Saturday, October 18, 2008

Fitness Firsts

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.


beardsarefun said...

thats a great story. goes to show age is just a number and i agree, 57 is not that old. i think its the new 37? i work for a shop and there are a couple customers, 60-somethings, that will sprint the smile off plenty of twenty-somethings. hell yeh.

Victor said...

57 is the new 37? I like it! Thanks for stopping by.

Dave Wages said...

Congrats on the hill climbs, rest assured we were there cheering you in spirit!!

I've done a couple cross training rides lately with a 50 year old who puts me in a world of hurt. It's really just a number.

Julie said...

I am so glad that I have trawled through your side-bar, Snapper. I like this post very much. I do not know diddly-squat about bike-lingo and only last week did I come across the term 'fixed' in the popular prss. But I do like the ambience. Now to do something about it ... watch my space.

matthias said...

I've got a great bike - a carbon Cannondale - and lately I've been wussing out on getting rides to work in.. I'll use your post as an inspiration and get out more..

I used to commute all the time on my fixed conversion Fuji Finest. It got stolen this summer and I'm itching to get another built. Just got a Medici frame which should work out well..