Flashback Friday: How did a 50-year-old get back into cycling?

As someone who is veering rather close to his 50th birthday soon, I am glad that I have activities like biking to help keep me in good shape as I get older. I’ve been biking essentially most of my adult life but just because it’s been far too many decades since your last pedal shouldn’t be a reason to not get back in the saddle. If you need some inspiration, then look no further than this great guest blog from Robyn M. Speed, originally published back in July 2013:

I blame my son, Andy.

It’s a bit unfair to blame him really, when it all came about because he crashed his bike on the Port Hills. Thankfully he was okay – multiple grazes and concussion, but no broken bones, and thankfully still very much alive – but the bike now needed replacement.

We went from bike shop to bike shop, looking at racing bikes, comparing, assessing, admiring. They were so shiny and beautiful. Works of art in their own right. After many such shop visits I said to him ‘Do not let me buy a bike!’ He thought I was joking, but I wasn’t.

My son has discerning taste in all things, and in the end he bought himself a Colnago Ace. Matt black. Beautiful! I call it the ‘stealth bike’!

By that time I had been completely infected. I could no longer resist the pull of the pretty, shiny bikes. But I was not a racer, I was, after all, about to turn 50, and so I studied the bikes and selected one that would be suitable for trips to the shops and a jaunt round the park. My argument was that it was silly to drive to the supermarket for a bottle of milk or a loaf of bread when I could save the petrol and just bike up the road with a backpack on.

And so, for my 50th birthday – along with other outrageously fabulous gifts – I got a bike. A Specialized Vita Sport – the previous year’s model because it was on sale, and better than the one I had been looking at. It’s beautiful. (I didn’t tell anyone, but while the family was at work I would go out to the shed just to look at it.)

My brand new Vita

The trips to the supermarket… I really don’t know what happened, but somehow they turned into 30 kilometre bike rides round the suburbs, followed by the trip to the supermarket. That bike was such a joy to ride that a short trip up the road was just not enough. There is an incredible freedom on a bike, and I found that childhood joy of riding not only come back, but come back bigger and stronger!

So yes, that was my step back into riding.

Except it did not stop there.

I could not go riding with my son if he was on the carbon fibre stealth bike and I was on my hybrid Vita. There was no way I could keep up with him, and no way I could ask him to slow down for his dear old mother on her slower bike. I didn’t want to spoil his fun on his own bike. Plus… I had made a discovery on those 30 kilometre rides on the Vita: I rather liked going fast. {well you would, with a name like “Speed” – editor}

You already know what I’m going to say, don’t you?

Three months after getting the Vita I was back in the bike shop having a chat. I test rode a Specialized Ruby and when I came back through the doors I was grinning from ear to ear exclaiming ‘that was freakin’ awesome!’ (I have been dubbed their most enthusiastic customer ever!)

Decision made!

“Ruby” joins the family

Again there was the option of the previous year’s model at a great price. It had a simple white paint job, and looked almost anonymous. With a blend of Ultegra and 105 componentry I knew this carbon fibre beauty was going to be fun. Welcome to the family, Specialized Ruby Comp Compact!

For the first ride on this bike Andy led the way. His idea of a slow introduction was a 50 kilometre bike ride! All I can say is ‘thank the heavens for the padding in cycle shorts!’ It was, however, an absolute blast!!!

Robyn and Andy, before the first ride on Ruby

At 50 I am fitter, thinner, and more toned than I have been in my entire life! I adore cycling. I sprint that bike through an intersection as fast as I can with a huge grin on my face! I fly past cars stuck in a traffic jam with a deep sense of satisfaction. And I don’t come home on Ruby until I have done at least 50 kilometres.

When I am riding alone it is a time to reflect, to chill out, to let go of worries and stresses. (It is much cheaper than therapy!)

The Vita is the week day bike, the ride into town bike, the supermarket bike. The Ruby is the weekend bike, the long distance bike. Both are a phenomenal joy to ride. I am working up to a 100 kilometre ride on the Ruby – in the four months since I have been riding the Ruby, my longest ride is 75 kilometres, from which I came back frozen and exhausted!

Andy and I have both enjoyed quite a few rides together. He insists I give hills a try, and I insist that I don’t want to die of exhaustion trying to get up a hill – frightful, I know, but sometimes I play the age card… not that I believe in age being a barrier for a single moment! He did, however, manage to get me to have a go at some low hills just off Old Tai Tapu road… and you know what, it wasn’t so hard! In fact, coming down the other side was sheer, inexplicable joy!!! So, the Port Hills? One day…

I am also, I will hasten to point out, a very respectful, polite, and grateful road user. Andy and I never ride two abreast unless the road is completely clear or there is plenty of room in the cycle lane, I keep an eye on all the traffic around me, I wave a thank you to drivers who wait for me, and I do my best to not slow the drivers down. I work with the rest of the road traffic as much as I possibly can, aware that the way I ride and behave on the road represents the entire cycling community.

I cannot express how much fun cycling in, and I am so grateful to my son for corrupting me so utterly and completely!

3 thoughts on “Flashback Friday: How did a 50-year-old get back into cycling?”

  1. This is such a great story!! Thank you so much for sharing, it made my day.
    May it be an inspiration for others ‍♀️
    Happy riding!

  2. Loverly – try the loop that starts at Tai Tapu domain, and goes around Cossars Wineyard. https://www.strava.com/segments/3771745 No great climbs, but a wee bit of dirt road.

    A fairly good hill climb is https://www.strava.com/segments/6903271 in that its quiet, with few cars.

    Then consider Sumner Road from Sumner, climb up to Evans Pass, and either out to the heads, or down to Lyttelton for coffee. A little more traffic, but not super-busy.

    I see a possible Le Race in your future too !

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