Setting yourself up for success!
Protect Your Knees
Form is important when you’re pedaling. Keeping your knees stable can help you gain more power in your pedal stroke and prevent them from aching when you’ve finished your ride.
If you look at yourself head-on as you ride, you should see a straight line from your shin to your thigh. When your knee rolls inward or pushes outward, the kneecap doesn’t glide smoothly. This could cause problems with your cartilage, especially if you’re already dealing with inflammation. Keeping your seat farther back can also improve your knee mobility. Sitting too close to the handlebars changes the angle of your knees, potentially causing discomfort as you cycle.
Keep Your Bike In Good Shape
Are you still using the same bike that you used 40 years ago? Make sure that it’s in top condition when you ride. Having it examined and maintained by a professional will help prevent accidents from equipment malfunction.
- You should also have an expert assess the bike’s fit. A bicycle that isn’t the right size for you can pose a safety issue and cause undue aches and pains.
- If you are using an older bike, you might want to look into purchasing a newer model. Modern bicycles may be lighter and easier to maneuver than older, clunky ones.
- You might also want to trade out the seat. A wider saddle will help you stay more comfortable and improve your balance.
Try An Electric Bike
If you need an added boost while you ride, consider using an electric bicycle. These bikes can propel you even if you don’t pedal, but that won’t give you the aerobic exercise that you’re going for. The best way to use an electric bike is to allow it to assist you as you push the pedals.
This can take some of the load off, especially if you’re fatigued. Electric bikes can also help you maneuver through obstacles, such as steep hills.
Take It Easy
Don’t push yourself too hard while you’re cycling. Choose a route that’s not too strenuous, and don’t ignore the pain. You can improve your endurance and skill by listening to your body and gradually increasing your distance, effort and speed. Check with your doctor if you’re not sure whether cycling is safe for your health.
Dealing With Balance Concerns
If balance is an issue, consider:
- Taking a spinning class or riding a stationary bike in a gym, a fitness center or your own living room.
- Ask for help mounting and dismounting the bicycle if you need it.
- Once you’re on the bike, keep it at a level that allows you to pedal easily without having to shift your weight.
- You can also try activities like yoga to supplement your cycling. This will help with balance.
Fuel your Ride
- You might feel dizzy or lightheaded if you don’t fuel up before a ride. Make sure to consume carbohydrates before you get on a bike. You might even want to bring snacks along with you in case you begin to feel weak. Eating a balanced diet can also improve your cycling performance as you age.
- Staying hydrated is also important. Attach a water bottle to your bike or wear a hydration backpack to get sips in while you’re riding without compromising your balance.
- Whether you’re just getting into cycling or have been participating in the activity for years, don’t assume that you have to stop just because you’re getting older. In fact, if you don’t usually get on a bike, it’s never too late to start.
What to Wear
Wear whatever clothing you have that is comfortable when moving and feels good. There is no need to purchase special clothing. But you should be aware that wide leg pants can get caught in your bike chain, especially if there is no guard. Use reflective ankle straps to clinch around the bottom of your pant leg. Wear shoes that protect your feet and avoid flip-flops. Natural fibres like wool are excellent to moderate heat while “tech wick” shirts wash and dry quickly.
Learning to Maintain Your Bike
A bicycle is a sturdy vehicle with all the parts easily visible and fixable. At a minimum, I encourage you to learn to clean your bike and change a flat tire. Bike shops, and Cycle Transitions in Coboug, offers a basic one-day bicycle repair course that is well worth your time and money. The course taught me the value of keeping a clean and well-maintained bicycle and to bring it to the shop for conditioning and repairs beyond my capability. Most importantly, I now have confidence to get on my bike and not worry about being stranded. Adding a tire repair kit and a multi-tool to your bag will cover most road-side repairs.
Stationary Bike Workout for Beginners
- Warm up at a comfortable pace and keep the resistance low.
- Increase the resistance 1 to 4 increments or until you're working harder than your warm-up pace.
- You should feel you are working, but you should be able to carry on a conversation