Two who started bike riding later in life to improve health

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Here are two examples of when you should age-out of bike riding — never.

First is John Damiano, 80, left, who just finished up a cross-country bicycle vacation this summer. He told

“I wanted to do something totally hard. I wanted to do it to see if an 80-year-old man could ride 3,629 miles.”

He can.

Damiano bicycles frequently and has done several long-distance trips. The recent ride from Astoria, Oregon, to Portsmouth, New Hampshire, was his first cross-country adventure.

Long days

The supported bike tour, organized by America by Bicycle, demanded the group travel 85 to 110 miles a day to reach their overnight hotel reservations and complete the ride in the alloted 50 days. One day in Wyoming, for instance, the cyclists rode into a headwind for 12 to 13 hours before reaching their 110-mile destination.

“At the end of the day I was extremely fatigued, but after five, six, seven hours sleep you are ready to go.”


Damiano was ready for the bike tour because he trained on hills in the eastern Pennsylvania countryside. He also credits his vegetarian diet with keeping him healthy during the trip, although it was tough finding the right foods in cattle country.

Now, Damiano tells the local TV station, above, that he's looking into a bike tour from St. Petersburg, Russia, to Istanbul, Turkey.

The Pennsylvania man started riding a bicycle when he was in his 40s to battle high blood pressure.

Bike for health

Bruce Whiteley of Salina, Kansas, is another man who started bicycling to improve his health.

The 69-year-old started bicycling when he was in his mid-40s and kept at it in spite of three crashes with cars in three years, one which left him in a back brace for six weeks.

This past weekend, he surpassed the 100,000-mile mark while on a ride with about two dozen friends.

He told the Salina Journal:

“If I keep going, I should be able to ride until I'm 82 or beyond. My next goal is to hit 120,000 miles and go from there. The secret is just to keep plugging away.”


Whiteley started riding a bicycle when he was diagnosed with Type II diabetes and decided bicycling would improve his health. He had to overcome some bad luck on the road, however.

Whiteley was struck by cars three times in his first three years of bicycling. Twice he was hit from behind and ended up shattering the windshield of the car. A third time he was hit and landed in a sitting position that injured his back.

Now he hasn't had a bicycling accident for the past 20 years. He keeps racking up mileage by riding around Salina six days a week and riding home from church on Sunday. His best year was 1997 with 7,300 miles; this year he has ridden 3,228.

Whiteley's back problems persist, compounded by two strokes, prostate cancer and Type II diabetes, for which he takes daily insulin shots. He now rides a Baccetta recumbent bike.

I'm impressed by the perseverance of these two and hope they'll keep traveling by bike for many years to come.

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