How A 70 Year Old Man Beat Me In Cycling: Valuable Lessons I Learned From It

Every Thursday afternoon at 12:00pm I take a express cycling class at my gym. A nice, quick and intense 45 minute workout to help a little bit with my cardio and endurance while I am training in the offseason. I enjoy taking this class not only because of how good every session is, but because of the same tight knit group we have developed in the class overtime. Every week the same people attend the class (give or take a few) and to me, the best part about going is seeing that consistent attendance from the people who show up all the time.

No matter what week it is, I always ride on the same bike which is located two rows behind our group instructor. One row up, to the left of me is an older man in his 70’s who attends every Thursday as well. There are also mirrors around the room so that we can watch ourselves during the workout to make sure we are doing each exercise correctly as we follow our instructor. There is a point in each session when the workout gets really intense and requires us to use a lot of energy. Whenever we get to this point in the workout, I always tend to have my head down because it helps me cope with the burning sensation (pain) I feel in my legs.

So one session we reached that intense part of the workout which is considered sprints. Our instructor said that she wanted us to go as fast as we could for one minute straight, then two minutes straight and so on. So I put my head down and I am working! My legs are burning and pain in starting to kick in. I am even talking quietly, trying to motivate myself to keep pushing through the pain. Around 35 seconds in I look up and the first person I see is the older man in front of me. Shortly after, I look down at his feet and then look down at mine. I could not believe my eyes. He was moving faster than I was! I thought to myself “there’s no way. The resistance on his bike has to be lower than mine is.” And to my surprise, it was not! This 70 year old man riding on the same resistance as everyone else in the room was beating me and probably most of the other people in the room in the SPRINTING segment. Unbelievable.

When our 45 minute session was over, I approached the man afterwards while laughing and said “where did you get legs like that from? I was trying to keep you the entire workout!” And his reply was “that’s funny, because I kept looking at you in the mirror trying to keep up with you the entire workout whiling wishing I was young again.” His response actually caught me off guard because here I was thinking that I was the only one trying to keep up and surpass him during certain segments of the workout but he was doing the exact same thing towards me and after I left the session that day, this experience made me realize a few things. Here is what I took from it:

I THOUGHT I was working hard

It’s crazy how when you think you’re working hard, you may soon come to realization that you weren’t working hard enough. This experience clearly made me realize that I wasn’t working as hard as I thought I had been because as soon as I looked up from my feet, I saw another man working harder than I was. We always have more to give, and sometimes all it takes is to watch another person outwork us in order to give that extra push to put more effort into what we’re doing. We must continually ask ourselves, “am I working hard enough?” or “am I being outworked?” If we aren’t working hard enough, do we care enough to do anything about it? And if we are being outworked, what adjustments will we make to change that?

Someone tried to OUTWORK ME without me knowing

“Don’t be outworked!” – Eric Thomas

Your coach, boss, professor, mentor, friend, or family member might of said it. You hear it all the time about people getting outworked and this situation is no different. I was being outworked, plain and simple. I allowed someone else to outwork me. But the craziest thing to me when I actually sat down and thought about it was that this man was trying to outwork me and I had no clue. NO CLUE what so ever. But that just proves that we just never know. We just never know who could be trying to work harder than us in any aspect of our lives. There will always be someone trying to be one up on us, but can we do something about that? Sure we can. If we choose to. Because not everyone is ultra competitive and some people may choose cruise control and there’s nothing wrong with that, but we all still must be aware that there is someone out there working harder and smarter than us in the same areas in life that we are. That’s just how the world is. But like I mentioned early, we have a choice. Are we going to be outworked? Or are we going to be the outworker? That 70 year old man didn’t have to outwork me, he CHOSE to.

DON’T take an opportunity to get better for granted 

This is probably what I took most from this experience. To take an opportunity for granted would only be a wasted opportunity. So why do it? This man didn’t. He’s 70 something years old. He doesn’t have to get better at cycling. He’s done his time. He could relax and chill throughout each workout if he wanted too. But guess what? He doesn’t. Every session he brings it. He works, and takes advantage of every 45 minute session that we attend. He doesn’t take the opportunity to get better for granted. So what’s my excuse? I don’t have one. Some opportunities only come around once, so I must treat every opportunity to get better like it’s the last opportunity I have doing that one thing ever again.

Consistence and persistence

To walk into each session and see the same group of people all the time, every week is nothing but motivating. No matter if they’re young or old, the same people are always there. It’s cool to witness that commitment from one group because no one has to be there every week, but they choose to, because they want to get better. That just makes me want to be that much more consistent in not just attending my cycling classes, but throughout life in general. Whether that be being consistent in basketball, training, relationships, work, writing, or self development. The more consistent we are, the more good habits we pick up.

This experience also made me realize how far persistence can take you. I don’t how long that old man has been trying to beat me in cycling sprints, but I do know one thing. He was persistent at trying to beat me. Even if it was just that one session that he was trying to outwork me, he was persistent at it and kept on working. He never gave up and look where it took him. Think about it. We might have given up on something because we weren’t persistent enough, or gave up on our goals and dreams because we weren’t persistent enough. Persistence can take you a long way and you never know where it could take you. Be persistent. You might just reap the benefits of it.


– Brandon H.


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