DATE : Wednesday 8 March 2017 - 19:15
NEWS ID : 2913
But for Montana woman Ethel MacDonald, that’s when she took up tour cycling.
Fourteen years later, the retired French teacher has covered more than 10,000 miles across Europe and North America and she’s not stopping yet.
“I like what I like to do without having to wait for someone else to be ready,” explains the 78-year-old great-grandmother.
The appeal of biking alone on the open road, she says, is “just feeling like I’m my own boss.”
She began tour cycling in 2003, beginning with France’s Atlantic coast. Aside from trips round her native United States, she’s wheeled her way through the Netherlands, Germany, Belgium, Scandinavia and beyond.
Her companion on her Ireland trip is a pink Brompton folding bike, which she’s used on five trips around the US south. She keeps another bike with a friend for her tours of mainland Europe.
This seasoned biker reckons she’s traveled at least 10,000 miles.
“Usually my trips are close to 1,000 miles in three to four weeks,” MacDonald says. “I’ve been doing it for 13 years, and I’ve done at least one trip a year and often two. It would easily be closer to 13 or 14,000.”
Which countries does she think offer the best experiences for cyclists?
“In my opinion, ranking Europe: first Holland, second Denmark, third Germany,” she says. “Holland and Denmark are both just made for cyclists and Germany — there it’s so good and drivers are so aware of cyclists and so polite.”
And in fourth position, “it’s kind of a toss-up between France and Belgium.”
“I love France and I think probably the scenery and everything is better, but Belgium really seems to have more bike amenities.”
As a former teacher of French and English, France is where she began her European adventures. “The whole Atlantic coast is really good biking.”