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Boomers, Don't Let Calhoun's Spill Scare You Off Your Bike



Jim Shea

Too Shea

August 8, 2012

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Cycling is a great sport for baby boomers.

You may have reservations after hearing of Jim Calhoun's latest close encounter with the macadam (fractured hip), which was preceded a few years back with another episode (broken ribs).

But it's actually pretty safe, really.

I don't mean to make light of Calhoun's mishaps, and I wish him a speedy recovery. Going down on a bike is no fun, particularly when you are of an age when you don't bounce that well anymore (been there, done that).

Given Calhoun's nature, I am sure he is going to get right back on the carbon-fiber filly that threw him as soon as he heals. But maybe he shouldn't choose to ride such a high-strung mount in the future?

Like Calhoun, I am a former runner and marathoner who turned to cycling when the call of creaky knees got to be too loud. What I did differently, however, was give up my sleek triathlon bike and take to the streets on a sturdy mountain bike.

Sure, I don't go as fast or as far, and yes it does sometimes bother me when the boys and girls in the flashy racing silks blow past me on their thoroughbreds.

But you know what, I'm still outside in the fresh air, I'm still exercising for the same period of time, and I still get a great workout, which is, after all, the point.

Unless you have a need for speed or are planning to ride long distances, baby boomers might want to consider something other than a road bike (10-speed).

The drop (curved) handle bars on a road bike are not particularly comfortable, the bike itself is antsy, the thin tires make cornering and riding on slick roads tricky, and, of course, the potential for flats is greater.

A better option for boomers, I think, is either a cross bike (which sits between a road bike and a mountain bike), or a mountain bike. Both models have upright handlebars, wider tires, are lower to the ground, possess a more stable overall feeling, and are definitely forgiving if you inadvertently venture off into the wilds of the unpaved shoulder.

In the several years since I have been riding a mountain bike, I have not forfeited a single patch of skin to the pavement.

(That sound you hear is me knocking on wood).