These things seem to happen in a series. As I write this, I realize not everyone in their late 60s or 70s has a fascination with sport or movement. But stay with me, because I think my musings could apply to any pastime, hobby or activity that gives us joy.
I have noticed that first one, then another of my bicycling friends have shared concerns about continuing to cycle as hard as they have in the past. It’s not physical pain holding them back, nor is it advice of their doctors.
One of my friends had a bike accident a few years ago. It was the bike itself that was the problem as the fork broke while she was riding, which ended with her thrown face-down on the side of the road. Since that time, she is still avoiding riding with the friends she rode with for years, doing long-distance rides raising funds for a number of causes. They miss her in their bike group, she misses them, but she continues to hold back.
Another friend who cycled with a group of women for years has begun to worry about her balance. She recently sought to alleviate this concern by buying a step-through bike, which looks really sporty, by the way. She is comfortable with the bike, but still feels she couldn’t keep up with her former group. So, she no longer participates in their group rides.
Both scenarios make me sad. Both of these lovely women feel they would be holding their groups back because they are uncomfortable with the previous pace they all shared. Both women in their late 60s and early 70s are uncomfortable enough that they are separating themselves from the very friend groups they have exercised and socialized with for years.
I am not a cyclist myself, but I do understand the power of regularly exercising with a group of friends you have bonded with through that exercise. I have done many Saturday morning runs with the same group of people for years. Even though most of them are roughly 10 years younger than me, for years I didn’t have any difficulty keeping pace with them.
Recently that has changed. I have worked around it by beginning my run earlier, running a few miles with them, then agreeing to meet at the same time for our typical coffee stop. Even so, it is hard to realize that I am no longer fully experiencing being a part of that pack.
On the other hand, I have two friends who have not held back. One of them took a tough fall off her bike recently, leaving her with a black eye and numerous bruises. Undeterred, she has been doing mountain trail biking through the summer. Another friend who had a fall (while running) that led to a long break in her training, instead began deep water swimming and has developed another group of friends with that activity.
I’m simply pondering how we as women approaching (or having past) the 70-year mark, deal with changes to our activity level, whether through injury or simply the slowing down with age. And how we deal with how those changes may impact our involvement with groups of friends who have been a part of our lives through those activities.
As I indicated at the beginning of this article, while my examples involve changes in our ability to maintain the same level of physical activity, it’s my assumption the same is true for many of us in this age range who enjoy the passion of activity with friends.
If you have been a member of a sewing circle, knitting group or quilter, have you experienced changes where you consider stepping back from activity with that group of women? Has anyone experienced changes in eyesight or hand mobility through arthritis or other debilitating changes?
At this time in life, many of us have already experienced the loss of friends who for years were an important part of our “friends” circle. As we approach our 70s, how do we best maintain friendships with those friends who share our passions, our joys, our accomplishments, our secrets, sometimes for decades?
Should we allow a difference in ability level separate us from that friendship circle? How can we maintain our place and keep those important friendships alive? What have you tried?
Tags Getting Older