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Mounting and dismounting after 70
#1
I have returned to biking at age 72 after a great 2-months trip to Europe, especially Holland, and am riding a Trek 7200 hybrid. I find that at my age my balance is not what it used to be when I did a lot of cross-country biking on my trusty 10-speed some 40 years ago. Once I start out, I'm fine, but mounting and dismounting is a problem if have the pedals adjusted properly (I'm about 5'10). I have unexpectedly fallen twice from nearly a standing (or stopping position)simply because I have lost my balance before having my feet planted firmly on the ground, and that kills some of the fun of riding.

I am in excellent physical condition: go to the gym religiously 5 days a week and want to use the bike for 10 to 30-mile rides on weekends to supplement my workouts. Would appreciate any suggestions.
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#2
You mentioned riding a bike 40 years ago. You might think on the height of the seat of your current bike compared to the one from 40 years ago. If the newer bike was fitted to you, the seat probably will be higher than you are used to using. A consistent thing I notice in many people is that they ride their bikes with their seat too low. A good sign for you to remember about the old bike would be that if you could put both feet on the ground, then the seat was likely lower on the old bike.

I notice for me, that I had similar problems riding my bike when I got the seat to a place where it should be - when my knees would not be stressed. Practicing mounting and dismounting the bike will be useful. I ended up doing that a day or two, just going back and forth in front of where I live, starting and stopping.

Of course, the seat might likely be too high for you, as well, depending on your physical condition. For example, I know someone who has a weak knee and can not take the force of leaning over when they stop. Therefore, they can't ride with the seat too high.

In checking the seat and adjusting it, this video will be useful.

http://bicycletutor.com/adjust-seat/
http://bicycletutor.com/v/gfYw2aJwAA
Why is it that they make adult bikes that'll generally work for 5'9" or above, yet when you pedal these same bikes they only work for someone who is 5'4" or so?
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#3
Congratulations on getting back on a bike!

If I understand correctly, you are having trouble balancing right as you are stopping, but before you have a chance to plant your feet on the ground. This makes sense as the bike's natural tendency to stay upright diminishes to zero as you come to a stop. This is the moment that requires the most balance on your part. I have had some balance related issues in the past and can sympathize.

1. Balance is a skill like others that you can practice. In your workouts, try to incorporate a couple minutes of standing on one leg, standing on two legs but with eyes closed, turning your head as you balance, etc. Not as easy to train as muscle strength, but over time, it may help.

2. Pick a focus point as you stop. We use our eyes to balance and not just our inner ears. It is tricky on a moving bike, but if you can pick a fixed point to stare at, it will help you perceive shifts in your weight and balance. When you try the exercises in 1. above, try the difference between having just a soft unfocused gaze versus fixing your vision on a single point. I think you'll see what I mean.

3. Work on your flexibility. Part of the problem may be that as you shift from the sitting position to the standing position on the bike you are stretching into a position in which you are not as strong. If you're still a strong cyclist at your age, you've probably got better than average flexibility. But I've known people who are very powerful in the positions they train, but get weak and unsteady when put in an unfamiliar pose.

4. Relax your shoulders. Tense pulled up shoulders are a common mistake of even highly athletic people in a lot of situations, especially ones where they are worried about falling, failing, etc. Tense shoulders limit your strength, speed, and reaction time. That transition moment from sitting to standing has a lot more to do with your upper body strength than either the riding or standing postion. Maybe you've got a weak spot there.

5. check out some of the new bikes with step through frames. I'm sure you saw these in Europe. There are more and more bikes designed for more utilitarian uses that have easy step through frames. Many tend to associate these with the "girl's frames" we were exposed to in the past. But the new designs are really solid and simply designed to make mounting and unmounting much easier.

Good luck - keep riding!
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#4
I recently started cycling again too after a long time away -- since my youth and now I am 64. Like Skyguy9999 mentions, the correct seat height is something that I found took some getting used to particularly when starting and stopping. I found an article at http://www.sheldonbrown.com/starting.html that was very helpful for me learning a technique for starting and stopping.

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#5
My father in law is 86 and has had a problem with dismounting. I got him a mixte and wider alloy cruiser handle bars . This helped him to tip the bike to one side and step out.

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#6
Hi, ya got me beat a little, will turn 72 in August, but the thing that REALLY helped me was reading the site that srglassw posted just above. Had been off a bicycle for 51 years and was doing it "like I always did it" after starting to ride again a month or so ago. After reading how to mount and dismount, it worked wonders! And haven't fell when doing either! Wink Give 'er a try.

[font=Tahoma]Old Pat [size=medium][/size][/font]
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#7
As a previous poster suggested, you may want to consider a mixte (step-through). Contrary to popular assumption, they aren't necessarily bikes for women. Whether or not it's the right solution, you might want to read about the Yves Gomez mixte from Rivendell here: http://www.rivbike.com/products/.... It can handle touring, weekend rides, commuting, whatever. They primarily outfit it with a swept-back upright bar (think classic three-speeds), but say it works fine with drops if you get a Nitto DirtDrop stem (also sold by Riv).

I have no affiliation with Rivendell Cycle Works other than drooling over their bikes and thinking "someday..."
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