Guide to Bike Tours for Seniors (How to find)
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My great-aunt grew up farming in the 1930s, so she’s always been accustomed to working in the sun. Although, what amazes me the most is her ability to ride a horse even though she’s over eighty years old! I’m confident she could ride a bike across the country!
There are several scenic and moderately intense bike tours that are perfect for seniors. Many tours take bikers through natural scenery but stay close to cities or suburbs. This is ideal for seniors since it leaves them the option of camping or staying in a hotel.
If you want to learn the best places for your next bike tour, keep reading!
Can Seniors Partake in Bike Tours?
Senior citizens can participate in biking and cycle touring. However, there are certain precautions that seniors should take to prevent potential injury. These include proper stretching, preparation, and conditioning.
Obviously, consult with your doctor before attempting any exercise or bike tour, for that matter!
Everyone should practice proper preparation before starting a cycling tour. Improper preparation can lead to several medical conditions, including but not limited to:
- Leaky gut
- Severe rash or bruising on the backside
- Damage to the liver
- Damage to kidneys
- High blood pressure
Proper preparation and altering your diet are all essential parts of training for a bike tour.
Intense cycling, such as a bike tour, causes a lot of perspiration. Biking for hours on end will lead to severe dehydration. This can cause your gut line to tear, which is why probiotics and electrolytes are important. I use Just Thrive probiotics!
Our go-to electrolyte company is Redmond Re-Lyte. They offer sugar-free options that mix well with water, and they give our readers a 15% discount. Just use this link or type WILD at checkout.
Elderly bikers and young bikers can all suffer from these conditions. According to doctors, the severity and potential for these conditions to develop increase with age.
For example, you can get very hurt falling from a bicycle at any age. However, young people are more likely to be able to recover from a fall than older adults.
This is why proper stretching is so vital for healthy aging.
What Are the Best Bike Tours For Seniors?
Most senior tours combine the pleasure of a vacation with the ruggedness of a bike tour. The best types of bike tours for seniors have proper rest spots during the tour. This isn’t to say seniors can’t sleep outside, but they will do better sleeping inside.
1. Senior Cycling
Senior cycling is an organization that brings senior cycling enthusiasts together for various biking experiences. Their tours are rated moderate to strenuous, so they usually recommend that only conditioned bikers join their tours.
Some of their tours include:
Their Floridan tours take place in February, which makes them pleasant and not too hot. Their personalized tours are a great choice for those who are uncertain if they can handle the planned tours. Or, maybe you feel they won’t be challenging enough!
2. Tuscany Bicycle Tour
The Relaxed Tuscany Tour is ideal for anyone wishing to see the world while bike touring. This tour is not considered too intense and involves several hours of biking.
However, these daily excursions conclude every night with a stay in an Italian first-class hotel. Although, you should be prepared to endure up to 35km a day (22 miles).
You’ll get to try some classic drinks and foods while exploring the scenic display of this classy nation.
3. Burgundy Bicycle Tour
The Burgundy Bicycle Tour combines the perfect blend of biking and wine tasting. This tour will take you right through the heart of wine country in France.
The terrain is described as rolling and flat, so you won’t have to worry about these being too difficult. These tours are meant to be relaxing, and you won’t have to worry about pushing too hard.
4. Asheville Bike Tour
North Carolina Asheville Bike Tour is designed for more advanced bikers. However, it’s still calm enough for anyone who partakes in regular bike rides to handle, regardless of age.
This course takes you through the local suburbs and the countryside. You’ll be able to personalize the tour to your liking, allowing you to select the track that meets your capabilities.
5. Pyrenees, Provence, and the Alps
Pyrenees, Provence, and the Alps are the most challenging on this list. Don’t engage this track unless you feel ready for the journey.
It’s an intense ride since much of this track will take you up roadways in the mountains. The most important thing is to pace yourself to avoid burnout or over-exertion.
If you want to explore the mountains on your bike tour, this is the best track to take!
6. Santana Tours
Santana Bike Tours offers several packages for the avid biker. However, this trip is one of the most luxurious and perfect for a beginner to a moderate biker.
These tours include a cruise, which means you won’t have to camp out all night. Although some argue that bike touring must consist of camping, this isn’t necessarily the case.
Bike touring can include extensive biking that takes you to new places. Some people even take a bus or taxi for portions of their bike tour. So, if you feel like indulging, Santana Tours is a good option.
Is Cycle Touring Safe For Seniors?
Cycle touring can be safe for seniors, but they must be aware of the risks to protect themselves. Although this is true for everyone, the risks increase further due to complications with aging. Ideally, the earlier you start riding and maintain the activity, the better you’ll be.
According to scientific studies, some of the main risks associated with biking for seniors include the following:
- Increased risk of falling due to loss of balance
- Increased likelihood of breaking bones due to age-related ailments
- Increased likelihood of dehydration
- Increased likelihood of liver or kidney issues
As we briefly touched on above, the risks associated with biking are the same for any age group. However, the risks involve an increased likelihood of harm from cycling injuries.
Seniors fall more often than younger people. The cause of this varies from person to person, but the primary reason is a loss of muscle mass. This is also known as sarcopenia.
Sarcopenia is caused by decreased blood flow to the legs. This can cause numbness in the legs and weakness. This can make biking dangerous for seniors since they’re more likely to lose their balance and fall while biking.
Falling is also more serious for seniors than younger people. Seniors suffer from conditions such as osteoporosis, a fundamental bone mass loss. Therefore, falling from a bike if you’re older than 50 years old is riskier and more likely to lead to a broken bone.
