Because riding has been good to me.
I’m 56 years old and started riding seriously about 6 years ago. I learned to ride as a kid and put a lot of miles on my ten-speed Schwinn Continental in high school and college. Somewhere after that I lost track of the bike as I got married and moved away. I have a memory of the bike in my parent’s garage but I didn’t take it with me.
Life moved through graduate school, high-tech jobs on both coasts, and finally a move to India with my family to serve as a volunteer biomedical engineer in an association of rural hospitals across North India and Nepal. My job was to implement the new Indian Bio-Medical Waste (Management and Handling) Rules in about 20 hospitals, teach hospital staff safety and infection control, and help manage the technical side of the hospitals that requested help. This job put me in contact with really nasty stuff and after about 7 years I started to get sick and none of the doctors could figure out exactly why. We were able to confirm I had not contracted HIV or anything identifiable but I kept getting sicker and was living off more and stronger steroids and other medications.
On a trip to Thailand I took the opportunity to visit the big medical tourism hospital in Chiang Mai. By the end of that day I had a diagnosis and a plan. When my son graduated from high school and went to England (yes, we are Americans so this is another story and his adventure) we moved to Chiang Mai.
I was pretty much out of the game for the next couple years. Under loose medical care, as there was little to do but not get sick again, I was able to get off the steroids and antibiotics and start losing weight. I volunteered as a project manager for local Thai foundation, took Thai lessons, and tried to exercise as much as possible, mostly swimming and running. Everything helped me get better. I had the opportunity to swim for a couple team triathlons and put in lots of laps in the pool. One time I participated in an international biathlon on the Mekong River. Of course I didn’t win anything but I finished and realized I was starting to feel pretty well.
One day one of the triathlon team guys invited me to borrow his wife’s road bike and ride with him as a way to encourage me to do a full triathlon myself. That was it. I found I loved riding and was actually OK at it. But, being 50 years old actually meant I was better than average – for my age. This was such an encouragement, such a great feeling, I’ve not stopped riding since.
Now I’m 56. I got my own bike; a second-hand Cannondale CAAD7. I ride as much as I can. I’ve improved my skills, endurance, and performance. I’ve learned a lot. I’ve learned a lot about getting in shape again, about riding as the old guy, about riding in other countries than your own, about riding alone and with a club, about how to take care of a bike, and about a lot of other things that riding teaches.
It’s been a good thing for me and I’ve become more passionate about riding than I ever thought I’d become.