But for all those standing and watching, the others seem to be speeding up. Refusing to hit the ageing brakes too soon, sliding sideways, laughing, screaming with joy, and fist bumping mates, hopefully all the way into their grave.
The pipe and slipper brigade will always frown upon the sliders, those who refuse to believe that reaching forty, fifty, sixty, and beyond, means life is over, scowling and making judgements as if to blame this refusal to grow up as a mid-life crisis.
My friend inspired this blog post with a fantastic three words. Rich was 60 years young this past week, and said to me he's "sixty feeling thirty". Like me, he's an immigrant to the West Country; both of us from Brighton, Sussex. I moved as far West as possible, whilst Rich went to Devon. At the heart of some great surf beaches, and a hub of cultural surfing, there in the shire, Rich is amongst a whole community of surfers over the fifty, sixty, and even the seventy mark. All enjoying the mellower waves of Saunton Sands either on the Longboards or Stand up Paddleboards.
I'm fifty next year and still feel (albeit mentally), like a little kid riding my bikes, surfing and occasionally skating; It's nice to just still have that feeling inside; being young at heart. Taking part in activities that seem to provide us with eternal youth, maybe apart from the aching shoulders, bad knees, elbows, backs and necks, the smiles say it all and these smiles are ageless.
As an aging, but super active populous, I bet we all feel the tiredness in our bodies; the hours of riding, surfing, skating, crashing, takes its toll. But then there are those who practice yoga, or routinely stretch before and after their activities, and they undoubtedly benefits from that increased flexibility and longevity of feeling supple; not stiff like a length of 6"x2" seasoned oak. Here lies my physical downfall. My procrastinating self steps in at this point and says, I'll start that battle against the ageing and seizing up process tomorrow. I even have a yoga mat still in its wrapping; I've have bought more fitness balls and deflated all them, probably as I've never really committed to the billion dollar indoor active lifestyle, and yes I know you can do yoga outside. But to my credit, Yoga and circuits are both high on my, 'I'm nearly 50, better now than never' list thats currently being drawn up for proof reading.
For those of us that are active, who love to play, and who treat the outside with the sense of freedom; is it the escape that makes us feel young, or the activity?
I had an interesting conversation with a friend Graham. He recently purchased one of my surfboards and is 55 years old. He wants to progress his surfing, and he's a cyclist too; not just riding roads, but seeking out the adventurous trails on his Cyclocross bike. He's an avid snowboarder and the way he was describing off-piste, back country boarding, was like an excited teenager. So many friends who are post 40; are as excited now about surfing, skateboarding, trail riding and even windsurfing as they were when they were younger, maybe more so. Jonty, a builder of beautiful wooden studios here in the Wild West, could not wait to tell us how he hit 26 knots windsurfing this week. Jonty is 50+, and buying second-hand sailing equipment online, revisiting his passion, tired of battling the crowds when surfing his beloved Sennen; he's like a kid again and thats amazing. Percy the Trail Builder in Sussex, is 48 and will always have that feeling of being a teenager, probably until the end of days, thats just the way he is. But Percy is up the trails, every weekend, most evenings, tending to them and keeping them sweet for others to also ride and have fun. There are so many trail centres are popping up everywhere, they are also full of 40+ Men staying young, riding expensive bikes that their wives believe cost half the amount and smiling all the way to the pub and enjoying the banter that only age and experience of life can provide.
But what about the ladies? My own wife, Jill is 47 years young, a roller derby player, a quad ramp skater, and now a roller skate instructor with her own business WOWW Skating (.com). As a cyclist and a Surfer too, she is certainly not giving in. Her Sunday morning womens cycling group, the Sennen Cyclones are mostly in their 40's and all been empowered to get active, now planning planning multiple long rides.
Then there's my friend Lesley Reynolds (Pictured above), 50+ and racing BMX at National level and has just qualified for the 2019 World Championships. I'm sure Lesley won't mind me mentioning that here she might not the fastest, but her progression and confidence has grown ten fold. I challenge anyone to disagree with me, when I say that she has the biggest smile while racing round the track. Lesley simply loves the sport and its changed her life. I must also add she has qualified as a SKY Breeze rider, encouraging and empowering other women to start cycling.
But sometimes work gets in the way of this fun, for everyone. It's how we pay for our toys! Personally, building work doesn't really help me in terms of physical well-being, with dodgy wrists, elbows and shoulders, but I remind myself that returning to construction was a means to step back a little and then move forward again. Priority was getting my family time back, and also my beloved escapes; surfing and cycling. Both suffered with lack of time due to working log, unsociable hours within the ever so oppressive hospitality industry. Feeling tired, grumpy, stressed and with no real time to enjoy the things I loved, I took a decision to lose a salary, and get my life back on track. Has it worked? So far yes, mentally most definitely, physically I'm getting there, but I wont lie, financially, ways looking for an opportunity are never far from my mind.
Anyway, since I now have this new time on my hands, and weekends my own if I need them I've travelled to Van Road Trails, Bike Park Wales and the Forest of Dean to get a full three days of riding. Not on my own but with a bunch of mid to late 40's BMX racers from Bournemouth and Knightwood BMX Club. Some still competing at national level, and Steve Wilcox and Keith Brown both also being selected to represent team GB next year at the Worlds Championships in Zolder. All refusing to believe that life is anything other than family and riding bikes. Myself and son then travelled to Black Mountain Cycle Centre earlier this year, this time hooking up with the South West BMX dads and their kids. I met guys like Rik Penney and Andy Harrison, racing together in the 45+ Cruiser category. Dads who should know really better. But rather than just sit on the sidelines and watch, like me they also joined their children and started racing. Racing BMX again after nearly 30 years, was such great fun, such a buzz, but also a little dangerous, but thats racing.
So is it also our kids keeping us feeling young? I know for a fact that surfing and riding bikes with my son is the greatest gift ever and I bet my friends feel the same. But its also thinking 100% about new boards, bikes, accessories and all the places to go and have fun. Our young minds are so excitable.
I'm not alone or hope I'm not alone, when saying this; but sometimes when I'm surfing, especially surfing, I hilariously imagine that my moves emulate my heroes I've watched in countless films past and present. This is absolutely not the case, never has been, (although quietly proud of my drop knee turns which is a traditional longboarding manoeuvre). I'm just a salty old sea dog who looks like an egg cup in a wetsuit, and a slightly overweight Chunky Brother riding trails, I look shocking in Lycra, but what the hell, in for a penny.... I've slowed down a little as I get older and my surfing has become a lot less energetic. Like Matt Johnson expressed in the classic film Big Wednesday, when asked if he's been surfing much, his reply was simply " Nah, just when its necessary".
So whats the point of this blog post. I think the key to staying young at heart is our imaginations. We might not have to be doing something all the time; but when we do it makes you feel like a kids again, it makes us smile, it makes us want to share our memories, and let it continue until we slide into that grave, thinking we look like our heroes.