Hand numbness (ulnar neuropathy) is common in cycling and can be prevented. A proper bike fit and taking measures to decrease vibration are paramount. Double taping the handlebars, tubeless tires, and running slightly lower tire pressure decreases vibration. Quality gloves can help as well. Finally, changing hand position frequently helps prevent hand numbness during cycling.
Perineum numbness (pudendal neuropathy) is common and often age related. Saddle position, seat construction, and chamois quality are all factors. Enlarged prostates are also common in older men. Current saddles are better designed to relieve crotch pressure; tilting the saddle nose down may help somewhat. Research has shown that soft saddles do not work for relieving pressure. A quality cycling chamois will help relieve pressure and increase comfort. Anti-chafing creams help prevent saddle sores. Above all, a proper bike fit is crucial for preventing saddle problems. Always mark your saddle height and document your measurements. Learn to stand often and focus on proper position while riding. Don’t forget that perineum pressure affects female cyclists all the same. As always, find a cycling minded family doctor or urologist when addressing perineal and urinary issues. They are more likely to help you find a way to continue riding rather than advising you to stop cycling altogether.
Cognition and Social Life
Having a robust social life is one thing that probably keeps us living well into our old age and our brains sharp. One of cycling greatest gifts is likely the social aspect. Conversations can go on for hours, during and after a ride. Simply put, bicycles make friends. Here are a few examples of how cycling can be taken into our later years.
The headlines read, “105-Year-Old Cyclist Rides 14 Miles in an Hour En Route To a World Record.” Robert Marchand set a world record at the age of 105 in 2018. He was born in 1911 and lived through two World Wars. After a brief professional career in cycling during the 1940’s, he only took up cycling again at age 68 and began a series of cycling feats. He attributes his longevity to having a very good social life, lots of friends, exercising daily, a balanced diet, and never smoking.
Another intriguing story is that of Jeanne Calmont of France, who is considered to be the oldest person to have ever lived for whom there is irrefutable evidence. She still rode a bicycle in to her 100’s and lived to be 122. Exercise and cycling are good for the brain. Cognitive faculties diminish with age. Cycling helps keep your mind sharp by exercising your body, challenging your balancing skills, and figuring out how to ride more efficiently. Bicycle racing strategy is akin to a game of chess. Cycling has even been shown to help depression as well as other psychiatric disorders.
The next article will be about Cycling Beyond 50 and Bike Fit