Sometimes, you are on top of the world, and other times, the world is on top of you. Fall has finally arrived, and people are out there riding. With all of the crazy weather we have had this year, I am not sure how long good riding weather will actually last, but every mile is a good mile, almost.
This year, my riding season has been tame. In fact, except for a decent few days before Memorial Day, my riding has been almost nonexistent. For those of you who follow this article (thank you), you know that I will quickly put 1,000 miles down over a few days with no problem. But this year has been an exception.
About 10 years ago, I started riding with some local guys here. We would meet about every other weekend and tear up the roads between here and Chapel Hill, Pittsboro or Uwharrie National Forest on Sunday mornings.
Some of these guys have 10 years on me. At first, the conversations were about motorcycling, bikes, maintenance, riding techniques and all the crazy things we have done in our lives. We’d laugh and joke like good-oleboys do. Over time, I noticed the conversations started changing to health issues, retirement, disability, Social Security and Lord-knows Medicare Part A and Part B.
To be honest, it was kind of a fortune cookie to my future. As I am now older, I have witnessed that the longer we live, the more stages we pass through. I see new riders, “infants.” Beginner riders, “no fear.” Experienced riders, “technical.” And those who are slowing down, “aging riders.” For those who live long enough to be forced to give up riding, “retired riders.” Sad, but no matter what we do in life, we all go through various stages. We all evolve.
This year I have been hit with medical issues, and like everyone else here, the weather. It was either raining or too hot to enjoy a day’s ride.
Now I’m the guy who has to consider his health. For now, I may not be able to jump out there and ride a Trans American Trail and travel offroad across the county.
My original riding friends have all retired. We still ride when we can. Now we talk about riding, our aches and pains, who is sick and funerals we have attended. They have worked through their setbacks and are loving life, telling me to go ahead and retire so I can ride more. Part of me appreciates their enthusiasm, but the other part is cautious because, in the end, retirement is a math problem and a betting game.
Ideally, we probably all would like to retire while we are still young enough and in good enough health to enjoy ourselves, and if the Lord is willing, we will live a long and happy life. Of course, as anyone who rides knows, it does not take long to rack up some severe costs on the road. As a general rule, I usually estimate $150 a day for a road trip. That is $4,500 a month to get out there and ride. That does not include maintenance or new tires every 6,000 to 8,000 miles. And there are still bills on top of that and those fact-of-life necessities like room and board. Then there is that problem of how much in retirement savings it will take to enjoy riding, enjoy life and make it to our final day on earth.
Ideally, we would pass away on the same day we run out of money. That seems like the perfect financial plan! Of course, the Bible says, “A good man leaveth an inheritance to his children’s children” (Proverbs 13:22). No pressure there – now I can’t die broke because the Good Book just told me to leave some goodies for my heirs.
Age, medical setbacks and rough times do not mean there is not some good riding left in us. I think that is the difference between a phase and stage.
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