I haven’t been the same since that time I took up bicycling. My son, the triathlete, extolled the health benefits of riding a bike. I had a bike as a kid and I liked it. It was freedom. But now, in my third age, it was about exercise. About heart health, stronger lungs, increasing brain power and living longer.
I’d owned a Trek, multi speed, racing bike for years and had dabbled with it but never got addicted. It sat forlornly in my garage, but it was time to give it another try. It was dusted off, overhauled and good to go. And I mounted up. I’ll never forget it.
It was dusk, trending toward dark. My foot slipped from the stirrup on one of the pedals. I looked down to help my foot see its way back onto the job when I unceremoniously smacked into the fire hydrant on the far side of my cul-du-sac. I was pitched onto the sidewalk not more than a hundred yards from my garage door. I hate it when that happens.
I was wearing a helmet, but I hurt for a week and my Trek needed another overhaul.
And I had such big plans. With the wind in my helmet and brightly colored spandex all over me, I was going to range across Oro Valley well into my 90’s - in perfect health. I’d even thought of clipping a playing card onto my spokes with a clothespin like I did when I was a kid. It was going to be great.
But there I lay, a few yards from my front door, on my initial outing, thinking of other ways to live long and prosper.
I do work out every day, but sometimes I still wonder what would have happened if my foot hadn’t slipped off my bike. I might be proudly wearing spandex today. Even joined a club.
Sun City Oro Valley has one called Vistoso Cyclists. I met some of their 140 members recently at the ribbon cutting for the new bike trail behind Home Depot - part of the labyrinthine trail that will eventually extend into and around Pima County.
The Vistoso Cyclists and others pedal 25 or 50 mile routes or more, three mornings a week and they’re all fit as a fiddle.
Jim Johnson, president of the group, by email gave me a sketch of the members including Jim Rigney, a former Air force pilot who rides 3 to 4 times a week, up to 60 miles each trip. He’s 83. The oldest in the group.
Corinna Goodman is in her mid 70s, won her division last year in the International Biathlon Championships in Europe. And, just so you know, her mom is 93 and still swims competitively.
Their stories are endless and inspiring. Check them out on the web. Check with president Jim Johnson about joining. The group has all the ingredients for living a long, healthy, happy life.
And remember what Congressional advocate for older Americans, Claude Pepper, once said: “Life is like riding a bicycle - you don’t fall off unless you stop pedaling.”
Or if you smack into a fire hydrant.