Cycling has a very troubling side-effect: it makes us feel younger than we actually are. This, of course, stems from the fact that if you ride enough, you’ll find that you can go faster and longer than people much, much younger than you.
This is, by the way, my pet theory on why Lance really came out of retirement: he was crushing the Mellow Johnny’s group rides and started thinking, “Hey, I’ve still got it. I haven’t gotten any slower with age.”
And then he discovered, of course, that he has gotten slower with age.
But it’s easy to think you’re not aging when, at age 44, you are completely confident that should you somehow (and I have not worked out how, exactly) meet your 25-year-old self, you could kick said 25-year-old’s butt, and then lecture him on why he needs to start eating healthier and stop watching so much television. Oh, and to treasure his hair while he’s got it.
I’m getting off track again, aren’t I? I’ll get back to the point now. Because I’m really pretty sure I had one.
Oh, there it is.
A few weeks ago, I was feeling very youthful indeed. And so, as my family and I strolled through a local amusement park and saw a stand where a teenage girl would guess your age, weight or birth month (your choice) for $2.00, I stepped right up. An easy way to earn a stuffed animal for one of the twins, I thought.
She looked at me and immediately said, “You’re 45.”
In reality, I am 44, so she was wrong. But the rules of the game state that she has to guess within two years, so I got no prize.
What is much (MUCH) more troubling than that, however, is that she guessed I am a year OLDER than I am, and that was her median guess. Which means that when she looked at me, she figured I was somewhere between 43 and 47.
47. FORTY FREAKING SEVEN.
Of course, this gave The Runner no end of amusement. Also, my kids found it hilarious. Or at least they did until I locked them out of the car and made them walk home.
I’m just kidding about the “made them walk home” part, of course. Really, I made them run.
I considered this a fluke, naturally. I don’t think I REALLY look 45ish. Do I? That teenager was an anomaly. She probably guessed “45” for every single person that day, and I was the only guess she got right, just because I happened to be the age she had drawn out of a hat.
And then it occurred to me: I can find out. I can ask you, my readers, to help me with a little experiment: Have people you know guess my age, based on looking at a couple of photographs, where I’m intentionally keeping a neutral, natural face, so as to not appear younger or older than I am. Here’s one from the front:
And here’s one from the side:
These are both self-portraits, by the way, taken in my hotel room in lovely San Diego. I would like to point out that it is not easy AT ALL to take a side-view picture of oneself with a phone.
So here’s what I want you to do: show those photos to people who don’t know who I am, and ask them to tell you what my age is. Then report it in the comments, along with the age of the person who is making the guess.
It’ll be like a scientific experiment. But much vainer, somehow, and probably quite a lot more humbling than I would like it to be.
But I’ve just got to know.