Not bad for an old man

It is time for me to get back into better climbing shape, and since I have a good little hill nearby I don’t have an excuse not to get out and ride. I am referring to Sepulveda Blvd. Here is a little history of Sepulveda Boulevard, taken from Wikepedia:

Sepulveda Boulevard is a street in Los Angeles, California, which stretches some 42.8 miles (about 69 km) from Rinaldi Street at the north end of the San Fernando Valley to the city limits of Hermosa Beach, where it “jumps” 1.3 miles (2.1 km) east and continues on to Long Beach. It generally runs north-south, passing underneath two of the runways of Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). It is the longest street in the city and county of Los Angeles.

Sepulveda Boulevard is named for the Sepulveda family of San Pedro, California. The termination of Sepulveda is on a part of the Sepulveda family ranch, Rancho Palos Verdes, which consisted of 31,619 acres (127.96 km2) of the Palos Verdes Peninsula. The original grantee of the King of Spain was Jose Dolores Sepulveda. When he was killed in an Indian uprising just above Santa Barbara in 1824, the rancho went to his oldest son, Juan Capistrano Sepulveda.

This concludes today history lesson. The portion of Sepulveda I am referring to is close to my home and I usually get onto it near Wilshire Boulevard.

Sepulveda runs parallel to the I-405 freeway, cresting the Santa Monica mountains

The distance to the top from my jump-on spot is about 4.7  miles and offers just shy of 1000 feet elevation gain, a perfect spot for hill repeats, which I did yesterday. I was on my third uphill leg, when I spotted a rider ahead in the distance. Feeling some fatigue in my legs I welcomed the sight as it helped me focus and set a mental goal of catching the rider. I made slow progress catching up, but eventually did halfway up. It is my custom to announce myself when passing and to offer a friendly greeting, in this case it was a “good morning, how are you doing?”.

In return I got: “not bad for an old man!”

Me: “yeah, same here”,  as I passed by, “have a good ride!” But, before I knew it he was back at my side.

He: “you know, I had to see how old you were, I am 70”

Me: “well, in that case I am a youngster, I am only 52”

He: “yeah, I thought so, but you are riding strong for your age”

At this point we were entering a section with about an 8% grade, I remained in bigger gears, standing in my pedals, trying to maintain a slow but steady cadence. My exertion  level at a point where it is hard for me to form complete sentences. At the contrary, my newfound riding buddy is seated, pedaling with ease, and has no problems talking.

He: “riding is good, been doing it for the past 30 years, picked it up before my first Ironman when I was 44”

Me: “wow”

He: “I was primarily a runner before, did some marathons…..”.

By the time we reached the top, I knew he was George, married twice, widowed now, lives in Sherman Oaks, has no children, a description of his first Nike running shoes, the weight, model, make and setup of his first steel bike; I also know now that the recommended food intake for long distance runners in the 70’s was steak and eggs and that he loves to hang out at the beach because of the pretty girls. In return he learned my name and the fact that I can grunt!  All the while he was seated, spinning upwards with ease, no hint of exertion in his voice.

As we reached the top I hit the lap button on my Garmin out of habit, but didn’t pay attention to it until later at home. George pulled me up the hill shaving over a minute off my best prior lap time. We parted at the top as he was heading down on the valley side and I returned the opposite way.

Me: “you know George, you were right”

He: ” about what?”

Me: “you are not bad for an old man!”

If all goes as planned George and I will ride sometimes next week – I am planning on brining an oxygen tank for me!

Sepulveda San Fernando valley descent past tunnel


About GT in LA

Road cycling enthusiast
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6 Responses to Not bad for an old man

  1. Chad says:

    Great story, Thanks for sharing. I’d love to hear what else you learn from George on your future rides. He sounds like a great guy, and we can all be so lucky to ride like him when we hit that age.

  2. gtinla says:

    Bryan and Trickster: very nice to see you back, appreciate the comment.
    Darryl: thanks for stopping by, look forward to many good stories on your blog

  3. Darryl says:

    That’s one of the things that I love about cycling….make that two of the things. One is that you can not only do it at any age, but do it well. The other is the relationship building that can come while on the bike. We’re part of the same tribe and we have an inner connection, not to mention being champions in our own right.
    Thanks for sharing your special ride with George…much appreciated.

    Enjoy Your Ride.

  4. TheTricksterNZ says:

    I know a guy a bit like that over here. He’s in his mid-late 60’s and is still a solid B-grade rider who often puts the sword to people less than half his age.

  5. Pingback: Friday afternoon links « BikingInLA

  6. Bryan says:

    Ha, Ha! Awesome story. George sounds awesome. Your experience reminded me of a lot of time last year when I would routinely get passed by folks (a lot of them women) older than I was. It just takes time to get there. Some day.

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