According to a common, antiquated social standard, I am teetering on the slippery gray slope of being (gasp!) middle aged. As a semi-former pro libertine and hipster, I’m certainly not the kind of person who should be considering my yonder years with much regard.
The term “middle-aged” is perhaps only annoying to those like me, who find it thrust upon them. I awoke yesterday, six years old, memorizing the exact stream of obscenities unleashed by my father when he realized I had swum 400 feet from the shore to the sand bar off Pensacola Beach, Fla. Today, I am uttering the same string of swears upon realizing that, yes, I am getting long in the tooth.
Okay, I admit it: I am a graying, well-worn designer and advertiser, perhaps only now borrowing time ‘til the inevitable days I trade Banana Republic and Vans chic for the easy comfort of Sansabelt jumpsuits and Rockport loafers. (Truth be told, I already own three Sansabelt jumpsuits I wear to amuse myself and embarrass my wife, but by no means do I wear them un-ironically. I’m not ready to walk that dark path. I’m too young!)
I believe every day after birth you are middle-aged, because each day of life is a gift that can be taken away abruptly. I am inclined to believe that viewing 40 in the sights at close range makes me grossly fortunate to have had so many days, years and decades to enjoy my life
Two years ago, I had my first child—Soren, a sweet, curious boy with a beautiful spirit. The very first time in my life I felt “old” was holding him in my arms when he was born. I swooned with joy, yet felt immediate thoughts of envy that he would soon be amazed by new things and have years of play and trial and error that would build him into whatever he would become as an adult.
Last month on vacation with my wife’s family in Cape Cod, my father-in-law and I had a remarkable conversation about getting older. We shared common stories of the desire for longevity for one’s child, spouse and oneself. He is a retired psychologist and psych professor, so I find the conversations with him not just familial camaraderie, but therapy by proxy. He told me of a cycling race in which he rode the previous year, the STP—a 200-mile, 2-day race from Portland to Seattle—and how it changed his feelings about aging and invigorated his already established love of an active life. He wrote a humorous blog about it.
Something sparked in me at that moment. I realized I, too, wanted to not just do this, but to adopt it from here on out as my own brand of what being middle-aged means. I will be a cyclist and father, with only a touch of libertine to keep life interesting. I love cycling. Something I realized several years ago is that my body really likes cycling. I love conquering hills, speeding down the declines and sprinting on flats and rollers. Years before I tried my best to make myself like running, but it never stuck.
Back in Atlanta, I decided that I would also begin training for the STP the following year. I would begin riding in earnest my sole bike, a mountain bike, with a goal to earn the right to buy a road bike in Spring 2011 if I stuck with my developing regimen. I’d never before used a “carrot on a stick” motivation to work toward better health, but this offered the perfect opportunity to do just that. Conquer and savor a major life accomplishment and get a sweet new bike! For me, that is a major incentive to train every day.
I’ve been in routines before and know that pain, aches and strains are a part of getting started, but I pedal forward every day regardless. I am writing this chronicle of my experience throughout the year to record my development. I have dropped fifteen pounds since early July 2010, and have begun to enter local century rides in preparation for next year’s big event. MLT Creative is on the Stone Mountain bike path, and I feel fortunate to be so well-situated to work toward my goal throughout the year.