The Dark Side, by Joe Fabris

Joe Fabris lives life to the fullest. His bio includes a 3:58 mile, impressive cycling exploits, leadership roles at tech giants IBM, Microsoft & Palm Treo, co-founder of innovative Plus3 and is a highly valued AthleteBiz board member.

Man I love running.

Wish I could still do it.

I had my time way back when. But now I’m coming close to 60 years old, and sadly, runs just hurt my fragile frame.

BUT — I have found savior in the…BIKE.

Many of my many running buds have called biking “the dark side”, but honestly, all those who say that are young and supple. All my best biking friends are old un-supple fully rigid ex runners!

Back in the ‘84 I went after running hard. I tried. I wanted to make an Olympic team. But Steve Scott, Sydney Maree, Chuck Aragon and about 15 other guys wanted it more. So I retired after one last 3 and ¾ laps at the LA Coliseum Track at the Olympic Trials and I got on with a career in High Tech.

Olympic Trials ’84.  Brian Theriot, Greg Reynolds, Don Volky, me in the Converse

Olympic Trials ’84. Brian Theriot, Greg Reynolds, Don Volky, me in the Converse

When I turned 40 I tried running again. I had some good times running as a Master. I ran a 4:23 mile one year and won a Cross Country National for my age group. But after every race I could hardly walk.

So I started limiting my running and added biking. And guess what. I liked it. And it didn’t hurt.

These days I’m much more of a biker than a runner, even though I still go to all the local track and xc meets, and almost every USATF Track Champs and Olympic Trials.

And when I go to those races, all my runner friends show up with bikes. And we ride and talk about running. Over the years I’ve ridden with so many people, men and women, who used to run, it’s pretty funny.

Most runners when they switch over come with great motors. We are on a first name basis with pain and suffering and we can usually climb hills like goats.

So after we “FRED” a few days (A Fred is the new guy who shows up with his helmet on backwards and wears underwear under his Lycra shorts) we start to learn the ropes and bikers start to accept us. Especially if we drop them on a climb, and double especially with our helmet on backwards and a visible underwear line.

Biking has a few nuances that make it nice for an aging runner. The first is that I can still walk after a hard effort or even a race.

Biking gets me tired, but it doesn’t debilitate me or make me break out the ice and ibuprofen. I can even do multiple races, like back to back, and I do.

One year I’m on the starting line of the US National Cyclocross age group field and the guy next to me is Tim Hacker. Look him up on the internet if you don’t recognized the name – he was US 1500m Champ and ran the mile in 3:55. We had a good laugh after the race as we cooled down. He whooped me on the cross course like he used whoop me on the track, but it was full of grins.

Results from Louisville 2012

Results from Louisville 2012

What makes racing on a bike pretty fun is one of the weird differences between cycling and running. And that is for almost all bike races the TIME DOES NOT MATTER. You never talk about your time. And in running all you do is talk about your TIME. Your TIME can define your race. And as you get older, those times SUCK compared to what you could do at 26 years of youth.

So for an Ego Centric bloke like me, not having to tell someone your time after a bike race is a little blessing. And we all need all the little blessings we can muster as we age into the sunset.

Thank you running for all you gave me in my youth, and thank you cycling for letting me carry on into the final frontier. Hope you can too find a way to keep your body moving always and forever.

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