Friday Group Ride #384

Friday Group Ride #384

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.

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9 comments

  1. Restituto Refuerzo

    Same here. Right now at 65. Wished we had wider choice of gearing like we have now. Cycling would have been more enjoyable.

  2. John Kopp

    In my 30’s and 40’s. I joined a bike touring club at 30 and rode my first century ride. Then rode a couple of double centuries several years later. And met my spouse on a bike ride.

  3. Wyatt

    Hmm, Certainly my late teens and early 20’s when I was low on the learning curve, grew strong quickly, and met my wife and most of my close friends through riding. Then again, despite barely riding now with family life including 11 and 14 year old boys (dirt, school, soccer, concerts, college savings, etc); when I do its is often with afformentioned boys. This makes each ride oh so sweet and the 14 year old can suddenly and legitimately drop me on all but the most technical of descents. I imagine a resurgence of our earlier cycling years for my wife and I when the boys move on in to the big world but don’t want to get ahead of myself. Time is taking its toll on my body so fingers crossed on having enough left for a second cycling honeymoon in my late 50’s. Whether riding or not, I look at life through the eyes of a cyclist. I can not imagine a better view.

  4. S. Barner

    At 12, a bike was a tool. I was never given a new bike, so they were always cast-offs that I fixed up and painted to look nice, but which were immediately passed down to a younger sibling when a better one came along. The goal was the ride and the bike was to be taken care of, to avoid having to fix it before getting back to the ride. Bikes were kept outside in an open, dirt floor shed. Mileage and speed were poorly defined impressions. Fun was fun.

    The Huret Multito freed me from adding tiny numbers on a map when longer distances led me to start logging my miles, as I had started doing in my late teens. The ground-breaking, long delayed, stupid by today’s standards Avocet computer changed the game yet again. Bike computers really quantified cycling for me, making it much more of a numbers game. This led me to expand my horizons, pursuing moving goals of distance and average and maximum speed. It replaced the careless and unquantified fun of numbers-free cycling with a different, and not necessarily better, kind of fun. I can only be grateful that I drew the line there and eschewed heart rate straps and power meters. I’m sure I would have drowned in a sea of numbers that meant absolutely nothing to anyone but me.

    Now, as the Snob likes to put it, I’ve embraced the fact that I suck, meaning that I will always be passed solidly by riders in excellent condition, and that’s fine by me. It never should have been considered important, and my only regret is that it once was. Riding has always been best when it was a celebration of independence and self-sufficiency. Now, if I’m riding with a group that is going faster than I want to, and I’m not willing to put out the extra effort as a training exercise, I just let them go. I enjoy riding by myself and have no need for the assistance and support of others.

    Peak cycling, numbers-wise, was in my late fifties, when I was putting in over 10K miles a year. This year, like the past few, I will likely tip a bit over 7K, and that’s all right, because I’m no longer riding to raise irrelevant numbers. I’d like to get back to being more consistent with nailing at least one century a month again, but life is busy, and I have other things that need to get done, so I’m OK with it. Perhaps when I retire, I’ll get back to those 10K years, but I want the numbers to be reflections, not goals.

  5. Roberto Quinones

    Right now! I purposely took the power meter off the bike years ago and choose to ride alone 95% of the time. This way I ride wherever I feel like, however fast or slow and I get to make up the ride as I go. I do ride with a GPS, but I only have the map screen showing. I don’t want to see numbers that make me want to start calculating anything. I find that riders nowadays ride with “a segment” in mind and it defeats the purpose of “bike riding” for me. I don’t care if I’m the first or the last rider on the local KOM, the bike for me is all about fun and challenging only myself. I do like riding fast and hard and I do ride a lot, don’t get me wrong, but I can’t be bothered with power numbers or segment searching.

  6. TomInAlbany

    My peak was in the late 90s. I was in my early 30s, single, and had a great group of friends that all rode dirt and road. I did at least one group ride/week and had weekend and vacation adventures with that group. We cruised places like Moab, Tahoe, Crested Butte, Arizona, VT, as well as my home trails here in NY. We even toured wine country on road bikes.

    It was great fun and fitness all balanced by my ‘prime’ fitness.

    I haven’t shaken the desire to hit certain numbers. They rarely involve MPH though. Now it’s just things like how many bike commutes I make to/from work in a year. Or how many miles I can fit in while being an involved husband and father that has a full-time job.

    It’s all good, though. Ride. Ride. Ride. It’s the reason.

  7. Winky

    At my second peak is 12 years long and now at 56. Late 20’s early 30’s (as a keen triathlete) my numbers were almost certainly better. I don’t DO numbers now, but I feel just as fast (I’m not). Cycling is a bigger and more important part of my life than ever.

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