Retirement Talk

WHAT to do with the rest of your life?


Episode 637(148) Bicycling and Retirement

This is Retirement Talk. I’m Del Lowery.

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.

Forty 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 they then began to educate me. 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.  They replied, “Times have changed”.

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 into 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. Another summer we took the kids and some of their friends and rode in England and France. Another summer it was Ireland. 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.

One thing about bikes: they last a long time. I’m not sure you can wear one out. 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 an 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 to the bank, the grocery store, the pharmacy, the post office, the book store, the sporting goods 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.

Of course the latest rage is the introduction of the e-bike; an electric assist bicycle. And yes, we do have those now. Brenda got one about 5 years ago. It is an early edition of such a thing. It works perfect, looks great and serves her well. Mine is an adapter that I bought and mounted on my 27 year old bike. I like that bike a lot and did not want to give it up. I bought this kit that is made in Seattle by a business called Hiletopper. It consists of a front wheel that has an electric assist motor in it and then a battery that attaches to your bike. It works perfect. Was much cheaper than a new electric designed bike and lets me hang-on to that 50th year birthday present.  I figure they may have extended our biking life by 10 years or so. E-bikes flatten out the many hills in our neighborhood. 

These kind of bikes seem to be all the rage. There are now three shops when I can purchase an e-bike within walking distance of my house. I see more and more every day. And a lot of the riders are certainly old enough to be retired.

If you are interested in exercise and getting outdoors while getting it biking may be for you. But the thing I really like best about it is that it is fun. It always brings feelings of still being a kid when ever I roll down the trail or street and feel the wind whipping me in the face. 

This is Retirement Talk.







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