The beauty of mountain biking is that it crosses so many borders to connect generations and people from different walks of life. It was never more evident than on today's ride. What began as a celebratory ride for the birthdays of a few friends grew into a poignant reminder of why we ride. We may be getting older, but riding keeps us young in heart and attitude. Riding makes you feel like a kid again!
Whether you're 40, 50, 60, or 6, you can have fun riding your bike. A significant number of us seem to be hitting the halfway mark of our lives. Perhaps that is why the birthday ride is all the more important. Just because we're getting older doesn't mean we have to stop having fun and doing the things we love. When our groups get together to ride it is not just about the riding. It's more than that. It's about laughing and having fun and enjoying being able to move! Our bodies may be getting a little creakier, but in our minds we're still kids at heart that just want to have fun in the woods on our bikes.
I see more youngsters now on bikes than ever before and this brings a huge smile to my heart. How cool to have their passion nurtured and their talents molded in a positive and creative way. Anytime you go to Blankets Creek trail system you will see a slew of young kids. The future of mountain biking is definitely secure, at least in Georgia.
Some of our roadie friends have been training their kids on the road bikes for years and I've always admired them for the time and dedication it must take. Imagine my surprise this morning when I saw them on the dirt trails! At first it didn't compute in my mind that it could be them since I am only used to seeing them on road rides.
MarkO and Big Mike had a whole brood of kids ranging from what looked to be 6 years old to 14 all ready to tear it up on the trails. These kids weren't just playing around in the dirt, but were hitting the big trails and giving it all they had. They did what we did, rocks, roots, climbs, and downhills all with gusto and can do attitudes.
Watching Mark and Mike get in the mix and ride with the kids impressed the socks off me. This was Mark's 2nd time on dirt so he was having to learn along with the kids. Picking up mountain biking as an adult is not the easiest thing to do, and I admire his dedication to engage in his children's lives in such a manner.
Big Mike had a little tyke that we guessed to be 6 yrs old and that little fella wouldn't give up. Mike didn't give him any handouts either and urged him anytime he fell down, "get back up, hurry up, we're not stopping." We were all inspired to see this little guy giving it all he had to pedal up the climbs. I'm not sure who was more psyched, him or us.
Mark's girl, Annalise, looked every bit the pro in the Fulton Flyers team kit. It made me want to join the team so I could get a jersey too. When I see her on the road she has a fearless attitude. She had that same no-fear face here on the trails. If she takes to mountain biking, she's going to be a force with which to contend!
I absolutely love our mixed group of cycling friends. Here on a birthday ride for a 39 and 50 year old we also had a high schooler with us, Connor. Connor is a regular on our groups rides, as is his Dad, Mark, and he fits in with our crazy crew perfectly. I often forget Connor is a teenager, and I think it's cool that he blends right in with this bunch of ole' geezers. There's not many teenagers with which I can have a coherent conversation. Connor breaks the typical stereotype. He's great fun to ride with and it is always a pleasure to be with him. We share the same passion for mountain biking, it's the great equalizer. The list of women that celebrate their 50th birthday by mountain biking is probably pretty slim. I am honored to ride with women that choose that lifestyle! I'm guessing Robin will have a hard time convincing people she is 50, especially if she uses this for her picture ID. With that grin on her face she looks every bit the kid (even though she has 2 kids of her own). Paula celebrated her 39th on New Year's Day! A mother of five, yep, 5, and still ripping up the trails on a singlespeed no less. Way cool.The aches and pains linger a little longer now than 20 years ago. We don't hop back up as quickly from the occasional crash, but dang it, we're riding our bikes! We're not going to stop until, well, we're not going to stop. We're not too old to ride and those kids aren't too young to start. Just ride! You might just break out in a smile and feel like a kid again.