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47 years old, but still cycling the world..

47 years old, but still cycling the world.

When I was younger, I often thought that long distance tour cycling would stop for me when I got older. I was always wondering at the beginning of a trip, whether I could make it or not and whether this might be my last trip before getting too old for tour cycling.

Good news is that I am not getting too old for tour cycling. I have learned that even if I am getting older and putting on more weight, then it’s weighed up by being more experienced as a tour cyclist.

As you get older, you get better at taking breaks when you need them.

As you get older, you get better at taking breaks when you need them.

You are better at finding your pace as you get older.

Beach cycling in Brazil.

Tour cycling along the beach in Brazil.

When I was younger, I would often tire out during the day and have moments almost every day where I thought that my legs could not take me any longer. This is usually not happening because of the road or the terrain, but because you tend to over estimate yourself. When cycling long distance for several hundred or several thousands kilometers, you need to find a steady pace that you can keep going on, hour after hour, day after day. And with age and experience, this get’s easier.

Having a lunch break at a restaurant in Indonesia.

Having a lunch break at a restaurant in Indonesia.

You learn to listen to your body.

 

In my younger years as a tour cyclist, I would sometimes have moments where my body almost collapsed and I had to sit down by the side of the road for a while and try to figure out why my body was protesting. I have now learned to feel exactly what my body needs when it starts to protest. I can feel right away whether I need water, sugar, salt, protein or whatever my body might be short of. It’s hard to explain how these this feels, but if you try to learn from every time you have a situation where you feel like crap, then you can also learn to figure that out. and when you are a long distance cyclist, you do not have a car with a manager and a masseur driving next to you, unless you are a competitive rider and when you are 47 like I am now, you are not likely to ride as a professional. But trust me guys. You can learn a lot from the times when you are down and these days I am hardly ever having any moments when I feel like giving up.

Taking a break in Cambodia.

Taking a break in Cambodia.

You get more realistic when planning as you get older.

 

In my younger years, I would often make these grand plans where I would ride 125 kilometers a day, 7 days a week and complete a massive tour in no time. I just forgot to take in to consideration that when you are cycling long distance to places you don’r know, you sometimes get lost and that adds extra kilometers to the day. You might also have to take detours because of road construction and such. And most importantly, you tend to meet some very interesting people when you are cycling long distance around the world and sometimes you want to stop for a day or two and hang out with them. Finding a little holiday fling might even happen too. And don’t worry old guys. Girls they still flirt with you even when you are in your 40’s like me 🙂

So these days, I am a little more realistic when planning long distance cycling trips. I mostly count on 500 kilometers a week and that still takes you around 2000 kilometers per month, which is not bad. And 500 kilometers per week is something that is not hard to do if you have a little experience with tour cycling.

 

And finally you also learn to avoid injury a lot better than when you are young. With experience, you simply learn when your body is giving it’s maximum. And you are probably not as hell bent on giving it an additional 20 kilometers, just for the heck of it, when you get a little older. You simply learn to enjoy the ride more and be less focused on how many kilometers a day you cycle a day.

I just finished a 3450 kilometer bicycle tour through Brazil and my next plan is a tour of roughly 3000 kilometers through India and Nepal.

So, this was a few words from an old fart on a bicycle. I mostly put this down to secure other tour cyclists that life as a long distance cyclist does not stop just because you get older. Feel free to drop me a line or leave a comment if you have any thoughts of thise, or if you agree or disagree with me.

Claus.

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19 Comments

  1. 47? I have shoes older than that, youngster.

  2. Carlos Benjamin

    I came here hoping to read tips from an older cyclist and I find this kid….. and most of what you say has nothing to do with aging, but with experience. What have you got for a sixty year old planning his first tour, sonny?

    • If you are based in the US, then a tour along the Pacific Coast Highway is really a cool tour. for a shorter tour, the C&O canal in Maryland is good.

      • The C & O canal followed by the Great Allegheny Passage is a nice mid-sized tour with gentle grades and excellent scenery. Very easy to do for us 60-year-olds.

