Advice for a 64 year old getting back into mountain biking

You’ll see that at the top of my website I have a link to a contact form where you can ask me a question about mountain biking.

I added this early on, years ago when I first set about creating this website, not because I thought I was some expert level mountain biker, or some sort of genius when it came to the subject, but because over all these year that I’ve been riding, I’ve made plenty of mistakes, and learned a lot along the way, and I figured this would be helpful to others.

Not only do I want ShredTrail to be a repository of my advice on all sorts of mountain biking topics (and documentation of my assorted DIY mountain bike fixing activities) but I also wanted to be approachable on the subject, just as I am for family and friends.

If they’re ever wondering about why their mountain bike is making that weird noise, or how to approach some aspect of mountain biking as they start to progress, they know I’m more than happy to share my thoughts on the matter – and I’ll always be completely open if I don’t know much about the topic too – no massive ego here. 😀

Sometimes I’ll take a question that someone sends me and in addition to replying to their email, I’ll write up a post on the subject here on the site, as it may well help others in the same quandary!

Recently I got an email from a gentleman who said he was 64 years old, with a bad back, and that he was returning to mountain biking. He’d mainly ridden cross country type trails previously, nothing too extreme.

He was asking for my advice on how far his initial rides should be, how long on the bike, how often he should ride, and how many miles he should aim for.

I thought about his question for a long while…

Obviously there can be a hundred different factors to take into account when considering a question like that, how fit and strong someone is, how active they are day to day, how serious their back issues are, what they’re really looking for mountain biking to be to them, and so on.

In the end I responded with the following, which I felt captured what I wanted to let him know… I hope it’s helpful to many others reading this as well! 🙂

If I think back to how I have introduced (or reintroduced) friends and family to mountain biking successfully, it was always just to take it very slowly at first.

Sometimes we’d get over eager to share the enjoyment of our sport, forgetting that they weren’t doing any physical exercise prior, or their confidence on technical trails wasn’t there yet.

Rushing either of those things usually leads to a bad outcome… whether just being put off the sport altogether, or worse.

I’d say play it by ear, but maybe start with a ride once a week, on a very mellow trail, and just a few miles at first.

Then, if you gradually increase the miles as your body tells you it is happy to do, then you can start to perhaps look for slightly more challenging trail inclines or technical difficulty.

Again though, don’t rush either of those.

I recall when once I bought my dad a mountain biking book of best local trails for his birthday (he would have been around 60 I guess).

I wanted to encourage him to get our and so more mountain biking, as 99% of the time he would just take his mountain bike out for long rides on the road.

Turned out his technical riding ability wasn’t quite up to it, and his first ride up the hills, while he had the fitness to do it, when coming back down a rutted 4wd track he caught his front wheel, and went over the bars, dislocating his finger in the process!

Not a great first real foray into mountain biking!

Much better in my opinion to get the fitness dialed, and then work on gradual climbs and descents, before progressing your technical abilities further and unlocking all the variety of trails and riding fun in the sport of mountain biking.

Anyway, all the best with it, get out there and enjoy it!