Age is just a number, or a state of mind, right? I admire people who refuse act their age, and not concidentally, they tend to be physically active.
The other day I read the RAGBRAI training blog about the effects of aging on cyclists. The author has some good tips for muscle recovery after a ride and between rides, especially for “mature” cyclists. The good news is that endurance doesn’t decline as we age, and it takes many years of inactivity to lose our endurance.
My gym recently started offering senior fitness classes, utilizing chairs, for people 55 and older. The classes are packed with people who look to be much older than the minimum age. Although I don’t like the idea of needing a chair to exercise, I can see the potential in teaching it. As the population ages, those who have been active will continue to stay active, even if at a slower pace.
My cycling group consists of women from their 20’s to 72. Some of the younger riders are faster, but not always. The 72-year-old has plenty of endurance and a great sense of adventure. Since I’ve known her, she’s rafted the Grand Canyon and jumped out of an airplane for the first time. I recently met a cyclist who started racing professionally in her mid-40’s.
Years ago, I worked with a freelance writer named Joe Stocker on a financial publication I edited. He pitched me a story idea about cycling for seniors, since most of our high net worth customers were seniors. I liked the idea, and ended up in a truck with a photographer, following his group of mostly older cyclists on a difficult route that I still haven’t attempted.
I didn’t see Joe again until about a dozen years later, when I was on a weekend ride and he was helping load the support vehicle. He instantly remembered me and the publication. At the end of the day, I spotted Joe and commented that he had changed into in cycling attire. He said he had someone drive him to the top of the hill, so that he could ride into town without doing all the climbing. At that point, I had to ask his age, and he said 89. We had a great conversation about a variety of topics, proving that his mind and body were still active. Later, I heard that he died shortly after turning 90 and having been involved in some kind of cycling accident.
Not a bad way to go, if you ask me.