Watch: “Are you too old to mountain bike?”

Can you be too old to start mountain biking? Well if you assume that being old means being unfit, then yeah you can be too old to do a lot of things, but of course we know that’s not the case.

Just like people of all ages vary in fitness, bike trails vary in difficulty. So if you’re fit enough to ride a normal bicycle around town, you’ll be fine riding a mountain bike on novice trails. But what if you want to take it further?

I didn’t start riding with Steven until around 12:30, and by then he had ridden the whole morning—after pedaling here from his house. Someday, when I get older, maybe I’ll have as much endurance as he does. Steven is an XC or Cross Country mountain biker. Like Cross Country Skiing and Running, his focus is on endurance and speed. While today’s XC mountain bikes can take the sting out of bumps and drops, they’re stiff and rigid compared to trail bikes. They also have a geometry which puts you in an aggressive, forward position. Steven rides his XC bike over the most difficult trails here, keeping low over jumps and drops to maintain his speed. In the ridiculously humid, midday heat of South Florida, I almost ran out of water trying to keep up with him.

So how long has Steven been mountain biking. (clip) You heard right, Steven started mountain biking at age 55. He was riding the dirt fire road with his son, and was forced into the trails because the path was blocked. The rest is history. Now I don’t consider 55 or 62 to be all that old, but I get emails from people in their 40’s who are wondering if they can start mountain biking. Well, stop wondering, and start riding.

Richard is very well known here at Markham Park.

Besides having a hand in building almost every trail here, Richard tests all the features himself, from rocky descents, to drops, to jumps… especially jumps.

This new table top and berm are pretty easy to session by looping around part of the trail. I saw a lot of people ride this feature today—and here comes Richard.

Richard and I have a very similar riding style, in that we’re not content with just pedaling through the trails. Anything that’s possible to get rad on is fair game. Richard has the right bike for the job too. While Steven’s bike is mean for XC, Richard rides a trail bike with a dropper post, and plenty of suspension travel.

Having ridden motocross for the better part of his life, Richard just can’t stop jumping around. Considering how hurt you can get riding motocross, mountain biking is actually a less risky activity, but that doesn’t make it any less physically demanding. I’ve seen guys my age walk some of the features that Richard pedals right through.

Both Richard and Steven are here at the trails almost every weekend, and indeed there are plenty of people in their age bracket competing at local races. For anyone who participates in action sports this wouldn’t be too surprising. Mountain bikers, surfers, rock climbers, and everyone in between know a handful of people twice their age, out there doing the same thing.

So, besides entering the play area at McDonalds, or being tried as a minor, there aren’t many things you can be too old to do. An activity like mountain biking is a great way to keep your body and mind young. It’s something you can improve at rapidly, and use to benchmark your fitness and agility. So getting back to our original question, I think that you could be too old to not start mountain biking.

Thanks for riding with me today, and I’ll see you next time.


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