Tag Archives: aging

Inspire me.


When I first began riding a little over four years ago, Strava was a relatively new thing in our neck of the woods but was gaining popularity rapidly. Likewise, there weren’t a lot of women riding single track, at least to the degree we have now. When I first began riding, there were a handful of women I knew of locally (Palm Beach County) that burned up the trails. I was always star struck when I encountered them, calling them out by name when I met them. Because Strava was new(er) to the area, my ride results put me toward the top of the leaderboard with them overall, and certainly within my over-50 age group. I ironically became known as a “fast” rider—something that felt quite novel to me at the time but certainly doesn’t apply to me today.

Fast forward four and a half years and women’s riding (and racing) have absolutely ballooned in numbers on a local level. Now, you are as apt to find women on the trails as you are men. I may be speaking out of turn, but I feel the numbers are perhaps 10:1, men to women, and perhaps even greater than that on the side of women. This is beyond impressive. The women shredding our trails are of all skill and age levels, as evidenced by the ride details I frequently chronicle on social media.

With this surge in women riders, my almost-55-year-old self has fallen significantly in the rankings with respect to speed. To be honest—I’m way down on the list. This used to bother me a bit purely from a mortality standpoint. I look at riders in their 20s, 30s and 40s and know they’re only going to get better with training, while I’m on a downhill slope at my age with respect to increasing my physical abilities. There is only so much an aging body can do, due greatly in part to an imbalance in hormones. Interrupted sleep. Decreased muscle mass. Increased body fat. Arthritic joints. And the list goes on. This is a fact of life and, one that’s hard for me to accept at times. I’ve written about this before. My mind tells me I’m decades younger than my soon-to-be 55-year old body tells me. This is not a pity party but rather a celebration–an absolute, total celebration.

Ladies, I want you to know you inspire me each and every day. You inspire me to do and be better. When I ride, it’s you I think about. You are my imaginary “rabbit.” I know I won’t catch you, but I will not finish the ride without giving it my all. You, my beautiful fellow female riders, inspire me. And, I hope that you find some inspiration in me, too. I hope, that just maybe because of me, you’ll find inspiration on the trails in your fifties and way beyond. Who knows? God willing, I will be the septuagenarian, octogenarian, and maybe even nonagenarian to whom you say, “Rider back.” One never knows what (or who) you’ll find ahead.

Happy trails, my amazing friends. x

Acceptance

Happiness can exist only in acceptance. ~ George Orwell


The above photo was snapped during a recent biking event.  I was participating in a time trial hosted by our local off road/mountain biking organization, Club Scrub.

At first blush, this photo depicts nothing really, except perhaps sheer determination.  It represents no great achievement for me personally except that I finished what I started.  I came in fourth out of four participants in my time trial class (sport).  Like the Olymics, there are only three podium positions in our club’s time trials.  The eight plus mile singletrack ride took every ounce of energy I had.  The day was unseasonably hot–88 degrees with 62 percent humidity resulting in a “feels like” temperature of 93 degrees.  Yes, it was incredibly hot, and I gave the ride every last drip drop I had within me, but the heat offered no excuse for the defeat I felt. The time trial was humbling. I don’t mean in an, “Oh, I’m so humbled…blah blah blah…” empty platitude kind of way. I mean humbled as in:  Oh!  My!  Gosh!  I’m 51 and my competitors range from YOUNGER than my daughter to (much) younger sister, and I simply could not hang with them.  I was so far out of my league I was in a different zip code.  I had a lunch of humble pie that afternoon.

As I mulled over my ride, I was really disappointed despite the effort I put forth–even though I knew I rode as hard as I physically could.  I simply couldn’t have done better.  And then it (slowly) dawned on me.  I am what I am.  I am who I am.  I am where I am.  I am me.  I was forced to acknowledge that I’m lavish with grace and acceptance with everyone except myself.  And dang it, I need to accept and EMBRACE my effort FOR just that–a whole lot of friggin effort. I need to be proud of myself for what I bring to the table. I can’t lie. That’s so darn difficult for me personally. As an overachiever to whom a lot of physical accomplishments have come easily, that’s humbling. But I’m gonna do it.  I need to do.  I need to do it for my own wellbeing.  So, I hereby resolve to cut myself some slack.  I’m officially giving myself a break and telling myself exactly what I’d tell my husband, daughter, son, mother or friend.  Bobbie, I’m proud of you.  You gave it your all girl.  Put on your big girl panties, find contentment where you are and celebrate those young(er) whippersnappers that kicked your tail.   They’re fierce gals–just like you.  Congratulations on a job well done, one and all.  #letsridebikes

Rule Breaker

If you obey all the rules you miss all the fun. ~Katharine Hepburn

Having the time of my life.

