Getting old

by Al Pastor

[Swimmer Diana Nyad’s recent triumph reminded me of Paul Fournel’s thoughts from the wonderful Need for the Bike. p.s. Jelly fish stings?! On the tongue?! Ugh.]

Photo courtesy of the Stark Center for Physical Culture (

Photo courtesy of the Stark Center for Physical Culture (

Getting old with the bike means gaining endurance and wisdom. It’s having the ability to go further more calmly, to train better, and, in general, to get more out of it.

But aging also means going slower, “lunging’ less quickly, soon not lunging at all, and soon not caring that somebody else lunges right in front of you.

There’s ruin in the cyclist’s aging as well. I rode the fastest between the ages of twenty-eight and thirty-two. Since then, I’ve been on the decline – and it’s not going to get any better.

This decline, which happens in stages, is tolerable. You can manage it in the fatalistic mode, you manage it in friendship – aging in the peleton. The only indispensable things are a real love of the bike and a reasonable serenity.

The big existential advantage of this aging of the thighs is that it always precedes the overall, inevitable aging of the cyclist himself.

Therefore I’ve entrusted my bike with the mission of notifying me of my aging. It’s doing nicely.