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Life in the Bike Lane

Tom Frady

I was browsing (that’s what today’s kids call it) on the World Wide Webs the other day and saw an article about how Martha Stewart had been age-shamed in a comment under an Instagram post she had made.

“What better way to enjoy a crisp fall day than with a bike ride?” she posited, and posted a photo of herself astride an e-bike.

While most of the commenters wanted to know where she got her adorable outfit, one curmudgeon said that at 77, she was “too old to bike safely” and that she should set an example for the rest of us (senior citizens, I guess) to “give up thinking we can do it all.”

This sentiment is so crazy I’m wondering if it wasn’t meant as satire or, at least, said tongue-in-cheek.

Martha (I like to call her “Martha” because that’s my mother’s name, too) points out she keeps in excellent shape through regular exercise. I assume this includes hitting the weights in The Yard while she was in the slammer a few years ago.

When the commenter above says, “give up thinking we can do it all” I think he seems to be saying, “We should just stay on the couch, watching Wheel of Fortune.”

Do I need to remind you five regular readers about all the proven health benefits of cycling, even short jaunts around the neighborhood with the grand kids? No, I don’t. Research shows cycling can slow down the ageing process by building muscle, boosting the immune system and stimulating the brain.

Across the nation, aging Americans are working out in gyms, swimming, playing pickle ball and riding bikes. Bike riding is easier on the bones, joints and knees than running, and (I have found) more fun. It is estimated there are over seven million bike riders over 50, three million over 60. Some are just riding around the block on a bike that has been hanging in the garage for years. Others are on finely tuned, expensive road bikes, riding a couple of hundred miles a week.

While I have always had a bike, I didn’t start to get serious about cycling ‘til I was 55. I’m still not the greatest rider in the world, or even in my group, but at 71.587 years old I’ve gotta be in the top 10% for my age group nationwide. Personally, I don’t have any awe-inspiring story about how I lost 300 pounds or beat cancer or turned my evil life around. But, I eat a little better, look a little better (a low bar) and feel a little better.

I’m not too old to be on a bike and neither are the 65 to 81 year olds with whom I ride. Ride in your 90s? Sure. I can name ten people who do.

My friend, who arranges multi-day/week bike tours for Lincoln Hills riders, has encountered vendors who, once they see the ages of the riders, questions the group’s ability to do the miles required or to be able to ride every day. Then the little old ladies and men crush the rest of the riders to everyone’s amazement, except the little old ladies and men.

Are you over 50, over weight and over wrought? Get on a bike. You don’t have to have a pro-level bike. Not even an expensive bike. You just need a bike. You don’t have to be a great rider. Not even a good rider. You just need to be a rider.

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And it can make you feel like a kid again, especially if you had a bike as a child! Nice blog Tom!

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