Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Intersection of Fitness and Wisdom

I've been a bicycle commuter since I was teenager. In my 20s and early 30s, living in Oregon, my husband and I concentrated more on climbing volcanoes and back-country skiing. We backpacked a lot. The Cascade Mountains opened up a whole new experience for this Vermont country girl. But so did city life in Portland. Bicycling was never far from my thoughts. Both of us bike commuted daily to our jobs.

I suppose my early 30s body was in the best physical shape. Looking back, I wasn't plagued by injuries, nor did I stretch much, if at all. I certainly had more stamina. By then I had the know-how to be safe, fix minor bike problems, even bike tour, but because our energy was put toward planning for the world adventure, the idea of shorter overnight tours never crossed my mind.

The defining age – if you can pinpoint such a thing – came when I turned 40. This is what I consider my intersection between fitness and wisdom. When common sense and the physical morph into an awakening - that " I can do this!" moment. When number two child came along, hiking and skiing required more logistics and our scope of travel shrank drastically. I began to reminisce about freedom pre-children, wandering, goals, and craving exercise. With home life a busy, loud atmosphere, I needed a thread to my old life to cling to. That's when I revisited the mobility and pleasure that cycling and camping brings to my life.

And though I may be past my prime physically – feeling creaky, achy hips and knees, needing to compensate more with a recent quad injury – I have come into my own on the personal front. I'm writing again; my work has taken on new challenges; I'm swimming laps; hiking with The Hub. In my 40s I incorporated touring and the joys of travel with, once again, only my husband. I was also unafraid to do solo trips. There are many places I still want to go. Sure, I’m slowing down, but I am no longer content to sit back and dream.  To be honest, I've started on that bucket list. Pedaling in France was one of those check boxes (more on that soon, follow "Europe 2012" on right sidebar). My foray into lighter gear: new ground pad and sleeping bag, should help as I age, reducing the weight my two little legs need to push up a hill, around a curve, day after day. I've come full circle: back to long distance rides, writing, traveling, with experience and prudence as my guide.

It feels good.


  1. I think there are effective combinations of diet, exercise, stretching, activity, and brain work that can redefine aging. I see a lot of active cyclists and runners who are living proof, and inspire me.

  2. Annie, my experience has been much the same. When younger I concentrated on being as fit as possible to be able to 'do' things. Now with 50 on the horizon, I find I just do them anyway and feel as though, in younger days, I may not have realised the value of just starting something and getting on with it. Fitness is fantastic and, although I'm a little porky, I have been blessed with good health, but, I think the confidence and pragmatism that comes with middle-age is just as valuable.


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