Biking is an excellent activity for baby boomers. Not only is it a fun way to get out and see things with your spouse or friends, it’s also a great low-impact exercise method. If you are new to biking or haven’t done it since you were a kid, here are some beginners’ biking and safety tips to get you started:
Choosing your bike
There are many different types of bikes to choose from. Older adults might to best with a sturdy mountain bike with wide tires. Another, newer option that older adults are increasingly using is the recumbent bike – a bicycle that seats you in a reclined position and actually has three wheels. This makes for a much more stable bike. You can also choose options like a wider cushioned seat or different types of handlebars – racing handlebars are said to be good for those who have arthritis.
When you go into a bicycle shop, try all of the different options and make sure to get the opinion of a knowledgeable salesperson.
Get the right gear
A helmet is your most important biking accessory. People don’t always know this, but simply wearing a helmet isn’t beneficial if you don’t make sure it fits correctly. Have a cycling expert help you choose a helmet with the right fit for you. Here are some tips to read on your own about finding the right fit bicycle helmet. If you wear hearing aids, luckily most adult helmets fit pretty high above the ear and should not interfere with the use of a hearing aid, cochlear implant or other assistive listening devices.
Other gear to consider includes biking gloves to prevent blisters and perhaps biking shoes. If you plan to take more casual rides, you probably don’t need these items. But if you have hearing loss, one other great accessory is a rearview mirror or two. Though they can’t fully take the place of scanning for vehicles and listening, rearview mirrors can give you extra support.
If you have not ridden a bike in awhile, start slow. Let yourself become accustomed to the feel of your bike. Take a ride with a friend in an area that does not have vehicle traffic – even just your neighborhood if you live in a rural area. If you do eventually bike in a busy area, learn the universal hand signals to let cars know your intended direction.
Just because you have hearing loss doesn’t mean your senior independence has to be affected. You can still bike – just pay attention to some of the precautions above and consider bringing a friend or two on every bicycle outing you take. It’s great to have company when you exercise and – if you don’t have hearing loss solutions available to you while on a bike ride, friends or your spouse can serve as the best resource for bike safety for you.
If you bike alone, bring your phone and an ID and make sure to let someone know where you’re going and what path you plant to take. Also, don’t forget water. Happy biking!