“Thirty-seven.” That was his answer to my question as to when he thought he had reached his top form, and after which he first noticed his speed, stamina and general physical condition begin to deteriorate– in other words, when things started going downhill. I didn’t think it to be an inconsiderate question at the time. I was genuinely curious. But I later realized that to ask a guy 13 years my senior and with a near lifetime more experience in the mountains than I had, was a bit disrespectful. It implied that he had peaked, that he was over the hill, and my innocent curiosity put him in the uncomfortable position of having to actually nail down the exact start of his decline. I was asking him to admit that he was getting old.
But as certain as time may be, Neal still refuses to surrender to age, and he wasn’t going to let me get away with forcing it on him. That would explain his answer, because I was thirty-seven, and it was the obvious, easy comeback to my unintentional call out. As in, “I may be getting older, but you’re right there with me, pal.”
Which, of course, is true. Nice one, Neal.
So the week before my 38th birthday, he started joking that I only had a few days left before I’d be past my prime. We decided to get out every day right up to my birthday because, well, it’ll be all downhill from there.
And coincidentally, Neal, the guy who refuses to slow down, yet who at age 50 told me (with a slight smirk), that my outdoor career would likely be in rapid decline from a much earlier age of 38, has an itch to get back into the 100-mile running scene. Having paced me twice at Hardrock, he wants to kiss the rock himself but first he has to qualify, and for that he signed up for the Bear 100 in late September.
So together, to get it in before my potential physical demise and to train for Neal’s more certain 100 miler, we made an effort to get out everyday. The week-long schedule for what we dubbed Ted’s Excellent Adventure Camp went like this:
- Day 1- Road bike (w/ Steve Parziale), Independence Pass, 40 miles, 1:45 up.
- Day 2- Trail run, Hunter Creek, distance unknown.
- Day 3- Trail run, Conundrum Hot Springs, 18 miles, 4 hours RT.
- Day 4- Road bike, 22 miles- Maroon Bells, rock climb- Ptarmigan Creek.
- Day 5- Mountain bike, 30 miles- Ashcroft- Express Creek- Taylor Pass- Richmond Ridge- Sundeck- Little Annies- Castle Creek- Aspen.
- Day 6- Trail run (with Christy), 13 miles, Upper Lost Man, Lost Man Pass, South Fork Pass, Williams Ridge, Scotts’ Lake, Lower Lost Man.
- Day 7- Pyramid Peak, <2 hours up, 1:15 down.
And so on Day 7, my actual birthday and the day Neal joked it would be all over, we cruised Pyramid pretty fast, up in just under 2 hours and down to the car in 1:15. So he was right, at least from one perspective–
Things went downhill fast, but only with regard to how quickly we got down to the car. It was a fun week to end a fun year. Hopefully, there are more to come.
Age is totally irrelevant…especially in Aspen. When I’m there all too infrequently, I ski with octogenarians who whiz around like Red-Bulled teenagers. Well senior citizens, anyway.
As an aside, I think I’ve mentioned, Ted, that Neal’s book about Aspen skiing is one of my favorite tomes.
Ted – Don’t get angry – get even. Perhaps a gentle reminder that Neal will be 51 (that’s FIFTY ONE) on Sep 6 would be in order. Maybe a cane, or better yet, a walker, seems an appropriate B-Day gift. Also, it’s about time that he gets on the AARP mailing list.
Scott, as one of the dozen or so people that ever bought his guidebook, Neal would like to thank you in person next time you’re in town.
And Larry, thanks for the gift suggestions. Everytime I wonder if I’m crossing the line with comments made about Neal in regards to his age, you step in and take it to the next level, lower that is. I guess if his dad can’t say it, no one can. See you at his 51st.
Quality of readership, as I will attest, is often better, from a purely literary standpoint, than sheer quantity.
Well, all joking aside — and I know it’s hard for you jokers — I think Ted and I did pretty well last week, especially considering Ted’s advancing age. And The Excellent Adventure camp continued beyond that week with some bonus events that were, well, most excellent!
By the way, do any of you old coggers out there know if the AARP card gets you any discounts of note? Like half-off 16oz Geritol bottles or free shipping on those easy to chew meatloaf flavored Metamucil enriched energy bars? Also looking for a copy of the “Best of Jack LaLane’s Workouts, Part II” (on Betamax). Mine’s worn out. Thanks in advance…
We’re here for you Neal. Walgreens offers all that you seek, and more, at discount for AARP members. The catalog can be found here- http://bit.ly/cjMd94
A few things of note, p.7 walkers, p.9 Ensure, p.11 Mens Bladder protection, and all at at least 25% discount. I envision you cruising the aisles of City Market on your new “Shoprider Echo Scooter” (p.7)in blue, I think that’s your favorite color.
Best of luck.
You guys are really lucky. I reserved the last two spaces at the local senior center in your names. Sorry to tell you Ted, but your space is on the second floor – but,not to worry. They have recently installed an escalater for those unable to negotiate the stairs (there is an elevation gain of 12 feet to the second floor, but oxygen is available, and charged directly to your 401K so you won’t have to deal with the burden of counting out payment.) Press the red button in your bathroom when you arrive and we’ll all come down to greet you.
I’m told, when it’s time, you get an AARP magazine in the mail, whether you want one or not. I think places like Wendy’s offer discounts for ‘seasoned American’ or whichever euphemism is in vogue. And people start calling you ‘sir’ and such…which is nice, I imagine. You can also pretend to be deaf around people with whom you would rather not communicate; you can break wind ‘in flagrante’ with the power and force of a giardic buffalo and it’s perfectly acceptable, even welcomed. And you should get a reduced green fee as the muni, at least on Tuesday and Wednesday mornings before 8:30 a.m. and after 4:30 p.m.
Add the standard AAA discount to the senior discount and a whole new world of opportunities opens up and once you’re in, you can look around and gape, gawk, and gaze with a glazed glee, sort of like Jim Belushi watching a sorority house pillow fight.
I should not jest.
I’m closer than I’d like admit. How do I know? On the rare occasions I watch TV, the ads are for erectile dysfunction solutions, hearing aids, and diapers.
I have known Larry B for quite a few years. He not only invented Geritol he also invented dirt and he has a shirt to prove it. I hope we all live as long as Larry B and are as active as he is. Ready for a muffin Larry?
Funny stuff. But on a more serious note, Neal’s b-day is less than two weeks away so order that walker soon or it might not get here in time.