was 4th in the World Championships road race in Llubljana. Malcom's pursuit of Masters road glory led to him setting up a sports marketing business with Tom Caldwell in 2015 and establishing the Tour of Cambridgeshire as a pathway for British age group riders to compete in the World Championships.
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