“What is that in your car?” my father asked. He was not happy. My mind raced. Shit, did he find my weed?
“What?” I asked innocently.
“It looks like a bicycle… with skis attached to it.”
Oh, yeah, that. I did indeed have one of those in my car. I knew what was coming.
“Aren’t you too old to be playing with bikes?”
He asks me that every time I show up with a new two-wheeled (or two-skied!) vehicle. This has gone on for over half a decade. The thing is, my father used to ride bikes too. He spent his youth working at a bicycle repair shop, and had motorcycles of his own for many years. When I left for college, we bought a Ninja 250 together, which he took around the neighborhood a few times before declaring, “I’m too old for this.”
Several years ago, I was camped out with my Yamaha XT600 in a park in Albany, Western Australia. It happened to be the site of that year’s annual Ulysses Club Odyssey. The Ulysses Club is an organisation for Australian motorcyclists over the age of 40, although most members are well over 60. No recent 40-year-old actually embraces attainment of Ulysses Club eligibility.
I wondered where the swarms of seniors were coming from as I huddled unobtrusively next to my dirtbike. They pitched their tents, pulled cases of beer from their saddlebags, and proceeded to carouse as raucously as frat boys. I met one silver-haired fellow on a Goldwing who had just ridden in from Darwin – the equivalent of driving from Maine to Los Angeles. He was sporting a large gut, covered with a black t-shirt that read: YOU DON’T STOP RIDING WHEN YOU GET OLD, YOU GET OLD WHEN YOU STOP RIDING.
Where’d you come from, he asked me.
Sydney, I replied. Before that, California.
Good on ya, he said. That’s how you do it. Never stop exploring.