How I got into shape in my 60’s

by Terry Martin-Back

You may have read a couple of my articles covering local cycling trails and my experiences of riding them. What you don’t know is that, I only started cycling after not ridden a bicycle in over forty years! Many of you are probably asking yourself; why now? To be honest with you, cycling was one of those things’ children do or health freaks do and besides, people my age shouldn’t be riding bikes, that’s why we have cars. So what changed my way of thinking? Just about four years ago, I looked closely at a picture of myself and thought; what have I done? I was over-weight, out of shape and disgusted with myself. Then I thought to myself; just because I am in my sixties, didn’t mean I was too old to become physically fit, so I began a walking regiment. My days began with two glasses of water and walking a two-mile route every morning. After several months into the program, my weight began to decline, I changed my diet and became gluten free and rid myself of acid reflux and other health issues. Eighteen months into my program, I had lost fifteen pounds. I changed my routine to an interval program, (walking/running), the same two-mile route, and six months later, I’m down another five pounds. But what happens with many weight-loss programs, my weight plateaued and even increased, I was becoming bored with my program, and then a strange thing happened.

While doing a clean-out of a property we manage, I found a bicycle laying in the weeds. As I gathered all the other debris that would be going to the landfill, I set the bike on top of the debris and instead of trashing the bike, I took it home as a project. I did my research on the bike and discovered, today’s bicycles are nothing like the ones I grew up with. I decided to take the bike to a shop where someone knew how to work on a modern bicycle. A week later, the bike was ready, and I was starting a new activity along with my interval training. I mapped out a two-and-a-half-mile route and was ready to go the next morning. Once you know how to ride a bike, you never forget how, even after forty years. It seemed a lot harder than before and I looked forward to seeing my driveway. As I stopped and stepped off the bike, my legs were shaking, thank God I had the bike to hold me up as I walked it up my driveway.

Three weeks later I mapped out a six-mile route and rode that, then nine, then eleven and then one night after an extra glass of wine, I set a goal of riding my bike to the beach, an eighty-five-mile bike ride. Three months into riding, a couple of my friends joined me, making it a charity ride, to raise funds for our local Veteran’s Memorial fund. It took us eight hours with
riding and breaks.

Four months later we did another charity ride, for Peaceful Paths, and it took us six hours. It was on the second ride, while eating dinner with the group, that they talked about half marathons. That night, after an extra glass of wine, I told my wife I was going to run a half marathon, that was April 2019. I removed sugar and processed foods from my diet, started running longer distance, went through physical therapy training and changed my running mechanics, ran several 5K races and in October 2019, I ran my first Half Marathon in two-hours-eleven-minutes and finished third in my age class at the age of sixty-five.

Cycling changed my life and being around other cycling enthusiast has given me a whole new outlook on life. The lessons I have learned from pulling that bike out of the weeds; if you want to improve yourself, you must invest in yourself, invest in training and quality equipment and develop relationships with people who share their experience.

To date, I’ve lost over sixty pounds, all because of cycling. There will be many more 5K and 10K’s, half marathons and bike races to run throughout Florida and our Good Life Community in 2020 so now is the time for you to start living a Good Life!