Age Doesn't Matter
As a recreational rider, occasional commuter and mom dragging kids around in a trailer, I had no idea there was such a big racing community in Seattle. But one day I was on a ferry and complimented a woman on her beautiful Ridley racing bike, and a conversation started. She was a Category 4 racer and confided in me that she may be a “Cat 4 forever”, because she was 40 and had to race alongside 20-year-olds. She wished more older women would race so there would be bigger fields with more age categories at races.
The spark of inspiration took hold. I felt I needed to start racing to pad the field with older racers. So, at a tender age of 57, I entered my first race. I bought a one-day license for five dollars, and ignorantly jumped into the race with full water bottles, mountain bike shoes, tool kit, fenders, etc. Watching and learning from the other women racers—who were so friendly, inclusive and generous with their knowledge—I realized the duct tape over the holes in my helmet wasn’t really going to make me go faster or be more “aero”.
Despite standing out like a sore thumb, I was hooked. I loved the speed and competition, the thrill of being in the pack, conquering the courses, sprinting to the finish lines. I joined one of the nearly 20 local teams, all committed to offer frequent team rides, pack riding skills, race strategies, bike handling skills, and help with training schedules, building confidence and improving fitness.
Ultimately, with improved fitness and experience comes better plac- ings and wins. These wins give you points toward an “upgrade” to Category 3, then Cat 2, Cat 1 – and if you are young and talented – on to Pro. There are teams to support all racing disciplines: road racing including time trials and criteriums; mountain biking including single track, cross-country, downhill and enduro; cyclo-cross racing; and track racing at our local jewel, the Marymoor Velodrome. What I learned was that it’s never too late to learn a new sport. Age doesn’t matter! It’s all about training, finding self-fulfillment, challenge and community.
To me, it’s about the power of the bike; feeling the transfer of power from body to tool; feeling the change in metabolism and the pump of endorphins. Feeling the symbiosis of the peloton, the camaraderie and laughter, can transform you.