I forgot my water bottle on today's ride. So, I swing by the local LBS to pick up one. As I'm taking off the gloves, helmet, and unzipping the jacket, I hear three young riders (20s?) jawing with two of the mechanics. The conversation went like this: "I'm telling you, Dude. He's the real deal. Look at the way he climbs." Response 1: "Man, JJ is much faster. He's the real deal." Response 2: "No way look at the mile... just the sheer number of miles... way more than JJ." At this point I tell the mechanic I need a bottle because I forgot mine and that I'm headed back to the restroom to make room for some more liquids.
Now I've ridden with both of these mechanics before and they both know I ride without my hearing aids (without them I only hear about 25% of what most folks hear). But today not only did I forget my water bottle, I was in such a hurry I forgot to take off the hearing aids. So, the younger mechanic probably doesn't think I can hear him while I'm down the hallway. And, he says, "You guys want to know who the hard core real deal is? Well, he just walked past you." I hear one of the 20 something guys ask, "You mean that old guy?" Now the older mechanic chimes in and says (of course I've stopped dead in my tracks to hear all of this... the bladder will have to wait just a bit longer): "Remember last week when we had those horrible rain storms with the gusting winds and temperatures near freezing? Well, that old guy was out putting in his miles. He'll be out in Jan. & Feb. cranking out the miles regardless of the weather. Hell it will be another 25 years before you get close to putting in the miles he does."
At this point I'm feeling a bit self-conscious and head the rest of way back the hallway into the restroom. When I come out the young guns are gone and I ask to pay for the water bottle. The older mechanic is smirking from ear to ear and says: "Those dudes just here bought it for you." I blurt our: "What?" He says: "Yeah, they wanted to pay tribute to an old dude who's a hard core real deal."
OK, so here's what I know. There are many of you on this forum who make my cycling experiences look pale. And I stand in admiration of so many of you. Hence, every time I take a drink from my new water bottle, I'll be making a toast to all of the 50+ hardcore real deal riders out there. Bottoms up!