Take for instance when I was a kid, my mother would make me dinner early because ” my friends” were calling me to fill in for the men’s doubles tennis league at our community pool complex. These guys were my dad’s age but respected the fact that I could play the game and was mature enough to handle the interaction with an older generation. It was lots of fun and I did learn some things that taught me that I had maturity beyond my years especially when an argument would ensue. I had first hand knowledge of how ” adults” handled these situations and sometimes saw the maturity level dip a long way when one of the guys hit another over the head with a racquet. But for the most part- the trans-generational activity was positive for me as a young man.
Fast forward and now I was in my late teens and interacted with some older guys who helped me get involved with ski instruction. Chip Kamin was only a few years older than me but Bob Irish and Larry Cohen were in their forties at the time and we had a great time skiing together. Their wisdom and inspiration allowed me to pursue certification with the Professional Ski Instructors of America and together they taught a young guy the ropes. Point being that sports like tennis, fishing, golf, skiing, cycling are lifetime sports that can be enjoyed by people of all ages and abilities. There are mentoring opportunities for older guys and also the interaction with young people keep that generation in the game.
In a recent article in the PSIA publication “32 Degrees” there is an article which references how some snow pros share their secrets to longevity. The common denominator is to “keep moving”. Each of the instructors that were interviewed were extremely active well into their 50s, 60s, and 70s. They each talked about looking for opportunities to connect with other passionate people with diverse perspectives. Oftentimes this results in older people interacting with younger people in a common passion like the sports mentioned above. I can remember as I became a parent, how important it was to bring my son and my nephews and nieces along in the sport of skiing.
As I got older, I made a point to bring along younger guys and girls into cycling and in one instance, I introduced mountain biking to Bill Kirk and his son Billy and young Bill and I still ride today- 20 years later. To be trans-generational benefits not only the younger generation with wisdom and mentoring from the older set, but for us older guys, to have the opportunity to ride or ski with a younger crowd keeps us young not only in our mind but in our perspective on how the world is progressing. You can learn a lot on a chairlift or on a mountain bike trail by talking to a younger person and see what is relevant in their lives. Heck, I lost a musical perspective way back when ” money is for nothing and your chicks for free.” That’s where I lost track. But keeping up with the times is important and to keep tabs on current musical talent via younger people is enlightening to say the least.
Skiing, mountain biking, road cycling and trail running all are good activities that can unite generations. Oftentimes we have some good debate and try to solve the world’s problems but the key factor is the difference in perspective between professional people, teachers, students, and retired folks. The common factor is the activity but the conversations and interactions are the result of having a common passion and the accountability to get together no matter how old or how young the crowd. I used to laugh in a road cycling criterium race when I would hear,” Inside Mr. McCloskey” or ” inside Mr. Sagan” as a young guy would slip ahead of us older guys on the inside lane of the road. I used to smile thinking that this was pretty cool that we all were racing together, people of different generations.
Currently I ride mountain bikes on Thursday nights with a group that for the most part is 25 -30 years my junior. With the exception of a couple of older guys, this group has provided some fresh perspective on many subjects including the technology that has developed with cycling. I like the ride and the people and even though we come from different generations, mountain biking unites us and our passion fuels us enough to come each week and be accountable to the ride. So no matter what floats your boat, keep active. Stay involved in the sports or hobbies that always sparked you. And most importantly try to be involved with groups that are “trans-generational.” That is the neat thing about lifetime sports. They unite all of us. Thanks for reading.