Cycling Wednesdays: #8 Aging…and bike racing…

The good news is you are a “masters cyclist.”  Sounds good, doesn’t it?  Being known as a master sounds like a winner.

Only in athletics, masters is not equal to a master.

In athletics, “masters” means you are both an amateur, and old.  How old?  It varies, but masters are definitely not young.

Lance would be a master, but definitely is not welcome in a masters race.

You are a “masters cyclist.”  You have a job, children, a wife, a home and probably a mini-van, but this doesn’t mean you like golf, or yard-work.  You like weekends to have some tension.  Thirty minutes on the stepper in the health-club just does not cut it.  There has to be a number on your back, barriers on the road (or dirt), and other lawyers, dentists, teachers and fire-fighters (hopefully not too many fire-fighters as they are strong) to duel with for the 50 dollar grand prize.  This is masters bike racing.  Professionals during the week, pilots of 5000 dollar carbon-fibre street machines on the weekends.

From: Brandon ******, the race promoter, it said in the inbox.  (I have yet to meet a middle-aged man with the youthful name Brandon, so it stands to reason he is not a masters cyclist.)  Brandon says his bike race is great.  You should come race, he suggests with his list of event features.

It is a given that hosting a bike race is very hard work.  It is both mentally and physically taxing, and like hosting a party, it is important that people show up.  You give of your time, talent and treasure and in return one hopes for validation: large fields, an exciting race and positive feedback. “That was a great event,” is what all hosts hope to hear.

However, in the enticing of competitors to his event, Brandon has neglected an important cohort of bike racers. The “masters racers” have been shunned.

Sure, this race has a “masters” category–but with a laughably youthful thirty-plus age cut-off. Brandon must not know the difference a decade makes in the middle years of human life forms.

In cycling, your racing age is equivalent to your age on the last day of the calendar year Hence, a 47 year-old blogger-cardiologist could be in the same race as a 29 year old school teacher on summer vacation. Since the grand prize for triumph in said masters race is 50 dollars cash, the stakes are high, and this simply isn’t fair.

Not fair?

First, if I’m old enough to be your father, it isn’t fair that I have to race you.  Second, I can barely remember being twenty-nine.  It was a long time ago, and without any ailments of note, twenty-nine year olds rarely have reference points of memory. (Like that was the year of my back surgery or atrial fibrillation episode.)  Third, twenty-nine year olds don’t have back pain, they can turn their necks easily any which way they please, and after moving from an idle position they don’t have audible creaks.

Twenty-nine year olds can drink red-bull with cardiac impunity, they can stay up late at night without sequelae, and few have had the life-force-eradicating experience of comparison shopping for a mini-van.

I know, unsolicited advice is always self-serving. And in the case of an old-a**, whiny bike racer, it surely is.

So I say, as a doctor, to all promotors of local sporting events, forty is old. Give us our own race against other humans with the same ailments of the mind, body and soul.  Do not be misled by the few in number quadgenerian (and pentagerian) former professional athletes (or past olympians) who refuse to retire from the show.  As we say in science, these are not a representative sample in which to base a conclusion.

Most of us mini-van driving middle-aged boys with jobs have long since quit thinking that we can hit from the back tees.

JMM

4 comments

  1. Way to rage against the dying of the light dr. Well said, because after forty I've lost the desire to race against or tolerate those under forty and over 20. We recently had a new rider join our furly rides, hes fast and a nice guy but I've had my drivers license longer than he's trod the earth. I dont want to be in the same race category wether that makes me a whiny ass or not.

  2. Agreed…… Although I have seen some masters racers that can trounce the best of the local twenty something crowd and then some. I have, on occasion even done some trouncing myself. Nevertheless,life on the bike is good.

  3. Careful, it's not just middle-aged boys that don't want to hang up their helmets. I ride with a pack of Bike Moms and we are very competitive!

  4. Awww, Segal I'm sad you don't want to race. I'm only 10 years from Masters eligibility 😉

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