Yep, that's when I think I'll be ready. Or maybe even past that.
I've received a lot of emails lately from mostly guys in their late 30s, 40s, and 50s that are racing mountain bikes and they tell me what an inspiration I am for them.
That is what inspires me.
It gives me fuel to keep on racing and do what I love so much. I did the Trans Alp race in 2004 which is a 7 day stage race in the most amazing German, Austrian, and Swiss Alps. I'd love to race there again but it was one of the hardest races I've ever been in. It was also the first time I raced in a Master's category. That was the most competitive age group I ever raced. I mean that of course most of the races I've done have been difficult, but the Master's category is a different beast. These guys give all they have to win and it's tough.
At this age, it's hard but not like I can't handle it. It's good to have the competition to keep and stay focused. If I went into it thinking it wouldn't be that bad then someone like Nat or Chris would show up and make it interesting. You've got to have that...keep it interesting. We are all going to the events for the same reason. To get the good competition and to have the opportunity to race another year.
Endurance is still a relative newcomer in the sport of mountain biking. It will take some time to attract the big dinero, but with the different series that started up in the last few years, it's got a lot of promise to get some good following. The focus has been on XC for a long time but this is a great next up-comer. We could use some good support.
OK - so back to the reason for this rant....I'm not thinking about retiring any time soon. I think I'll race till I die and my wife told me I'll live a long long time. Probably into my 90's.
I can see it now. 'There goes Tinker - the guy is 87 years old and still pedaling! He's on his 14th lap already!'
I'll have to turn up my hearing aid so I can hear the cheers.
So my goal is that I want to set an example to race mountain bikes as long as I can at a professional level and retire at a normal age. I want to show that you can make a lifetime career of it. Ned is the only guy that is ahead of me and he's set a fantastic example.
I want to do this as long as I can. Heck, I'm hoping to keep up with Joshua when he grows up. And I want to show that you can enjoy doing this sport and it will keep you healthy and young. And it's not all about racing but it's about being outside on the bike. I love the way it feels to be out there with everyone else that is having fun doing what they love the most.
I want to get a kick about being a professional cyclist longer than anyone.
Enjoy it as long as you can.