Keep it up, 'senior cyclists'!
I was just looking at at photograph of my late great uncle Hugh standing next to his 'sit-up-and-beg' bicycle. He must have been in his late 70s/early 80s when that photograph was taken. I certainly intend to cycle until I am 80, if possible.
A couple of years ago, I rode a century ride in support of a UK cancer support charity. It took me deep into the Cotswolds, a scenic, hilly part of England. I was doing a rapid descent off Edge Hill (curiously enough, where the Battle of Edge Hill took place!) when I spotted another cyclist ahead of me. The route took a sharp right off the descent on the way down and I could tell by his line that he was going to miss the turn so I accelerated up behind him and shouted "Right turn here!".
He overshot the turn, but stopped further down the hill and started climbing back up so I waited for him. He thanked me for stopping him going all the way to the bottom of the hill and we decided to ride along together. I'd shown him the GPS unit on my bike and he was very interested in how it worked and wanted to find out more.
I thought he looked about 65 so I was surprised when he told me he had just celebrated his 70th birthday. He had a group of mates the same age as him with whom he did regular club rides. Now get this - one of the club riders was 85 years old! Apparently, every Wednesday the old guys got together and rode 25 miles out to a cyclists' cafe for coffee and cake. They'd stop an hour or so, having a chat about old times, then they'd ride home again. The 85 year old never missed that ride - it was the highlight of his week. If I can still be doing that when I'm 85, I'll be a happy man!
Here's a poignant, but inspiring story ...
I read about an old cyclist being found seriously injured in the road near Bolton Abbey in Wharefdale, a very scenic area about 25 miles from here. He had been taken to hospital where he died shortly afterwards. Police were appealing for witnesses. Original BBC report
The local cycling community were up in arms about it. How could anybody knock an old guy off his bike and just leave him to die in the road?
I suggested that if that was what had happened, then yes, the driver should be spend years in prison for doing that, but hang on, the police didn't know what had happened. Perhaps we should reserve judgement until the facts emerged?
I wanted to know what had happened so I monitored the local media. A month or so later, I found the result of the inquest on a local newspaper's website
A man who mixed with the stars and ran nightclubs for decades died of a massive stroke as he cycled in the Dales.
Leeds hairdresser Howard Silverman, a close friend for more than half-a-century, said:
“I have been a friend of his for 50 years and I don’t know of any relatives.”
Mr Peace, who lived in Bramhope, was 78 when he fell from his bike as he cycled on the B6160 Bolton Abbey to Burnsall road two weeks ago. He died in the Leeds General Infirmary the following day.
Mr Silverman said: “We thought at first he had had an accident, but by talking to the coroner we found out he was cycling and had had a massive stroke. That’s what killed him.”
He said his friend was a very fit man, and a lifelong cyclist, who used to joke when his time was up he wanted to simply fall off his bike in the Dales.
“It is incredible he got what he wanted,” he said.
“It’s very strange but only recently we were up on the same road where it happened and he said if he had to die he could not think of a better place.”
I'd prefer to get home from a ride and die peacefully in my bed aged 85, but dying at 78 doing something you love isn't the worst way to go.