Respect your elders.
Talk about a concept that has been rammed down our throats since birth. I mean, yeah sure, you’re still alive, congrats. But age in and of itself isn’t justification for respect. We’re not living in the Upper Paleolithic where it would be a huge accomplishment if the Cro-Mag in the next cave over made it to 35. Respect, to rely on a truism, is earned. And in this age of advanced healthcare and progressive social systems11Well, compared to the Upper Paleolithic at least. simply continuing to exist no longer counts as respect-earning. How, then, do I feel about Ol’ Dawgs? With their deeply-developed jerky tans, baggy white socks, varicose veins, vintage jerseys, saggy spandex, and blatant, wanton disrespect for the hegemony of the modern safety helmet? With their ardent dedication to bicycles with a total of ten speeds? And their ever-present ancient perfume of experience that smells of disinterest and wonder at the same time?
How do I feel about the Ol’ Dawgs? I LOVE THEM.”
They can have all the respect because they’re out here/there quite literally riding off into the sunset. Not that we aren’t all riding the grand-existential fondo into the setting sun, it’s just that on average they’re much closer to the sunset then I am. At least I think so; obviously, an unexpected diagnosis and bam, I could find myself in the sun [the author beats his fists on his chest, points to the heavens, whispers “memento mori”, then gets back to anxiously trolling multiple social media platforms in hopes of finding solace in the void], but this exercise is nothing if not an exercise in generality, in blanket terms.
So we’ve established that, no way around it, the Ol’ Dawgs are there in the warmth of the sunset. Here’s where the respect comes in: they’re not just slumped over at the end of the trail. The Ol’ Dawgs do everything they can to out run that fucking sun, and in doing so they leave us young guns under the tire. It is the Ol’ Dawgs that pass you on the way to the KOM, barely breathing; not because their lungs are on the edge of failure, but because at this point they have 10s, 100s of thousands of miles in their legs. They’ve spent a lifetime cultivating this strength, they’ve spent a lifetime riding.
When I’m out on a ride and I see a member of the Ol’ Dawgs I see myself, my shitty bike, my worn out threads, my heaping sunscreen; and the Sartrean dread is, at least for a moment, quelled.