Cycle touring worldwide is growing at a huge rate as demonstrated by Andrew Bain in his recent article for Traveller. What may not be so well known is the exponential growth in riders aged over 50 – in particular the baby boomer generation. This demographic is still fit and active and want the most out of their holiday – sightseeing, fresh air, exercise, relaxation and above all, fun!
Many older riders also have more time and money available to travel and will have a different view on the concept of value and time well spent. Cycling is ideal for this as it makes you slow down and really experience a region or culture, while still covering a lot of ground – especially if in conjunction with another activity such as cruising or cookery.
Another attraction is that cycling is under your own steam and has a zero or low environmental footprint – this is becoming more and more important to travellers. However power assisted riding, in the form of electric bikes, is also becoming more popular. It extends the cycle touring lifecycle to older age groups and those who perhaps are not looking for the complete riding experience. In most cases there’s also a support van (or sag wagon) to offer further assistance or maybe even a lift.
With or without power assistance a bike tour has the added bonus of being a great workout that has untold health benefits. Bad knees tend to afflict more of us as we get older (me included) and cycling is often a great remedy for this by building up the muscles around the knee – and working on that spare tire always helps! But perhaps more importantly for many riders, this exercise allows them to indulge in and experience more fully the local cuisine and libation.
This guilt free indulgence builds on the already strong social bonding and camaraderie of being in a group of like-minded people who also love cycling, travel and exploring at a ‘human’ pace. Older riders generally look for more than just the cycling and enjoy the sights and stops along the way – although many also participate in the demanding tours such as following the route of professional races such as the Tour de France.
So, great company, exercise and experiences all contribute to the sheer fun of a cycling holiday. And like a good wine, it gets better with age.