Cycling and Age: Hitting the sands of time

I injured myself last night, not while riding the bike, but largely because of excessive bike riding.  Or, excessive bike riding without proper cool down and stretching.  Only a few years ago, I could hammer for hours and then do some completely different exercise and never bat an eye.  Maybe I’d be a bit sore, but a little Advil and I’d hop on the bike again.  Gone are those days.  Gone for good.

It made me think more about how things are changing now that I’ve crossed the age 40 mark.  Things hurt more.  I don’t recover as quickly.  Although I’m working out more now than I ever have in my life (other than high school), and I feel I’m the strongest and fittest I’ve ever been, it’s still different.

How?  For a glimpse of the future, see the chart below and plan accordingly.

Age 18-24

You are a mere babe in the woods!  You can drink beer all night, eat pizza, and ride and ride. You almost never stretch. Never do you gain an ounce.  Lycra actually looks good on you.

Age 25-29

What’s that?  You gained 3 pounds?  That’s your metabolism slowing down to a dull roar.  You probably work full time now, or are slaving away in grad school and working part time.  But on the weekend, you can hop on your bike and do a century with almost no preparation.  You can race your bike and do all right.  If you are serious about cycling, you are really coming into form right now.  Lycra still looks amazing on you.

Age 30-34

You spend the first 4 years of your thirties in utter disbelief that you are that old.  Everyone in their 40’s+ finds this simultaneously adorable and annoying. Your face is leaner looking, yet these deposits of flesh can now be found cuddling your kidneys.  You may be full engaged in child bearing now, and this will make you fat no matter if you are a woman or a man.  Your job feels endless, and cycling is on the backburner out of sheer adulthood. If you have a super supportive spouse, you get to ride during the summer.  A little.  You use this to whack away the extra 10+ pounds that has found you.

Age 35-39

You realize you are running out of sweet, precious time.  You think now–now is the time to really make your mark with this sport.  You are kidding yourself, and everyone knows it but you.  Your ab muscles are in great shape, because you’ve become deeply practiced in sucking in your gut.

Age 40+

The wheels start to fall off.  You hear a bell ringing in the distance on your 40th birthday, and later realize that’s the sound of your expiration date.  Things on your body hurt for no reason.  You tweak your back getting out of bed in the morning.  You sit entirely too much at work.  Wearing lycra is now a supreme act of either bravery or denial.

Age 50+

You hate the people who are still in their 40’s and complaining about how stuff hurts.  They have no idea what’s next.  You smirk and tell them they are being babies.  And they thought you’d be understanding…..

Age 60+ 

You have transcended physical pain and vanity and are regarded as somewhat of a mystic of the sport.  Lycra looks ridiculous on you as your body has naturally withered in some places and bulged in others, but dammit you are seeing this sport through ’til the bitter end. Your road bike is considered an antique, but has the retro charm that all those hipster kids are after. People of all ages admire you deeply, and hope they can age as gracefully.  Your legs still look fantastic.

Whatever your age, just keep riding….but always stretch!



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About Karen

Mid-life female amateur athlete focused on cyclocross, mountain biking, and road cycling.

3 responses to “Cycling and Age: Hitting the sands of time”

  1. bgddyjim says :

    There’s another bracket at 41… It’s a sub bracket.

    Things stop hurting as much and you realize that 40 wasn’t as bad as you thought. People still mistake you for 30(ish) and now that you’ve figured out how to get out for 45 minutes to an hour (just 1/24 of your day) and a few hours on Saturday and/or Sunday those lumps of fat on the sides and up front slowly fade to nothing again. A six pack is out of the question but only because you know at your age burgers and pizza are awesome and you’re in better shape than 90% of the people your age anyway so you call it good, pop an Aleve once every couple of weeks and live an awesome, happy life.

    That’s how I roll anyway. 😉

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