When I Get Old

My friend consistently kicks my butt on every ride we go on. She can out climb me, out sprint me, out corner me in every way, unless she’s tired and I’m rested. Then we’re almost even.

She says that 42 is to old for road racing. Not with 30 year olds in the mix.

Someone slap her. I can’t do it, she’s my friend. But could someone? Please? Shake some sense into her.

Eight-eight is old. Like, when you get out of a chair and can’t hear yourself fart, that’s old.

I’m not 42, but I’m not 30 either, and I’m not sure exactly what happened, but all of a sudden, I’m not a kid anymore. I look in the mirror, and I see I’m getting little wrinkles. The braces are helping disguise my age, and I don’t mind that they’ve stayed on longer than they should. I’ll take anything that will give me a youthful appearance without requiring injections or surgery.

But I’m trying to understand at what age are we supposed to stop trying to get stronger, or accept that we just can’t compete anymore. Is there some magic number when it’s plainly pointless to toe the line?

And so I thought back to all the old people in my life, particularly my Grandma Cathy who took up lap swimming in her late sixties, and continued to swim ’til she she passed away at 88.

She even added on to her house, and built an indoor swimming pool, the kind that shoots out water so you swim in one place.

I tried it once, and beached myself. A garden hose was stronger than that current.

She swam every day for twenty minutes, but one day, she had noticed she had lost some toning in her arms. Let me be precise: whatever had been muscle there was now white, flappy skin. I suggested she do arm curls and tricep extensions with soup cans.

A few weeks later, she proudly pointed out some new definition. Let me be more precise: I didn’t look. Her arms scared me. I took her word for it and encouraged her to continue her weight training regimen.

She was thrilled to know that at 88 she could get stronger. She just kept getting better ’til she died, pretty much.

“Getting old isn’t for the weak,” she told me.

And so I’ve just decided, just now, that I’ll wait ’til after I’m dead to decide when I’m too old. Meanwhile, I’ve got a lot more training to do.

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About katiekelly

I grew up in a parking lot.
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4 Responses to When I Get Old

  1. chatterbox says:

    Good post. My grandpa was doing laps up and down his street with a walker well into his 90s. He said, “if you don’t use it, you lose it.” I’m glad I come from such hearty stock. And I regularly get my butt kicked by ladies in their 40s and 50s. You’re never too old to improve.

  2. katiekelly says:

    Thanks Sarah!

    Hey, update: my coach says there’s no reason why women can’t improve as they get older. We don’t suffer the same testosterone loss as men do, so it’s just no wonder we see women well into their fifties kicking butt at the races. Those of us still in our thirties haven’t even reached puberty yet on the cycling calendar. This might be one more Life According to Katie rule, but I’m going to defend it, vehemently.

  3. Tom Kravitz says:

    Age is in the mind and occasionally in the body. I “started” riding at 54 and I am still racing on the track at 63. I am not old and I still like being hit on by younger ladies; I think I look and feel good and work at it real hard.

    There will ALWAYS be someone else that will kicj your butt on a ride; the only person you need to proove anything to is yourself.

  4. Jill Gregerson says:

    I am looking into getting a new bike. I really enjoy cycling when I really kick myself as well..

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