Coming of age !

Most kids learn to pedal around the age of 2 and many are off stabilizers by the age of 4 or 5. From then on most people throughout the world are able to cycle a bike. Kids love to cycle and the freedom and independence that it offers them. They always seem to be smiling when riding their bikes.

As teenagers people either really take to the bike and get involved in BMX, Mountain biking or road riding or the bike is cast aside. At this age the world is your oyster and everyone with a mountain bike is going to be a World Champion whilst all road racers will be winning Tour de France stages within 5 to 6  years.

As the early and mid twenties approach cycling careers are either flourishing or beer, women and engines have taken over. But the bike is always there in the shed , just in case.

The thirties arrive and life settles down. Jobs, mortgages and babies have taken over. The dream of winning a stage in the Tour is now looked on as just that, a dream, although there still remains the hope of a miracle comeback which is filed in the same department as the lotto win.

The forties see a raising of the forehead and a widening of the midsection. A small event like being reminded that Mary from ‘Anything goes’ is now almost a pensioner or a visit to a doctor leads to a realisation that you are no longer 18 and capable of doing just about anything , which causes a revolt of wanting to prove to yourself that you can indeed do what you used to be able to do. The bike is taken out of the shed, dusted down and promptly returned to the shed whilst a new machine is purchased on the Bike to Work scheme (or Back to work scheme as many insist on calling it). You head back out with a group and now feel like a teenager all over again.

The fifties, sixties and seventies all mesh together. Whilst you are still aging off the bike you seem to stay the same on it. Overnight expeditions with the lads to Sportif leisure cycles all over the country make you feel like a teenager and a few races thrown in between seem to reignite that Tour stage win dream all over again. You might even buy a lotto ticket on the way home so that you could buy that Pinarello Dogma if you won.

The eighties come along and you are still on the bike. Slower now but still going out regularly. Aches and pains are now a constant companion but the bike is a source of relief .

The nineties. This is where it gets interesting. Pretty much every day as I look out the workshop window I see a cyclist on a silver Giant Expression ride past spinning a nice low gear at about 90 rpm. The Brancale helmet which was popular when Kelly was with PDM on his head along with the Sean Kelly Tour green bag on his back would catch the eye of many a cyclist but the fact that he is now 96 years old is even more attention grabbing. John once told me that he has rheumatoid arthritis and if he was not on the bike he would be in a wheelchair.

Recently this 100 year old set a new hour record ;

In Carlow town, just like many other towns throughout Ireland there is a group of cyclists that meet and train each day. The ages of the core group in Carlow are 39, 59, 69 and 79 . Most days they do a 60k spin with and average speed of 26 kph and a coffee stop in Borris at the half way point of the spin. They are so consistent that locals say that they could set their watches by the arrival of the colourful cyclists who arrive for coffee at the same time each day.

The steady consistent miles are great for staying fit but they have also made a difference when it comes to racing. The youngest of the group, Ken who just became a Vet this year has noticed a marked improvement in his performance since he began going out with the group. The consistency of the steady spin each day paid dividends recently when he finished second in a bunch sprint, a result he would never have expected before.

Not alone has his cycling benefited but as a recent member of the fatherhood club he has been amazed by the amount of helpful tips the life experience of his older training colleagues has had to offer. It is always amazing the variety of subject matter that will be covered when a group of cyclists get together out on the road and this had been an added bonus to top off the fitness benefits of this group spin.

Cycling is one of the few sports that 3 generations of a family can participate in together, and remember – No one ever grows old on a bike !


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