You Are Never Too Old To Try Something New
“The rocking chair is not for me – I am going Bikepacking…”
I don’t know about you, but for me, staying in good shape during these mentally challenging times has been difficult. Even if gyms were open, the last time I used one was two years ago when I was busy preparing for our Trans Himalayan Cycling Expedition.
The only reason I forced myself to work out was because, at the age of 67, I really wanted to cycle over high Himalayan passes which topped out at over 5,000 metres. It was the thrill, the novelty that gave me the motivation to at least attempt to be in reasonable shape. Age was not on my side, but I did it! I cycled the mountain passes, one by one. Of course, I wasn’t the only one who did and was not even the oldest cyclist on the tour. Some riders were much better athletes, some much more prepared and others were just physiologically more capable than me. However, we were all united in one area. We had a strong desire to be doing what we were doing.
Two years have now passed and I have just had my first shot of COVID-19 vaccine. Suddenly, I realized that the only way I am going to get myself in shape is to give myself a new thrill and try a new kind of adventure. Some will ask, ‘At your age? Isn’t it time for the rocking chair?’ Others will say they would love to go but then recite half dozen or so reasons why they can’t do it.
I have heard this before, and often. After all, I was already old, in expedition terms, when I organized the first ever Tour d’Afrique, an 11,000 km cycling expedition from the top to the bottom of Africa. At fifty, I was past the age of what was acceptable for breaking physical and psychological barriers. But I wasn’t interested in breaking barriers, I just wanted to do something exciting, something that would stir my soul.
Seeking thrills may be associated with young people but aging well is what is on the minds of most people when they reach the lovely age of 50. There is a whole science out there that instructs people on how to live a long, productive, good life. One of the ideas that separates those who age well from those who don’t is seeking out new challenges and stimulation along with maintaining an active mind and body. This is the secret magic potion available to those who are willing to use it.
I am a convert. I decided a long time ago that no matter my biological age, I would go and seek out new adventures wherever I could find them. In these COVID-19 times, our company, TDA Global Cycling, is, for the first time, offering a new type of tour – Bikepacking Quebec or, as I like to call it, an alternative route from Canada’s capital Ottawa to the capital of Quebec, Quebec City. It will be a challenging cycling adventure, largely on remote forest roads, where participants – me being one of them – will carry their own camping supplies. There will be an experienced guide and regular food drop offs. After all, some of us will be completely new to this type of cycling.
Am I apprehensive? You bet I am! However, if an 80 year old can climb Mount Everest, if a 77 year old can fly into space, when a 73 year old can swim across the English Channel, when a 104 year old can cycle 27 km in one hour to break his own world record established at the age of 100, then really, what is cycling 80 km a day on dirt roads carrying a light tent, a sleeping bag and a bit of food? To quote Helen Keller, “Life is a daring adventure or nothing else“.
One last comment. Bikepacking is widely perceived as a young person’s adventure. If there is one thing that our company has accomplished, it has been to create a supportive infrastructure which allows an adventurous person of any age or gender to cross a continent on a bike. We believe that by providing a basic support system, bikepacking can also be a wonderful and enjoyable adventure for cyclists of any age or gender.