For years there has been two road rides in my area. Saturday morning breakfast ride and Wednesday Worlds. For years I have attended both with limited results. In both rides I was constantly pushed to my limits due to my weight but I did not mind. I needed the hard efforts. I have not attended any of these rides this summer mostly due to work. But I wonder if Im even able to participate anymore.
There’s kinda like the changing of the guard going on. Some of us are complaining that the rides are getting too fast. And maybe thats right but I think its a combo of the core guys who have been mainstay in this group for years getting slower too. Ten years ago we all mixed it up. Now, well into our 50’s and some into their 60’s we just don’t have the power we had back then. You cant beat age. It wins every time.
Toss in a new core group of skinny riders in their 20’s and 30’s and we, the guys who religiously attended for who knows how long, are now the odd men out. Its sad but inevitable. I think I could maybe still do a Saturday ride if its mild but on Wednesday I would get dropped like a sack of moldy diapers.
So here we are. Sadly some of us are on the tail end of competitive riding. And by that I even mean hanging on to the fast guys in group rides. Today we simply cannot partake in the rides that we have been doing ongoing for the last 15 years. We kinda feel left out. We feel they should just slow down for us old guys.
But the group will not slow down nor should we ask it to. Trust me, if I or any of the others in my position could we would. But we cant so we wont. With a group of 15 bikes you have 5 that hold that fast pace easy. You have 5 that can do it but its hard and sometimes they just do not want to ride that hard. And you have 5 that run a puker and hope they can hang for at least a little while. I was the latter for many years.
But even tho we know we cant, next comes the hardest part of all of this: admission.
We are all competitive. Very much so. None of us want to admit they cant keep up with the group we have rode with for years. Nobody wants to face the inevitable that they are getting slower and all the training in the world will not change that. How many pro riders have great careers, but when they get older and can no longer compete at the highest level just quit. I dont want to just quit cuz I cant ride the way I did a few years ago.
You just need to change the way you do this thing. Yesterday I posted about maybe not paying the money to race MTB’s but to still take that time to ride. And thats kinda the same with the local road rides here. So Ive started a small Tuesday nite ride out of the store. Nothing fancy. I dont even advertise it. Just word of mouth. Nobody want to admit out loud that they are now out of the “A” ride and on the “B’ group.
If I sent out a email saying my ride is a slower alternative it most likely get labeled “slow and old” by the masses. To do so would be an admission that you are slow(er). So its word of mouth. And its not that slow. Last week we rolled in with a 17.8mph average last week and 17.2 last nite. Not bad considering 7 out of 35 miles are in the city. But thats about my limit of a comfortable group ride. Any more than that and its head down, no talking and work hard and suffer.
Im going to be 55 years old in spring. Im not as fast as I once was. I cannot beat myself up when my race times are slower or when I cant hold a 28mph paceline for long. And when that happens you cannot spend so much time trying. The sooner you admit whats happening the better off you will be. You cant waste summer after summer chasing this only to eventually concede. And you will concede. Dont fool your self. Dont use excuses.
When its time to take things down a notch don’t freak out. The sooner you accept it the better off you will be. In fact, take out some of the pain and the rides are kinda more fun. Slower but very much enjoyable. More than likely you will have to change the people you ride with but don’t think there’s not anyone out there in your shoes. There are plenty.
Remember when you started riding? Remember all the new friends you made on the bike? Now you switch riding “category” and that starts all over again. Its just all the new riders you are with are older. The testosterone levels are down. Rides can still be spirited but in no way a beat down.
And at my age that sounds much better to me.