If you ride a bike, you probably have a bucket list. I have a bucket. It sits out on the balcony and I use it to water my scraggly pine tree, which, by the way, survived fine for ten days without being tended to.
I also have a list. It is super long and it contains all of the things I have to do in order to get through the work day.
But a bucket list? I don’t really have one of those. There’s nothing I want to do, no places I want to go, no trinkets I want to decorate my walls with before I die. If I did have a bucket list, though, it would look like this:
- Roast my own coffee beans in a frying pan.
- Win Telo.
- Have a grandkid.
- Ride my bike a bunch.
- Quit drinking.
Except for “win Telo,” my bucket list is pretty much ticked off. And the good thing about the list is that it involves things that are repetitive. As soon as I tick off “roast coffee beans” it’s time to roast some more. And of course I get to quit drinking every single day, actually, it’s more like every hour or so. “Hey! Time to not have a beer again!”
But coming back from Mallorca I realized that there are some big ticket items in life that if you can swing, well, they’re worth teeing up for. And the reason I say that is because after hanging around with a bunch of sweaty, testosterone-depleted gentlemen with oozy prostates one thing became super clear: We are about ten years older than we were last year.
Partly that’s because of the Newton-Einstein Principle of Prostates, which basically says that the older you get the faster everything happens, and not in a good way. And partly it’s because you can experience, deep down in your bones, how difficult it is and how hard it is on your body to ride “sportily” for eight or nine days in a row.
By the way, “sporty” is my new favorite word. I learned it from Jimmy Kight. We were hammering into Selva and had been grinding it out into a headwind, one of those winds that blow so hard you feel like you’re pushing a piano with your pinkie. Then we hit the rollers and the piano became a medium-sized bank vault. Made of concrete.
At the end we sat up and waited for the completely dispirited Norwaylanders and for Russell, whose derailleur had fallen off along with his interval training. “Nice riding,” Jimmy said, as we both barfed hard. “That was sporty.”
So the new word for the year is “sporty.”
But anyway, sporty riding for old people emphasizes how un-sporty you really are, and then it reminds you how few years, months, weeks, days, hours, minutes, and seconds you have before you take that last big pedal off into the gaping black hole of nothingness. I can’t advise you to quit your job, buy a fancy bike travel case, and book a trip to your dream cycling destination.
But I can tell you that if you put in for some deserved vacation time, go with a cardboard box, and go hang out for a few days in Spain, you’ll be glad you did.
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