“Some of the things you do for fun seem strange to everyone else,” said Tonya, my sister-in-law, at the Sunday family lunch. She was referring to how I like to ride my bike for hours, or run marathons, or backpack or hike mountains.
“Well maybe,” I said. “But I’ve heard that some people think yard work is fun.” Tonya was planning to spend the afternoon working on her landscaping, taking advantage of a cool and overcast summer day.
The day before, Saturday morning, I left on my bike unsure how far I’d ride. It was liberating not to have a training goal but to simply ride as long and as far I felt.
I’ve learned when doing uncertain rides like this to postpone my decisions whether to continue until the last moment. I have specific decision points along my route that are good places to turn around if necessary.
Each lap at Green Tree is a decision point, for example, as is the Kent Kwik at Holiday Hill Road and County Road 60. If I keep riding past those I’m mentally committed to West Grassland. My next decision point is Highway 158, and if I keep going from there I’m committing myself to at least one lap around the Champion neighborhood.
By the time I got home Saturday morning I’d ridden 60 miles. It was fun, a good day, and I came home with lots of good ideas contemplated during the ride.
I’ve been riding well since returning from my shortened hike on the Colorado Trail. I’m averaging 1-2 mph faster on every ride. The remarkable thing about that is it’s happened in spite of a dull yet persistent pain in my right foot that followed me down from the mountain. It’s probably a recurrence of a problem I had several years ago which resulted in surgery, diagnosed as “Overlapping HT Deformity” and “Hallux Limitus”. I’m afraid I may have more surgery in my future. Now that my knees are doing so well, my foot is the next weakest link.
I was recently telling Bill Britt, my favorite massage therapist, muscle repair artist, and injury preventer, about how the slightest bump can put brown bruises on my skin and I quickly start bleeding. Bill was having the same problem. It was a recent phenomenon for both of us, a product of aging.
For example, I was in Best Buy entering the checkout line when a blue-shirted employee asked if I was OK. She was pointing at my arm, specifically the trail of blood running across my skin. I had apparently bumped my arm on one of the display racks as I circled the checkout maze and it was bleeding. The bump was so slight I didn’t notice, but now I was bleeding. This sort of thing is becoming way too common.
Bill and I wondered if all the fanny packs worn by men in the retirement village where my dad used to live were full of body repair kits: Band Aids, Liquid Skin, Super Glue, Ace Bandages, Advil, Absorbent towels, etc. Was that going to be our future?
I don’t resent the effects of aging. I just want to know how to deal with them, how to do work-arounds, lifehacks, how to compensate and keep moving. I suppose I could stay home and sit in my recliner where it’s safe, but as Jeff Grigsby once reminded me, “That’s not a world you and I want to live in.”
Maybe I should consider each of those physical issues – new knees, weird feet, and tender skin – as decision points, convenient places to decide whether to keep going on turn around and head home.
My decision is an easy one: keep going as long as its fun, even if it seems strange to everyone else. After all, moving down the road is better than yard work. At any age.
“I run in the path of Your commands, for You have set my heart free.” Psalm 119:32
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