I’ll be 56 next month, but I feel like I have more in common with a 40 year old than 60. Denial? Possibly. But despite slowing down on the climbs, despite the obvious passing of the torch to my son, I’m still having a fantastic time on the bike, and I still feel that, if I really set it as a priority, I could be in better shape next year than I was when I was 35. That would take some doing; at 50 I did in fact manage to pull that off. Or at least I fooled myself into believing that!
This morning’s ride did nothing to change that feeling. Sure, the climb up through the park was tough, with the steepest sections taking their toll while the flatter grades gave me a chance to recover and catch up. But anything near 10 minutes from the start of Greer Road to the park entrance on Kings lets me know I’m still alive, I’m still in the game. An AARP card in the mail isn’t going to change that.
I love pushing myself. I enjoy helping others discover their limits are often created in their minds, not their bodies. And I truly do believe that cycling is the answer to almost everything. An arbitrary number called “age” isn’t going to change that. Besides, it’s obvious I’m getting younger every year. Today, Keith, the fast young guy from Strava, is 27. At 55, I’m twice as old!!! But two years from now, he’ll be 29 and I’l be 57, no longer twice as old.
To paraphrase the Simon & Garfunkle song, Gee but it’s great to be back on the bike, ‘cuz on the bike is where I want to be, I’ve been on the road so long, it’s the same old story and I’m sure you wouldn’t disagree.
I both feared and looked forward to yesterday morning’s ride, having been off the bike for a full week (!!!) and gained 2.5 pounds (half a pound a day is pretty much the norm for me for the first week or so; thank goodness it levels out after that; clearly the damage is done quickly!). Thankfully, heading up away from my house everything just felt right. I was home. I was on a bike, the only thing I can comfortably do for any real length of time. No squirming, no sore shoulders, no stress. That last one was strange. I really thought I’d be dreading my added weight and lack of fitness, but no, everything was good.
Maybe it was because we were literally in a fog. Visibility for the first half hour was dismal, so bad that you couldn’t even see the large group at the start of the ride until we were almost upon them. But once in a while the fog clears when you wish it hadn’t, and today that was at the exact point on Kings where Kevin (my son, not the pilot) decided to ditch dad and join the fast guys up front. And yet I was perfectly happy with my 28-something time.
I’ll next be off the bike for a week towards the end of March, when I head to DC for the annual Bike Summit, the big event where 300-500 bicycle advocates meet with every congressional office in DC to try and make this a better place for cycling. Normally I’d just miss one ride, on Thursday (the event is on Wednesday & Thursday, normally allowing me to fly out on Tuesday after the ride and return Thursday night or Friday), but this year I’m a board member for the NBDA (National Bicycle Dealer Association) which has meetings on Monday & Tuesday. Not fun being away from the shop for 4 or 5 days again, and even less fun being off the bike for a week! –Mike–