One cyclist says it's when we quit exercising.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — If Gene Teaney were a satellite and not a cyclist, he'd be on his fifth orbit of Earth by now.
Teaney, 66, recently pedaled his 100,000th mile since taking up bicycling as a fitness activity in 1988. He knows exactly how many miles he's ridden because, for the past 21 years, he's logged each and every one.
"I started keeping logs because I was taking part in the (Union) Carbide Fitness Club," he said as he took a brief break during a three-hour ride in and around Kanawha State Forest. "I started out as a runner, but took up cycling when I started having problems with shin splints. Cycling was good cross-training, and it was a lot easier on my legs."
After Teaney retired from Carbide in 2001, he redoubled his cycling efforts.
"Two or three times a week, I do solo rides that average 50 to 55 miles apiece. And two or three times a week, I also take part in rides with the Mountain State Wheelers (Bicycle Club)," he said.
Believe it or not, that's less than he's accustomed to riding. From 2002 to 2005, Teaney averaged more than 10,000 miles a year. He did two west-to-east transcontinental rides - one of 3,500 miles, the other of 3,700. He did three north-south crossings of the United States - one along the Eastern Seaboard, one along the Mississippi River, and one along the West Coast. He took part in 13 cycling tours that lasted more than five days. Six of those lasted 20 to 50 days.
"I've ridden in 49 states and three Canadian provinces," he said. "The only state I haven't ridden in yet is Hawaii."
Nowadays Teaney averages "only" 7,500 miles a year — mainly because, as he put it, "I've done all the tours I'm interested in."
Some cyclists like to ride the latest and greatest in bicycle technology. Teaney has had the same titanium-framed Litespeed Vortex since 1999. The bike now has 78,000 miles on its odometer.
"I sent it back to the factory two years ago to have it refurbished. The components were pretty much worn out. Everything is new now except the frame," he said.
Three years ago, Teaney started wondering exactly how many miles he'd accumulated down through the years. He got out his logs and began adding up the totals.
"At that time, I had about 81,000," he said. "I decided that 100,000 miles was reachable, and I made that my next goal."
He rolled past the epic milestone July 21, on a routine solo ride near his South Hills home. He said he felt a sense of achievement, but he added that he now has no specific goal to pursue.
"I guess now the goal is to keep healthy and get plenty of exercise," he said.
The health part shouldn't be a problem. Teaney's resting pulse rate is a turtle-slow 50 beats a minute, a telltale sign of a high fitness level.
"People ask me about riding at this age," he said. "I tell them, 'we don't quit exercising when we get old; we get old when we quit exercising.'"