Skip Bloxham’s experience & tips for traversing roads & trails.
In 2006 while driving transport loads to and from Ohio each day, I complained to a shipping manager that long days were inhibiting my exercise regime. He immediately showed me his road bike. He strongly suggested that commuting by bike to and from work might add 10 minutes each way, but this time would be totally outweighed by exercise benefits. To me, truer words were never said!
As noted on a bikemunk.com blog:
“It can get harder and harder to stay active as you age. Your bones and muscle structure decline the older you get, and you may have aches and pains that prevent you from having a strong desire to exercise. Cycling is one of the best exercises for aging bodies, though. It helps you work your cardiovascular system and keep your heart healthy. Because cycling is a lowimpact sport, it reduces strain on the joints. Many studies show that biking can actually slow down the aging process in a variety of ways.”
Once into riding and being an annual snowbird, I quickly joined a small Florida bike club, and now 17 years later, I consider these American and Canadian members my best friends. Over the years, health challenges have caused some members to transition to e-bikes. But we all feel this is a great move that keeps us cranking. Aside from the camaraderie of clubs (of which there are several in CK), there are, without a doubt, huge mental health benefits to riding.
Your level of comfort with cycling on Chatham-Kent roads will be individual. As a retired OPP Sergeant having witnessed many tragedies, I rely on three pillars to my (relative) safety:
• Rearview mirror. I use a helmet clip-on type, but the handlebar type also works well, allowing you to monitor overtaking traffic. Riding with the direction of traffic is the safest direction.
• Bright flashing red and white lights fore and aft to catch motorists’ attention, both overtaking and at intersections.
• Brightly coloured clothing. Studies have shown that dark clothing is the worst for visibility and that neon green is the best. For that reason also, I won’t ride after dark.
A 2015 amendment to Ontario’s Highway Traffic Act mandates that overtaking motorists must allow a minimum of one meter of space for cyclists.
If you haven’t cycled in many years, Smith Cycle in Chatham or Ken’s Cycle in Wallaceburg might be a great start. If you are not sure about your balance, consider Rondeau Provincial Park as a venue. With public parking just east of the gate, cyclists may enter without charge. The Facebook group “Cycling for those 70+,” has 38k+ members with inspirational stories of challenges and feats achieved and faced by senior riders worldwide.
Finally, the Municipality of Chatham-Kent offers valuable information about safety, trail maps, and bike repair stations on this website: