Bike Fitness / Aging/ and confusing ones ambitions and abilities.

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Bike Fitness / Aging/ and confusing ones ambitions and abilities.

Post  jwm on Sun Sep 16, 2018 12:12 pm

Haven't had a chance to do much riding since I purchased the GSX1250FA about 4 months ago. The wife and I spent 4 or 5 weeks away in the caravan touring, I was crook with a virus for about 5 weeks after we got home and then I finished up with a bit of metal dust in my eye, which took another 2 weeks out of the equation.
I got out for about 1 1/2 hrs on the bike last week and thought I would push the boundaries a bit further this week. So, I arranged to meet a mate in Goulburn on Friday for lunch, a nice little easy 350km round trip from home, or so i though.
Spent all day Thursday out on Jervis Bay Fishing and felt absolutely buggered that night but never the less got up the next morning looking forward to the ride. Left home and had a nice quiet gentle ride up through the Kangaroo Valley and down to Goulburn, had coffee and lunch with the mate and then it was time to head home via Taraga and Nerriga. By the time I got home I was buggered and here it is 2 days latter and I still feel tired and run down and still dragging my sorry arse around the house.
So, I guess things have changed somewhat over the last 2 1/2 to 3 yrs, which is the period if time I had off bikes. Firstly, I have absolutely minimal bike fitness. Secondly, I'm now obviously  3 yrs older (why wasn't I warned about this age thing). Thirdly, my durability levels aren't what they used to be.

Gee, it only seems like yesterday I could spend all day on the bike and I was doing FarRides and Iron Butt Rides. I wonder what happened to that young man.

In some ways these past few months have given me a great deal of insight into my life as it now is.  I now understand why bears hibernate during winter, as I now find myself detesting winter and wishing I could avoid it completely. I also now understand why many older riders are happy to do just  'short cafe latte' rides, the truth of the matter being that they are probably not capable of going any further.

Never the less, I will push on and be more realistic with more short term ride goals until I get to the the stage where I can build up my durability levels and hopefully get back somewhere near the distances I was previously able to ride.


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Re: Bike Fitness / Aging/ and confusing ones ambitions and abilities.

Post  jstava on Thu Oct 11, 2018 4:36 pm

Yeah, well I've thought about this a lot.  At 67, I'm not as I was, having first had road licence at 15 and ridden more or less ever since. I've been a few ways with this, particularly in the period of ownership of the 1250S - 4 or 5 years.  Dunno, really, Don't really count, and tend to keep bikes a long time.  

The first time I had to deal with this was in 1974, when I bought a 750 Honda.  I'd had a ride on my mate's and immediately test rode the 350-4 the 500-4 and the 750.  I just had to have the 750.  At whatever it weighed, it WAS the heaviest bike I'd ever ridden, with the exception, maybe of a mid 1960s Bonneville.  No longer a teenager, I was starting to think about consequences, injuries etc.  It was intimidating to manoeuvre at slow speeds or push around, and face it, at 65 kg, I wasn't real handy at it at first.  I had the usual brushes and bumps into things while parking it in the drive, tipping over when I put my foot in a hole occasionally - embarrassing stuff with nil actual damage to the bike.  All a part of "getting used to" a larger bike.  At 24, I was unconcerned about fatigue or aches and pains after a long ride, and I did some long ones, always got back, and enjoyed a well earned rest after.  It was a small number of years on the K2 and it had to go to make way for family.  But the need to commute and have a second vehicle came to me and I soon got another to suit the purpose.  

After a succession of bikes not exceeding 600 cc - mostly trail bikes, and retirement, I wanted something with some legs -  I wanted more poke for overtaking and effortless travel out in the open spaces, where I live.  I shopped around and ended up with the Bandit.  It was in many ways like the K2 Honda.  Uncomfortably heavy at a standstill and slow speeds, and a little tall for me, but once away, it was like any other bike, and I immediately wished that I had been able to have one "back in the day" of the K2.  It is in every way a better bike, apart from the lighting.  

Now for the ambitions and abilities stuff.  I was starting to develop arthritis in my left hip from about age 50  This was getting so bad, that it primarily was the reason for parking the SRX600 - It was just too hard to start (kick only).  I loved the bike, but it gave me great pain to start it and the cramped riding position made riding for more than 20 minutes resemble torture. Hey I was on the list to get the hip joint replaced, but knew it mightn't happen any time soon, so I needed to get a bike with an electric starter at least, or give up riding altogether.  This is a hard thing to do when one has ridden more or less all of ones life.  The Bandit worked, at least on paper, and while I was a little skeptical, I got one anyway. I really wanted a VFR800, but couldn't find one I liked at a decent price.  

