Retirees riding bicycles in greater numbers

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All little Johnny wanted was a new bicycle for Christmas when he was a kid. Now, 60 years later, John Sr. is retired, and he still wants a bicycle.

Jerry and Shirley Smith

The Wall Street Journal has discovered that “more older people” (hey, be careful who you’re calling old) are taking up bicycling.

A poll by the AARP says 20% of people age 50 and above say they’ve ridden a bicycle in the past year, compared to 16% in 2011.

Some are doing it to lose weight; the Journal article has several testimonials for cyclists who lost 20 or more pounds by regular cycling.

Others are cycling because it’s an exercise that’s generally easy on the joints. Some are looking to exercise to beat heart disease or diabetes.

Still others say it’s a way to feel young again. Pat Denino, 72, of Westerville, Ohio, says she feels like she’s 12 years old again. A cancer survivor, she enjoys the feel of the breeze and the sun on her skin.

“My baseline is this: If it’s not as hard as chemo, I’m doing it. My legs are a little tired, but I’ll be ready to go tomorrow.”

Howard Dietzman pauses on his trip across Canada

Howard Dietzman pauses on his trip across Canada

If a husband and wife enjoy bicycling, it can even be better. Consider Jerry and Shirley Smith (above), ages 73 and 72. Three years ago, the Kansas couple mounted their tandem and pedaled across the Northern Tier on a Trans America bike tour.

Meanwhile, 81-year-old Howard Dietzman accomplished a Trans-Canada bike tour last year. No sitting in the rocking chair on the front porch for him.

While there are those making the long rides, many others get their rides in closer to home.

The Journal says bike trails are a popular destination for older folks who don’t want to negotiate motor vehicle traffic while riding a bike.

If you’re looking for a trail to ride, the website lists hundreds of rail-trails across the US. The descriptions include maps and directions to the trailheads.


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