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Older, Wiser and Ready To Ride A Bike

Whether you’re just getting into cycling or have done it for years, don’t assume you have to stop because you’re getting older. In fact, if you don’t usually get on a bike, it’s never too late to start.

Regardless of age, fitness level, or the list of aches and pains, you can enjoy the fun, adventure, and health benefits of biking. Cycling is one of the best exercises for ageing bodies, as it helps you work your cardiovascular system, keeping your heart healthy. 

Studies show cycling can also improve immunity, regulate body fat, improve cholesterol and memory, reduce stress and lower the risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer. It’s also an ideal exercise for seniors who have problems with strength and balance.

Cycling is gentle on the body as it has a low impact on your joints. Even those of us who experience pain walking can ride a bike, because it isn’t weight bearing. Statistics show many of us cycle well into our 70s and beyond. 

Whether you haven’t ridden for years, or want to ride more regularly to get a little fitter, here’s a few tips to get started.


Ride with friends

Biking with friends joins your own commitment and determination with a little extra support and encouragement to meet new goals. If you’re having an off day, or struggling to stay on task, friends will provide some sound advice, and if you’re lucky suggest a cafe or the pub.


Join a group

There are a number of 50+ Groups in the region who meet regularly and encourage all cycling enthusiasts to join in for a ride. The rides differ every week, ranging in length and landscape, with plenty of time for a catch up over coffee. You can find more information, itineraries and contact details for  groups here.


Photo: Thames 50+ Group enjoying a river ride on Section C


Take it easy

Don’t push yourself too hard while you’re cycling. You can improve your endurance and skill by listening to your body, and gradually increasing your distance, effort and speed.


Fuel up

Even if you were able to exercise on an empty stomach when you were younger, your body is less forgiving now than it used to be. You might feel dizzy or lightheaded if you don’t fuel up before a ride, and remember to stay hydrated. You can read our quick and easy nutrition tips here


Photo: East Auckland Seniors Cycling Club fueling up at the Good Merchant during their ride on Section E


Back to basics

If you’re out of practice, go back to the basics - starting, stopping, shifting gears, and turning corners. If you’re a senior rider, or have an injury, e-Bikes are increasingly popular and provide reassuring back up for any lack of strength or stamina.


Try an e-Bike

An Electric Bike will give you wings, so you’ll always have plenty of energy for the cycle back. Over 50% of our Trail users ride an e-Bike. The key is to start small and build up to more challenging routes as you become comfortable, confident and technically able.


Photo: The East Auckland Seniors Cycling Club enjoying a ride from Te Aroha to Matamata. Of the 17 riders, 15 were on e-Bikes, enjoying stops at the Firth Tower, Cafe 77 and the Good Merchant. 


Talk to the experts

Choose your bike wisely with the help of your local bike or hire shop. They can help with bike selection and proper fit. To prevent unwanted discomfort from a strained back or knees, ask them to adjust your position to distribute your weight properly on the saddle and handlebars.


There’s no time like the present, so seize the day, increase your activity, and feel great. Exploring the Rail Trail offers an ideal opportunity to boost your confidence, improve co-ordination and burn a few pesky calories in the process.

The Hauraki Rail Trail is one of the easiest cycle trails in New Zealand. Divided into 5 Sections, the Trail allows for a range of manageable scenic day rides, or 3 to 4 day touring. 

As a Grade One cycle trail, the Trail is suitable for all ages, fitness levels, and skills. Here’s a few super short rides to get you started.


Waihi - Waikino (7km one way - Section C)

The Goldfields Historic Railway operates a timetable between Waihi and Waikino. Riders can take their bike on the vintage train for the 30 minute journey to Waikino Station, where there’s plenty of space for parking. Re-fuel at the cafe and picnic areas in the picturesque Waikino Gorge. 

Also to be found are the fascinating sites of Victoria Battery and the Victoria Battery Tramway and Museum. Here you’ll find many remains from what was once a vast industrial area. The cycle back towards Waihi follows a picturesque river. The trail is mostly flat, with some gentle undulation through farmland before finishing back in historic Waihi township

Download the Map.


Photo: Pausing at the Victoria Battery


Thames - Kopu (14km return - Section B)

If you’re super short for time or don’t want to ride far, the easy ride from Thames to Kopu is just 7km and sealed all the way. As you leave the town centre, stop and enjoy the many sculptures along the community’s Arts Trail. This section of trail also makes for a great introduction to e bikes.


Thames - Matatoki (24km / 2 hours return - Section B)

Alternatively, take a leisurely ride from Thames to the Cheese Barn at Matatoki. This relaxed 60 minute ride through lush countryside is e-bike friendly, a great opportunity for a coffee or light lunch, and suitable for even the rustiest rider.

Download the Map.


Photo: The Cheese Barn at Matatoki


Matamata - Wardville (16km - Section E)

Start your ride from Matamata and enjoy a stop at the Firth Tower Museum on the way. The Trail runs right past the door, so riders can veer off to use the facilities and enjoy the tranquil grounds. Or for a nominal fee, explore the historical village and climb the tower.

As you leave Matamata look out for the majestic Wairere Falls - the highest waterfall in the North Island. The return walk to the viewing platform at the base of the Falls takes about an hour and a half. It's an attractive walk along a well-maintained track. Please note the track isn't suitable for bikes.


Photo: Views towards Wairere Falls, a great add-on adventure for after your ride


Te Aroha - Manawaru (11km - Section E)

Journey through fertile plains, significant horse studs, goat farms, groves of scented trees, scenic waterfalls, and ravines. Stop and refuel at The Old Forge Kitchen to experience a fresh and authentic "paddock to plate" cuisine prepared in the state of the art kitchen.

The café was rebuilt using recycled timber and materials reclaimed from the historic antique trade store which was once located there.

Alternatively ride on to Manawaru where you'll find Cafe 77. Situated right on the Hauraki Rail Trail half way between Te Aroha and Matamata, the site was once the old derelict Manawaru Dairy Factory.

Welcoming cyclists for great food, coffee and drinks, there is also a wide range of bike racks, an air compressor and bike tool kits to keep riders comfortable on their journey. 


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