How to Climb and Mountain Bike to a Ripe Old Age

By Malcolm McPherson (AKA The Wizard) 73 years and still ‘out there’ with the A Team.

When you are young (less than 50) you never think about what age you are aiming for before you drop your clogs and rightly so – live in the now is a good mantra.

Climbing is one of the best sports for lots of reasons in that it keeps the body lean and light. It is fun, can be competitive and certainly addictive. I have survived nearly 60 years of ascents without coming to grief, but my first sport when I was young  was road  cycling. I now do off road mountain biking because in the South East England I deem road biking as too dangerous.

These two sports go together as cycling looks after your lungs and blood circulation and climbing ensures that your bones and muscle system is honed to perfection – as long as you don’t solo and fall off!  Instead of cycling of course you can substitute swimming or running and even mountaineering as plodding up snow peaks certainly gets you puffing and gasping for breath and is aerobic.

Besides these I have since I was 12 practised yoga. Daily yoga keeps you physically supple but also adds two factors – correct breathing and control of your attention and concentration. Now all of this exercising certainly is a big factor in surviving to a ripe old age. But there are two other factors that need attention. One is the food you eat and the other is how you keep from getting ill.

Before I was 50 I always thought that it did not matter what food you ate and drank because the body would simply extract what it needs from the intake and ditch what it could not assimilate. Now this is very true up to a point as the body is a wonderful machine. Since the age of 50 I have begun to realise that if you put the wrong food into your body eventually it starts to “coke up” like any machine as it gets old, so maybe a more scientific approach to my eating may have been better.

On not getting ill I have been very fortunate in being able to avoid hospitals or even having to go to the doctors for about 40 years. Only since I reached 70 have I even felt I needed to get a check-up just to assure myself that there wasn’t any coke in the works so to speak.

My bible throughout the earlier years has been The New Home Herbal – a handbook of simple remedies by Barbara Griggs. This is probably the most down to earth book ever on what to eat and how to keep well. Get it for 1p + postage from Amazon at:

Since 2000 there has been some amazing scientific breakthroughs which is turning medicine upside down from how it was performed in the last two centuries. Keeping up to date on the science as it develops is quite hard for us non-scientists but I found that Radio 4’s Professor Jim Al-Khalili’s The Life Scientific is an easy way of keeping up to date as he talks to leading scientists about their life and work, finding out what inspires and motivates them and asking what their discoveries might do for mankind.

You can stream or download a podcast of all of these programs from the BBC website and the program which may change what you eat is a recent one where Jim interviews Graham MacGregor on tackling the demons in our diet. You can listen by clicking this link:
Finally and I will stop lecturing you! Edwin gave me a present on my birthday which was a book by a very young 26 year old gastroenterologist doctor called Giulia Enders and you simply HAVE to read it. The book is called GUT the inside story of
our body’s most under-rated organ. Not only is the writing brilliant but the message enables the lay person to understand the wondrous world of our inner workings. You can buy it on Amazon at: