Ridiculously Optimistic Old Lady Cyclist

O.k., so I exaggerate a bit. After all, I am only turning sixty. It’s just that I never imagined myself training to bike for a week across the state of Iowa (Ragbrai). I never thought of myself as athletic (that’s still open to discussion). And, most of all, I never thought it would feel sooooo good.

Aging is truly not for sissies and if you’re aging, you know what I mean. The first shocker was menopause, of course. I had no idea I would be so completely wiped out by hotflashes. “Power surges” just did not say it for me, more like God getting even with His mom by torching her hourly. That was followed, of course by body breakdowns including osteo-arthritis. Arthritis! Me! You had to be kidding.

When I finally had to throw in the racket and stop playing “senior tennis” cause my knees were making too much noise, I didn’t know what would come next to keep me happy and alive. I even questioned the point of keeping happy and alive. Fortunately, Minneapolis is number one in the world of cities set up for bikers and the bike trails were calling me, loud and clear. I spent last summer ecstatically pushing through and around hills, parks, lakes, and ponds on my two-wheeler.

Then I turned 59 and with that, realized that 60 would follow. How to celebrate? (Should I celebrate? Why celebrate?) Then this thought, the best of all, celebrate with a challenge to myself and the negative thoughts that insisted that I would be using a cane within two to three years (following knee surgery, I figured). Voila! Ragbrai, the cross Iowa bike ride in July that just happened to be passing through Carroll, the town of my birth, and Iowa City (more specifically, Coralville) the current home of my soon to turn 90 year old mother (her August birthday precedes mine by a month). I named my team “Marvel’s Marvels” after my Mom. (She’s the Marvel. We, her seven children, are simply marvelous because of her).

I have never shirked from my duty to turn social norms on their head when the opportunity arises, and here was another perfect opportunity. However, I have discovered (no surprise) that I am part of a herd of baby boomers committed to active aging, but that’s o.k. I really don’t have to be the first and certainly not the only. I’m not in a race. Not my style. More, I’m in a community celebrating, what else, community. Everyone welcomed!

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week one of training for Iowa bike ride

Yahoo. Fifty miles total. Tomorrow I bike twenty miles and then two days of ten and one more day of twenty. Will see how that goes. Turning sixty in September and I figured the July bike ride across Iowa (including Carroll, Iowa, my birthplace) would be an appropriately challenging way to celebrate embarking into a new decade. As my husband commented when he saw me pull up on my steed after today’s ride, “You’ve never done anything like this before.” He’s talking physically, of course. Sixty years of living takes a zillion times more stamina, doesn’t it????

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