Is the old fart in shape?

Forums Mountain Bike Forum Is the old fart in shape?

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    • #241059

      I am in the middle of a debate with my wife as to whether or not I am ‘in shape’ and need some input. I do not have contact with other riders my age, 60, or older and I am curious as to their MTB capabilities. I usually ride intermediate trails with low grade hills. In dry conditions, I can typically average 10 mph and ride for one hour without stopping.  I realize I am no where close to being a competitive racer, nor do I want to be. I would just like to know where I fit in with others my age.

      How about any other 60 year old riders out there letting me know what their average runs are so I can prove to my wife I am either in shape or avoid the subject all together.

    • #241060

      Your doctor is probably the best one to answer that question. 🙂 Not sure if being faster or slower than the average 60-year-old mountain biker is a very definitive measure. My guess is anyone who mountain bikes at 60+ is in much better shape than those who don’t.

    • #241063

      That’s really a hard question to answer.  It really depends on how you define “in shape”.  But if you can ride intermediate trails at 10mph for an hour I would certainly think that would qualify as being in shape.  I don’t think it matters how that compares to other 60 year olds as this segment of the population (MTBers) is by definition more active and fit than the “average” person in that age group.   I suspect many in the 30’s and 40’s would struggle doing what you do.  If you really want a true comparison you can use Strava to see how your times compare to others in your age group (NB: that feature requires a premium subscription).

    • #241064

      I think using strava is great suggestion. Truth is your “in shape” if you can achieve your goals and have fun doing it without redlining and putting your self in the danger zone.

    • #241070

      As already mentioned, if you ride intermediate trails for an hour non-stop averaging 10 MPH… yeah, I’d call that better than the average bear.  Some mountain bikers may feel that’s just “OK”, others will think “Awesome!” (and many will secretly wish they could do that 🙂 ).  It’s all relative.  I’m 57, and used to wonder if I’m in as good shape as I should be for my age.  But in my thinking that, I finally realized I was just thinking in terms of mountain biking, not in general.  The question isn’t are we, as mountain bikers our age, in good shape.  The question is, are we in good shape for our age in general?  Let’s be brutally honest, the average American can’t walk briskly for an hour non stop, much less ride a bike on a technical trail for any amount of time.  I’ve stopped questioning my “shape”, and just focus on doing what I love to do. Ride!  Having this attitude adds to being healthy and makes me ride better and harder!  The net result… I am in much better shape than most of those I know half my age, and you probably are as well.


      Never underestimate an old fart!

    • #241073

      Good line of thinking Fred. I’m 52 and enjoy riding now more than I did in my late 20s because because I don’t really care to compare myself to other riders. That is freedom to have fun. If I feel like it the ride may be fast, if not, I’ll take my time and enjoy a play ride. The fact is, a high percentage of Americans over 40 have their hands full waddling to the mailbox. Sad but true. The fact that the OP is trail riding at 60 puts him in a different league entirely than the general population.

    • #241078

      Whenever I start to wonder if I’m “in shape” or not, I remind myself that round is a shape.

      But seriously, if you’re riding regularly at 60 and not feeling completely blown out during or afterwards, you’re doing pretty good. I tend to measure my fitness by how well I’m able to do the activities I enjoy. I go for a 7 mile hike with lots of climbing and scrambling and still feel able to do more the next day? That’s pretty good. I go for a 3 hour ride but I’m walking the climbs towards the end? I’ll start doing longer rides more to make up for it. I also tend to judge rides by how much fun I had. I don’t think of a ride as bad if it was shorter or slower than usual, I just ask myself if I had fun. If yes, then it was a good ride.

      I used to focus on numbers a lot, but I realized it was sucking all the fun out of mountain biking. Once I started riding for the sake of riding, and not to see some number on my screen, I actually started getting fitter, although this also came with an increase in age putting me closer to my highest fitness potential.

    • #241079

      “Fitness” is just your ability to overcome a challenge. I turn fifty this year, and I stopped comparing myself to my classmates a long long long time ago. Most people can barely handle an easy green trail.


    • #241080

      I see the results of the local races.  Amazingly, the average times in the 60+ group are about the same as the overall average.  You’re doing great, but very high levels of fitness are possible-even when you are 60+

    • #241082

      I consider myself in fair shape. I ride on average about once a week or a little more. I am 61 and ride intermediate to advanced trails, average about 8 mph and can do about 15 miles on a good day, 8 on a not so good day.  On easy trails or pavement you can add about 3 mph and 5 miles to those figures.

      When I ride with one of the MBT local groups (there are a few younger but mostly ages 50 to 74, male and female) I am one of the slowest and one of the first to run out of steam. And the one couple (both in their 70s) are some of the longest, fastest, and last to quit.

