One day I was doing a buckle when a friend strolled in. He is a guy who travels quiet a distance and we always have a good ould chat. As we looked at the wheel spinning in the jig I asked how long he was on the bike now and was surprised by the answer ,
‘I didn’t start cycling until I was 55 and it’s the one big regret I have ‘ he said.
‘But sure isn’t it great you started no matter what age ‘ I said .
‘It is’ he said ‘ but cycling changed my life and I would love to have had that experience earlier ‘
Now I was curious and pushed on for a bit of detail on that explanation.
‘Well’ he said ‘before I started cycling my life as a farmer was much tougher. I had a lot of hardship and didn’t enjoy my work. But cycling changed all that because it taught me the importance of perspective. Going up a hill on a bike can be one of two things. It’s either hardship or a challenge. If you look on it as hardship you suffer physically and mentally and are still bothered about how hard that hill was even when you are rolling down the other side. However, if you look on it as a challenge you suffer just as much physically if not more on the way up but, when you get to the top there’s a great sense of satisfaction and you want to really push on down the other side to keep the momentum going.
I used to dread going out to milk the cows or getting up in the middle of the night to look after a cow calving. Now I enjoy the challenge of trying to get more milk from the cows in less time and jump up out of bed when a cow is calving and return with a great sense of satisfaction when everything goes smoothly, or when I handle a difficult one in the best way I possibly can.
Going downhill fast on a bike you have to look way up ahead, not down at the ground in front. That taught me to see the bigger picture. I used to get caught up worrying about small things but now I look down the road and see the bigger picture and don’t get stressed out so much.
Riding the Ring of Kerry last year I was cooked coming out of Kenmare and was struggling to just turn the pedals when a guy who usually is much slower passed me on the climb. I got thick and dug in to pass him again and then surprised myself by managing to keep the much faster pace up all the way to the top. Things like that show me that I can do a lot more than I think I can if I just push myself to do it.
I used to worry about what people thought before I started cycling, but for a man of my age to put on a pair of black tights and a bright orange lycra jersey I can’t be worried too much about what people think anymore .
My neighbour used to give me a right slagging when I started cycling about the get up. He became seriously ill last year and I stopped one day coming back from a spin when I saw him standing at the gate on crutches. He is now in a wheelchair, but that day he looked at me on the bike and said ‘remember how I used to slag you about the get up of you in all the fancy gear on the bicycle, well I’d give my whole farm to be able to go off for a spin on a bicycle now ! ‘
The bike has greatly improved my health, mentally and physically, has given me some great friends and has given me a common activity that I can do with my grown up children. ‘
They say that you can’t put an old head on young shoulders, but maybe if younger bike riders listened to older ones everyone could benefit from the wisdom of the aged !