Cycling season is winding down. The days are getting shorter and it is harder to squeeze in a thirty mile ride on a Tuesday or Thursday evening without riding in the dark. I don’t like riding in the dark.
I noticed a couple of changes this summer season, my average mph have dropped as did my miles. I attribute the mph drop to age and effort. There are just some parts of a ride that I want to slow down and enjoy the view.
Sunday, my wife and I were cruising down a country road and came upon nine juvenile turkeys having a party in the middle of the street. The old me would have slowed down but not stopped. There are more hills ahead to tackle, got to keep my average mph up. But the 56-year-old me stopped and enjoyed the show these marvelous creatures were performing. “This is why I ride” I thought, to absorb these kind of moments. Surely it is worth taking five minutes out of a two or three-hour ride to sit back and watch this charming turkey dance among brothers and sisters. The simple answer, it is.
My miles are down this summer because I have shortened or eliminated a weekend ride. Rather than pedaling on Saturday and Sunday we just rode on Saturday and typically hiked on Sunday in the cool mountains. As I have gotten older, my tolerance for and ability to recover after a long, sixty mile, ninety plus degree ride has diminished. Rather than torturing myself, I have come to the realization that forty or fifty miles of sweating under a baking a sun is plenty of sacrifice. Anymore more miles than that and I end up on the sofa the rest of day, drinking water and watching television rather than doing the yard work I put off the previous weekend. I guess this is what getting older looks and feels like.
I live in a very active cycling community, both road and mountain bikes. We have a several retired professionals that live here, and an apparel company and Pro Continental team are both headquartered here as well. It is very rare not to pass, or be passed, by a dozen or so other cyclist when we are out pedaling. There are a couple of common jumping off spots to start a ride and on Saturday’s and Sunday’s those parking lots are full of cars with bike racks on the back of them.
What I love to see the most are the old-timers, those seventy plus year old’s still out there battling the hills and grinding out the miles. They don’t go very fast or very far and some of them have even resorted to wearing a Camelbak, a serious faux pas for a road bike purist. But they are still pedaling, in their colorful jerseys they bought on vacation in Italy. They ride for the company, for scenery, and for the views. They ride because they still love the sensation, the sounds and the freedom two skinny tires afford them. They ride because they still can and I suspect they will until the bitter end.
My riding changed this year. I am pretty sure after a long winter of eating and drinking too much it will change a little bit more this time next year. That’s okay. I don’t get paid to ride a bicycle. I don’t have a contract that stipulates I maintain a certain weight or ride so many miles a week. I am an old guy, that loves rescuing turtles from becoming pancakes and watching turkey’s dance in the middle of the road. That’s why I ride, again.