Today, I hit the big 5-0!!! That’s right. I have now been around for half a century. (How many of you cyclists out there thought the title referred to a cycling event?) The funny thing is I don’t feel 50. Mentally, emotionally, and even physically, I feel like I stopped getting older at some point in my early 40’s. To put it the words of Jimmy Buffett, I’m growing older but not up!
I am sure cycling is a big part of that, especially when you consider I started cycling at the age of 42. I discovered a passion for riding my bike and that quickly turned into a love of all things cycling. I love to ride bikes, talk about riding bikes, watch other people ride bikes, and so forth and so on. It is amazing that something like this could have such a large impact on who I am today.
When you start to break it down, it’s pretty easy to figure out. I feel like a kid when I’m on my bike and that helps me feel young. The sheer freedom of being able to hop on my bike and simply roll around for hours is exhilarating. I also tend to act like a kid on my bike as you can guess from the photo.
I am a firm believer that stress and a lack of physical activity has the biggest impact on “aging” and cycling fixes both of those. It doesn’t matter how stressful the workday was, I can make it all go away by getting on my bike. Plus, when I am riding with friends we tend to talk about cycling and not work and that helps provide another mental escape from the daily grind.
I think another big part is that I do ride with a lot of people younger then me. Most of my cycling friends are in their early 30’s or 40’s. It may seem silly, but hanging with them and participating in their conversations goes a long way to warding off the fuddy-duddy factor so many of us fall into. Yes, for me, hanging with young people makes me feel young.
Speaking of friends, they have this nasty tendency to want to make you feel better. They’ll make you laugh when you’re down. They’ll stand by when times are tough. And, listen to your stories no matter how many times you’ve told them before. How could anyone feel old with that kind of positive energy surrounding them on a continual basis.
There’s one last thing. As a fairly dedicated cyclist, I typically ride between 4,000 – 5,000 miles a year. I have to admit that I get tremendous satisfaction when some 20-something hears this and looks my way with complete admiration. That or they think I’m crazy. I am okay with either look (I think I prefer crazy). Or, when you’re standing around the coffee bar at work saying you rode 125 miles that weekend and they say they didn’t drive that far. Or even better is when you hear this conversation - “Can you believe Lee is 50?” “Yes, but I wouldn’t want to keep up with him on a bike.”
So there you have it. Cycling is a big part of why I still feel young and why I am ready to face the next half-century with the same je ne sais quoi that got me to this point. I can’t wait to see where it takes me.