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Age doesn't stop 70-somethings who are cycling devotees



 
 
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  #1  
Old March 19th 04, 07:42 PM
Garrison Hilliard
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Default Age doesn't stop 70-somethings who are cycling devotees



By TERRENCE PETTY
PORTLAND, Ore. - He is a yellow streak, legs pumping, hurtling his racing bike
at 20 mph down a stretch of highway as straight as a shotgun barrel. Rain-slick
pavement hisses as Art Peterson racks up the miles.

This is what Peterson loves - a morning of swift cycling through the valleys and
over the hills of the Pacific Northwest countryside. He does it even during
Oregon's notoriously rainy winters.

Such behavior might be expected of a younger man, not a 74-year-old.

Yet Peterson was honored recently for the 80,000 miles he has ridden with a
local cycling club since he joined in 1989. That's more than 5,000 miles each
year. And he rides hard, giving his cardiovascular system a thorough workout.

Mid-way through this particular ride, Peterson pulls up to a coffee shop for a
cup of joe. But first he checks the heart rate monitor/calorie counter bolted to
his Klein bicycle.

"I've burned 1,015 calories over the past 20 miles," said Peterson, standing
there like some cycling gladiator in his helmet, sunglasses, yellow rain jacket,
black tights and cleated racing shoes.

"I feel great."

Across the nation, aging Americans are working out at gyms, in swimming pools,
on tennis courts and other athletic venues. You'll see them on bicycles as well
- often riding in touring clubs with cyclists half their age.

Many are people who began cycling years ago and are keeping it up because they
want to stay fit, said Patrick McCormick, communications director for the League
of American Bicyclists.

Others are turning to cycling because it's easier on aging bones and joints than
many other sports.

"A lot of people as they age, they start having knee problems," said McCormick.
"Because cycling is a fluid motion, it's much easier on the knees, bones and
joints than running, for example."

Of the 700 or so members of the Portland Wheelmen, at least a half-dozen are in
their 70s. Many more are in their 60s. The average age of the club membership is
somewhere in the 50s. The club organizes at least one group ride a day. Chances
are good several of the riders who show up are retired, or close to it.

They don't let age get in their way - or at least they try not to. The older you
get, the longer it can take to recover from crashes. Peterson, a retired county
sheriff's investigator, has been in three since 1993 - including one that left
him with a concussion, three broken ribs, a collapsed lung, and other injuries.
In 1994, he won the gold medal for his age group in a national race for active
and retired law officers and firefighters.

McCormick estimates that more than 7 million bike riders are over age 50, and at
least 3 million are over 60. They range from people who might ride a
puddle-jumper on occasional trips to the grocery store to people who put in
hundreds of miles each week on bikes that cost $2,000 and up and are as
fined-tuned as Ferraris.

For the latter, cycling almost seems like a fountain of youth.

"They enjoy the wind in their face, the adrenaline rush, the exercise rush,"
says Andrew Pruitt, director of the Boulder Center for Sports Medicine, a former
champion cyclist who was once chief medical officer for the U.S. national
cycling team.

"These guys are what I aspire to be if I'm lucky enough to be 80," says the
53-year-old Pruitt.

Many older riders have been serious cyclists over the years and have discovered
that age isn't necessarily a reason to give it up.

Betty Lou Bailey, 74, rides with the Mohawk Hudson Cycling Club in upstate New
York. She became a serious cyclist at age 29, and has been riding ever since.

A retired engineer, Bailey rides her custom-made Serotta bicycle from March into
the fall over hilly terrain around the Mohawk and Hudson valleys and into the
Adirondacks. "This isn't just my way of pursuing fitness. It's my way of
pursuing fun," she said from her home in Schenectady, N.Y.

A couple of years ago Bailey was asked to give a talk at the annual meeting of
the Society of Women Engineers. Her topic: "Lifetime Sports."

Her message was that age does not have to prevent you from pursuing athletic
activities.

It's a message that long ago found a home among riders with the Portland
Wheelmen.

One of them is Bob Sahleen. At age 65, he's another high-mileage rider,
accumulating somewhere around 80,000 since buying a bike in 1989. Back then,
when he was 51, Sahleen got into cycling because he was staring at an aging
process that could turn him into a couch potato unless he did something about
it.

"You don't have to lay around," says the retired printer. "If you go out and do
something, you'll feel better."

Sahleen rides about 12,000 miles a year - participating in daily rides organized
by the Portland Wheelmen as well as long multi-day tours through scenic places
like the Canadian Rockies.

Health experts say it's essential for people age 50 and up to know their
physical abilities before embarking on strenuous or long-distance cycling.

"If you're an older person, and just starting a new activity, you're more prone
to pick up an overuse injury," says Bryan Pasternak, a 34-year-cyclist and
physical therapist at Oregon Health & Science University in Portland.

"Tendons will take a little longer to adapt to the new exercise," a process that
can produce aches and pains, he says.

People older than 50 with risk factors - such as heart disease and high
cholesterol - should consult with their doctors before buying a bike with the
intention of becoming a serious cyclist, he says. Also, the time it takes for an
older cyclist to react to the unexpected - a car that appears out of nowhere -
could well be longer than for a younger cyclist.

Still, Pasternak heartily supports the idea of older people taking up serious
cycling.

