They say decade birthdays are BIG. That’s what they say. And they should be celebrated BIG, like maybe all year. Ok. I can do that. There have really only been two decade birthdays that have a BIG meaning for me, or impacted me in a BIG way. This one, tomorrow, and my birthday ten years ago.
Tomorrow, the numeral 6 officially begins preceding all other numerals in my written and spoken age. I don’t quite know what to make of that, nor have I quite come to terms with it. But it is not having anywhere near the negative impact on me that my birthday of ten years ago did.
My last big decade birthday hit me hard. Fifty just blew my doors off. I realized my mortality. I came to the realization that I have lived more years than I am going to live (of course, that physiological reality comes about around forty-one or two, but no one thinks about that in their forties!). I realized, too, that I did not have all the time in the world!
Mellisa Holbrook Pierson, in her book The Man Who Would Stop at Nothing (a fantastic motorcycle/life introspection read by the by), stated it perfectly:
“I did not have all the time in the world. All at once, I knew. Time had become rare, elusive, choked off and breathing hard. While I was going on my way, I had unwittingly made a passage of some moment.”
“Time is like a bridge, let us say it is the age of fifty. On one side of the bridge is forever: no idea of ‘end’ intrudes on anything, especially one’s daydreams. Tell the forty-somethings, then: Go have your big parties with your big platters in your big houses. Sometime soon, it will all seem too big, too full of infinite hope; a little pointless. Life’s vista has narrowed. “
“That is when you have crossed the bridge, and that is when you find yourself thinking alarming things: Holy shit, I may if I’m lucky, have something like twenty-five, maybe thirty years left. And I’m not going to be riding into my seventies, probably: some people do, but perhaps they shouldn’t. Enough said. So, fifteen years left. That means fifteen seasons, those ever shorter leases on fine weather that blaze by and melt into cold.”
“And it hits you: You will not get to go everywhere on a motorcycle that you want to. A strange sensation washed over my riding days now. It was the knowledge that I was riding toward the end.”
Oddly enough, Melissa Holbrook Pierson put into words exactly what I was feeling at the time. And so, tomorrow, at 60, I will take the year to celebrate my having “arrived” (?), through motorcycling and non-motorcycling epic (for me) endeavors.
I have two recreational passions in my life: trail running/racing and motorcycling, particularly travel by motorcycle. This year, in celebration, I intend to ramp up each one, and experience more of what each has to offer.
- Compete in my first and only (one and done), 50K (31 miles) trail race-as an avid trail runner, I have never run more than 25K (14.5 miles). So, this is the time to celebrate the 60. Epic.
- Win the Xterra South Carolina Trail Race Series (age group)-I won the 55-59 age group series last year as the oldest. Now I want to take it as the youngest. It’s not that difficult. Most of the required race wins were through attrition (old guys don’t like to run on uneven surfaces). Ruth is also vying for a series win in her age group-female. A win here would lead to……….
- A trip to Ogden, Utah for the Xterra 25K National Championships. I have run and raced in southern Utah(Moab), but northern Utah is a totally different climate and geographical experience. We would link this up with some motorcycling and possibly visiting the Bonneville Salt Flats. Not epic, but a great trip experience.
- Tour the state of Vermont-Our club, the Motorcycle Sport Touring Association (MSTA), is holding their annual rendezvous (STAR) in Stratton, Vermont this year. The plan is to couple the event with seeing both Ruth’s and my family, then renting a BMW motorbike from MotoVermont and attending STAR (Sport Touring Association Rendezvous). A chance to ride a different motorcycle, see the beautiful state of Vermont by motorbike, and color in another state on my moto map hanging in our garage.
- Stayin’ Safe Training Tour-I am a firm believer in motorcycle skill and safety training. I like to take a course every year, as well as doing skills practice on my own. Sometimes it’s a Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) course, sometimes something more extensive. This year my birthday present to myself is a 3-day training tour by Stayin’ Safe Advanced Rider Training. I haven’t quite decided which of their tours I want to participate in yet.
- MotoMarathon-I love riding long distances, and I enjoy participating in check point rallies, but I do not ride at night. So, even the entry level IronButt Saddlesore 1000 is not an option for me. Enter MotoMarathon, a rally designed loosely around IronButt rallies, but done solely in daylight hours over four days. This year’s rally is in Colorado, with a possible event on the eastern seaboard (TBA).
So, as Melissa Holbrook Pierson writes, do I feel like I am riding toward the end? Yes, I do. But we all are. Whether we choose to acknowledge it or not doesn’t make it any less a reality. But perhaps the condensing of time is the impetus for us to step up our game in the passions of our life. I know it is for me.