I recently read an article in the MapMyRun Blog that had me smiling in one paragraph, and scratching my head the next.
I started cycling in my 40’s and have manage to put in 59,000 miles in that time (I’ll cross 60,000 this year if it ever stops raining), so I know a little about it. A little. Probably just enough to know I don’t know very much. In any event…
Here’s the tip on how to start cycling in your 40’s: 4. Looking to the Pros for Advice
Watching pro cycling can be great entertainment, and like anything else, you can learn a lot about the sport by watching those who do it for a living. However, trying to mimic certain things the pros do isn’t recommended for most older cyclists. Taking unnecessary risks when descending, riding through dangerous weather conditions and taking your daily cycling workouts too seriously as opposed to just having fun are all ways you can wind up being forced to take time off the bike.
Okay! So far, so good. In fact, I’d say the author, Marc Lidsay is right on the money. We’ve got guys who ride in our group who go all out every Tuesday and I don’t know as any of them actually has much fun. The whole idea for me is to enjoy my time on the bike! Yeah, I love to go fast, but a 25-mph average is a little over the top for my liking. I’m on board all the way with pushing the pace without making a job of it. And as far as descending too fast or riding through dangerous weather, well I don’t get paid to ride and I have a wife and kids whom I very much want to see after my ride (or in the case of my wife, during the ride) – sane cycling goes without saying.
Then the wheels fall off:
Choosing a bike or gear that focuses on speed instead of comfort and opting for a bike setup that looks cool and professional as opposed to one that fits your body’s geometry are two other important aspects of pro cycling you shouldn’t mimic. Instead, focus more on what feels good, fits your body type and allows you to have the most fun and be pain free when you ride. If you’re unsure where to start or what to buy, see a local bike shop and get a professional bike fit to determine what’s right for you.
I’m calling PC bullshit here. Look, if you want to drop $5,000 on a road bike then set the handlebar the same height as the saddle, more power to you, but riding a bike that’s got the saddle pegged and the handlebar dropped a little bit isn’t all that big a deal and it is awesome. See, the important part here is that we don’t have to put those who ride aggressive setups in a negative light to shine a positive one on setting a bike up properly until you get rid of the gut (that’s the “fit your body type” business – he uses a coy tactic to beat around the bush). See, the truth is, you can’t ride around a big gut in an aggressive setup. At the same time it’s also true that a fairly aggressive setup on a road bike is not uncomfortable if you don’t have one.
I’ve got friends approaching 70 who still ride fairly aggressive setups.
Now, would I recommend someone jump right into the sport on my bike? Hell no, that’d be crazy… and probably a little funny to watch, but working towards that is easy enough with a little want to.
My friends, riding a bicycle fast is a whole bunch of fun, especially in a big, competent group. I belong to that group that drops jaws as we go by on a sportive. We are smiling and talking almost the whole way and we’re not working all that much harder than those going half our speed. A very large part of why we’re so much faster is that we’re not sitting upright, using our upper body as a sail. If you notice in the photo above, the guys at the back are all sitting upright, more or less. The guys at the front are down in the drops, hammering the pace. That’s how we roll, baby, and there’s nothing wrong with it. In fact, it’s all right.
The whole truth…
The pros are paid to go to become limber enough to ride in extreme positions – and at the speeds they attain, it’s quite necessary. Whilst someone in their 40’s doesn’t have to fully emulate them, taking a page from them isn’t all that big a deal, either. The key is to ride in a manner that puts a smile on your face. If that’s upright and slow, awesome. If it’s low and fast, ride that ride with a smile. Do what makes you happy, not what some author says is the best or most comfortable.