One possible way of spending retirement is to enroll in marathons, ironmen (or is that ironmans?), ultracycling, etc. all over the country or planet depending on ambition. Last SundayA couple of years ago I completed my first century (actually it turned into 123 miles (197km) since I took a wrong turn at some point) which was quite fun — as time passes it seems increasingly fun, go figure — and not as hard as I expected. Given that I was still feeling fresh, I played a game of hockey afterwards which led me to suggest to DW that I should do an ironman at some point (gotta try everything once).

So here are my observations regarding spending “retirement” doing endurance events.

  1. Unlike less demanding sports, traditionally played by older retirees, like golf, fly fishing, It is a way to keep in shape. Young people (under 25) tend to take being healthy for granted, whereas older people mostly have to work for it.
  2. Training for endurance requires a time commitment of 1-3 hours a day.
  3. One gets to see nature up close. It’s one thing to drive a car up to a summit to watch the view. It’s an entirely different experience spending an hour or more climbing it. Doing that compares to the car experience as the car experience compares watching the mountain on TV.
  4. One gets to meet interesting people and go interesting places. Many people seemed to know each other from previous events. Also one can get interesting t-shirts.
  5. These hobbies can be as expensive as one wants to make them. Since the events are generally noncompetitive, paying $1000’s of dollars for equipment that shave a few minutes off every hour is unnecessary.
  6. One major cost is travel costs. This can include gas (or even airfare) to the event plus food and hotel. The entrance fee comes on top of that.
  7. Another cost is food. I found myself eating a lot more. If a 40 mile training ride is worth 1800kcal that’s almost a day’s worth of food meaning that I would be eating twice as much. Most of those calories come in the form of rice and beans, but it’s still a factor.
  8. The bike wears out — especially when ridden for 5000-10000 miles a year. I figure 10-20% of the bike’s cost each year in depreciation and maintenance.
  9. For those who are used to using their brain all day, it is very liberating to engage in something that requires little abstract reasoning and is felt directly by the body.

All in all, I don’t think training and participating would be sufficiently self-actualizing in the long run. I think the challenge would too easy after a short while (the pinnacle of the century ride seems to be Mt Whitney, the Death ride and various events in Death Valley – correct me if I’m wrong). Related to this of course are events where the learning curve is steeper like RAAM, adventure racing, tris, and even riding around the world. Centuries for me would not provide 24/7 levels of fun like other things do. Remaining with the century events, doing SAG support and helping other riders finish may be a meaningful endeavor.

Originally posted 2008-05-05 21:29:52.