Retirement Talk

WHAT to do with the rest of your life?


Episode 148 Bicycling and Retirement

Betty just finished riding her bicycle three hundred mile across Michigan about a month ago. I mentioned it in a previous podcast. She is 84 years old and definitely retired. She has ridden on many exotic rides in the US, Europe, Caribbean, and Australia. She loves the people she meets on the rides and the food they eat during each evening celebratory meal. She almost casually mentions the “good exercise” it provides.

This is Retirement Talk. I’m Del Lowery.

Thirty three years ago, I was 34, and decided to get some exercise through biking. I asked some of my students what kind of bike I should get and my education began. They started to ask me questions: "What kind of biking do you plan on doing? Will you ride on the road? on a trail? Do you want to race or will you be using it for commuting to work? How much money do you want to spend? And then the question that almost caused me to cease my quest for a bike: “What kind of components do you want”? Question followed question. I felt humbled in the face of it all. I just wanted a bike. “When I was a kid…”, I said and then went on to tell them that I just got a bike. The only question to be decided was what color the bike should be.  “Times have changed”, they replied.

Well, I stayed with the quest and finally picked out a bike that would serve me as a commuter bike; the Centurion brand line – components and all. As I left the store the bike guy asked me if I knew how to ride. I laughed and managed to mount up and slip my feet in the toe clips – something I had never used before. When I came to the first stop sign I understood why he had asked me that question for I failed to retract my feet from the clips before stopping. Down I went. I wasn’t hurt but I was certainly embarrassed. It was 1976.

Since then biking has become part of my life. We try to bike at least 5 days out of each week. Brenda and the kids got bikes the next year and the following year we all biked out of Whitehorse in the Yukon Territory and biked and took the ferry down the inside passage. We ended the ride on Lopez Island just north and west of Seattle. We took the kids and some of their friends and rode in England, France and Ireland on two different trips. I commuted to work whenever the weather would permit for the next ten years – right up till I retired.

Retirement only brought more biking for us. We continue to this day riding at least 5 days each week; sometimes more; less during the rainy season. Between us we have seven bikes. I’m a bit embarrassed to say that; it seems like overkill. Our excuse for the large number is that we have them in different locations. We each have two in Bellingham – crossover bikes for around town and then rode bikes which we rarely ride. Then we each have a crossover bike that we keep in Vancouver and I have one old bike I keep at our son’s in Alaska. We ride them all regularly – except for Brenda’s road bike; it's over thirty years old and rarely moves.  The bike I ride around town most of the time is 17 years old. It was a birthday present on my 50th. My other bike in Bellingham is from a friend who was giving it away after he bought a new bike.

One thing about bikes: they last a long time. I’m not sure you can wear one out. I guess you really want to take care when buying one because it may be with you till death do ye part. My advice on getting a new bike is finding a good, established bike shop that has been around for a while. You can usually trust these people to listen to you and help you select a bike that will serve you well. A good friend of ours recently bought a bike using this method and she did well. She likes her bike – and so do I.

At eleven o’clock most days we climb on our bikes and take off. We usually return home and hour to and hour and a half later. Where do we bike? all over town. We use the many trails that wander throughout the community. We also use our bikes as a second car. We go the bank, the grocery store, the pharmacy, the post office, the book store, the sporting good store, the wine shop, the hardware store. We have panniers on our bikes and carry bungee cords to strap on larger items.

It always amazes me that we can do all of our little errands and at the same time get terrific exercise. The papers and magazines are filled with articles that report about the effect of exercise on this or that disease. It seems like exercise is the only thing that is always recommended. I don’t think you can do too much. Biking is so good because you can get exercise while just picking up a quart of milk or a book of stamps. It’s easy on the mind and the best thing you can do for your health.  

There are exotic bike trips that range across the world. If you want to travel and make sure you get good exercise a bike trip is a wonderful way to go. I could rave on about biking and retirement but I think this paints a pretty good picture of why we continue to bike on a daily basis. It works for us.


This is Retirement Talk.




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