Of late, I have taken to hucking my bike off of curbs, riding it down stairs, and generally acting like my 12-year-old self. I’m having a lot of fun. I recall being that age, still living on my BMX bike, never feeling tired, never feeling afraid. It might have been my peak on the bike.
I live with a 12-year-old now, and he makes me nuts. It’s not his fault. He’s me, or just like me anyway. He leaves clothes on the floor. He has the attention span of a fruit fly, and because he’s always playing hockey or soccer or jumping on the trampoline or shooting hoops out front, he sorta smells bad. I also love him very much.
I think, at 12, I was still mostly unencumbered by sexual politics. I didn’t care that I smelled bad, and I didn’t see any overarching point or virtue in having a clean bedroom. I wondered, often, if I could jump my bike just a little further. I wondered if there were better trails to ride than the ones I already knew.
The other day I drove past a wall that had been marked up with graffiti. The owner had come out and sprayed over it all in white, but the graffiti was still visible through it, and it struck me as a good metaphor for my 12-year-old self, still there but sprayed over by years of adulthood’s myriad responsibilities. I don’t want to overglaze it. We all have to grow up. A family and a mortgage have been overwhelmingly good things in my life, and I have a job that allows me to indulge that inner pre-teen more than most.
It’s just that when I think back, I have a hard time coming up with a time when I was doing it better, riding for fun, purely, with no notions of fitness or mileage or getting anywhere.
This week’s Group Ride asks, what was your peak cycling age? Maybe it’s still in front of you? Adulthood does sometimes produce sublime experience, and I know a number of guys who are fitter, faster and having more fun in their 60s than they ever did when they were kids.