Thirty Years

Over near Twyford, I was overtaken today by a young cyclist; she was really shifting, in a superb aerodynamic position that I can’t contemplate getting down to. My head is the highest thing when I’m on a bike; on her I suspect it was around about her 10th lumbar. (And despite her speed she was able to offer me a friendly not-at-all-out-of-breath ‘hello’ as she passed.)

Thirty years ago, when I took going fast on a bike vaguely seriously, aerodynamic positions such as she was in just weren’t on the agenda. Things move on.

Seeing her ride by, it was perhaps inevitable that I’d end up thinking about expectations, ageing. Thirty years ago I could at least day-dream about riding fast, even if I knew all the while that I was never going to be a champion bike rider.

Now? Now I don’t even have that day-dream. That’s not quite right. It’s more accurate to say that now I don’t even have the ability to have that day-dream. I don’t know if that’s the result of wisdom or disillusionment. I don’t think I’m defeatist. Is it just a sense of realism? Perhaps it’s stupidity; there’s nothing that says age is guaranteed to bring wisdom.

Just how long is that palm's lifeline?

Just how long is that palm’s lifeline?

And if I can’t day-dream because I’m too old to? I don’t know how important dreams are. What’s salutary to remember is that it’s not unreasonable for me to expect to live until I’m in my 80s – another 30 years or so. If the folly of youth is gone, it had better be replaced by something equally inspiring, something equally sustaining. There’s been a lot of change since my 20s; there’s an awful lot more to come.