I’m getting too old for this Schwinn

murtaughI hate that there’s this place in my brain that retains useless pop culture sound bites that just reappear and reappear to the point of near mental illness. How many mornings, for instance, has Danny Glover invaded my mirror as I’m shaving, telling his son in Lethal Weapon 3 to never shave up, always “go with the grain”? Screw you, Murtaugh! Shaving up is closer, and get the hell out of my bathroom!

Then there’s that stupid line I read in Esquire once about, after 40, if you’re not getting stronger, you’re getting weaker. Screw you, Esquire! Your continued existence has become its own dubious achievement.

So it hurt me to hop on my bike after a long day at work and an even longer winter of lethargy and realize I was in terrible, terrible shape. I mean it literally hurt me. My thighs were screaming like little girls in a funhouse — little girls with sharp, sharp knives and a thirst for revenge.

The sad part is that I used to ride like a dynamo, powering up the streets and the hills, pedaling through the countryside. Now? A 47-year-old in a blue helmet, a lanky Elvis Costello T-shirt, baggy sweatpants and — oh my God, what is that stain on his sweatpants! So what? I’m whizzing by on my bike. Except I’m not. I’m peddling the softest gear because there’s a 2-degree incline. I am ugly and sad and in pain and oh crap there’s a co-worker try to be cool…

I coasted the hill to the bike path and down the length of the mild slope to the bridge just beyond the sewage treatment plant.

(Aside: If you want to see how poop is processed, our bike path offers excellent vantage points, running past not one but two plants. Tonight at the lower plant, I noticed that, besides the lagoons of roiling effluent, there are two giant inflated canvas bags of what I can only assume is what they politely call “grey water.” Stanstead: come for the cycling, stay for the shit bags!)

I only noticed how much of an incline I had ridden down on the way back up. Slowly, slowly, pedaling, pedaling, wheezing, wheezing. Where are my goddamn endorphins! I need my second wind! I need my third wind! Any wind will do!

I bailed twice but quickly got back on the bike. The first time was when a little kid came towards me. Screw you, kid, with your youthful energy and your vast horizons of vigour and hope. Yeah, just wait until you’re riding along and wondering what a stroke feels like.

Lying ahead, though, was the hill — the hill leading from the bike path to home. I’d have to walk it for sure, and I was prepared to do so, with shame and wobbly shins. But descending the hill on foot were two students from my school. Shit! This was bad. I hopped on and began peddling fast in the lowest possible gear. I looked like Road Runner. But I was moving.

“Hi sir,” said the boys.

“Gnguhgh,” I said.

Pedal, pedal, pedal. I had seen a guy from town bike up this very hill the other day. He’s a large man. I once saw him stagger-drunk-fall on his toddler son and am pretty sure he would have killed him if he hadn’t first glanced off the door frame. If he could make this hill, so could I. Screw you, hill! And screw you, drunk people crushing your kids!

I made it home and did not feel a rush of well-being and accomplishment. I felt a wave of dizziness and nausea.  Screw you, exercise! I hate you! You suck! You too, age! To hell with you, Danny Glover! And you, bike, you’re nothing but an implement of pain and humiliation! See you tomorrow!


About rossmurray1

I'm Canadian so I pronounce it "Aboot." No, I don't! I don't know any Canadian who says "aboot." Damnable lies! But I do know this Canadian is all about humour (with a U) and satire. Come by. I don't bite, or as we Canadians say, "beet."
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32 Responses to I’m getting too old for this Schwinn

  1. peachyteachy says:

    I am getting the feeling that there are some crazy cosmic vibes today that have put a bunch of folks (myself included) in a “screw you” state of mind. May I also postulate that these vibes (Mercury in retrograde or some such blither) are perfectly able to play havoc with one’s supposed fitness or ability to feign fitness. Therefore, screw it.

  2. Laura Lynn says:

    My favorite exercise used to be strolling through Pike Market with a bag of mini doughnuts in one hand and a kielbasa in the other. HAH! I learned my lesson the hard way…now, I get my exercise screaming at my puppy to ‘COME BACK! What the hell? Where are you going? Wait…puff puff, *&%$ing dog.” And I chase/follow him all over town. Its great exercise just not quite what I expected when my doc suggested dogs where great for getting you off the couch.

  3. 40 something sucks. That’s all i got.

  4. Katie says:

    I went to spin class for the first time recently, and I felt the same way. The people in that class are not normal. When I got off the bike, I was walking with the crazy legs.

  5. I don’t know why Nora Ephron (RIP) kept whinging on about her neck. – what about the sounds coming from my knees? I injured a quad (it makes me sound more athletic to say ‘quad’) while doing taekwondo and the physical therapist told me that those joint sounds were called “crepitus”, which sounds exactly like the injury you’d get while cycling past a sewage plant.

  6. Oh Rosemary – Biking is wonderful, but you need to clearly be on the ‘bunny slope’ for a bit – keep away from black diamonds and probably the green circles too…

  7. List of X says:

    I’m yet to take out my bike and experience the same humiliation…

  8. Mooselicker says:

    I never learned how to ride a bike. I have however was curious about poop so I really related to that part of this tale.

  9. There’s a lot to be said in favour of the electric bike 🙂

  10. breezyk says:

    Oh man, this is literally how I feel every time I walk up a flight of stairs. There’s no way I would be brave enough to even get on a bike so I applaud you for that!

  11. haha! Hilarious! I especially love the tirade at the end!
    I can so relate to this. I used to love ice skating when I was young, and I was really quite good. Flash forward 20 or so years… I’m back on the ice and my ankles feel like they’re burning, like they’ve caught fire. I was holding onto the rail like I had never skated a day in my life. What the…? All I can figure is that with each child some of my athletic prowess vanished as part of a trade off? That’s the best I’ve come up with. I refuse to think that I am pathetically out of shape. Nooo.

  12. byebyebeer says:

    These days I take my hills by foot, the poor man’s biking. The humiliation of huffing and puffing up hills is slower, plus I don’t get the thrill of coasting down them. I miss my old asshole of a bike now more than ever. I do vividly remember the pain of huffing and puffing up hills on my bike, or – worst of all – having to get off and walk alongside my bike. This is when I was in the best shape of my life, so don’t be too hard on yourself. p.s. just gave my little one a lil Schwinn for her birthday yesterday, let the fun begin!

    • rossmurray1 says:

      You know you’re getting old when the thrill of screaming down the hill is replaced by the nagging worry that you might not have properly tightened the wheel nuts.

  13. At least you weren’t riding a Razor scooter. Half the mobility, twice the shame.

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