In the summer of 2015, when I was sixty, I rode my bike 4000 miles across the country, solo, with seventy-five pounds of gear, in seventy-eight days. Amongst other things, I learned that my body was much more capable than I ever thought it was.
Heading west, over halfway across the Trans-am bicycle trail, while climbing a pass in Colorado, I met a guy pedaling east. He shared how he had crossed the United States twenty-two times before, and that he’d just finished riding the perimeter of Iceland, then flew to Vancouver BC, and then rode down to the Trans-am trail. We visited for a short while because neither of us wanted to cool down and seize up, then I took off for Seattle and he set off to Ottawa, Canada, via Detroit. He was eighty-four years old.
He told me that he was a slower than he used to be, but he didn’t care, because he still loved being in the saddle, out on the road. He refused to subscribe to others’ views about aging. He shared that some folks let a number change how they live and what they do and he wasn’t having any of it. “Why would I cheat myself out of all this fun?”
He explained that, “Life is like a basketball game and the fourth quarter is always the most exciting.”
Who was I to argue? I can’t think of a reason not to keep doing all the things I love, regardless of my age, or the speed in which I do it. We only spoke for fifteen minutes and I didn’t get the guy’s name, but I’ll never forget what I learned from him.