I’m a member of a Facebook group for cyclists over 50. There’s a great group ethos of supporting one another however far and fast we’re riding. We even seem to have, knock on wood, laid the e-bike controversy to rest. It’s also the most geographically and racially diverse cycling group I’ve ever been a member of. 10/10 if you’re a cyclist over 50, who uses Facebook, recommend.
One of the common things that members post are photos of birthday rides. I love them. But what I don’t love are all the people who seem very insecure about what counts. Like, someone says “I’m 68 and I want to do a birthday ride. Is it okay if I do in kilometers or does it have to be in miles?”
Just today someone asked if it still counted if they did their birthday ride on a trainer because it’s cold and snowy in their part of the world on their birthday.
Can we scream together?
In response someone recently posted this lovely list of ‘birthday bike ride rules.’
Rules for birthday ride
You must do your age or not.
You must do it on your birthday or not.
You must do it in one continuous ride or not.
You can’t substitute kilometers for miles or not.
These rules must be strictly adhered to or not.
Next month I’m turning 57 and likely I’ll gather up a group of friends and ride 57 km but I also hope that if I make it to 80 while still riding bikes I won’t feel pressured to ride 80 km. Any distance, at any age, is a celebration of life and movement.
Last year as my 54th birthday approached with no prospect of celebrating normally due to the covid lockdown, I decided to undertake a serious (for me) physical challenge instead. I’d recently watched a video where a guy did a marathon over the course of 24 hours by starting each hour with a 1.8 km run, then carrying on with his day until the next hour. That seemed like an attainable challenge except for the part about running and the part about 24 hours. On my daily walks I mulled over different possibilities for doing something pretty big but also doable at home or nearby and preferably not in the dark. It was my birthday celebration, after all.
I settled on doing a half ironman distance rowing/cycling/walking day. A few days before as I started to have niggling thoughts that this might not be the most fun way to spend a birthday, I posted about it in my women’s cycling club’s facebook group figuring that telling a bunch of people what I was planning would be insurance against wimping out at the last minute. I hadn’t reckoned on receiving a couple of dozen messages of support, though in hindsight, that’s exactly what I should have expected, since it is a very supportive and encouraging bunch.
The day went off without a hitch. I rowed 8 km, Zwifted for 90 km, and walked 21.1 km up and down my country road, stopping only for snacks, second breakfast, lunch, pee breaks, more snacks and clothing changes. There are definite advantages to creating your own home-based event and being the only participant. My reward was a flood of post-exercise endorphins, a huge appetite for birthday cake, and a massive sense of satisfaction.
A couple of weeks ago I turned 55 and to celebrate I did a made-up row/cycle duathlon consisting of 10 km of indoor rowing followed by 150 km of Zwifting, topped off with 30 more km of indoor rowing. This was a considerably bigger challenge (I had never even spent more than about 90 minutes on the rower) but I had more time to prepare for it since I decided to do it back in January when I was setting goals for the year.
I don’t need to remind anyone that this year has been a lot. To add to the general misery, the menopause symptoms I’d convinced myself I’d somehow miraculously avoided hit me with a vengeance. All of a sudden this winter I felt every day of my age and my confidence took a hit. Fuelled by stubbornness and meno-rage, I persisted with my plan, even though it was seeming more and more like a really foolish idea.
I’m pleased to say I completed the whole thing in less time than I predicted (and completing was always the only goal), and because I was unable to find any record of anyone else ever doing the same thing, it occurred to me that I am probably the current world record holder for this event. (9 hours 48 minutes in case anyone is interested in challenging it.) And I can confirm that it was, indeed, a foolish idea. Except that it was also one of the best things I’ve done lately, so I’ll probably do it again.
Even though my Oura ring is still grumbling at me about recovery, I’m already thinking about a bigger and better challenge for next year. I don’t know how long I can keep raising the bar, but I know that completing a significant physical challenge is a splendid way to start a year. The satisfaction of finishing something large and silly like that is a pretty remarkable antidote to the angst of being another year older.
Bev has recently discovered the joy and pain of doing hard things for fun but mostly likes doing easy things. Cycling is currently her main obsession.She lives in Almonte, Ontario where the road and gravel riding is superb.
Yes, this Sunday night, just home from the farm and a long drive from Prince Edward County, here I am just getting off my bike having ridden an oddball number of kilometres on the trainer. Why, you ask? It’s a reasonable question.
Again, weekly distance goals on Zwift that were almost, but not quite, met. My goal is to ride 100 km a week on Zwift. This week, I had done almost that (94 km or so) plus 50 km in Prince Edward County, the last of my summer charity rides, Pedal for Parkinson’s. But those were outdoor kms and they don’t count on Zwift.
You can sponsor me here by the way. I’m still a few hundred dollars away from my goal.
But likely the weekly Zwift distance goal wouldn’t have gotten me back on the bike.
The end of August is birthday season around here. Tomorrow, August 31, I’m turning 56 and today, August 30, the blog turns 8.
It’s no surprise, of course, that the blog and I have our birthdays so close together. I started the blog with Tracy as part of our fittest by fifty challenge, two years in advance of our 50th birthday. You can read the whole story here.
Since then we’ve grown and changed. 4285 posts under the bridge. This is my 2180th post! Tracy has left the group of blog regulars and others have joined. We’re now a group of a dozen bloggers sharing our voices as they connect to themes of feminism and fitness.
We’ve also hosted more than 200 guests and if you’ve ever thought about joining us and guest posting you can read about how that works here.
Occasionally I start to wonder if we’re needed. And then I see things like this!
Today is her birthday. She’s turning 28 years old. That strikes me as unbelievable. Some days I still feel like I’m 28! I’ve written lots about making fitness part of my family life and Mallory is a big part of that story.
She does some things that have never really been part of my life–swimming and rock climbing, for example. Together we both love camping and cycling. She’s also an intrepid outdoor adventurer, having done lots of solo tramping, in New Zealand, and winter camping, here in Ontario. I’m in awe of those things.
Thanks to covid-19 we’re not together physically for her birthday. And we aren’t camping or biking or rock climbing or swimming. Instead, we are physically distancing. We’re doing our part to flatten the curve. We’ll save the real party for later but today we’ll chat on Zoom, and have cakes in separate houses and separate cities.
I’ve been annoyed lately at the all people posting about how what we are being asked to do is simple and easy, just stay home and watch Netflix. But being apart from your children–even if they’re adults–on birthdays isn’t easy. Even a few weeks ago we were all talking about going away together for the weekend.
These are pictures from just a few of our adventures together. There will be more.