My Birthday Ride
I was born in the last year of the baby boom, 1964. I missed being a President Kennedy baby by only a few months. Killed by a madman in Dallas shocking our country, thrusting a whole nation from innocence. The baby boomers I know are not much like me, as I am at their chronological tail end and they mostly look old, and wrinkled, and dead. Sometimes it is best to be the youngest in the room. I don’t feel like I should have an AARP card in my wallet, but I do. I don’t feel bad about, it as I can still bench press my own weight with ease and run a 5.5 – 40 and can go 6 rounds with women half my age! So when my birthday comes along, I take it in stride (Except my 50th last year). For whatever reason, it irked me. It made me sweat. It made me nervous and it made me tense. I did all the 50 year old guy stuff. Rode the shit out of my motorcycle to prove I could. Got in a few fistfights in spite of my age. Bought a 500 horsepower corvette to the chagrin of my wife. I even smoked pot once to see if it made me feel younger. It did not. I got dizzy and fell asleep. “Youth, wasted on the young,” as my fellow Irishman George Bernard Shaw once said. He lived to 94 years, so I trust he had much to complain about. His longevity was attributed to a fit naturalist lifestyle laced with good habits and healthy customs. I am sure he never smoked pot.
I do have a healthy custom that I have tried to uphold for the past 30 years on my birthday. Typically on that date, February 16, rain or shine, I take a motorcycle ride for the day. Sometimes an overnighter to another state or region. Sometimes an early morning jaunt to the hills. A few times I’ve just sat on my bike and looked out frosted garage windows at clumps of snow. But to have a custom of riding your bike every year on your B-day is like that Herculean legend. The one where a child Hercules carries the baby calf over the fence every day as a boy and as the years pass he is eventually lifting the 1,500 pound bull over the fence from pasture to pasture. Maybe it’s true. Could happen. But my point is that to do something rigorous consistently will scare off brittle bones and atrophied muscles. I can’t run a six minute mile like I did in college and my back gets sore on iron butt rides. Father time comes for us all. Little by little creeping up with a wrinkle here and a creak there. To throw the leg over and ride hard, or “roll hard” as my man JB would say, is to stave off the ravages of old age. No dust collects on a daily rider bike and no atrophy comes to a well used muscle.
The task would certainly be easier if I were born in July. I wasn’t. I was born in February. This tells me a few things. Mostly that my parents got busy one day (or night) in June of 1963! A creepy thought, but kind of funny. Also, that my birthday rides will be brisk adventures. Average daytime temps here in Georgia in February reach mid 50’s, but early morning hours have me striking out at freezing temps. All hail Mr. Gerbing. The bikes have changed through the course of my life. The older I get, the bigger they get. I keep a bobber or two in the shed but serious road duty is left to the Harley bagger. I’ve had bat wings but I’ve moved to fixed faired Road Glide’s with the highway stability and wind protection I enjoy. I ponder my 70’s and 80’s and wonder when the jump to the Triglide is appropriate. By the looks of the attached picture those days are closer than we all think. This damn card came unsolicited in the mail this year. It pissed me off and the promise of Hampton Inn discounts made me feel no better despite my youthful wife’s exuberance. I’ve pulled the card out at a few parties and over idle conversation at the gym. It is fun to see folks grin, nonbelievers till I draw ‘the card.’ It solicits the inevitable, wow – you don’t look that old. I don’t know if that makes me feel better or worse. I do not suspect that I will age gracefully like Clooney or Pitt or Jagger or even my man George Bernard Shaw. He also said “We are made wise not by the recollection of our past, but by the responsibility for our future.” There may be hope for me yet? But I can hedge my bets by getting to the gym each day before daylight, applying wrinkle cream, eating right, waving off alcohol (and pot) and riding my scooter as much as possible, but ALWAYS – I mean ALWAYS on my birthday. –Irish
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