Forty-nine years, 346 days. That’s how old I am as I draft this post. I will be 50 years old at the end of this month. This is a monumental birthday for me. It has certainly given me pause to think. I think about the fact that I’m now in the last half of life. I spend a great deal of time thinking about the fact that I’m (soon to be) 50 with a five year old with developmental challenges—and worry greatly about being here wholly, completely and physically for him as he grows up. I think about the fact that I’m not as sharp (in any respect) as I used to be. I think about the fact that my husband and I will most likely have to work every day we’re above ground in order to maintain life, as we know it. Please don’t misunderstand me. These are not regrets. They’re merely realities—realities you don’t think about at 20, 30 or probably even 40. (At least I didn’t.) But 50? Well that’s a whole other ballgame.

There is another side to the coin though. In addition to concerns I have about life, I also spend a great deal of time reflecting on how richly I’ve been blessed throughout my life. I didn’t always see it that way. I had many, many struggles as a young adult. I carried a lot of bitterness, disappointment and regret around. But I’m so thankful God has lifted those burdens from my shoulders. Grace covers a lifetime of heartache, and I am eternally grateful to Him for that.

Yet another byproduct of turning 50 is permission I’ve given myself to live a little—for me. As the majority of wives and mothers do, I’ve spent a good deal of my life living to care for others. We inherently put the needs of others above our own. I know I do. And I’m more than okay with that. I’m grateful to have a family who needs me. However, wives and mothers also need to feed our own spiritual and emotional selves. The last five years have been very challenging, and at times draining. That’s the nature of the beast. But I’ve recently found something I enjoy immeasurably. Skateboarding. Yes, you read that correctly. Skateboarding.

Greg and I initially bought boards in February so we could accompany Jackson to the skate park. Jackson has always loved to ride his scooter—something that required me to run alongside him—neck-and-neck, for safety’s sake. I was OVERJOYED (let me say that again—OVERJOYED!) to learn he could ride his scooter at the local skate park, as it was getting more difficult for me to keep up with him. (See paragraph one RE: lack of sharpness.) I thought the skate park would afford me the opportunity to put my feet up and relax while Jackson rode his scooter. Boy was I wrong!

Greg and I quickly learned how much fun it is to skateboard. We bought boards and started to skate ourselves. Then we bought new boards because we learned that our original boards were for “cruising.” Cruising? We wanted to skate!  We didn’t want to just putter around the park. We wanted to skate ramps and bowls! We wanted to drop in! And so we did. And you know what? We’ve been having the time of our lives! Literally. We go to the skate park as often as we can. Jackson rides his scooter and Greg and I skate. We encourage each other, watch each other’s progress and celebrate each other’s accomplishments. It is truly a family affair.

I recently treated myself to lessons for my upcoming birthday. I scheduled seven lessons with a young man named Tommy who works at our local skate park. Unfortunately, our final lesson was rained out. (I was deeply saddened.) Tommy was a saint. A saint! He could’ve taken one look at this middle-aged mother and begged off. But he didn’t. And I am so grateful for that. Not only is Tommy a great instructor; he’s truly a great person. (Tommy, your folks got it right.) My life is richer for the six hours I spent with this young man. I was drawn out of my comfort level every minute we were together. He had me skating switch/fakie at heights and speeds WAY above my comfort zone. And equally death-defying—Tommy had me dropping in independently by the end of our time together.

Here’s a video of my first independent drop in.

http://on.fb.me/1wjdUKM

I took a few spills, which were never Tommy’s doing. I simply didn’t know what to do with myself post maneuver. But I got up and kept going.

Overestimated my abilities to fakie a steep ramp, post drop in.

Overestimated my abilities to fakie a steep ramp, post drop in.

I learned so much from Tommy, not only about skateboarding, but also about myself. I learned that even at fifty I’m still as curious and tenacious as I was at 20, 30 and 40. But more importantly, I’m more intuitive and open to correction and instruction than I was at those ages. My life is so much richer for those six short hours. I’m so thankful I took that step and that time for myself. Contusions aside, I have a newfound appreciation for this body God has created, a deeper love for skating, a greater gratitude for my tenacity, and a new friend I hold dear to my heart. Thank you, Tommy, for letting me fly.

At work, pre-lesson.

At work, pre-lesson.

Sweaty! Tommy and me apres lesson (and first independent drop in).