I regularly ride with a group, but that group is older riders, and unfortunately, that group is decreasing. However, last weekend, we went out on one of our normal rides, around 25 to 30 miles offroad, but for a change, we fell in with another group of riders. 7 in this group, and all ages and abilities, and all qualities of bikes. (I do mean all qualities from a basic Giant Boulder to a top rate Yeti) They had the same ideal as us, out to ride, and first one to the top of the hill gets cold waiting for the rest.
2nd big hill and my group started to pull through this other group. we were not out to race them but probably put in a bit more energy than we normally would. All 4 of us got to the top first, and waited for the other group. As they arrived we started talking, and the subject of older riders came up. I am 58 and the others in my group are 52, 50 and 46. I expected this to turn into the usual comments of how older riders can't ride, don't have stamina and are too cautious on the technical bits. Far from it. All the youngsters (Probably aged around 30-35) were saying that the more expert members of their group, were the older ones, and we had proved it again. It was their belief that hill climbing, bike handling skills and the No brain syndrome for Downhills only comes from experience. The fact that we were ancient compared to them proved once again that experience counts.
At long last we found a group of riders that understand that age is against you when mountain biking. The younger you are, the more you will struggle to stay with an older and more experienced group of riders.