Cycling | 3 comments
Cycling in Edmonton
By: Andrew Hanon
Middle-aged men in lycra taking to Edmonton streets
Peter Heppleston hasn’t been able to ride his bike since June 13, when he crashed on a mountain road in Jasper. The wipeout, at about 60 kmh, put the 65-year-old in hospital with a broken collar bone, damaged hip and countless scrapes and bruises. He’s itching to get back in the saddle.
Edmonton Middle-aged men in lycra
“This has been the longest I’ve gone without riding in 50 years,” he lamented Monday. “It’s who I am.”
However, because he’s extraordinarily fit, he’s healing quickly and hopes to be back in the saddle in the next week or so.
Heppleston is part of a growing number of local men who refuse to quit serious athletic pursuits just because they’re on the far side of their 40th birthday. In Britain, there are so many greying cyclists clogging country roads every weekend that they’ve become known as MAMILs — middle-aged men in lycra.
It’s catching on here, too. Heppleston is a member of the Edmonton Masters Cycling Club, which has about 120 members, most of whom are over the age of 50. That’s good news for bike retailers. Older cyclists want only the best gear — and they can afford it.
Just before the start of masters’ race: Peter and friend
Guri Randhawa, owner of Pedalhead Road Works, says he’s seeing more men of, umm, a certain age coming into his shop and dropping several thousand dollars on an Italian bike and $400 shorts.
“A lot of them joke that this is costing more than their first car,” he said. “I remind them that the user fees for this bike are lot less than other things. You’re going to walk out your door, get on your bike and ride it.”
Peter Heppleston on velodrome
Heppleston has spent as much as $13,000 on a bike, and his wife Lesley figures it’s definitely a worthwhile investment.
“He could gamble. He could drink. He could have other women,” she said. “At least when he’s on his bike, I know where he is.”
Besides, she adds with an impish grin, “he’s always looked good in tights. Still does. He’s got the best a– out there.”
Not all spouses are as enthusiastic. One cyclist told me that whenever he buys a new bike he makes sure it’s the same color as the old one, so his wife doesn’t notice how much he’s spending.
Richard, another member of the Edmonton Masters, says he can spend hours in a bike shop, reading cycling magazines and cruising bike websites, checking out all the newest and best gear.
Richard (in blue jersey) with the Edmonton Masters group
“I spend more time a bike shop than I do in the grocery store,” said the 54-year-old, who asked that his last name not be used.
Richard’s always enjoyed cycling, but only decided to get competitive five years ago. The first time he wheeled onto the track at the velodrome, he was hooked. Now Richard trains or races six days a week and owns eight bikes.
“There’s nothing better than getting out on the road with the guys,” he says. “All the stress from work gets left behind. You couldn’t pay a shrink for what you get on a bike.”
Sunday’s group ride is a lot of fun
Heppleston says when he began cycling in the late ’50s and early ’60s, competitors over the age of 40 were almost unheard of. Since then, training techniques have become more sophisticated, enabling cyclists to extend their careers by decades.
“Back then, I was grossly over-raced. I was tired all the time,” he said. “Looking back, I can see now that my performance suffered because of it.”
Older cyclists can also afford lighter, better bikes, which also makes it easier.
“We’re old,” Heppleston says with a laugh. “We need all the help that money can buy.”
Older members of Edmonton Masters wearing lycra
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