Never Too Old to be a Krank
by Earl Magpiong
August 07, 2023
Earl on Palos Verdes Ride 2022

One of the best Christmases I ever had was when I was eleven years old. I opened the sliding doors and saw two bicycles, one for me and one for my brother. Now I could “ride bikes” with friends and get a job as a paperboy.

And I have never stopped riding since.


Earl in Riding Gear 2022

Earl in Riding Gear 2022

I have ridden bicycles to school, to work, on self-contained camping trips, and on cross country trips. I rode mostly because it was fun, cheaper than a car, and was outdoor exercise.

And for me, at 86, riding still doesn’t have an end date.

• At age 75, I rode across the country, the last 30 days solo.
• In 2014, at age 77, I rode across the country with my son and with two others from my bicycle club.
• And in 2017, at age 80, I rode cross country again with my son, a friend, and two more from my bicycle club.

Riding a bike is a solo activity. While there are professional cycling teams, most cyclists ride by themselves or in small groups with friends. Except for my self-contained trips with friends, I mostly rode alone, especially when training for many long-distance events. I enjoyed riding alone because I could ride anytime and anywhere I wanted.

When I retired in 1992 at age 55, I was unmarried, and wanted to buy a van and tour the USA with my bike and running shoes. (I was also a marathon runner). Instead, I met and married Susan (who was also a marathon runner and a long-distance bike rider) in 1994 and we DID buy a van and we DID move to New Hampshire for eight months where we biked and ran.

In the late nineties and early aughts, I wanted to test myself for solo long-distance bike riding so I entered organized long-distance events, distances covering all kinds of terrain in all kinds of weather and with time limits. It did not matter your age. Every rider was held to the same rules.

I joined a cycling group called Randonneurs USA that promotes long distance unsupported cycling. The style is non-competitive and self-sufficient and you must complete four rides of increasing distances to qualify for a 1200 Km (750 mile) Randonnee.

L to R: Earl, Tucker Swan, Glen Magpiong (son), September 2017, End of Northern Tier/Route 66 Ride, Santa Monica Beach, CA

L to R: Earl, Tucker Swan, Glen Magpiong (son), September 2017, End of Northern Tier/Route 66 Ride, Santa Monica Beach, CA

In July, 2005, I qualified for a Randonnee in Davis, CA, but I did not finish. I was not properly trained nor did I have the proper bicycle for such a long distance. It was too heavy. I was not discouraged and made another effort to complete a Randonee.

In September 2006, I qualified for the Colorado Last Chance “Venture to Kansas” 1200 Km Randonnee. The time limit was still 90 hours and, again, I failed to complete the ride. I thought I had trained properly, had a proper bike, but hubris overtook me. I thought that based on my training and previous experiences that I would breeze through the ride. Nope, didn’t happen. I overslept, I rode alone (not a good thing), and I suffered a boil on my rear to the point where sitting on the saddle was very painful. I rode 625 miles before the “SAG” wagon (support vehicle for cyclists) picked me up in Last Chance, Colorado. I was NOT in Kansas anymore, Toto.

Earl Rsting on a Couch on a Sidewalk 2022I got home the next night, sat in an Epsom Salted bathtub for the boil and pondered what I was going to do next. I was 69 years old and my wife, Susan, wondered if I should continue riding alone. I agreed with her and it was at that point that I remembered that I had a business card from a fellow I happened to ride with on a long distant event a year earlier. He was the co-president of the Old Kranks, a bicycle club situated in Westlake Village that welcomed any and all riders, men and women, over the age of 50.

I live in Newbury Park just a few miles from Westlake Village, and in October, 2006, I joined the Old Kranks. I could not beat the annual fee of $5 and it also felt like a new beginning, a chance to ride with riders both younger and older than me, in order to keep fit, enjoy the outdoors on a bike, make new friends, and more importantly have fun. I was not disappointed.

It was inspiring to ride with 80-year-old guys, elderly (75+) retired couples, ex-professional and amateur bike racers, and with people who started with the club in 1986 in their late 50s who were continuing to ride until they decided they should not ride anymore due to diminishing bike riding skills. When they decided not to ride anymore, they continued to come to the “after ride coffee klatch” at Gelson’s market at the end of our neighborhood rides.