Last, seniors have higher rates of vision loss than young people. Seniors are more likely to suffer from conditions such as glaucoma, cataracts, macular degeneration, and complications with diabetes.
Some of the best ways and general suggestions from biking professionals is to stay safe and active is to adopt the following:
- Ride only during the day
- Avoid biking on busy roads
- Avoid unpaved roads
- Purchase good glasses
- Maintain a healthy lifestyle
The best way to stay active as a senior is to start now. If you don’t feel fit enough to start bike touring right now, then try using a stationary bike for a while.
Stationary bikes will help you rebuild the muscles associated with biking, so you’ll be ready to hit the roads!
Ready to bike tour Ireland? Check out our Bike Touring Ireland guide here.
What Types of Bikes Are Best for Seniors?
Bike enthusiasts will say wide-tire bicycles are the best option for senior citizens. These bikes offer the most support and balance better than thin-rimmed tires. Purchasing a specialized seat is also a good idea to prevent chafing and enhance balance.
According to Forbes, cruisers are the best model for seniors. Cruisers are ideal because they’re easy to handle and don’t fall over as easily.
However, one of the major downsides of these bikes is their weight. These bikes are wide and heavy and could easily wear out the rider.
These bikes are great if you plan an easy bike tour. These tours will require only 15-20 miles per day and primarily consist of biking on paved roads.
However, these bikes aren’t ideal for a long-term, intense bike tour.
Most bike enthusiasts recommend buying a hybrid bike if you plan to take an intense tour of the mountains. These bikes have an ideal angle, with the seat positioned lower than the handlebars. This position is better for seniors since it balances better.
We go into way more details on Hybrid bikes here: Can I Use a Hybrid Bike for Touring?
Additionally, some hybrid bikes come with an electric motor. This allows you to ride normally or get an extra kick from the machine when needed. If your bike uses electricity, you should plan your path to include a charging station.
Pros don’t recommend senior citizens use mountain bikes or road bikes unless they have significant training. Mountain bikes are more difficult to handle than other bikes due to how the handlebars are positioned.
Road bikes are lighter and sleeker than mountain bikes. However, they have a similar handlebar position as mountain bikes and are way more difficult to control and balance.
For both of these bikes, the bike seat is either level or higher than the handlebars. This can be dangerous since balance is more difficult, and these bikes usually require high speeds to remain upright.
Experts say the ideal bike is one with slightly higher handlebars than the bike seat. The bike tires and frame should be thick so that you have plenty of balance support.
Last, I highly recommend purchasing a large bike seat. These seats will prevent chaffing and blisters, which is important since these skin injuries can become infected. They also prevent back pain and injury, allowing you to keep going for longer!
How Should Seniors Prepare For a Bike Tour?
The place a senior starts their training depends upon where they are athletically speaking. Training will be shorter for a senior who keeps a moderately active life, including stretching and walking. Although anyone can start at any time, you should start slow if you aren’t consistently active.
Some trainers say biking is one of the best exercises for seniors since it’s less intense on joints and bones. Therefore, seniors should start by first determining their level of fitness.
Some of the articles I have read indicate seniors who maintain an active lifestyle should continue their activities. However, they should also start introducing some time on a bike or stationary bike.
They say it’s best to try to get a minimum of 6-10 hours of biking per week to start. After 2-3 weeks, you should increase this to 24-32 hours per week.
They also say seniors should include 4 hours of biking every week for several months before a bike tour. As the tour date approaches, try to reach at least 40 hours per week, spread across 6-7 days.
Of course, it’s mentioned that seniors with pre-existing conditions should receive doctor’s clearance before participating in a tour. As a bonus, biking effectively prevents several chronic conditions, so the sooner you start, the better!
For complete beginners, bike touring will take time. They say you should start slow if you are over 50 and haven’t maintained an active lifestyle.
One of the suggestions mentioned is to start walking every other day for 1-2 hours daily. This will help you build leg muscles and gain balance.
Personally, I recommend joining an easygoing or beginner yoga class to help loosen your joints and prepare them for the ride, but that’s just me.
It might take six months of training in these scenarios, but you can do it!
Bike touring is an exciting way to see the world! People often complain that by the time they retire, they’re too old to enjoy life. Don’t let this be you!
As the CDC advises, active seniors are less likely to develop serious or chronic diseases. So, don’t let your age stop you from developing a new biking hobby across the country!
All you need is to start training early to prepare your body. But just keep at it, and you’ll see the results.
Check out these other popular and helpful articles:
Bicycling: What Happens to Your Stomach When You Ride
Dr. Ruscio: Your Guide on How to Use Probiotics for Leaky Gut
Lifespan Fitness: Health Benefits of Stretching for Older Adults
Senior Cycling: Dunedin Hub 2023
Outfitter Bicycle Tours: Relaxed Tuscany Bicycle Tour – 4 Night
Outfitter Bicycle Tours: A Taste of Burgundy Bicycle Tour – 4 Night- Relaxed
Outfitter Bicycle Tours: Asheville Bicycle Tours
Outfitter Bicycle Tours: French Pyrenees, Provence, & Alps Bike Tours
Santana Adventures: Cycling Cruises
National Library of Medicine: Geriatric Cyclists: Assessing Risks, Safety, and Benefits
National Institute of Aging: Falls and Fractures in Older Adults: Causes and Prevention
National Library of Medicine: Clinical definition of sarcopenia
The Conversation: Why older people get osteoporosis and have falls
National Library of Medicine: Common causes of vision loss in elderly patients
Forbes: Bikes For Seniors: How To Choose The Best One For You
Bike Munk: Cycling for Seniors: Complete Guide to Cycling and Aging
WebMD: Tips to Cycling When You’re Older