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 – thats 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.

# Comments

  • XCTolen

    Great article rongdean!! You are a true inspiration and I can only hope to still be hitting the trails at your age with the same energy and passion for life, health and the thrill of adventure. RIDE ON!!

  • RJen

    I discovered the sport when I was 64 (five years ago) and camping at Bent Creek, NC with my wife, and noticed the bikes on the trails there. A year later my first Medicare claim was a result of an endo on a new trail at Alafia State Park. Since then, every summer we load our bikes and camper and head north looking for trails to ride. My SC Tallboy was new last November and now has over 1000 trail miles on it.

  • bikecowboy

    I started when I was 49 and have been riding for 6 years now. I wouldn’t take anything for it. I live in WNC and do my weekend riding there but I work on the road and carry my bike with me. Using the info on Singletracks I ride all over the place. It’s made a huge difference in my overall fitness not to mention just the shear fun and adventure of it. I love my bike!!


    53 and can still put a hurting and most of the kids out there. I’ve also had 65 year olds put a hurting on me. What other sport can be this much fun at our age.

  • mtbgreg1

    Awesome story! Mountain biking is truly a great sport for all ages as it is really easy on the joints (as long as you don’t crash!)

    Thanks for sharing!

  • 98special

    FANTASTIC.At 51yrs young I love riding every chance I can.My riding partner is 66 and in better shape than most 30yr olds.Still lookin for more riders in the 4 corners area,any takers?

    • rossewing4444

      No kidding! I’m 61 and only been mtb riding for about 4 months. I was hooked from the start. Best thing is, I’m no longer looking at those knee surgeries! My legs/body are stronger than they’ve been in years. Love, love, love it!

  • crossroads

    Great story…I hope to be still be riding well into my 60’s. I started when I was 41 and am having a blast, lost weight and in much better shape. Wish I got into it when I was younger. Keep rollin’ rongdean…and everyone else!!

  • Tim_Davis

    At 62 I love this sport more each day. Sun I will do a down hill race. The neat part is my son & grandson are racing also. 3 generations. The Tinten downhill in SD. I can’t begine to tell you how much that means to me to ride with them. At 7 he may be the youngest, and I probably the oldest. What a neat sport to stay healthy & young. Many thanx to fellow riders that work to creat & maintain trails. THANX!

    • rossewing4444

      ????????????me too…61 and started 4 months ago. I’m so hooked!

  • thegrover

    Great article, I started ridding single track cow trails at age six, now I am sixty six. I have been riding for sixty years. I love mountain and road. My pace is a little slow, but better to die with the bike than live with the cane.

    If you are ever in Southern California I would be happy to ride with you.

    Steve Grove

  • kenster629

    What a great article. I am so glad you found Mtn. Biking or Mtn. Biking has found you.
    I will be 65 next week and have been riding for at least 20 yrs. Coming from So. California I always had many trails to choose from. It always amazed me why with all this open land so few ever take advantage of it.
    Mountain Biking is something you can do well on into your seventies and maybe more, who knows. It does not strain the knees, or hurt the back and you can burn 1000 calories in an hour or more ride with some climbing. It is never boring, always great scenery, and you are always moving either up or down. Plus all the kool equipment is just icing on the cake.
    I am now in Henderson Nevada and the trails here go on for miles and it’s all for free.
    Enjoy life everyday do something you love. Go for a ride.

  • RidingPastor

    I would think you would want to be careful starting at age 65. But it is definitely low impact as long you don’t wreck. It is also a full body workout.

  • Photophil

    Being today is my 55th birthday, I agree that mountain biking is great fun. I started about 3 years ago and I still look forward to loading up the bike and gear and heading to our local trails at UWF for a mountain bike ride/workout. Even when I come back with some cuts and dirt on me I still tell the wife I had a great time. The family knows I have ( or try to have) a regular weekly biking schedule. It is a main part of my exercise program. I’m not as fast as most other club riders, but I’m out there just doing what I love and enjoying all the good, bad, and not so. I have now added biking to my things to photograph. I enjoy both but it’s hard to decide weather to photo the bike event or ride it. Hey, I’m just a middle aged guy having fun with his bike. I recomend mountain biking to any outdoor type person

  • singlewhip

    We are legion, it appears. I am 54, started mountain biking at 50, after 40 plus years of backpacking, hiking, and caving. It was just natural evolution. I am truly addicted, and there are much worse things to be addicted to! I have broken my ankle, too many cuts and bruises to count, and jammed my neck up on an endo last Thur. it was AWESOME! I have friends who think I’m nuts. They are overweight, sedentary, and whine a lot. I’m scraped up, but stupid happy. Life is meant to be lived, and mountain biking is certainly living’! Ride on, my graying brothers and sisters, ride on.