That those inactive ex-Kranks continue to be involved, socially, with the riding Kranks speaks well of our culture of really being a social club that just happens to ride bicycles. Besides riding together, we party together, lunch together, laugh and cry together, and continue to be inspirations to our fellow riders, to our families, and to our friends.

At age 86, my dynamic aging continues on a well-worn and active path to where I do not know. I only know that if I have any more fun than I am having now, it would be a sin. I still ride with my motto: “Start slow…then taper.”

Earl Far Left with Old Kranks 2021

Earl, far left, with Old Kranks 2021

Earl Magpiong
+ posts

I was born on May 31, 1937, in East Los Angeles, raised in East Hollywood, graduated in 1954 from Hollywood High School, worked for the Survey Division of the City of Los Angeles for 35 years, raised a family in the San Fernando Valley, and graduated from CSUN in 2000 with a BA in history.


  1. Randy Wagner

    It is a pleasure to be riding with you these days, with the Old Kranks.

    • earl magpiong

      Thank you Randy. It is also the Kranks who enjoy the pleasure of riding and partying with you and Cindy

  2. Barbara West

    Earl, You are the man , and the Myth and the Legend. Thanks for participating in Joan’s magazine. I knew you were the perfect pick of the litter. Let’s get more Krank’s to participate. Go get em!

    • earl magpiong

      Thanks Barb. As far as “go get ’em” goes, I’m like a steer: I can only try.

  3. Ronald Borgwardt

    I’m an 85 year old member of the Old Kranks Senior bicycle club, joining it in 2013. Earl Magpiong has been my riding mentor. Since joining the Kranks I’ve become an avid 80+ miles per week rider, and love it. My theme is take just about any riding challenge; you can always turn back,

  4. Steve Forman

    You are the best old guy to be our president. I never fail to marvel at your leadership style – a perfect mix of inclusion and comraderie. All us Kranks are all blessed to have you as our model and mentor.


  5. Katie Menees

    You are amazing Earl!! You are our Club’s true pearl!!
    Thank you for your support and friendship!! YOU are the best!! Katie

  6. Charles Qualls


    The article is inspiring but does not even come close to conveying what an inspiration and mentor you are to so many people.

    Thanks for all the memories.

    Chuck Qualls

  7. Lisa Daley

    What a beautiful article!! I continue to be amazed by you and am so thankful that you are married to my mom!! I love bragging about you to all my friends and, of course, love that you met mom at my wedding!!
    Love you…Lisa

  8. steve saks

    You are my hero. Do not go gently into the night. Life is a precious gift that must be lived fully, a gift that must not be wasted. You and the Kranks personify this enlightened belief. Thank you – Steve Saks

  9. Ellen

    What an inspiring story! Thanks for writing it.
    I’m a distance cyclist (see my earlier article in DynamicAging4Life) but not as long-distance as you! I will turn 70 in 2025 and your story, and those of other cyclists 70+, help me see that I can keep doing this thing I love for a long time. I agree that cycling with others is not only safer, it’s great to share the love.

    Keep on keeping on!

  10. Kim I Rosenberg

    Earl, You are my muse and my hero! Riding with the Kranks is essential in my life. The joy, exercise, camaraderie is priceless. Thank you for being!

  11. Ruth Jackson

    Inspiring story. I’m not a rider but I do plan to stay as active as I
    can for as many years as possible!

  12. Barbara Heric

    Earl, I have know you for 75 years, hard to believe, but Earl is my cousin. What an inspiration you are to me and you make me proud. I also love telling my friends about you and your journeys, which they are amazed what you have accomplished. Keep it up, The description of you and your brother Richard getting bicycles for Christmas, puts a smile on my face.
    Love you, Prima, Barbara

  13. Carl Lustig

    Hey Earl,
    We have biked together since 2008 and you have been my inspiration. Although you are only a mere 2 months younger than I and I no longer do the away rides or ride with the faster riders, your friendship and help have, over the years, kept my love of riding alive. Thank you for sometimes keeping the easy riders and the faster riders riding together. You are truly a legend in the Old Kranks!

  14. Michael Lohnberg

    Earl, you are an inspiration to us all but in spite of all that time riding back and forth across country you do show that you enjoy being with people and do a great job of kranking up the Kranks!!


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