Getting old – and forgetful

I’ve been having a bit of a hard time dealing with my waning abilities. I am reminded of this every week – I go out for solo rides during the day in the early part of the week and feel good, riding what seems to be a zippy pace, then attempt the Marquette hammerfest on Thursdays and find myself watching most of the group ride away on one of the Melrose climbs. I still have plenty of power on the flats and rollers – I’ve managed to catch back onto the lead group a couple of times when I had another person to rotate with, and once I even managed to stay away from a small group that was trying to catch me. It’s just the climbs – when the road hits 10% my heart feels like its going to explode and all I can do is back off the cadence and watch ’em ride away.

It sucks – in the ride’s previous incarnation I went from a rank beginner, looking to go a little further each week before getting dropped, to being a routine member of the lead group. I was never a natural climber, but I turned myself into a pretty decent one for awhile there.  Last year it just started to feel different – I went through the whole training and racing rigamorole, but my fitness never seemed to come on like it did in years before.  Now, I don’t think I could race even if I wanted to – I just can’t take any real climb at speed. I’m still putting in the miles and haven’t gained any weight (well, maybe a couple of pounds) – the only thing that’s different is I’m older. Oh well, the Marquette ride is still a great time, and I’ll just have to learn to deal with being one of the older and slower riders there.

Climbing slower is not the only indication I might be getting older. Today I went out for a ride after watching Team Columbia suffer a bit of a meltdown in today’s TdF stage, with Hincapie blaming Astana for his failure to get the yellow jersey and a stupid move by Cavendish maybe costing him the green jersey for good. The unseasonably cool temps had me feeling quite chipper, and I found myself thoroughly enjoying my ride and pushing a zippy pace along Wildhorse Creek and through Chesterfield Valley. As I was passing one of those shiny new buildings with the mirrored glass, I glaced over and saw in my reflection that something was missing – my helmet! Cripes – I have never forgotten to put on my helmet before, much less ridden 10 miles before realizing it. I freaked a little bit, having just ridden with fairly heavy traffic all along Olive St. and Chesterfield Airport Rd. I wasn’t gonna turn around a go back by that point, but I was nervous about riding with traffic and a little self conscious about the bad image I was portraying (I was in full Euro-pro regalia, down to the white Sidis and backwards CSC cap). I figured the best thing to do would be to get onto a route with no cars, so I cut down Long and Kehrs Mill Rds and picked up the Marquette route on Shepard. Once on the Marquette route I forgot about my lack of helmet and started enjoying myself again. I took the Marquette route all the way to the bottom of the Ossenfort descent before turning up Hardt to my house. I felt good on the route – even reasonable on the Melrose climbs, although I did encounter another cyclist on Pond Rd.  I’m sure he was thinking, “What a poseur dick!” (it’s what I would have thought) so I just muttered, “What’s up” as I went by and hoped he didn’t try to strike up a conversation so that I would have to explain that I really did forget my helmet – honest! When I rolled into my driveway, the computer read 35+ miles and 1750′ total ascent – stats almost identical to the actual Marquette ride. The computer also read 19.7 mph avg – not too shabby for going solo. Now, if I could only do that on Thursday!

Copyright © Ted C. MacRae 2009

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About Ted C. MacRae

Ted C. MacRae is a research entomologist by vocation and beetle taxonomist by avocation. Areas of expertise in the latter include worldwide jewel beetles (Buprestidae) and North American longhorned beetles (Cerambycidae). More recent work has focused on North American tiger beetles (Cicindelidae) and their distribution, ecology, and conservation.
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4 Responses to Getting old – and forgetful

  1. Sam says:

    Vertical insanity I say! I never could get up hills in the first place, but these days I take a little pride in making them wait at the top for me 🙂

    Now that someone else admitted it, I’ll own up – I forgot my helmet the other day too. I was out on the fixie riding through town so I was definitely putting on the poser style. This getting old business sucks ass…

    • Problem is, on the Marquette ride nobody waits – I end up just doing the second half of the ride by myself. Of course, they would have to wait for me in the parking post-ride, since I had the cooler – until one of them started bringing a cooler 🙂

  2. Dr. T says:

    I once drove all the way to TNW’s from Creve Coeur through rush hour traffic only to find I had forgotten my shoes! I was so pissed I think I would have done the race in my sneakers if it wouldn’t have been dangerous for the others. I think we all can allow ourselves a few brain farts from time to time and not fear that we are slipping into blissful dementia.

    • I once drove out to do the Millstadt biathlon and left my gym bag in the kitchen – no clothes or running shoes! I got them to ask over the speaker if anyone had an extra pair of running shoes and bought a triathlon outfit from the Big Shark tent. I was so self-conscious on the run in that skimpy outfit, but then I got on the bike and rocked the day’s top bike split.

      I still felt like a moron!

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