So, what – if any – is the age limit for doing a bike tour?
And by bike tour, I mean a multi-day trip, riding for 4-6 hours each day, going up hill, down dale etc, etc.
The simple answer of course is that there’s no actual limit.
But most of us would probably expect that when we get to a certain age (60? 70?) we’ll probably start to ease off, take things easy, grumble about our aches and pains, put our feet up… blah, blah, blah.
Well, not a certain Alistair Millar of Sydney. He has has just completed one of our tours in Portugal at the age of 81.
And, yes there was a support van for his luggage but no, he wasn’t on an e-bike!
Back in February this year when Alistair sent in a booking form for our Border Castles tour, he sent a message telling me not to get too worried when I saw his date of birth.
He added: “Don’t worry about my ability to do your ride. I’m well above average fitness for my age. In August prior to your ride, I will have just completed around 800kms through Far West NSW on semi desert tracks on a cross country bike. This will be good training for your ride.”
The trip that Alistair was signing up for involves eight days of riding over the space of 10 days, cycling around 60km (37 miles) each day, with a typical daily ascent of about 600m.
There was also one day when we did around 1,000m of climbing – and it’s been pretty hot, getting to well over 30°C (90F) most afternoons.
Nothing record-breaking but still requiring a reasonable degree of fitness. Since starting running tours of Portugal back in 2016, most of our riders have been in their fifties and sixties. We’ve had a few people in their seventies but this is the first time we’ve had anyone join us who’s in their eighties.
This morning, on the last day of the tour, I did a short interview with Alistair as we rode towards Évora:
Chatting to him later as we rode along, we talked some more about staying fit. Alistair – who’s originally from Sunderland in NE England – told me that he firmly believes cardiovascular interval training is one of the main things that’s kept him fit over the last quarter of a century.
When he’s not off touring, he rides several days a week for about an hour, tackling rises along his regular route in a high gear so as to get his heart rate up to 160-170 before letting it drop back down again. He also works out in a gym regularly, making sure all his major muscles get a work out.
Having finished our tour, Alistair is hiring a car and driving off on his own to explore northern Portugal for 10 days. He’s also thinking about a bike tour in Montana but that will have to wait until 2021 as he’s already got several trips lined up for next year.
So there you have it. I’ve no idea if I’ll still be touring when I reach my eighties but at least I’ve met living proof that there’s a few decades to go before I can start making excuses!