Another blogger I follow refers to himself as a “middle-aged fathlete”. I wondered, what am I? Not fat, no longer middle-aged unless I plan to live well past 100. What is “old”?

Many years ago I was on a rare Saturday ride. (I’ve worked Saturdays for longer than I can remember.) We were climbing Mt Hamilton outside of San Jose. I was training for the Death Ride. I was riding next to a guy when a ~75 year old rode up next to us. We chatted a while. He was doing a warm up ride for a century on Sunday. After a few miles he rode on ahead. I turned to the guy next to me and said, “I hope I’m that strong (or fast, I don’t recall which I said) when I’m his age…hell, I wish I were that fast (or strong) now.” I was under 40.

When my daughter was in middle school they asked if I was old. I said, “You can call me old the day you can beat me one-on-one in soccer.”

Some time later I heard a ball bouncing on the front porch. I went downstairs and said, “What’s up?” Bouncing a soccer ball, they said, “Let’s go to the park.”

We set up some goals and established boundaries. When I was ahead 5-0, we called it. One of their friends was in the park and they took off to join her. A friend of mine had been watching from his yard and asked, “What was that all about?” I said, “When she walks by, ask if her dad is old.” (They were she back then.)

I may have been cheating because my soccer cleats had worn out and I was playing barefoot.

That child is now a college graduate and they call me “elderly” but not “old”. They have just arrived back in town for grad school. We’ll see if this post brings the ball back out…

Robert Marchand set the hour record for the >105 year old age group a few years ago. He then announced his retirement, stating that he would only cycle for pleasure from now on. I guess I retired a long time ago. Unlike that middle aged dude above, I’m not big on goals. Beating the >105 age group hour record is the only cycling goal I have.

I work in a hospital. When I worked primarily with sick people (I now work mostly with injured people), I saw a lot of people with chronic illnesses. I realized how uncertain the term “old” is. I saw 50 year olds who were clearly older than my brother who is 12 years older than I. I saw people my age who were older than my mom. What is this “old” of which we speak?

Robert Marchand – From


A week in the woods with social distance camping meant I mostly used the outhouse instead of the flush toilets and stayed away from the overcrowded beach. No internet access for a week. I was surprised by how much email could go straight to the trash when I got home.

The long bike ride was called by rain so we rode only in the park. The bike trails were way more crowded than the roads. Distancing was easier in a kayak. Pouring rain on the last night meant we decided to go into town for takeout. The first place we tried had a huge line of cars and the seating area was packed and maskless. We moved on. The place we got food had a masked server who passed the pizza through a car window. When the door opened, the din from inside made it clear they were packed. I saw no masks on customers. No one coming in or out (except the server) was masked. On the way home the next day it was hot and sunny. We thought we’d stop for ice cream. The ice cream line was long, tightly packed, and maskless. We moved on. Ice cream could wait until we got home, where the neighborhood ice cream stand is in a trailer on a patio and everyone wears masks, they take only credit cards (that they don’t touch), and they set your ice cream down for you to pick up.

Yellowjackets are out in force, which I learned the hard way. (Image from Coming home at sunset last week I was attacked in my driveway. Yellowjackets, unlike bees, can sting more than once. They are not shy about doing so. They also give chase. Once I made it to the front porch I was able to swat a few. One still followed me into the house where my daughter killed it. After dark I donned coveralls (taped at the wrists and ankles), a balaclava, gloves; and went back out to retrieve the glasses I had swatted off my own face trying to get the wasp stinging my ear and cheek.

Honeybee stings (to me) are a mild annoyance for a few minutes. Yellowjacket stings hurt and swell; then they itch. After 5 days the swelling is subsiding and so is the itch. I counted 20 stings, but some of them are so close together that I may have undercounted.

It is pouring rain and I just went to close some windows. The yellowjackets are still out. They appear uninterested in the trap I set out. I can’t imagine spraying the nest with insecticide because I expect any that didn’t die instantly would attack and I don’t think I’m ready for that until the late effects of the current batch of stings is gone. I no longer have a head net so, while I can cover most exposed flesh with fabric that might stop them, that still leaves my head vulnerable. (The nest is under the lowest “board” of the neighbor’s vinyl siding.) I don’t ride my bike in or out of the driveway – I come in through the front door now. They have taken over territory.

Author: halffastcyclingclub

We are a group of friends who ride bikes. Some of us are fast, some of us are slow, all of us are half-fast. In 2018, one of us is riding coast to coast across the US. If we meet Sal Paradise, we'll let you know.

3 thoughts on “Age”

  1. Old. When I was 52 I was running up and down mountains with boys half my age, both competitive athletes. One of them was a competitive weight-lifter and our trail running was his aerobic training. The other one considered our mountain running compensation for the days when the surf was flat. At 54, I couldn’t walk from my car to the entrance to the supermarket without a shopping cart to hold onto. I went from 26 to 80 in two years time. Just thinking about it now makes me want to cry. It was excruciatingly painful in more than one way. One, the hip degeneration hurt like hot knives being shoved into my groin. The other? My doctor said irrelevant things like, “You’re too young for osteoarthritis. I’m sending you to PT.” Where it got worse, of course, because it WAS end stage osteoarthritis as we learned when he finally ordered hip X-rays more than a year after I first presented with symptoms (classic symptoms, BTW). Since then, I’ve had the other hip replaced. One resurfacing, one replacement, two bionic hips. They work fine. Not like “real” hips but they are what I have. Now my effort is toward putting off knee replacements. I walk, but not “right.”

    And I’ll never ever run again. I’d never have made it over that hurdle without my big white dog to teach me the great benefit of going slow. Am I old? Well, I’m almost 69. I guess anyone would say so. But at this point it’s irrelevant to me. I also think I have gotten my left leg flexibility to the point where I can lift it over my bike like a normal person. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I was older at 40, after a back injury, than I am now. Osteoarthritis, on the other hand, tends not to be something that allows you to get younger again. Most of the joint replacement surgeons I know advise waiting until it is excruciating before you get replacements. Why? Maybe because you’ll feel so much better that you’ll give them the appreciation they live for;) Maybe because artificial joints have a limited life expectancy and the second replacement is usually not as big a gain as the first one was. Plus, our expectations tend to change. Most of us, when we get hurt, start with the expectation of getting back to “100%”. Over time, most of us realize that won’t happen and adjust to a new normal. (And, while some runners continue for a very long time, running tends to beat up the joints – sort of like working in the trades does. Quitting either before it’s too late does wonders. Runners wear out their knees, electricians wear out their shoulders.) You seem to have discovered the joys of a slow walk with a dog, enjoying all there is to see.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I guess to my younger self in the photo I use, I’m certainly old. I could be alot thinner, but also heavier. I only bother to mention it because sizeism definitely exists in the bicycle “community.” I am proof you can be fit but have some extra meat (or gristle) one one’s bones. So maybe I’m inspiring someone to bike who otherwise might not, or as much. It’s good that’s not your genetic path. But age and it’s ailments, yeah, it happens to all of us. And it sucks, until you consider the alternative. Sorry for your pain though. My aches are catching up to me but as you’ve previously noted some rest is in order. January 12 is the date for that. Just do your best and keep moving, I suppose. Though you already know that.

    Liked by 1 person

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