Ray Houlihan's bicycle ride took him 103 miles around his hometown of Turlock on a December day. He's completed 15 centuries over the past 20 years or so.
“It's just like the mountains. They're there and you want to start riding them,” he told the Modesto Bee.
He called it his Geezer Codger Century ride; I call it a great accomplishment, considering the challenge to finish my annual miles-to-years birthday ride that keeps getting longer every time I do it.
What makes his ride all the more remarkable is how few people his age in this country even venture out on a bicycle.
The 2012 Benchmarking Report issued this week by the Alliance for Biking and Walking shows that the bicycling rates for seniors in the US much lower than some European countries. (Of course, bicycling rates lag far behind in other age groups as well.)
According to the report:
“… only 10% of trips by American elderly are by walking or cycling, compared to 43% in Germany, 51% in Denmark, and 64% in the Netherlands.
“The much higher levels of walking and cycling in northern Europe provide important physical activity, mobility, and independence for all age groups, while children and seniors in the U.S. are often dependent on their families, neighbors, and friends for many trips they need to make.”
Houlihan tends to downplay his long bike rides. They're made easier by the fact that he isn't starting cold; he regularly goes on 20-mile rides.
Many seniors gave up bicycle-riding long ago, however. Now they're just coming to realize that regular cycling can reduce the effects of arthritis and asthma, as well as hypertension and heart disease.
At left is a video about from StreetFilms-Portland about the city's Senior Cyclist Program designed to get older folks back in the saddle.
Notice that many are riding trikes to address the issue of balance and falling, which is a major concern among the elderly.
There are plenty of cycling outlets for older bicyclists.
Many clubs, such as Seattle's Cascade Bicycle Club, schedule free daily rides. They're ranked from “easy” to “super strenuous.” More seniors returning to cycling, the easy (under 10 mph) and leisurely (10-12 mph) would be a good place to start.
An East Coast bicycle touring outfit — Senior Cycling, Old Folks on Spokes — caters to older cyclists interested in overnight rides. Other bicycle tour outfits offer low-mileage overnight rides for bicyclists getting back into an active life.
Photo above from the Turlock Journal.