Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Old Dudes Roll!!

It was pretty cool that an older guy, Alexandre Vinokourov, won the gold medal in the London Olympic Road Cycling event.  Granted, 38 isn't exactly OLD, but it's 11 years older than the average Olympic athlete, who's 26.8 years old.  For professional athletes, it's quite a feat for anyone in any sport to achieve the pinnacle of greatness at such an age.

"Get outta my way, punks"
Likewise, Kristin Armstrong won the women's Time Trial (for the second time, mind you) ... and she's also 38 years old ... the oldest person to ever win the gold in that event.

"Don't hate me because I'm STILL much faster than you"
The rest of the competitors were younger ... and yet somehow these "aging" athletes proved that riding a bike isn't just for kids.  To have both men AND women's events won by people who are almost 40 is pretty cool.

And ... I think it's inspired a lot of people to get out there and ride.  If two near-40-year-olds can win Olympic gold riding a bike, then certainly those in their 50's, 60', 70's and beyond can at least have some fun doing it, right?  True 'dat.

I'm all for people riding and having fun, and I've noticed a greatly increased number of riders who appear to be at least as old as I am (48, as of this writing), and many who are much older.  And there seems to be another "inspired" side effect of the Olympics.  Many of these new post-30's riders have decided that it's "GO" time ... imagining themselves in pursuit of Olympic Gold ... and anyone on the road is their competition.

They got themselves a race bike, race clothes, race helmet, race shoes, race computer, and carry at least two water bottles at all times.  They may not yet understand how everything works, but they're ready to race.  They'll race anyone ... other old dudes on bikes, kids on cruisers, skateboarders, in-line skaters, dog-walkers, pedestrians ... I've even seen a dude racing someone in an electric wheelchair.  And, of course, they race ME ... an aging dude on a non-racing bike, wearing non-racing clothes, and obviously not in a hurry for anything, which I assume makes me appear to be the weak member of the herd, and therefore easy to take down.  This is quite entertaining to me, as well as a little frustrating, since I worked very hard to overcome my desire to race anyone who might pass me, just to prove that I'm not getting old.

Today's race was "brung" by a man who began his approach at the first of three stoplights in the last five miles of today's Ocean Institute Decade-And-A-Half Everyday Epic ride.  I was stopped at the light when he rolled up, gave me and my bike a once-over scan, and continued on, coming to a stop well into the crosswalk and nearly into the intersection to capture the very best possible sprint starting position, as he struggled to unclip his shoe from the pedal.  When the light turned green, he jumped on the pedal, fumbled while attempting to clip in the second shoe, and then proceeded in a wobbly standing sprint as fast as possible away from the intersection.  A quick look back was given to ensure that his breakaway was successful, then he sat down hard on his saddle and began his somewhat slower, rather bow-legged seated pedaling style, which was necessary to circumvent the large round protrusion in the lower half of his jersey, no doubt a reward for the years of beer consumption (I have one of my own that I swear will one day disappear).  I pedaled on at my usual slower-than-most pace, and found myself gaining on him, then passing him within about half a mile.  I rode on to the next stoplight, where it began again ... in exactly the same manner.  And then AGAIN at the third stoplight.  It might have continued, but at the fourth stoplight, he turned into a coffee shop, and I rode the last mile home to likewise drink some coffee.

Perhaps it will be "ON" again tomorrow ...