All the Great Cyclists are Fifty Nine

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01/21/2005| 0 comments
by Paul Rogen
Fifty nine year old Don Anderson leads bunch up a long climb in Pyrenees. Photo by Thomson Bike Tours.
Fifty nine year old Don Anderson leads bunch up a long climb in Pyrenees. Photo by Thomson Bike Tours.

All the Great Cyclists are Fifty Nine

...or, how I had a better year on the Bike than Merckx.

Last August, shortly after I returned from a glorious cycling trip shadowing the Tour de France and watching Lance garner his sixth maillot jaune , I was cycling with a friend here along the
Connecticut
shoreline.   My long time biking pal, Don Anderson was fifty nine years old and had ridden ably in
Spain
and
France
with me earlier in the summer.   He was a fit fifty-nine and I was about to turn that age in just a few days.  As usual we were chatting, chortling at our sharp insights about life and just enjoying the ride.   Years ago, when we first went to the
Pyrenees, we shared our trepidation about climbing the Aubisque.  Then, in our mid fifties, we wondered if we could make it without embarrassing ourselves as we had seen pictures and heard stories that completely unnerved us.    Maybe that is when we started into our Walter Mitty flights of pure confabulation.  As with most creative thinking, it was a coping mechanism.  Somehow imagining ourselves as younger and stronger helped us get over our fears.   We both made it up the 19 kilometer climb in fine shape and have been riding and climbing together ever since.   Each spring, we go to Don?s farmhouse in
Vermont
and put some strain into our legs getting ready for the famous European climbs.   It works well and we flourish in
Europe to such a degree that we have shepherded many middle aged and older riders up daunting hors categorie climbs throughout
Europe.

 

This last August, I inferred that Don was enjoying our conversation on the subject of our shared ages partly because he does not like being older and feels some comfort in the silliness of our being the same age for six weeks at the end of each  summer.  Of course, he was mentally preparing himself to turn sixty.   I well understand this anticipation as I have been getting myself ready for some years.   I reminded Don, that doc Allen who we rode with in
Spain
was also fifty nine.   Allen is also older than I am, by just one day and has been my skiing partner for nearly thirty years.   Interestingly, I made a connection that Allen Parsley is also the fastest skier I have ever skied with aside from Don Anderson.    Then I was on a roll, another cycling friend from way back in college days, Don Fisher is also fifty-nine.   In this age of sophistry and exaggeration it did not take much to generalize our connecting the dots to conclude:   ?All great cyclists are fifty nine.?    We laughed and dropped it for other subjects: politics, kids or maybe skiing.   Then we got quiet and stood on the pedals for Great Hill ten miles north of our departure point.  

Great Hill Road

is aptly named for the rolling
Connecticut
country side but it is a pimple compared to the enormous climbs in

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