Turning Sixty Years Old

The Big Six-O

Turning Sixty Years OldI’m turning sixty years old this summer. When I was a boy, I thought anyone over thirty-five needed a walker just to get around. Probably an oxygen tank, too. I still remember one day when my Grandpa, who was maybe fifty-something, said that he thought some woman was pretty good looking. I about fell over. I couldn’t believe that his aged and feeble brain could still imagine such things.

The secret, that you learn slowly as you age, is that you stay about fifteen in your brain. I still want to roll bowling balls off the roof and blow up GI Joes and Barbies with firecrackers. I still collect rocks and science stuff and stamps. I still ride bikes. I try to remember that my older body is different than my younger one but I often forget. Lucky for me, when I forget, my wife, in her special way, very kindly reminds me.

A couple of months ago she started asking me what I wanted to do for my birthday. My normal answer, “Nothing,” wasn’t cutting it. She reminded me that this is the year that I’m supposed to do something stupendous. Something that that looks life square in the eye and dares it to take its best shot. You know, like drive to Charleston for the weekend. I suspect that she is setting me up for her fiftieth next year since she has dreams of sipping kir in Corsica while she bats the Tyrrhenian Sea with her bare feet. It’s a good dream.

Never Thought I’d Say No To A Porsche

Turning Sixty Years Old

But birthdays don’t mean that much to me and I’ve never let the calendar stop me from doing anything that I wanted to do. Frustrated at my mum attitude, she came up with a plan. “Let’s go to Atlanta,” she said. “The girls and I will find something to do (this is code for “We will shop like crazy people”) and I’ll drop you off at the Porsche track for the day. You can spend the day there, get a few shirts, and drive any car you want around the track as many time as you want with the Porsche racers.

Whew. That’s a pretty good try.

But it bugged me.

Some of you will understand this. What bothers me about this is that it just costs money. Anyone can throw down a chunk of change and get a seat. If you can afford it then you can do it. The more I thought about the whole question of my birthday and what I wanted to do, I knew that I wanted to do something that I’m not supposed to be able to do. After a month of mulling, I popped the question.

Can’t You Do Something Less Likely To Kill You?

“So. I’ve got a couple of ideas for my birthday.”

“Awesome! What do you think?”

“I’m thinking that I’d like to ride in the Mt. Washington Bicycle Hill Climb. Or if that doesn’t work maybe run up Mt. Rainier.”

She tried to look supportive. “Can’t you do something with less chance of killing you?”

“Don’t worry! You can’t ride down the mountain. Only up. You die riding down! And it’s slow. The pros do the seven miles in forty-five minutes. The record for my age group is an hour and ten minutes.”

I explained my idea about money vs.doing something and she wasn’t surprised. She sighed, knowing that a new obsession is just around the corner. “Well. If you’re going to ride up some damned mountain then you’d better get yourself a bike.”


I’ll be posting regularly about my training for the Mt. Washington Hillclimb. If you would like to keep up with the story then sign up for email updates at the end of the post. Thanks!