Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Why I Ride

This morning I left home early and took a different and longer route to work. With the extra saddle time my mind wandered and I reflected on cycling. I've met and ridden with a number of extraordinary people this year. On a Thursday morning Spokane Bicycle Club ride, four of the eight riders were old enough to be my mom or dad. The other four could have been older siblings as they were all in their 60's. I was the baby at 52. They started in Brown's Addition and went out through Mead to Peone, Mt Spokane Park highway, and returned on Forker Road to the Centennial Trail and back to the start. The oldest of the group, an eighty-six year old man in lycra shorts and a racing jersey, wasn't the fastest but he wasn't a slouch either. The beer we had at the Elk afterwards was well deserved and much enjoyed.

On another SBC ride out to Cheney, I was talking to a tall, thin rider as we zipped down the road. He shocked me when he told me he graduated from Lewis & Clark High School in 1957. That's six months after I was born. This seventy year old man was often with the fast group waiting at the next shady spot for the slower riders to catch up.

Last week, a woman I know did her second RAMROD. It's 154 miles long with 10,000 feet of elevation gain and you have 15 hours to complete it. On the day John and other cyclists were scouting out the Midnight Century route--and I mean no disrespect towards them--she was training for RAMROD by doing an unsupported double century all by herself. The bib numbers for RAMROD are assigned by age order, the oldest receiving number 1. At sixty-one years of age she was assigned number 53. When I asked her how the ride was, she answered, "It went good." And she somewhat glumly added that numbers 22 and 24 passed her.

Cycling creates the path for me to sharply contrast with the stereotypical mold society expects older people to be in. I want to challenge myself, enjoy a ride and cap it off with an ice cold beer. I know I can't live forever, but I'll live as long as I can and enjoy it to the fullest. And when it's all over, I'll be saying, "It went good."

Now where's that beer?

4 comments:

The Chihweenie said...

That was beautiful, Hank. Thanks. And if it helps, you're a heck of a lot faster than I am and you have almost 20 years on me. Keep it up!

nursejanet@aol.com said...

U R good.

Pat S said...

>>I know I can't live forever . . .<<

I've been operating for quite some time on the premise that if you keep riding, you will live forever. I've spent the last 24 hours trying to deal with your revelation. All my coping mechanisms are failing me. Are you *absolutely sure* about this?

Hank said...

Yes, Pat, I am absolutely sure. Didn't you see Highlander?