Little Jack's Corner Redux

Jack Donohue




I think I’m finally starting to grow up. Not grow old, I’ve been working on that for quite some time, but to follow the advice I got as a kid “act your age.” In my case that would involve not trying to hang with the twenty-somethings.


In the old days, I would always start out with the fast group and often finish with them. In the not so old days I would start out with the fast group, get dropped on the first hill, and end up riding alone. So I’ve taken to letting the fast group go, and maybe the second fast group, until one comes along that I have a prayer of staying with.


A recent incident showed I was indeed on my way to becoming a grown up. I was riding with a group of five. Two of the group got ahead and I found myself in the middle ahead of the other three. In the old days, I would immediately chase the two up front, because, well, that’s what you do. Like a dog, I would chase anyone who was ahead of me. But I made the mature decision to rejoin the other three, and we had a fine old time.


I finally realized that, hey, I’m older now, can’t do the things I used to do, but that’s OK. Instead of looking for a five hour century, I’m happy just to get home before dark. I’m still not a “smell the flowers” kind of guy, but I’ve come to realize that you don’t always need to ride as fast as possible. Especially when warp speed isn’t really that fast any more.


In the old days, I would always feel the imperative to be up at the front. Now taking a pull is a rare occurrence. I rationalize this by saying “Hey, I’m an old person, let the kids do the work.” I’ve traded brute force for jungle cunning and have mastered the art of wheel sucking.


I used to go out in all sorts of weather, since I couldn’t imagine a day off the bike. Now, I’m definitely a fair weather biker and actually look forward to a rainy day, when I can take a day off.


I’ve become less anal over the years. I don’t keep track of average speed, and if I get home with 98 miles for the day, I don’t feel the need to ride around the block for another two miles to get that century.


Another sign of maturity was when I bought my Cannondale. Like any racing bike it came with a double crankset, but there was an optional triple. I was taught to believe that real men would never ever consider a triple, but I reasoned that I wasn’t getting any younger, and maybe it wouldn’t be such a bad idea. It was an excellent idea, since though there aren’t many climbs that are “granny-worthy,” it’s really nice to have when you need it. I even expanded the range on the rear cluster, after barely making it over Hurricane Mountain Road in the triple. Now my goal is to see “how slow can you go.” I actually registered 0 on one of my cyclocomputers, but I think that was round off error.



This timeless article originally ran in October 2007 WheelPeople


Slow, fast, solo or group rides: the good life!

You’re still ahead of me Jack. And when you turn 90 you can always get an e-bike… to go up Hurricane Mountain Road.

Great article Jack...we will all be there and this just relieved my anxiety of admitting I am old!
Phillip Stern's picture

Haha! I hear you, Jack. I used to hang (or at least try to hang) with the fast group. I turned 60 this year and now I am happy to see the fast guys at the start of a ride. I like to lead rides with lots of turns so people can't drop me. I'll never buy a bike with a triple crankset, but I may buy an e-bike some day. :)

Thank you, Jack! I'm turning 70 and your story hits home! I was never able to go fast, but took up mountain biking this year...jumps, drops, and crazy fun features...bought shin, knee and elbow pads at age 69!! Adrenaline on beginner trails will be enough excitement for this old guy. I don't know if I'll ever be able to act my age. I think my wife would agree!!