A few years ago younger riders started saying “hi, old man,” when I’d show up at rides.

At first I didn’t think anything about it. I was, after all, senior to them but was still riding – a lot – and could hold my own. Then one day I looked in the mirror and locked eyes with someone I hadn’t seen for a while. Staring back at me was my dad. The deep furrows that bunched around my eyes seemed to signal that I only had a few more years of riding left. “How did this happen?” I wondered.

# Comments

  • Greg Heil

    Even for us younger guns, I think this advice can really ring true. Maybe it’s just me and my perpetually-injured body, but I definitely need to focus more on the recovery and injury-prevention aspects.

  • habakak

    Ned is a living legend.

    Fortunately I see and ride with lots of guys like me in their mid to late forties, as well as guys in their 50’s and even 60’s. And a local rider in his 60’s I know is still faster than 95% of anyone he will ever run into on the trails. At my peak fitness I could not even come close to him, and I was at that point at least hanging with the lower end Cat I guys. We just have to keep on truckin’!!!

  • ronb

    I agree with all of what Ned recognizes and advises about maintaining your passion for mountain biking with age. I’m 62. I did one of the local 15 mile black trails the other day and survived. I took one of my thirty something friends to crawl around the woods this week, and third of the way into my usual short ride he was winded and lagging behind. Sure he hadn’t been riding much, but he stays in shape–AND he’s in his thirties! I managed to stay with another thirtyish friend who kicks it mountain bike racing. We were both on our fatties, and I stayed with him, with somewhat more effort, on what was a leisure riding pace for him.

    I can’t bother to train–having a disdain for regiment–but I do a lot of outdoor sports, like MTBing, road bike, kiteboarding, longboarding, rock climbing, telemark. So to stay in shape for these activities, as it has become harder on my body the older I get, I mix it up with traditional exercise, like lifting nominal weights, kickboxing the bag, floor exercises, hiking, and light jogging.

    I say none of this to boast, though yeah, I am. Mostly though to add that if you don’t keep the foundation conditioned the sports suffer and themselves wreak havoc on the body causing a more rapid rate of decay. And by the foundation I especially mean your joints and tendons. Specifically, if you ignore your joints the strain on them enjoying your activities, like mountain biking, will do long term damage. So not to be a promo, but to add to the advice for fitness in your elderly years, my secret and suggestion, start doing Intu Flow. Google it–Intu Flow. Get the DVD, watch it over and over and practice the philosophy and technique. Do it almost every day. Do it before every riding session or activity, including traditional exercise, like stretching, yoga, or weights. It is about your core of cores your joints and tendons: staying flexible by reducing inflammation, and being pain free. I recommend it to all of my friends of all ages, who complain to me about injuries and joint related pain issues.

    Now I get nothing for promoting Intuflow, more than the satisfaction of other people getting the relief and benefits I’ve gotten. And I hope the inventor, Scott Sonnon, makes something from it, because it’s life changing for anyone who takes it up. Once you get to the master’s level it’s like a dance of freedom of motion. But take your time advancing through the four levels. Listen to the introduction by Scott carefully, returning to it againg and again as you advance. It puts you on the right path and mindset for why you practice the technique. I don’t call it exercise, or even therapy, it works at a deeper level than both.

    I’ve been practicing the Intu Flow technique consistently for 8-9 years now, and it’s like a rejuvenator for the body. Where therapy and ibuprofen failed, old ongoing pain from finger, elbow, and knee injuries, that I seriously thought I’d never be rid of, went away by six months. And I felt improvements long before that, and something almost immediately. Flexibility I’d lost, returned. I jump out of bed most mornings anymore without the stiffness and twangs of old. And if I do, I do 15 minutes of Intu Flow and I’m rolling again. I recover faster from a hard ride and from getting banged up. And I perform so much better with a 10-15 minute pre-activity Intuflow session. Laying off for more than 4-5 days I notice the decay, showing up as body stiffness and that arthritic inflammation kind of pain emanating from the joints. I get a boost of energy after a session.

    So anyway, that’s my added two cents for staying on your bike, and remedy for reducing the geriatrics of life.

  • mongwolf

    There’s only one problem I see with what Ned said. 😉 I have sneaking feeling … actually I’m quite sure … what Ned calls a low volume fast ride would be a long high volume slow ride for me, ???? especially in the San Juan Mountains. Having just started riding a few years ago and being 54 years old, I really have no goals in my riding, except to have fun, explored new areas in the mountains, and challenge myself physically (in a very general way). Keep the passion and ride on !!!!!!!!!!!

    • mongwolf

      The ???? above were supposed to a smile face emoticon, not question marks. Not sure what happened there.

    • habakak

      Awesome, mongwolf. Keep it up. There is no reason to sit on the couch!

    • Scott Cotter

      Mongwolf, Ned’s an animal on the bike for sure. But his Strava is littered with 10 mile rides. Those are all about an hour long and really hit on what he talks about. Intensity. You could do that, I have no doubt. More importantly, you’re riding the way you want, which is the awesome thing about riding a mountain bike. We all get to do it the way we want. Keep rocking.

  • gidani

    Great logical advise from one of the greatest mountain bikers ever. I started mountain biking at age 61 having ridden dirt bikes and roadraced motorcycles previously so recovering from injury is something I am well aquainted with. I used to trail run but tore my calf muscle twice so decided to try mountain biking for fitness. What a great sport.
    I am now 66 and aquired Parkinsons Disease at age 62 so have some additional challenges but staying fit and having fun are real benefits. The bike is great mental therapy as well. I mix in cross training with weights, heavy bag work outs, cardio machines, etc. I know Parkinsons will slow me down but at this point I am still able to ride my dirt bike and can still haul ass (at least downhill) on the mountain bike. Please don’t let age or other physical challenges stop you from doing the sport you love for as long as you can throw a leg over the bike.

    • habakak

      That’s fantastic, gidani. It’s guys like yourself that inspires me. It’s the local guys that is real, that I see and can talk too that no one will ever hear off. There can be only one Ned, but guys like you are what keeps most guys in the game I believe.

    • Scott Cotter

      Gidani, I hope you keep at it despite your current health challenges long into the really “mature” years. One thing is for sure: people who exercise age at a different rate than those who don’t. And guys like you will inspire so many others to look past the difficulties they confront and keep on rocking no matter what confronts them. Here’s to you and many, many more years of dirt lovin’ goodness.

  • Slee_Stack

    I started trail riding five years ago at the young age of 40. My goal is to keep it up through and after retirement. Fortunately I will be retiring relatively early, 55 at the latest, as soon as 50 if things work out positively.

    While perhaps lofty, my goal is to be ‘faster’ when I am older, once I can ride regularly, and longer, more than twice a week. I’m looking at my fifties as my peak years! We shall see. Crashes/injuries are definitely a big concern. In all likelihood, I’ll be looking to speed up my climbs while taking a bit off of my descents.

    I’ve never raced (except myself), although I’ve been asked repeatedly why I don’t. I guess some people think I’m pretty quick. Crowds just aren’t my thing though. I like ‘space’ in the woods.

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