Who the Hell Isn’t an “Aging Athlete”?

Now that nearly everyone I ride with is in their 40′s or older everything has changed. No one is really concerned about fitness or cares who is the fastest. We never talk about the latest bikes or bike parts but instead converse about investments and our kids’ schooling. Gone are the days of talking about beautiful women, instead we share our triumphs in domestic duties and  share secrets for low calorie ride bars…or do we?! Actually, has anything changed? The age of our mind is relative, based on years as well as experiences; as is our bodies. Non-athletes sometimes resign to idle old age at 30, while others defy the odds and accomplish amazing feats into their 80s or 90′s. While many of us may choose to disregard the changing of decades the fact that gravity has been sucking the flesh off our bones and doing it’s best to squash our organs deep into our lower intestines is undeniable. For many cyclists, I won’t speak for all,( let me just attempt to speak for those who are wise, or foolish, enough to show up for the Grasshoppers year in and year out) biking has become an inseparable component of our lives. When riding, training, racing, time on the bike is when life “just makes sense”. Complications are minimized as are conflicts. 20 minutes turns into 5 hours and any water bottle that left the garage half empty, will surely return half full. Yet everyone has cycled into and out of relationships, job changes and losses, home foreclosures, refis and purchases, children being born, heading off to school for the first time and returning at Thanksgiving on break from college. We’ve seen our friends parents grow old and have lost brothers in arms along the way. We learn new instruments and forget others. The bikes we ride change from steel to titanium, to carbon and back to steel. Presidents, recessions come and go(hopefully) as do wars, droughts, natural disasters and earthquakes. Friends become ill and heal. The mass appeal of bikes swells and shrinks and then swells again and in this pulsing of change our wheels keep turning, keep spinning and we stay in motion. During all of this we stay focused on what we love; riding our bikes and riding in the zone. No one can patent the “Zone” any more they can lay claim to discovering love. Love is love, the zone is the zone. The zone is a moving target. In my twenties I would spend 20 hrs a week on my bike. Now I’m lucky to get 8-10. A job, kids things I have to do, and want to do, bide for my time. I’m not nostalgic for the past but need to acknowledge the formative times riding with friends when our biggest challenge was taking time off the bike. So what to do now, when time is a premium? This is where all this rambling has led to; where it was intended to lead, to the practical application of time management for the goal of staying fit, and fast. I’ve always said I’m not competitive unless I’m not sure I can win. Only very briefly over the last 20 years have I ever ridden with a heart rate monitor, gps, computer or watt meter. I’m not against the tools and if I were able to bring home a paycheck on my bike I would certainly subscribe to such things. As it is, what I look for on the bike, and in life is a feeling. Some things can’t be measured. I’ve always avoided using the word “training” yet seem to always be doing it. If I were to create a zone I’d say that I like to exist at “lactate threshold”. I’m sure this stresses some people out, like my wife and my students but it’s my zone. Riding easier is hard. Working easier is hard. Resting easier is hard. Rest is 5 minutes for lunch before working another 4 hours in the yard on my “rest” day. Speaking of rest days…this is my last rambling blog on the page as I’ll reserve the Grasshopper page for ride, sponsor info and stories about riders and epic Hoppers. To read my late night sleep
deprived or early morning coffee high rants you’ll need to check into my old blog at Grasshopper Blog. Stay tuned for my next post “My ‘Training’ Plan That Really Worked”. Or “How to Get Fit By Going to the Gym Twice a Week and Chase Levi Around on Saturdays Until You Find Yourself Really Alone and Far From Home”.

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