From the back, I could see it all, young men surging and dropping back on the narrow trail, bristling with energy and enthusiasm, like a litter of puppies roiling in one mass. I sat on my saddle and turned my pedals and just kept them in sight. I’m too tired for that nonsense most days.
Dutifully, they attacked the climbs. At obstacles, they’d follow each other too closely and one dab would become five, all of them in line, one-by-one walking through rock gardens and over logs. I rolled up on each one moments later, picked my line, made some and missed others.
The story is too neat though if I claim to be the wise older head doing everything the right way. That’s just not true. Somewhere in the back of my mind I was certainly interested in keeping up, wondering if they were thinking to go easy on me. My ego was present, if subdued. I did my part to keep the group moving together.
It struck me about an hour in that I’m not in the younger half of most groups anymore. At 46, I’m neither young nor old, but a certain kind of riding is mostly behind me now, by temperament if not ability. I’m a rambler now, not a thrasher. Most days anyway.
This week’s Group Ride asks, where are you in the pack? Younger? Older? Or do you eschew the pack altogether? I joke with my friends that the number of people I’m willing to ride with simultaneously drops by one every year and currently stands at two. Some days, though, I make exceptions.