Mountain biking the Bookcliffs area near Fruita, CO.
“I’m just glad to be out here instead of sitting at home on the couch eating ice cream and watching TV.” This is what a 60+ year old told me on the Left Loop at the Tsali bike trail in Western North Carolina. Made sense to me. So we all have a choice as we age. Work to stay active and in good health or develop an inactive lifestyle that leads to poor health. What if you could find an activity that is more fun than a video game on steroids, smell the fresh air, see nature in all its natural beauty while getting the best cardio exercise any gym could ever offer? At age 65 I discovered mountain biking and immediately became hooked.
Slickrock trailhead in Moab.
My wife, Bonnie and I were driving back from an extended snow ski vacation out west and the thought occurred to me that I really needed to find a new exercise activity since I had given up jogging due to knee cartilage problems. A friend who had started mountain biking some years earlier had previously recommended it as a great sport. So my wife and I discussed the pros and cons and decided to buy entry level bikes and give it a try.
I had ridden bikes as a kid – living in a rural area, the bike was my main mode of transportation to a friend’s house or to the ball field. So in my mind bikes were for kids and besides, those guys I saw on the side of the street on bicycles in sissy tight pants, Chinese fireworks shirts, and Star Wars helmets definitely did not seem to fit my style. But we got the bikes and helmets anyway – that’s all I could stomach in the beginning.
We rode the paved trail at the Flatwoods Park in Tampa, FL as a starter. Bonnie wanted to stay with the paved and hardpacked surface trails, but I wanted to try the singletrack trails to see what it was like. As it turned out my first experience on a true mountain bike trail was at Panther Town Valley near Cashiers, North Carolina. We were visiting the area with some friends and I had brought our bikes along for the trip. So a friend and I bought a trail map at the local outdoor store, drove to the trailhead and headed out like any pro biker would. I remember going downhill leaving the trailhead, going faster and faster, the adrenaline rushing and thinking “man oh man this is really a lot of fun!” We proceeded to get totally lost on the trail (no markings), ended up going in a big circle and amazingly found ourselves back at the trailhead start. But the big story was – I was totally hooked on mountain biking after this.
Lock 4 trail in Tennessee.
So 2 years later and lots of bike trail rides I can recommend to any senior looking for a great sport – give mountain biking a try. You can choose your own pace and trail difficulty and advance at your own leisure.