Having reached the half-way point of my Saturday morning bike ride, I stopped to stretch hammies that were screaming at me to slow down. Across the parking lot I noticed an elderly gentleman nonchalantly lifting a couple of bikes off the trunk rack of his late ’90s Buick sedan. Bent over, attempting to reach toes I’ve not touched with straight legs in 20 years, I heard the unmistakable sound of a kickstand coming down behind me. I stood up to hear “Beautiful day for a ride” and said hello to Gene, dressed in a flannel shirt, jeans, and the New Balance™ walking shoes you see on men of a certain age.
Indeed, it was a gorgeous day, and for the next couple of minutes Gene and I exchanged pleasantries.
“Did you ride here from Midland?” asked Gene.
“That’s a long way,” said Gene as he looked in the general direction I came from (20 miles).
“Yeah, it feels longer than it should. Where are you headed?” I asked.
“We’re (Gene and his wife, Esther) headed up to Clare.”
“Wow, that will be 20 miles round trip — did you bring some water?” I inquired. Gene’s face suggested he might be in his early 70s and I wanted to be sure he had thought this through.
“Yep, plenty of water. We try to do it at least once a week. That’s a nice looking bike you have,” Gene commented, nodding at my bike with his hands tucked in his back pockets.
“Thank you. I just got it… I’m still getting used to it.”
Gene pointed to his bike a few feet away. “I bought that one when I was 80.”
“80? Well, how old are you now?” I asked, somewhat in disbelief.
“88” he said, matter-of-factly.
“88? Whoa… good for you. I hope I’m still out here riding when I’m 88!” I said, suddenly feeling more than a little inadequate at some 30 years Gene’s junior.
Seemingly less impressed than I was, Gene changed the subject: “Too bad you don’t have someone to ride with.”
Reaching for my dangling ear buds, I replied “I like to listen to my music.”
“Ahh… no one to argue with” he added with a sheepish grin as he glanced back at his wife still getting prepped for the ride.
Our conversation lasted less than 5 minutes. But in my hour-long return ride, I reflected on what Gene taught me about personal well-being and what it could mean for your wellness program: