Just keep buying lighter bikes

I met a lot of other cyclists on my bike ride last Sunday. There were the club riders, barrelling down the road in their matching outfits. There were the kids and casual riders, in tennis shoes and baggy shorts. And there were also some pretty serious riders making good time on the hills.

Surprisingly enough, a lot of them were riding well despite carrying a few extra pounds. (Let’s face it – I could lose a few myself). I’ve often noticed that overweight people can still be good recreational cyclists.

That’s the lesson of a New York Times article on The Bicycling Paradox: Fit Doesn’t Have to Mean Thin.

“When I first got into cycling, I would see cyclists and say, ‘O.K., that’s not what I perceive a cyclist to be,’ ” said Michael Berry, an exercise physiologist at Wake Forest University. Dr. Berry had been a competitive runner, and he thought good cyclists would look like good runners — rail-thin and young.

He came to realize, he said, that cycling is a lot more forgiving of body type and age than running. The best cyclists going up hills are those with the best weight-to-strength ratio, which generally means being thin and strong. But heavier cyclists go faster downhill. And being light does not help much on flat roads.

And fortunately, you can keep riding well into old age. Your recovery time might get longer, but sometimes you can still teach those youngsters a thing or two.