John Kerry rides a bike. He rides it often and he rides it fast. On Sunday, he crashed his bike and broke his leg near Scionzier, France, while taking a break from nuclear negotiations with Iran. A lot of people take some exercise before a day's hard work, but some think Kerry is too old to be doing this kind of thing. Rush Limbaugh certainly does:

Now, would somebody tell me something? What is a 71-year-old man, secretary of state, doing riding a bicycle — or, alternatively, windsurfing off Nantucket? Why is somebody riding a bicycle while in the midst of sensitive negotiations and attempting to secure nuclear weapons for Iran? Exercise? BS.

Now this is from a man who is paid to be provocative and to insult people like Kerry, but his was not the only voice out there being critical of Kerry for cycling at high speed when he's supposed to be negotiating about bombs. However the fact of the matter is, John Kerry is probably a better negotiator because he is fit and gets regular exercise. Studies have shown that exercise maintains brain power and makes you happier, but it also also slows down the effects of aging. Really, you want a healthy, happy, brainy and young-at-heart secretary of state. You want him sharp at the negotiating table, and he will be sharper after a good bit of exercise.

But there's another side to this story. This guy’s good. He hasn’t said “Oh, I am old now, I can slow down a bit.” He still pushes the limits. A few years ago, he did a ride with Jonathan Vaughters of Cannondale, who was impressed at the way Kerry could hold a conversation at the speed and altitude they were riding, how fast and confident he was. But the big test was yet to come on the descent, “the enemy of people who have speeches to go to at night and important jobs to go to in the morning.”

But man…O’ man… John Kerry descended like he stole the friggin’ bike from the GOP. As we hit the first switchback, he immediately put his weight back, counter-steered, and carved the corner like a pro. He put three bike lengths on me like Magnus and Stuey used to do to me back on Credit Agricole. Unreal. This guy was a pilot on the bike. Down the switchback of Lee Hill and over 90 kph and he was not phased [sic]… one bit.

Accidents sometimes happen when you ride like that; there is risk in any sport. Was he taking too much of a risk? Kerry is no kid, he's even too old to be called a Baby Boomer. (The oldest boomers are 68 and he's 71.) There are people not much older than Kerry who break their legs just standing up because bone loss due to inactivity and subsequent broken hips are common. The way you beat this problem is with exercise. It's likely that Kerry's bones are like those of a much younger man, and no doubt as soon as his leg heals, he will be back on his bike. Athletes are like that.

There are a lot of boomers sitting on their couches thinking, "Wow, I wish I could do what John Kerry can still do." And there are others on their bikes or out pounding the pavement, thinking that they can push it a little bit farther and faster. It’s a shame that he had to break a leg to get the news out, but John Kerry is an inspiration and a role model with an important message: Never give up, never slow down.

Well, maybe slow down a bit.

Related on MNN:

Lloyd Alter ( @lloydalter ) writes about smart (and dumb) tech with a side of design and a dash of boomer angst.

Best wishes to John Kerry, a role model for boomers
The Secretary of State breaks his leg riding a bike — but it's the other side of the story that matters.