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Old 09-23-05, 11:33 AM   #1
stapfam
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Ageism

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.
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Old 09-23-05, 12:10 PM   #2
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Unless you're me I'm getting dumber and slower by the minute.
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Old 09-23-05, 01:01 PM   #3
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Age is too dignified, compassionate and understanding of mortal limitations to smirk or snidely comment when passing anaerobic, youthful gaspers on long climbs...those young stalwarts who chose their 53x21 and sped away at the foot of the hill while others of us, wizened with age and experience and humility, worked their way down to grannies and then applied steadiness, resolve, a measured effort---and had an extra kick to go over the top with a nice up-shift (maybe gasping a bit inwardly). Certainly would never laugh at those kids. Well, not outwardly. 20 more years and they'll be "compleat" cyclists, too.

Your point was well taken Stepfam! I'll try to remember that on the more frequent occasions when they overtake and drop me like I'm being shot out the back of a woodchipper! (Thanks for that comparison to whichever of you wrote it a few months ago!)
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Old 09-23-05, 02:26 PM   #4
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I thought Ageism had a negative connotation. Yours is quite positive. My problem is that I've got the age, but lack the experience.
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Old 09-23-05, 02:51 PM   #5
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I thought this was going to be a negative post, as "ageism" usually has that connotation around here.

I was quite pleasantly surprised, and, by the way, congratulations on the hill climb!
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Old 09-23-05, 04:37 PM   #6
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I'm 60 and slowing down, but I still find that I can keep up with most (certainly not all) casual riders half my age, mainly because of experience. I waste less energy, and I can anticipate how much it will hurt, so I can pace myself to run out of gas at the top of the hill, not three-quarters of the way up. They kill me in sprints, though.
I ride with a couple of guys, physicians in their early 50s, who are as strong as anybody around here. Occasionally when we're just cruising at my speed, some of the local club racers will blow past us acting like Arrogant Roadie Pr!cks, the whole brush-your-shoulder-as-they-pass, I'm-too-serious-to-say-hello act. My pals will accelerate and ride with them for awhile, shout ignorant questions about their bikes ("Wow, how many speeds does that thing have?"), then gradually pick up the pace and often burn them out. It's pretty funny to watch.
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Old 09-23-05, 06:51 PM   #7
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Well, I believe you. I was talking to 2 guys who were riding with the really fast guys in the club, if fact they were leading the pack for a while. They said at one point the groupp was running 32mph. I asked them how old they were. One was 69 and the other 61.....
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Old 09-24-05, 12:08 PM   #8
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Stapfam-Thanks for the last surprise turn-about in the last paragraph-" age is against you" referring to youth rather than advanced age. I was reminded of a quotation that I heard once from some novel. I think it had to do with the rational for not hiring someone for some position. The quote was that he/she was not chosen because he/she " Lacked inexperience". To think of exprerience as you aquire it as something unfortunate, I guess intrigued me, since most of us in our youth struggle to prove that we are more experienced than others may assume, and therefore worthy of some position or other. It was this lack of something that got you to the top first, and the abundance of inexperience that had the others struggle to hold your wheel.
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Old 09-24-05, 01:41 PM   #9
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Great thread. My maternal grandfather always told me he was "like a fine wine," in the sense that he "improved with age."
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Old 09-27-05, 08:59 AM   #10
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Experience counts, but so does body weight. A slim 60 year old who rides a lot will fare better than a chunky 30 year old. In fact, the riders I meet who seem to cruise somewhat effortlessly up the hills are the skinny guys. Age doesn't seem to matter.
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