What retirement looks like …

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I first published this post on April 20, 2014, almost 2 years ago. I thought this would be an appropriate time to re-post it given I’m now retired. Not much has changed. I feel the same way. I’m happiest when I’m on one of my bikes. Cycling is my antidote. It’s time to make plans. Here is what I said 2 years ago (with a few minor revisions).


I admire those who ride across countries, traverse continents, and just keep rolling.  Exploring.  Travelling light. Camping mostly.  They are adventurous.  And, they do it at all ages.  Young.  And, old.

Years ago, I was working in Castlegar, a small, mill town in BC’s interior. One day, I went to a cafe in town for lunch and sat outside in the sun enjoying a sandwich, and a cup of coffee.  As I sat there soaking in the rays, an elderly man rolled up on a road bike.  A touring bike not unlike my Roberts.  I asked him to join me.  What a story.  He was 75 years old.  Originally from England.  That year he had lost his wife.  His children were grown, and long out of the house.  He decided he needed something more to do.  And, what did he decide?  Cycle across Canada.  Alone. What else?

I never heard from him again.  I don’t know if he made it but I see no reason why not.  He had already cycled the toughest section of the country. I have always remembered this fellow.  He has been an inspiration.  I am not yet 75 but I am considering retiring soon.  My kids are grown, and off the payroll.  What’s next?

I wonder what retirement might look like?  I am not one to sit for long.  Golf?  I enjoy the game but would rather be on my bike.  House projects?  I have several in mind.  Volunteer?  I can do that.  I have marketable skills.  Grandchildren?  I have one, and hope to have more.  Cycle?  I am happiest when on a bike.  And, that’s the thing. Retirement must include cycling.  A lot of cycling.  Every day if possible. It’s my antidote. Training.  Challenging myself to longer, steeper climbs.  Longer rides.  Centuries. Gran Fondos. Day trips.  Weekends.  A month on the road each year, exploring sea coasts, and rolling country roads.  Coastal trips – Oregon, California, Ireland, Scotland, France, Italy, and Spain.

I can imagine renting cottages in the sun for a few months a year.  A place where friends can visit.  And, where the cycling is good.  Little road traffic.  Rolling, quiet country roads.  And, seaside vistas.

That’s what retirement looks like 🙂

21 thoughts on “What retirement looks like …

  1. Nice post Gary. It’s always interesting to reflect on earlier times – some things remain constants and tell us a lot about who we are. And it’s funny how some people – like the 75 year old Englishman – appear, have a tremendous impact and then leave. I’m always amazed at how that happens.

  2. I’ve told many people that the day I retire will probably be the day I’m loading my bike and Beast on Amtrak and heading to the west coast someplace to begin my cross nation ride. It probably won’t happen quite like that, but the plan is more than just a dream.

      • I’ve decided I don’t want to use “organized” routes such as Adventure Cycling sells. I want to ride on roads and towns where I’ll be the unusual one. I really think that opens for doors for conversation than in those areas where people are somewhat used to seeing touring cyclists. Another post idea!

      • I couldn’t agree more. And, I like travelling solo. I can go at my own pace and, more importantly, more open to others along the way.

  3. I remember this one from first time round, still loving my retirement cycling immensely, must go meeting the other crumblies for our cafe ride, another 40 odd miles, scones & chat. All the best.

  4. I love this post. I love everything about it. I wish I could better articulate why but I suspect it has to do with the intimacy of strangers when we’re brave enough to engage, not to mention that it touches on several rhythms of life. Lovely.

  5. I’m so happy you are living the plan.
    Your story of the stranger reminds me of my own experience with a stranger who inspired me. He was a German in a coffee shop in southern Utah about a decade ago, on a cold day in early April, cycling across America. He was in his 30’s and had taken a leave from his work to be on his bike for three months. My eyes were opened to the possibilities of not waiting until retirement to ‘live your dreams’.
    Retirement is a long way off and too long to wait. Life is short and who knows what health traps lie ahead. So, at 48 I took my ‘marketable skills’ on the road by accepting a job to work for two years in Frankfurt Germany. I’m in my 6th month here and have cycled up and down the Rhine some, done a small bit of France and even got spinning some in Spain during a weeks vacation. I plan to do much more european cycling in the coming 18 months. Life is a journey calling for action and there are ways to make it happen before retirement.
    Keep on rolling.

    • Good for you. I couldn’t agree with you more. We have no idea what lies ahead. It’s important to live each day to its fullest. The idea of not waiting for retirement is gaining momentum.

  6. Like Fossil, I remember this the 1st time around and still inspired by it so thanks for the reminder. I have been kicking myself a lot lately for not having the same enthusiasm for riding when I was off the plane in London, single and with Europe over the ditch. I’m no closer to retirement now than I was 5 years ago and it’s a long way off. But have already started to plan the same kind of thing.

    • I’m pleased you remembered the post. I retired in stages, gradually cutting my hours back over a 3-4 year period. It got me used to the idea and gave me time to explore what I really enjoyed. If you are able to do that, i would certainly recommend it.

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