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Cycling For Seniors: 60+ And Ageless With Mountain Biking

29 Sep 2020
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by Preeti Viswanathan

Today we spoke to Mary Miller, @mary_mt_goat. A 63-year-old Retired Nurse who now lives in Baker City, OR. Proud mama to professional MTB photographer @parisgore, Mary has the sweetest story for how she got into MTB!

Traditionally a young, male sport, finding older women like Mary who are busting myths around age as a barrier, was super inspiring to us, so we wanted to amplify her voice to inspire more women, more older women to push their limits and try something new with biking.    

So, tell us how you got into mountain biking!

I have not been a life-long biker…I’d make occasional bike trips to the grocery but that’s it. I had been a hiker and solo backpacker my whole life but I had never gotten into bikes. And I had the usual fears about hills, my abilities etc. When my son graduated from high school in 2010, he decided to become a professional MTB photographer. As he prepared for college and training after, I felt like I wanted to understand his career choice a little more. So, I decided to take him to Whistler to check out some MTB action with him. There, I also end up enrolling myself to a beginners MTB class. No one shows up that afternoon and I end up receiving a priceless 1:1 training session on MTB basic skills from an awesome instructor and they had me hooked…. we had more fun than a barrel of monkeys!!  

How did you learn the skills, the technique?

63 year old Mary Miller doing a wheelie

We had just moved from Spokane, WA to Baker City, OR when my son bought me an MTB, a Liv Lust. I fell in love with this adorable bike. The best thing I did after I got this bike was to enroll myself into a Women’s MTB class…the Dirt Series (@dirtseries) up in Hood River. They taught me to fight fear, they really took my skills up. I learned how to brake, go downhill, handle curves, how to deal with rocks, roots etc. Met great people who I am still in touch with. 2 years later, went to LadiesAllRide (@ladiesallride) and loved it so much I did that 2 years in a row. I was always among the oldest in these classes at every skill level, but that didn’t stop me from having a blast! My fears fell away.

Ladies Biking Group

Your top recommendations to seniors wanting to get into biking/MTB?

  1. When you are starting something new, especially when you are older support, is very important. If you can afford it, go to a clinic/skills class…you will find people in your skill level and you will instantly have a community. If not, go to your local bike shop. Bike shops have meetup groups, they are the hub for what is going on and can connect you to everything from ride buddies to basic skills introduction. The internet can also be a good resource, you may find local social media groups that provide a ton of useful information. 

  2. Get some strength training in place, you need your core strong definitely before MTB. Of course consult a doctor if you have arthritis or health issues. 

  3. You don’t need to buy a very expensive bike as you get started. Rent a bike, get a used bike until you start riding regularly. You can buy a better bike once you know you will use it often.

What barriers keep older individuals from getting into biking?  

Lack of confidence to try something new, self-doubt.

I would say go in small steps. Go to the bike shop and go talk to someone there. Leave your name, rent a bike and go from there. Ask them to recommend a group or a partner or a trainer who can help you get started with basic skills (doesn’t have to be MTB), basic info on mechanical work and you will feel so much more confident on the bike.

What’s the next big biking adventure you are looking forward to?

Bike packing! I’ve been researching some river trails in the area and I can’t wait to get out there for a night camping with a friend or a small group.

What are some easy ways seniors can get back into enjoying the Outdoors?

Giving back to the community is important me so I help with a lot of trail building. Trail maintenance or volunteering in bike racing can help you meet people, reach out and make connections. Something as small as picking up litter around a local trail will connect with others who love trails. That’s the best way to build community among folks that love the outdoors, love the trails, and you can decide what looks like most fun to you!

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Tags:

  • bike
  • cycling for elders
  • cycling for seniors
  • cycling without age
  • Ladies All Ride
  • mountain biking
  • older women in cycling
  • seniors cycling
  • seniors fitness
  • seniors health
  • women in cycling
  • women in mountain biking
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