OK, so I am going into church this morning with my family, and my 18 year old son Jack and my wife Janet both comment on the length of my khaki pants. “Hey, where’s the flood dad?” ” Gee honey, those babies need a rest. I will cut them off for you.” Now in Chris Crowley’s wonderful book “Younger Next Year” http://www.youngernextyear.com he says that your clothes are not cool anymore, man, and you need to buy some new clothes. He is right but I draw the line in the sand with my khaki pants, stone washed shirts and hiking shoes. This is what I like to wear, and this is what I am wearing. But I guess they better be the right length. I already embarass my kid enough so I need to be aware that although I am the 58 year old kid, I can’t be the 58 year old dweeb with the flood pants. At the same time, it is a dilemma. I love to ski and ride my mountain bike and I keep in pretty good shape so that I can continue to do all of this stuff for a long time, just like the book says. But I can’t be seen in a snap back hat, sagging shorts, Adam Levine tatts on the forearms, or the thinly sliced, marrowless, ham bones pressed into my earlobes. I won’t be seen with the earbuds blasting Wiz Khalifa. No, I am hardwired with The New Riders, The Flying Burrito Brothers, The Byrds, Jerry and Mick. Sorry but there are lines in the sand that dictate that physically I can still sort of hang on the slopes and trails, but culturally, I am over the proverbial hill. I lost music with “Money is for Nothing and Your Chicks for Free”
So putting in reverse a little bit to last year, I find myself with my two friends JR Ellis and Patrick Heffernan at Ray’s Indoor Mountain Bike Park in Cleveland. I work with JR and ride mountain bikes with him and Patrick is my winter buddy as he is a snowboarder while I ski, and we also mountain bike together. Patrick is a year older than me although you would never know his age by his amazing athletic ability and his love for the outdoors. He and I feed off of each other and he is one of those guys my age who I really like for many reasons. But, our common goal is to stay fit and do fun things until they spread our ashes in the wind out west some day. In the picture above, Patrick is on the left and JR (the youngster at 40) is on the right with yours truly smiling as usual in the middle. The reason I am smiling is that Rays is a totally cool place where you can ride indoors in the winter. This facility is in an old warehouse in Cleveland. http://www.raysmtb.com The owners have painstakingly built a cross country course that utilizes two floors. They have a beginner course with obstacles that you can try and ride. They have a sport course and an expert course. The kids that work there and ride there are very nice even though I have socks older than all of them. I have never been called “dude” so many times in all of my life but always with a friendly and respectful tone.
So, JR, Patrick and I start on the cross country course and get warmed up and get used to riding on ramps and alley ways in an old warehouse. Pretty cool if you ask me. After we get a good lather on, we decide to go to the beginner course but most of that is fairly simple in that we ride a lot of that stuff outdoors already. We quickly go to the “sport” course where I encounter my first teeter totter. Now I immediately have a flashback of riding a teeter totter on the old Berkely Hills playground with my AMF Roadmaster bike with the baseball cards flapping in the spokes. I rode up the teeter totter on that playground and crashed on the other side more times than I care to remember but 50 years later, here I am doing it again at Rays. We took the big one first and then the more narrow ones and in a very child like way, we were proud of our ability to ride the teeter totters, the ramps, the jumps, and all of the other obstacles in the sport area. We even got some nods of approval from the younger set who saw us as kind of an anomoly seeing that we were probably older than their dads. Laughing, we moved to the expert room where we successfully navigated similar, but more difficult obstacles, and left the real hairy ones to the “dudes” with the youthful bravado and the BMX bikes. But, for a couple of older “dudes” we were pretty “rad” and were “stoked” to do well and have the stamina to ride this place for over two hours. Believe me, it took me back to that old playground and I wished that I had those old Pittsburgh Pirates baseball cards flapping in the spokes of my 29er mountain bike. “Hey Pat- grow up man” “Why should we?” Patrick and I always say “we may age chronologically but we will never mature.” We say that with tongue and cheek but in many ways it is true. JR just laughs at us and enjoys the scene. He is the most fit but he enjoys hanging with the old guys making a spectacle of themselves.
As we said goodbye to our new compadres and the nice kids that work there, everyone always is encouraging you to come back soon. We did and will be back as many times as we can because it is just so much fun. We now have one in Pittsburgh in Homestead that has 57,000 square feet of space and has been crafted by a real enthusiast, Harry Geyer. I don’t know Harry but I am anxious to meet him and try his new local spot,The Wheel Mill. I am sure that Patrick and JR will join me as we attempt their ramps and obstacles with the same enthusiasm as we run Ray’s MTB Park. I kind of laugh at myself with all of this and think just how long I will be doing this crazy stuff. Hopefully for a long time. “Peace out man” HAHA. Thanks for reading