Women Over 40: Mountain Bike Holidays for Low-Impact Fitness
by Helen Smeaton
There are very few low-impact forms of exercise that are as much fun as mountain biking.
And, even though the phrase “mountain bike” often conjures up images of twelve-year-old boys racing up and down small cliffs, women over 40 can get a real thrill while riding on flat gravel surfaces and forested trails. It’s just like being a kid again.
I started cycling because I injured my knee and I was ordered to ride a bicycle as part of my rehab. Well, now I’m so addicted that my husband and I started Wheelie Cyprus, a mountain bike and walking business on the island of Cyprus. Why Cyprus? After several years of cycling and hiking all over the world, we decided to leave the dark skies of the UK forever, and live fulltime on an island paradise with beautiful weather, fresh air, and views of the blue Mediterranean.
How Tough is Mountain Biking?
Mountain biking is as tough or as easy as you want it to be. While my husband and I regularly climb steep hills up to 1000 metres in height over 3 to 4 miles, you may find that riding off-road on bucolic, flat trails is the kind of cycling vacation you’re looking for.
For example, here in Cyprus, we offer fully guided mountain-bike tours or we map out routes for you with a hire bike (rental) with us. Once we know what you’re looking for, we can show you places that will give you a dopamine rush from pumping up and down ridges at full speed…or we can offer you a leisurely ride that won’t push you too hard.
If you are a beginner, there are beautiful and fairly flat forest trails that wind around the back of Cyprus’ coastal villages. And, if you don’t feel confident on off-road trails, because you feel wobbly on uneven gravel surfaces, you can stick to the road because we have a lovely flat coast road, which stretches for 40km from Polis.
Also, we know that some of you want to feel the full beauty of the unspoilt, forested hills of our island, but you’re more interested in relaxation than exertion. So, when you hire a bike from us, we give you the option of an uplift service, where we take you to the top of a small mountain/large hill and you pedal along a (mostly) downhill trail, admiring the views on the way to a coffee and lunch stop on the coast. Here’s one example of a beautiful downhill route.
Staying Fit Over 40
Since moving to Cyprus 8 years ago, I’ve been amazed at how many friends have taken up mountain biking as a means of losing weight. They all started out slowly, maybe riding for 30 minutes, 3 times a week, then gradually increased the mileage and the gradients as they became more confident.
We even have one friend, a restaurant owner in his 30s, who was seriously obese until he took up mountain biking. His doctor warned him that he wouldn’t live to see his daughter grow up if he didn’t completely change his lifestyle. Now, he’s a mountain-bike addict too and does a tough 15-mile hilly workout every other day.
Cycling Holidays for Beginners
Don’t be scared to try a cycling vacation just because you feel you’re not fit enough. Well, you do need to know how to ride a bike and you should be somewhat fit, but beginners can enjoy biking holidays too.
Fortunately, cycling trips for novices, put together by various adventure companies, are on the rise. Look for outfits that offer a good experience for your level of fitness:
- Some tours allow clients to go at their own pace, and reward them with a gourmet meal at the end of the day.
- Independent biking tours often have route options for avoiding hills.
- Beginner-level biking trips for families or small groups can be tailored to fit everyone’s level of fitness or shortened to one or two days of activity.
- Many companies have a support vehicle, which goes along for longer trips, or shows up if you have a mechanical breakdown, the weather turns foul, or one of you can't keep up.
Make Cycling a Part of Your Life
When you were a young girl, you probably loved riding your bike all over the neighborhood. Well, you don’t have to wait for a holiday to get the benefits of cycling. If you can get out on a standard bike or a mountain bike a few times a week, you’ll be amazed at how much stamina and strength you can quickly build up. Heck, cycling even works your core muscles (think abs), so you can trash the diet books and bike your way to that bikini body for summer.
So go on. Get that bike out of the garden shed or buy yourself a new one with plenty of gears to make life easy. And, start planning a girls' cycling trip. Once you get the biking bug, you’ll never look back.
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