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
If you can’t talk your friends into riding with you, consider joining a bike club who will offer advice on how to improve skills. You’ll meet likeminded cyclists to ride with, and be motivated to get out on the trails.
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.
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.
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, Electric Bikes are increasingly popular and provide reassuring back up for any lack of strength or stamina.
An Electric Bike will give you wings, so you’ll always have plenty of energy for the cycle back. The key is to start small and build up to more challenging routes as you become comfortable, confident and technically able.
Choose your bike wisely with the help of your local bike 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 super short ride to get you started.
The Goldfields Historic Railway operates a daily timetable between Waihi and Waikino. Riders can take their bike on the steam engine 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 Train 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.
The easy ride from Thames to Kopu is just 7km and the trail is sealed all the way. As you leave the town centre, stop and enjoy the many sculptures along the community’s Arts Trail.
Alternatively ride further from Thames to the Matatoki Cheese Barn for coffee or lunch. This relaxed ride through lush countryside is ideal for e-bikes and suitable for the whole family.
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