At age 80, Paul Roscoe may be the oldest member of the Wheelmen. He has also
chalked up somewhere around 175,000 miles since he first started riding
seriously in 1981. He has been just about everywhere on his bike: Russia,
Hungary, Germany, Belgium, Australia ... the list goes on.

A few weeks ago he broke his leg while skiing. He's recovering and hopes his
doctor soon gives him the go-ahead to get back on his bike.

"I'm going to keep cycling," he says. "I've got an expensive bike. I've got to
do something with it."

(Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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  #2  
Old March 20th 04, 03:15 PM
MSeries
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Default Age doesn't stop 70-somethings who are cycling devotees

Garrison Hilliard wrote:
"I'm going to keep cycling," he says. "I've got an expensive bike.

I've got to do something with it."



Excellent article. I met some older riders a few years ago who delighted me
with stories about Fausto Coppi in the Isle of Man races. That'll be me in
another twenty years or so only I'll be talking about the Indurain years and
Lemonds epic 1989 tour ! What am I saying, it's me now !

Not that I need inspiration to ride for ever but lets hope it encourages
others to get a bike and ride.



  #3  
Old March 20th 04, 09:35 PM
Neil Cherry
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Default Age doesn't stop 70-somethings who are cycling devotees

On Sat, 20 Mar 2004 15:15:07 -0000, MSeries wrote:
Garrison Hilliard wrote:
"I'm going to keep cycling," he says. "I've got an expensive bike.

I've got to do something with it."



Excellent article. I met some older riders a few years ago who delighted me
with stories about Fausto Coppi in the Isle of Man races. That'll be me in
another twenty years or so only I'll be talking about the Indurain years and
Lemonds epic 1989 tour ! What am I saying, it's me now !

Not that I need inspiration to ride for ever but lets hope it encourages
others to get a bike and ride.


There was couple who was in their 80's that used to ride their bikes
back and forth to the store (8 mile round trip) every few days. A
doctor told me that they gave up their car when it was too dangerous
for them to properly drive it. Eventually the wife passed away and I
think the husband has now passed away but they've given me plenty of
reason to expect that I will ride for as long as I can.

--
Linux Home Automation Neil Cherry
http://home.comcast.net/~ncherry/ (Text only)
http://linuxha.sourceforge.net/ (SourceForge)
http://hcs.sourceforge.net/ (HCS II)
  #4  
Old March 21st 04, 10:53 PM
Peter Cole
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Default Age doesn't stop 70-somethings who are cycling devotees

"Neil Cherry" wrote


There was couple who was in their 80's that used to ride their bikes
back and forth to the store (8 mile round trip) every few days. A
doctor told me that they gave up their car when it was too dangerous
for them to properly drive it. Eventually the wife passed away and I
think the husband has now passed away but they've given me plenty of
reason to expect that I will ride for as long as I can.


There are a few riders who have completed ultra-cycling events like
Boston-Montreal-Boston or other 1200K brevets at age 75, maybe older, I don't
know.


  #5  
Old March 22nd 04, 01:30 AM
Neil Cherry
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Default Age doesn't stop 70-somethings who are cycling devotees

On Sun, 21 Mar 2004 22:53:24 GMT, Peter Cole wrote:
"Neil Cherry" wrote


There was couple who was in their 80's that used to ride their bikes
back and forth to the store (8 mile round trip) every few days. A
doctor told me that they gave up their car when it was too dangerous
for them to properly drive it. Eventually the wife passed away and I
think the husband has now passed away but they've given me plenty of
reason to expect that I will ride for as long as I can.



There are a few riders who have completed ultra-cycling events like
Boston-Montreal-Boston or other 1200K brevets at age 75, maybe
older, I don't know.


This reminded me of the time that I rode with a Senior Women's Masters
racer. I lead one of the few winter rides and I pretty much ride all
year long as long as the temperature is above 20F. No one told me she
was a racer. So we went out for a 30 mile ride at 22F. I rode hard and
whe rode with no problems. A week later one of club members told me
that she went on to win a divisional race in Ohio or something. She
was 72 at the time. I thought she was in here 50's. Now I may not be
the fastest rider but I keep a good pace over long distances (30 mi is
not long). But she was much stronger than I! Now that's what I want to
do when I grow up (I'm 42). :-)

--
Linux Home Automation Neil Cherry
http://home.comcast.net/~ncherry/ (Text only)
http://linuxha.sourceforge.net/ (SourceForge)
http://hcs.sourceforge.net/ (HCS II)
  #6  
Old March 22nd 04, 04:56 AM
Thomas Reynolds
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Default Age doesn't stop 70-somethings who are cycling devotees

"Peter Cole" wrote in message news:E1p7c.54899$1p.907398@attbi_s54...
"Neil Cherry" wrote


There was couple who was in their 80's that used to ride their bikes
back and forth to the store (8 mile round trip) every few days. A
doctor told me that they gave up their car when it was too dangerous
for them to properly drive it. Eventually the wife passed away and I
think the husband has now passed away but they've given me plenty of
reason to expect that I will ride for as long as I can.


There are a few riders who have completed ultra-cycling events like
Boston-Montreal-Boston or other 1200K brevets at age 75, maybe older, I don't
know.


Three years ago a gentleman finished about an hour behind me on the
Davis 1200K who was 74 years old. He said it was his fourth 1200K.

That is the kind of old man I want to be.

Tom
 




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