The Oldest Guy

” Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming,” Wow! WHAT A RIDE!”

-Hunter S. Thompson

I have also heard this with the ending, ” missing parts, leaking oil and screaming “Geronimo.” I always subscribe to this way of living because I like adventure, travel and experiences in my own way. However, due to a series of events recently, I have had some thoughts that question my verve. Some of this began a couple of weeks ago when I was discovering that I was the oldest guy on the mountain bike rides.  I really should not let that bother me but with the death of my brother in law at 61, and some other news of contemporaries who have had their troubles, I began to question my lifestyle as I march quickly towards 63. Sometimes, I feel like I am in an out of control vehicle and can’t stand on the brakes hard enough. Life is screaming by.

Then God plops me down right in the middle of Somerset county in an old barn for Biff Swager’s 65th birthday party( Is that the greatest name in the world?……Biff Swager!!!). Biff’s wonderful wife Annie organized the surprise party and all the old ski crowd came out in force. The food was wonderful, the band was GREAT, and the group danced their asses off( no other good way to put it), yes they danced their asses off and the joy of life was in full swing. Sue Baum Treacy summed it up best when she marveled at the group and vowed that we all have to get together this winter and ski because that is what brought us all together as kids in the first place. She and her husband John walk the walk by recently retiring and hopping on the back of their motorcycle, touring the west.

So, that was a real shot in the arm and dispelled any thoughts about age when I saw my group of contemporaries really enjoying each other’s company and killing it on the dance floor- of an old barn. Even Herman Dupre who is in his 80s, said he has so much work to do, he wants to live until he is 124. His wife Sis said “I will give him 100 from me and that is it.” We all laughed and as I drove off into the night, I thought what a great group and a great reason to keep living life as large as possible. You don’t have to climb Everest or do something outrageous to be adventurous. For me, taking that first ski turn down a chute out West, or rolling over a giant boulder field in West Virginia on the MTB is adventurous. Just have a positive attitude and engage in new ventures. The joy of a bike ride in cool fall weather can garner the same feeling of adventure that Jimmy Chin feels on a mountain peak. Not as dramatic, not as bold, but still relatively speaking, a personal adventure. Do what you can but like NIKE says…………just do it!!!

I remember asking Scot Nicol, the founder of IBIS Bicycles, one time on a ride,” how long do you think we can keep riding mountain bikes like this Scot?” He looked at me and said, ” Pat- don’t even think about it. Just keep riding.” This is sage advice from a Californian who really enjoys what he does. But what else dispels those internal thoughts that say, ” you are 63- who are you kidding?” Besides the joy of a ski turn and the beauty of the mountains, and the fitness created by riding a mountain bike, there are things that define self worth. The love of a spouse, the caring for friends, volunteering, being there for a cause, and spreading the good word of the Kingdom. True self worth is nothing more that knowing you are loved by the Good Lord. We are so blessed. It is incumbent upon all of us to care for each other, one person at a time, one neighborhood at a time. Make the effort folks, because as I have recently seen, life is fragile and we need to make the most of every moment. The time that is spent with your family and friends is so valuable. Sometimes you don’t realize it until someone is gone.

I know where I am going someday. But in the mean time, I will definitely leak oil, skid broadside in a cloud of smoke, and live life with that promise ahead of me. Who cares if I am the oldest guy? Thanks for reading.

7 thoughts on “The Oldest Guy

  1. Paul K. Vey says:

    Hi Patrick,

    I have to admit that I was unaware of the loss of your brother-in-law and even worse, I am prompted ask, “which one”? I’m sorry that I didn’t know; and even sorrier that I did not timely extend condolences.

    Now, with respect to your blog this morning, about a month ago I had the good fortune of turning 65. A few people of course have asked me lately how I have begun to approach the prospect of “getting older”. Usually the question starts, “now that you are getting older………”

    Forgive me if I have previously shared this with you, but I responded by invoking the famous words of Satchel Paige who, in response to a particularly annoying reporter’s question about how it felt to be “so old” and pitching in his first game in the major leagues (he previously was barred from the major leagues because of his race). He looked at the reporter and said, “how old would you be if you didn’t know how old you was?”

    The first time I heard this, I scratched my head a little bit because I couldn’t quite figure out what he meant, but the more I thought about it the more I realized he had it exactly right – Satchel Paige had no plans to pay any homage to a chronological age. If he could still do what made him happy, he planned to do it! So that’s what I tell people. Satchel Paige is my new hero and my model. And having read your column this morning, I’m pleased to tell you that you officially have joined Satchel Paige among those to whom I look for inspiration! 🙂

    All the best, thanks for writing these notes and sending them along. I enjoy each and every one.

    Best,

    Paul

    Paul Vey, Esquire
    Pietragallo Gordon Alfano Bosick & Raspanti, LLP
    One Oxford Centre, 38th Floor
    Pittsburgh, PA 15219
    Office: (412) 263-1823 | Fax: (412) 263-4248
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  2. James Sota says:

    Thanks again for your thoughts. I will soon be 60 but I do not think about that much. I just keep riding my bike and doing what I can. I have gotten slower but I still have a blast. Looks like the Hay Loft in your photos, I ride by there often.

  3. David Helmick says:

    Nice post, Pat. Truly a group of “ageless friends.”

  4. jack ladesic says:

    Hell Pat, your a kid! Bart turned 80 & yours truly 70 in July. Bart’s training for another season in Vail & Im looking forward to my annual treck up & down Highland Bowl. Oh, & Stan F. Is gearing up for another Vail ski season at 91. Man up junior!!! Hope to see you in Vail this season. Your posts are great.
    Best regards, Jack

    Sent from my iPhone

  5. Cindy Marie says:

    Keep it up Pat. Great pictures an looks like a great group. Inspiring for sure! Lisa

  6. Janet McCloskey says:

    Good article Dear! Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter! 😊 Mark Twain

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

  7. Pete Hilton says:

    As someone famous once (or twice..) said,” the older I get, the better I was.” And “I have socks older than you!” These kids on the trails would miss lines like that Patrick and so would I. Ride on brother!

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