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