    • Ironked

      My friends thought the same when I started talking about slamming into trees, slipping out of turns and cracking ribs at 59. Then I started to get the rhythm and body english. Heh, I’m going to have another victim to join me this year.

  • Rebillbula

    That article caught my eye by the places you listed. I’ve been riding most of my life but got my real mountain bike start in Tampa. Even though there aren’t mountains, Flatwoods offered some difficult trails, like Palmetto trail, as you had to lift your front wheel over palmetto roots and had to hop over with the back. Then living in Asheville for seven years, I mainly rode Bent Creek and drove to Tsali and Dupont several times. Then I moved to Salt Lake City for a depressing year and a half. The Slickrock trail, as of today, has been the most epically beautiful trail I’ve ever been on and Porcupine Rim Trail through Moab and back up to Slickrock campground has been the most difficult to date. I was lucky to ride Grand Junction & Boulder trails with vacations and unlucky enough to live in SLC and ride the Wasatch Mtns, almost too steep to ride. Now I live in West Austin and have 5 SETS of killer trails, some of the funnest I’ve been on. I went back to Bent Creek a year ago and I can’t believe how easy and simple those trails are & how I used to struggle on them. Not anymore thanks to Moab and Austin! I will be riding till I die!

  • bikecowboy

    Maybe you should try some of the Pisgah trails if you come back to WNC. They may be a little more to your liking. You mention riding 5 sets of trails around Austin. Are you speaking Austin, Tx? I’m looking for some trails to ride in Texas when I work out there.

  • jtorlando25

    I’m in my early twenties and have only been riding for a year but the funny thing is that I get most of my inspiration to continue riding and getting in shape from the older generation I run into on the trails. When I first started riding, I got smoked climbing a gravel cross country trail by an older guy on a single speed, easily in his 60s. “I want to be that guy” was the thought that ran through my head and I continue to push myself so that when I’m in my 60s, I will be that guy. There’s nothing more inspirational to me than seeing gramps blazing singletrack.

    • Ironked

      Good stuff.

  • 49637

    Have a quick question … saw this article and the author mentioned having to give up running because of knee cartilage issues. I just turned 40 and had microfracture surgery on my right knee … too much running and was starting to lose cartilage. It was a full depth tear of about 1 square inch on the outer condyle. I’m thinking this article implies that the author has not had any cartilage issues since beginning to ride. Anyone else have mtb’ing success after something like microfracture surgery? I’m still in recovery and any positive stories would help lift my spirits right now.

  • flyrodsteve

    Great stories. I love it. Im 56 and have been riding for about 20 years now. It is great exercise, and a great way to enjoy this beautiful planet. I just happened to run across this major nasty trail that I plan on conquering. Keep up the good work all

  • Ironked

    I got interested going out on a short trail next to the Shenandoah on my hybrid about a year and a half ago. Went to an REI program and many of the folks there were avid MTBers in my age group, mid-late 50s. I’ll be 60 in a month. Found a Craigslist bike to fix up. When I go out with the local bike shop group I’m the oldest one out there on my rigid. It’s a blast bombing down a nice flowy track. I love riding out in the forest, stopping and letting the quiet seep in.

  • sleepyguy1001@yahoo.com

    I’m 49 and just started riding this spring. I didn’t know anything about it and wound up buying a hybrid Trek DS. I love the bike, but have found that I love the single tracks and I don’t think this bike is going to be able to hack it, So now I’m on the prowl for a mountain bike. My coworkers thought it was hilarious when I would come limping into work and explain to them how hit something or dumped the bike. It felt great to remind them that I did this while they were sitting on the couch. I’ve gotten better about keeping my blood inside my body :~)
    One thing I have noticed about mountain bikers, they seem to be the most understanding bunch of people. We all like our bikes, no matter how fancy or spartan, and no one really cares. As long as you’re out there and having fun, that’s all that matters.

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