Cyclist of the Month: Doug Grant

At age 80, Doug Grant travels from Australia to complete his first Group Health Seattle to Portland with his son. Along the way, he learns the right path. Who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.

Age: 80
Occupation: retired wood turner
Hometown: Austinmer, Australia
Residence: South Perth, Western Australia
Bikes: 40 year-old Ricardo Elite (made in AU), 20 year-old Italian Guerciotti, and Pro-Lite carbon fiber road bike

When did you start riding?
I rode for about 20 years when I was young. Then I hurt my back lifting bales of wheat. When I left work my back was always sore. I retired from wood turning at 69; I crafted gift items, like salad bowls, from Australian jarrah hardwood.

While on a flight, I read an article by a doctor who recommended cycling as a way to cure back ailments. That’s when I picked up cycling again, eleven years ago.

The first day I rode 25km and thought it was hard work. I upgraded to a better bike, which made riding easier. If I just sit on my bike and spin, my back feels better. Now I own three bikes.

Why do you ride?
For the health benefits. My blood pressure is down from 145 over 98 to 130 over 80, and my sitting pulse rate is 60bpm.

I use a heart rate monitor just to see what’s going on. I read 100 Days to 100 Miles by Marla Streb. She recommends your maximum heart rate be 220 less half your age (for fit individuals). So my max heart rate is 180 and I train at 85% of that.

You must have witnessed lots of changes in cycling over the years.
Back then, thirty pound bikes with single fixed gears were light. Now I can ride a 21 pound mountain bike with 27 gears, and that’s not as light as my carbon fiber!

You’re from Australia; how did you choose to ride the STP?
I’m a member of the Over 55 Cycling Club in Perth. We ride 300km per week. Once a year, members exceed their maximum distance ride by riding a 50, 75, 150 or 200km ride in one day.

For the last three years, I’ve ridden a 200km ride. My son [Ken Grant] rode the STP two years ago. So I figured I could finish the STP in two days with him.

I’m borrowing his mountain bike for the event because it has lower gears. I also switched to road tires and shortened the stem because he’s 4” taller than me.

And you’ve become Cascade’s only official Australian member.
I was impressed with the number of Club rides. And I like reading anything about cycling, particularly technical articles.

Tell us about your bike club.
The Over 55 Cycling Club has 230 members (Perth is the largest city in Western Australia with a population of 1.5 million). There are six categories of Wednesday rides, and I ride with 60km Group Two, the second fastest.

The Club is affiliated with the CTA (Western Australia’s Cycle Touring Association). CTA influences Bike West, a government body, which publishes maps, safety and educational literature among other activities.

What are some of your favorite bike events?
Some of our younger Club members have toured 1700 miles from Perth to the capital, Adelaide. That’s a bit much for me now. I enjoy watching The Tour Down Under, and any other cycling shows that I can find.

It’s the one sport that my wife will watch, probably because it’s not violent like Australian Rules Football. She likes cycling because it’s clean.

Do you have any favorite bike accessories?
I can’t ride without my mirror on my glasses. I like the round Third Eye mirror.

Any recommendations for seniors new to cycling?
Don’t exceed yourself. Start slowly. Read cycling books.

Describe Perth versus Seattle.
There are over 2,000 kilometres of dual-use paths (called D.U.P.s) in Perth. CTA Cycling maps show the less-trafficked roads and gradients. There are also about 80 principal cycling roads (PCRs).

Motorists here are much more considerate. They stop and wait for you to cross the road, and they give more space when passing.

It’s winter in Perth now, so we have to force ourselves to get out and ride. And in Australia, we drive on the right side of the road: the left.

Learn more about Perth’s Over 55 Cycling Club.

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