On Becoming an Octogenarian

When I turned 70 my son Michael and I started a tradition of cycling my age on a day near my birth date. The first year we had the two of us plus our friend Terry; both of them flew to Bucks County, PA from San Francisco for the occasion.

The following years we had several more and at age 75 we had a bigger group. In 2015 we wisely converted from miles to kilometers. The ride that year was in Calistoga, CA; we cycled 53 miles, 85 kilometers, with 3,500 feet of elevation climb.

In 2016 six of us rode in an organized ride in Asheville, NC that covered 60 miles and 5,000 of elevation climb. I trained hard for that one. We had a great weekend in Asheville.

A few days ago I became an octogenarian. We celebrated the event the weekend before. This time we had 14 cyclists, 19 guests, most from out of town; London, San Francisco, Las Vegas and Greenwich, CT. We rode a total of 100 miles in two days, 160 kilometers, with a total of 5,600 feet of elevation climb. We had perfect weather and wonderful, scenic rides. Everyone finished and had a great time. One guest coined the word “Octofest” to describe the event.

We had a catered dinner at our house Friday and took over a local restaurant for Saturday evening. I loved it, of course, because it was an occasion for friends to say nice things about me, some of them perhaps true. Several were friends I had worked with 30 or more years ago. Michael and his wife Michelle prepared a video that had me wiping away tears, plus Michelle prepared a book with photographs documenting every birthday ride since age 70. All I could say was, “Wow.”

Next September our guests from London offered to hold the event at their property west of Oxford, in the Cotswolds. The cycling there is wonderful. Everyone at this year’s event agreed to attend. He and his wife Nicola are the best hosts I’ve ever met.

Prior to that event my son has organized a five-day cycling event next May in Portugal to celebrate his 50th birthday as well as that of several of his closest friends. He’s asked me to join them.

The most important aspect of these events is that they provide strong motivation for me to keep fit. I want to be doing this for many years forward, and that can only happen if I exercise regularly and eat healthy food.

My advice is to find an annual or semi-annual event that can motivate you to take care of yourself year-round. It’s great to have something to look forward to.

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