I went through all the same things with the Bandit I had with the K2 Honda, apart from tipping over by stepping into a hole when stopping, and some of the scarey near misses.  Chalk those up to being rather more conservative at 60 something, than I was when I was 20 something. It was a similar "big scarey" at first, with the weight and height.  I soon got over that.  My comfortable riding time was extended to an hour or so.  I fitted some Renntech engine bars to which I mounted highway pegs, and my comfortable riding time was more or less dictated by the seat/bum interface, due to the fact I could change the position of my legs any time I wanted. The first real test of this was in Going to Nymboida, near Grafton for an Easter meet-up with some friends, some 14 or 15 hours away.  It was fine.  I was tired, and a little stiff, but OK.  The bars and pegs did the deed.  They stayed on until after I got the hip done in Aug of 2016.  By November I was riding around and feeling like I was 20 or something.  Distance was no object and in Easter 2017  I went to Gympie, after having fixed the seat with a Corbin.  While I really didn't NEED the pegs for everyday trips of a few hours each, being able to change my leg and seating position while riding the 22 hours it took me to get there was invaluable.  I was fairly spent when I got there, but it was the travelling around, visiting people until after noon the day I arrived that really did me in.  After 31 hours of no sleep, any time I would sit quietly for 5-10 minutes, I would begin to hallucinate (little pixies).  Any "ride fatigue" I had was inconsequential by comparison.  The ride back (remember, it was Easter) I took a different route and cut the ride down to 20 hours.  Fairly fine, apart from a very rough bit of road North of Dalby and big sleep upon arrival which, once home, I could undertake straightaway.  

Now compared to rides I would do almost routinely on the K2 Honda back in the day, these were approximately equal to the most of the longer ones, and in all fairness, were separated by 3 days, so I got a bit of a rest-up between where previously, I might have done it all taking a long weekend (Friday off) for a party somewhere Sat night to be back at work on Monday.  I reckon I just don't have the stamina (or madness) for that sort of thing like I once did.  Call me getting all conservative BUT there is more to it than that.  

I've mentioned the engine bars/highway peg combination and Corbin seat.  While I don't like the Corbin for everyday use, because of its shape, it is an excellent seat for the long haul, but not so good for mounting and dismounting often as one does when just getting about the place.  There is more to it than that.  I have an aftermarket screen, which is a little higher than the stocker, AND 1 inch risers on the bars, giving me a more upright riding position.  This allows variation in leg position, and is better for the neck and shoulders.  It is a "roomy" bike for my 168 cm frame, but the real key, I think, to riding long distances is relaxation.  If one is not totally relaxed, then those parts which might otherwise, are not are going to fatigue and get stiff and sore long before arrival. Since the hip replacement, I am no longer compelled to stop to give myself some relief from the arthritis, so the trip to Gympie saw me burn 5 consecutive tanks of fuel, with no stops in between, apart from when I got lost in Brisbane and had to get off a couple of times to get my bearings via Google maps.  So the point of all of this is that the ergonomics of the bike matter a great deal. This bike is sorted, apart from the possible inclusion of cruise control.  It is a maybe, but might save me some fines.  It is a break even proposition, in my view, but would cut the fatigue that looking at the dial too much can contribute (like in Victoria) can bring on. That is currently the only significant factor I can see still contributing to ride fatigue that I can do something about.   

The second thing relates to ride imperative.  If someone really wants to do something they will.  They will find a way. It seems most of the older riders I know, unless touring is their thing, really don't have anywhere to go. So they go for rides, and these are typically short ones, and not that often.  This gets us into the area of what the motorcycle is for. Go for rides vs ride where one goes.  With the latter there is a great accumulation of familiarity with the bike in different conditions.  It makes for a much more relaxed relationship with the road/bike/traffic/general conditions than one can ever get where one only goes for "sunny Sunday" rides. Riding everywhere for any purpose, whenever one is only using a vehicle for personal transport, regardless of conditions, is another large contributor to the completely relaxed state of being which allows one to focus their attention for extended periods of time.  Relax the body, keep the mind active, retain alertness.  This is the ideal.  I don't know that I have ever been bored witless when riding.  My preference for riding is due to the whole body immersion in the task, unlike cars which depend almost wholly on the visual. (I actually pull up stiffer from similar long distances stiffer and more sore when I take a car) The mind wanders at times but the eyes never stop looking for the same things that they should. Long rides suit people who can "live in their heads" for lengthy times, or those who know a lot of songs.  I don't use earbuds and music, but if I did, I'd probably only listen to an old favourite track, then sing it for the next three hours. 

Now I don't know whether an old dude like me should be/could be/is in any position to lecture anyone about how to do it.  But that is my approach.  Breaks from riding even for a couple of years does no-ones riding any good. One tends to lose the intimate familiarity one has when riding every day.  Another factor, which I failed to mention is physical fitness.  Fit people have greater stamina and recover more quickly.  Smart, older people know that coffee is not the answer, except for short rides of under 200 km continuous. People who are fit often have a greater awareness of hydration state than others, and are better able to drink the right amount of fluid for the conditions, so they neither have to stop often for a wee or run short unknowingly.  

My take.  Ride where you go. Make your bike fit you as well as you can.  It makes a difference.

The trick is to grow old. "Growing up" is less important than surviving.

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Re: Bike Fitness / Aging/ and confusing ones ambitions and abilities.

Post  paul on Thu Oct 11, 2018 4:59 pm

Good read jstava , & some very valid points ............Keeping active in whatever your passion, both body and mind can only be a good thing .

Four wheels move the body. Two wheels move the soul.


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