    • #241086

      Having done treadmill tests on veterans for 25+ years I would say that if you can bike for an hour you are better than most of your peers, by far. The flip side is that we are all exposed by media to exceptional and driven people who perform astounding physical feats at advanced ages, which is inspirational but can make us feel weak by comparison. You gain most of the health benefits of exercise by working out an hour or so a day for 4-5 days a week. Beyond that your goals should be your guide. Here is a quote from the 11th person to have through-hiked the Appalachian trail, now quite elderly but still active: “If I did it again I would hike fewer miles a day and spend more time looking.” Another quote from Bill Mason, a Canadian canoeist famous for extensive wilderness trips: “The point of a long canoe voyage is not to get from one end of the river to another but to enjoy what the river has to offer.” I guess my point is that if healthy exercise and fun is your goal rather than times and numbers of miles ridden, you sound like you are way up in front. A final quote attributed to Alex Lowe, famous mountaineer, on being asked who was the best mountain climber in the world: “The guy having the most fun.”

    • #241116

      In the immortal words of Bob Marley “Don’t worry, about a thing…”

      Fast, slow, old, young, whatever. You are blessed enough to be on this side of the grass, you’re doing fine.

    • #241120

      I’m 49, I can ride intermediate trails now at about 8mph.  End of last summer I was at about 11mph.   A winter of fattening up has a price.

      I consider myself in fair shape now, good shape at 11mph.

    • #241142

      Seth made good video: 🙂

    • #241153

      I commend others’ thinking and comments.  IMO, first and foremost enjoy the ride; the fitness will be a byproduct.  We all only get one opportunity to live in this old world enjoy it and consider what is most important to you in life (i.e. establish values and consider your worldview).  I say this because this American fitness thing can get out of hand in people’s lives.  Second beyond enjoying the ride, if you really want to measure fitness, consider several things (this is just a list to consider no specific targets):  consider your ability to do certain cardio activities like biking and running; measure your resting heart rate just after you wake up in the morning and before you sit up; time how quickly your heart beat recovers after strenuous riding or running; measure your body fat; measure your strength (variety of ways to assess this power or endurance strength); how is your core strength; how is your flexibility, how are the love handles doing and how big is the old gut; how are your back, knees, hips and feet doing.  Some of these are assessment of fitness and some are an assessment of health; both are obviously important.

    • #241154

      Like Jeff Barber said, tough to nail down and it’s all relative.

      Indeed historical vs. current objective metrics such as weight, BMI, resting pulse, % body fat may be good to compare…tho’ the best indicator (IMO) may be (and only you would know this)…is your toughest, local, sustained climb is being hammered as fast or in a bigger gear than early, previous seasons.

    • #241163

      Well said Stormpeak. I concur.

    • #241259

      I just started riding again myself. I’m 54 and use to be a pretty aggressive rider. I got away from the physical activity thing and now I’m feeling old and fat. I’ve always enjoyed biking and now that I have realized that I need to get out and exercise I cant think of a better thing to do. I find that I really don’t care anymore if I’m killing it or not; I’m just pushing myself enough to feel good when I’m done and enjoying being outside. Like you I would like to find some riders my age to go riding with. I’m in Sutherlin Oregon.

    • #241733

      Compared to a lot of MTBers, I don’t know if I’m really ‘in shape’ and my Strava times seem to indicate I’m somewhere in the middle. Remember, though…with mountain biking in particular, a lot of that has to do with experience, ability and the trail you ride.

      Having said that, I’m going to be 45 later this month and when I look at my friends who don’t ride, I feel pretty good about my shape versus theirs! haha

    • #241738

      Ride to smile. Smile to ride.

      No GPS, no odometer, no hearttracker, no training zone goal, no miles ridden, no elevation gain/loss – just sweet sweat, glorious nature, perhaps good company and tasty donuts.

    • #241958


      Agreed! The other day I was looking at computers at the LBS. The problem is, I don’t care to put numbers into my ride experience like I did in the past. It’s more fun to just go ride the way you feel for a given day and not worry about mileage, speed averages, etc. I’m a 52 year old trail rider, over trying to impress anyone (myself included) anymore, and find that this new mindset means more fun on the trails.


    • #241966

      As you stated yourself you don’t see very many 60+ on the trail, so why are you asking?  If you seem to be the only one doing it then you are obviously way above the average.  Most folks in your age range are driving around a golf cart.  Plus it does not matter, as long as you are having fun.  “It’s better to go out in flames than to fade away.”

    • #241975

      Yep totally agree with all the above. Have fun. And don’t let other people think and tell you your activities are ‘dangerous’ or ‘impossible’ or silly and put you off – the general social norm. Do what you think you can handle.

      I am proud to be fitter than people my age. And eat my cake and have beer.

      When I was a kid I was told to act my age. Now I don’t! “Going down hill fast” lol

    • #242054

      Hey man you’re 60 and you’re riding trails.  You gotta be in at least half decent shape for your age.  I’m 48 and I ride a lot, usually at least 50 miles a week.  I’ve been riding trails since I was a kid, and I feel as good as I ever have on my bikes.  Keep riding man!

    • #242055

      Are you really debating your wife? You can’t win. Take her along on a little bike ride instead.

      • #242075

        Agree with all of the above. A sizable majority of the population probably can’t find at 10 mph for a hour on unpaved terrain. If you’re having fun doing that, it sounds like you’re ‘in shape’.

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