Ken McLeod of the League of American Bicyclists, who I follow on Twitter, forwarded a link today.
"It's not depressing getting old, if you stay healthy", but infrastructure also has to change in line with the changing capacities of older adults. Older Adults should not be a footnote in the planning. @AARP #BikeSummit21"
That is certainly true and as an Officially Recognized Geezer of Social Security Age, I am increasingly aware of that. Plus, I got an email a few years back from my doctoral advisor noting that he was old enough and his bones brittle enough to not want to take a chance of being dinged by an errant driver busily texting at speed. The roads out near Stony Brook and Port Jefferson in Suffolk County, NY, once a glorious place to ride a bike, were getting downright intimidating. And, adding cynicism to the mix, according to county government its apparently the fault of the bicyclists. Infrastructure, not to mention paying attention, matters. In an aging population that hopes to remain healthy, we need to ensure that folks are not intimidated out of riding their bicycles in the places where they live.
But one also has to adjust the bikes. I spent a little time working on the drive trains and raising the handlebars of the road bikes this winter to make both less formidable. Typically by summer I am in good enough shape to ride the bikes using the drive trains and geometries I have been riding for decades. But during the winter, I might ride less due to inclement weather and if I don't adjust the bikes, its potentially a downward spiral of discomfort and less time on the bike. So, without further ado....
The Six Thirteen now has an ugly, but quite comfortable high rise stem on it. I might put the more normal looking Richey stem back on it as the weather warms but right now, it is easier on the back and I am more likely to ride the bike.
Given the age of this bike, the handlebar is an old 25.4 mm (and having put fresh cork tape on it a few months ago, I was not willing to tear it apart) while the new stem was 31.8 mm as old stems are hard to find. While I don't recommend anyone else do what I do, I found a 25.4 to 31.8 seatpost shim on which I used a Dremel tool to fashion into a handlebar shim, making the old handlebar work with the new stem. Necessity is the mother of invention, as one says. But don't take chances you and your orthopedic surgeon are not willing to live with. A new system was no big deal. I just hate wasting old parts. Including my own...which I carefully hoard.
As the beginning of this post suggests, its more important to design both infrastructure and the bike to ensure one stays active rather than to set up insurmountable obstacles, whether provided by government transportation planners or one's own choice of bikes. One does not want to encourage a retreat to the Barca Lounger as one ages. It takes longer to come back, as I found out in 2016-17 following multiple visits to the surgeon. Think outside the box, and keep turning those cranks.