        • I totally agree with Rick. I did that exact tour a few years ago and it’s a brilliant trip, taking you through some wonderful parts of rural America.

    • One of the better place is South Korea. They have a good cycle route. The longest is about 600 km from Seoul to Busan. The route is mostly easy. You will find convenient stores along the way. Cheap and clean accommodations. And if you prefer to camp you can easily find nice camp spots to do it along the route. The best part is you can also combine your trip with bus. Just put your bike in the baggage compartment as is (no need to box it) and go. So, if you decide to quit, or want to avoid big climbs or whatever, just go to a bus station. Since S. Korea is a developed nation, it is very safe, and you can find supply you need in most stores. So, no need to overly prepare for your first tour. Just come and go. I did my first touring there when I was 56 y.o. hehehe…

  3. Yeah, mate. you’re bloody right. My wife and myself are 68 and last June ’16. we cycled around Corsica island ( France ) we were asking ourselves if we could do it. and yes we did with the same principles as you. anyhow we’re cycleturists from long time, although it has been a long period without cycling. thanks of sharing and enjoying your tours. Annie & Tony.

  4. Great post mate.. I am 19 and just got into bicycle touring. Hoping I can keep it up like you! 🙂

    • You’ll never regret continuing with cycle touring. Just remember to slow down and smell the roses. At 72 my plan for this Summer is to ride from Seattle, Washington to Washington, D.C., about 3,500 miles. Easy does it.

  5. Great post, well put and inspiring, I’ve done some short term touring around UK & Europe, but work leave being the restriction, I’m 58 semi retired and plan to do a longer tour next spring.

  6. 500K a week is impressive at any age! You rock. I look forward to following your posts.

  7. Hi Claus, I am a regular to your blog. I followed your recommendations to cycle the Philippines last year. Bought a bike at Cartimar and cycled alone from Manila to Cebu – well, with the company of typhoon Melor:-) Enjoy your ride in India and Nepal. If you have any questions/need information about cycling/travelling in India, please email me. I have cycled nearly 5000kms in India in the last years and about to do another 1000 km this Christmas.
    Cheers, Bala.
    PS: Read “Catfish and Mandala” whilst cycling in the Philippines. It was very touching. Thanks for the recommendation.

  8. The advice to others is there. Just read between the lines as they say. The biggest advantage to getting older for most is retirement, thus releasing the time to tour. Great if your partner is a willing participant.

    I’m 75 and I have an 80 yo bud in Kansas City. We’ll be doing a week late this month, camping.

  9. 47??? Is old???? Hahahaha
    I’m 60 and even THAT is NOT old

    Definition of old:

    When your regrets exceed your dreams

    Have fun!!

  10. I wonder about your thoughts getting older. I am 67 now and with 65 I crossed Canada. Did I change something since I started touring with 20? I can’t remember, and if, the changes happened slowly, step by step. Maybe I know better now what is realistic for me. But the growth of experience show me also what all “could” happen, so I prepare some “emergency plans”. Buy luckily it never happens, but it makes me feel more safe.

  11. Great read, I agree with what you say. I’m about to cycle tour Japan for the sixth time and this section will be the hardest yet, I’ll turn 66 while there. I call myself a cycling tourist not a touring cyclist, used to be one but forgot to stop and talk to people,look at the sights, or just meditate on the moment. Now I move slow at the start and cruise at the finish , averaging around 3000kms each trip, this one will be shorter.

  12. Frosty Wooldridge

    Dude, love your ideas. At 70, I still charge up 12,000 foot mountain passes with equal abandon. I roll across deserts sweating like a dog. Can’t seem to grow up. I’m just a damned 21 year old in my head and as long as I eat well, exercise and keep my spirit going, I’m going to act like a damned fool of a young touring rider just like 45 years ago when I started. Frosty Wooldridge, 6 continent world bicycle traveler who refuses to grow old.

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