If you’re an athlete, especially in an action sport, there will come a day when someone says, “Aren’t you a little old for that?” You might even ask it of yourself. But the recent Dew Tour stop in Salt Lake City proves that’s a silly question.
At the Dew Tour Toyota Challenge, the incredibly daring athletes demonstrated that you don’t have to age out of your sport. BMX Vert perennial Dew winner Jamie Bestwick is 40; his compatriot Dennis McCoy is 44. Ryan Decenzo, who won Skateboard Street (formerly Park) is 25; third- and fifth-place winners Paul Rodriguez and Manny Santiago are both 26. Vert skateboarder Andy Macdonald is 38, as is Bucky Lasek. None have any immediate plans to stop.
How do these action stars stay at the top of their game, despite falls and injuries and the hard grind of competing and qualifying at every tour stop? Their answers will give you hope for your own future as an athlete.
Andy Macdonald doesn’t lift weights. He says, “My workout is basically yoga and push-ups, sit-ups and core strengthening. I have a pull-up bar and punching bag at home, and I use them both. I try to eat fairly decent. My best core exercise is crunches and leg lifts.” He adds, “I’m coming back next year. I want to try to win when I’m 40.”
Pierre-Luc Gagnon, who won Skate Vert, is 31. He does a tough workout four days a week when not on tour. “I do a routine,” Gagnon says. “I’ll start with jump rope, then I’ll practice some boxing, some weightlifting, and then I’ll stretch. I take a break for lunch, then I skate for two to three hours in the afternoon. I stretch a lot, usually twice or three times a day, for 20 minutes after my workout, again before skating and also before bedtime. It’s important to stretch, because if you don’t, your whole body tightens up from all the falls and impacts.”
BMX dirt rider Gary Young, 28, avoids weightlifting. “I ride BMX on a daily basis—that keeps you pretty fit—and I do body-weight exercises,” Young says. “I live pretty close to a skatepark that I like to ride on my bike, and it’s uphill to get there. Ride your bike up hills. That works your core and your cardiovascular system. Riding uphill definitely gets your stamina up. Stamina helps keep you young.”
Greg Lutzka, who came in second in Street, earns a good living skating. Lutzka says he’s always injured, though he still makes the podium. “My ankles are all messed up. To get back into it when you get hurt, you have to go to physical therapy. But to really come back, the hard part is staying in the game mentally,” he says.
The mental part is also key for Dennis McCoy, who, at 44, is still sixth overall on the Dew Tour rankings. He had a good run going in the Salt Lake City finals until he crashed, knocked himself out and had to receive medical attention. But he was back for the awards.
He says, “Having a passion for your sport really, really helps you mentally. My workout is I ride my bike all the time. I want to keep competing as long as I can.”
Then McCoy gives the best possible advice for every older athlete: “Don’t let passion turn into foolish pride. At one point in my career, I was the No. 1 ranked rider in the world. Some people, when they slip from No. 1, can’t handle it, and they walk away from the whole thing. I didn’t do that. I was never out there just to be No. 1 in the first place. It was a byproduct of the fact that I loved what I did. So slipping from one to two or even sixth is not going to change the fact that I love it. Remember, there’s a guy that’s 20th, and when he moves up to 15th, he’s as happy as can be. So I will enjoy the ride back down as much as I enjoyed the ride up.”