Saturday, October 18, 2008
A year ago I was 55 years old, had just quit smoking and had just left a 6-days-a-week job that afforded me very little time or energy for biking. I had just discovered the wonder of riding fixed but my saddle time was limited. All of which is to say I was in pretty lousy shape. The doctor said I was doing great, nothing wrong, blah blah blah but I knew I could and should be more fit than I was.
What a difference 13 months makes. I have ridden one of my two fixed conversions almost every day for the last year. The ratios are 73 and 78 gear inches respectively so I ain't pulling no granny gear. And it's hilly around here. I'm not training for anything and I don't have a computer on either bike to log the miles or the speeds. I'm just riding. For the fun of it and also for errands and occasionally to and from work. Often, I invent a reason to ride. The more I do it, the more I feel like a 12 year-old with a spanking new Schwinn and somewhere important to be. And the more I feel my body responding, which brings me to yesterday.
There are a couple of hills in my neck of the woods that have always forced a dismount, no way to conquer them in 52x18. But yesterday afternoon, I rode up not one but both of 'em. My legs and my lungs had what it took and I stayed on the bike all the way to the top. There was no one around to cheer me on, nobody snapping photos like they do at the big races in Europe, nobody to notice at all. But I didn't give a rat's rear end about the lack of attention. I knew what I'd done and what it meant and that was all that mattered.
Next spring I'll turn 57, just three years shy of 60. An age I once considered "old". But I believe I'll be in perhaps the best shape of my life when the big six-0 arrives. Of course I know there'll come a time when my knees will give out and I'll have to rehang a derailleur on one of these road bikes and go back to shifting but til then, I will test my mettle on a daily basis with a direct drive bicycle and a smile on my face.
A note about the picture: I don't remember where I found it but would like to acknowledge the photographer who is obviously very talented. So if you know who's responsible for this image, please drop me a line so I can give credit where credit is due. Cheers.