I doubt that you'd find 73-year-old Glenna Hunter sitting around her Truckee, Nevada, home in a rocking chair. But if you did, she'd probably be reminiscing about a 3,100-mile cross-country bicycle ride she took earlier this year.
Glenna rode her bicycle from San Diego to St. Augustine, Florida, in 58 days. She was the oldest in a group of 20 women over 50 who took the van-supported bike tour arranged by WomanTours.
As I get older, I enjoy reading about active seniors who keep going strong. The July-August issue of AARP Bulletin online reports that, according to the Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association, more than 1 million men and women over 55 ride either a stationary or road bike.
“Bicycling is an excellent form of cardiovascular activity for seniors,” University of Illinois exercise physiologist Wojtek Chodzko-Zajko tells AARP. He says that at 12 mph, a cyclist burns 600 calories an hour; and it's easy on the joints.
The calorie-burning aspect of cycling appealed to Hunter, who told the North Lake Tahoe Bonanza that she ate well.
“One of the best parts (of the tour) was we had a chef. As you're going along, you know there's good meal at the end of the day. You could eat 3,500 to 4,000 calories a day, and most of us probably lost weight.”
Hunter found the transAmerica bike trip more difficult than she expected, especially pedaling through Texas.
There are hills in Texas Hill Country that “feel more like mountains,” she wrote in her online diary. And a thunderstorm soaked her to the bone.
The trip was a Bike for Life fund-raiser for the National Breast Cancer Coalition. It was arranged by WomanTours, a firm that offers women-only road bike tours of varying lengths in the US, as well as South America, Southeast Asia, and New Zealand. Schedules, locations, and other details are available for 2006 and 2007 at their website.