Age

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 CapoVelo.com

News

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 doyourownpestcontrol.com) 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.

Be Like Mike (or Betty and Graeme, or Robert)

Is it possible to live one’s own life vicariously? I’ve spent the last couple of weeks reading the summer’s blog posts and watching/listening to/reading all the links. What a summer! I guess you call that reminiscing, or nostalgia, not living vicariously. (Did I really do that?) Anyway, I’m itching to get back on the road. Anybody want to take me to New Zealand or Australia for the winter (here)/summer (there)? I’m ready to ride.

My daughter showed me this video yesterday. I hope the tandem cyclists from our summer trip see this.

Bicycling magazine used to have an annual contest to win the bike of your choice. You had to do or write something for your entry. One year was “Baikus”, short poems about bicycling, though they did not have to follow the formal structure of Haiku. I sent two entries: one called “First Ride”, about my daughter’s first ride, when I let go of the saddle and watched her ride away; and another called “Last Ride”, about my imagined last ride resulting in death from massive heart attack while riding down a mountain road, found with a smile still on my face. In the poem I would be, like Jiminy Cricket, 93.

I’ve since decided 93 may not be old enough. I might want to stick around long enough to break Robert Marchand’s Hour Record for the over 105 age group. (And I noticed that the original song said “I’m no fool, nosiree, I want to live to be 93”, but the safety cartoons all ended up at 103.)

Hats off to Graeme, Betty, and Robert! May we all continue doing what we love for as long as we love it.