In 2014 his goal was at least 100 miles per week. In spite of a number of cold, rainy days in December (Richard lives in Lexington, N.C.), he finished up the year with 6,078 miles, which was about 117 miles per week.
For 2015 his goal, at age 88, remains unchanged – to also get in 100 miles per week, on average, depending on his health and the weather.
I met Richard at the Texas Hell Week about 20 years ago, and we’ve been friends since then. His cycling history and accomplishments are a lesson unto themselves, but he has some great advice to share with all of us, as well.
He started riding when he was 59 years old!
That’s right. Imagine what his mileage would be if he’d started riding sooner!
In 1985 a friend at work who rode a bike suggested he give it a try. One of his sons had a good 18-speed bike, which he borrowed. Richard had a number of good, short rides with his friend and found out it was a lot of fun! He started cycling and logging his mileage on the calendar. His immediate goal was to ride 20 miles. So he did. Then it was 50 miles, then 100, then a 200K, etc.
After a year of riding, like manyolder riders – remember, he was already 59, and just starting out – he found that riding was challenging, made him feel good physically and, most important, was fun! Here’s a quick rundown of what he’s done in the almost 30 years since.
His palmarès include:
- 326 centuries
- 26 double centuries
- 4 triple centuries
- Boston-Montreal-Boston 1200K
- Paris-Brest-Paris 1200K
- Three cross-country PAC Tours
- Team Race Across America on an over-70 team
- 13 Michigan National 24-hr. rides
- 11 Assaults on Mt. Mitchell
- 5 RAMROD’s (ride around Mt. Rainer in One Day)
- 3 Blue Ridge Parkway multi-day rides, 475 miles (which Richard calls one of his toughest)
- 2 STPs (Seattle to Portland), and many others
The UltraMarathon Cycling Association has a yearly contest where riders get their century rides authorized. Back when I was Managing Director of the UMCA, Richard was the top century rider one year and won the Softride bike that he still enjoys riding.
I asked Richard what advice he has for older riders:
“I keep motivated to cycle as much as possible because I know it keeps me pretty healthy. All of my doctors tell me to keep exercising. My father died of a heart attack at age 72. I’ve had some heart issues over the years (mitral valve repair at age 75, then a pacemaker) and take medication every day, so at age 88 I’m still able to get out on the bicycle almost every day.
“Take proper health medication and follow your doctors’ advice.”
Ride Your Own Ride
“If you are riding with someone much younger than you, do not overexert yourself trying to keep up with him or her. Ride your own ride! Any younger friend will slow down to your speed, not the other way around!”
Fit the Bike to You
“Be sure you have plenty of low gears and are comfortable with your saddle and position of your handlebars. Over the years, I’ve lost a lot of my leg strength, so I use lower gears, especially on the hills. I’ve raised my handlebars up so I’m not leaning over as much, and can thus be more comfortable.”
Keep Nutrition Simple
“I generally just drink water on short rides. In the summertime I use an insulated water bottle that keeps the water cold for hours. If I’m cycling long rides (50 miles or more), I take along and eat one or two energy bars. If it’s an organized group (such as PAC Tour) I drink Gatorade or an equivalent at the rest stops (every 35 miles or so). Also, I eat fruit, fig newtons, or sandwiches at the stops.”
Enjoy the Ride
“I find that I still get enjoyment when I’m cycling, alone or especially with friends. Over the years, I’ve really been fortunate to have had some great adventures, now great memories.”
Get Good Advice
“I really appreciate the advice and encouragement I’ve gotten from these great long-distance cyclists, Lon Haldeman and Susan Notorangelo, Ed Pavelka, Fred Matheny and John Hughes.”
Coach Hughes’ Resources for Older Riders:
Fit for Life – Activities to keep you fit for life and how to build your life-long program—40 pages for $4.99 ($4.24 for Premium Members)
Cycling Past 50 4-Part Bundle – 1) Healthy Cycling Past 50; 2) Off-Season Conditioning Past 50; 3) Healthy Nutrition Past 50; 4) Performance Cycling Past 50—98 pages for $15.96, a 20% discount over the unbundled price (and just $13.57 for Premium Members with their 15% discount on top of that)
Cycling Past 60 2-Part Bundle – Part 1: For Health, and Part 2: For Recreation—How to determine your athletic maturity. Based on your athletic maturity, nine full-body exercise programs for recreation and healthy aging—47 pages for $8.98 ($7.64 for Premium Members)
Cycling Past 50, 60 and Beyond: Training with Intensity – How and why to train with intensity to combat the effects of aging—27 pages for $4.99 ($4.24 for Premiums)
Cycling Past 50, 60 and Beyond: Peak Fitness – How to achieve peak fitness through smart training—39 pages for $4.99/$4.24
Distracted Driving Ticket Makes Perfect Sense
Perhaps you heard about this Atlanta-area story recently that made national news? A Cobb County police officer ticketed an Alabama man for eating a hamburger while driving.
Cobb County Solicitor General Barry Morgan told the Atlanta Journal Constitution that “it’s generally not the specific action alone that violates the law. It’s when the action distracts a driver and leads to unsafe driving that there’s a problem.” He mentioned similar tickets for such things as reading a newspaper and applying makeup while driving. (Strange that he failed to mention the No. 1 offense – texting while driving.)
When the officer pulled over the motorist, he told him, “You can’t just go down the road eating a hamburger.” He ticketed the man for allegedly not exercising due care.
While the case was discussed and debated on national news shows and cited by some as an overreach by police, I for one applaud the officer. In fact, I wish I could bring along a cop on every ride to issue tickets to the handful (at minimum) of distracted drivers I see each time I hit the road.
Distracted driving is a bane to all users of the road, to be sure. But those of us who total 200 pounds (including bike, kit and helmet) are particularly vulnerable. It makes not one whit of difference whether the driver of the car that hits you was distracted by a mobile phone, lipstick, or cheeseburger. Distracted driving is distracted driving.
Stamping out distracted driving, in whatever form it takes, should be a primary goal of all cyclists and cycling advocacy organizations. So, again, kudos to this officer for doing his job. And here’s to other law enforcement officers clamping down on the types of drivers who pose the biggest risk to road cyclists.
‘I’d Probably Do It Again’
That’s part of what Lance Armstrong said recently in an interview with BBC Sport when asked if he would choose the path of doping if he had to do it over again.
BBC Sport editor Dan Roan flew to Austin, Texas, for Armstrong’s first television interview since his infamous sit-down with Oprah Winfrey two years ago. An abridged transcript of the interview appears on BBC.com. Following is the passage that includes the “would you do it again” question, and Armstrong’s nuanced answer.
DR: When it comes to the doping, would you do it again?
LA: “It’s a complicated question, and my answer is not a popular answer. If I was racing in 2015, no, I wouldn’t do it again, because I don’t think you have to. If you take me back to 1995, when it was completely and totally pervasive, I’d probably do it again. People don’t like to hear that.”
DR: But that’s the honest answer?
LA: “Yeah, that’s the honest answer, but it’s an answer that needs some explanation.
“When I made the decision — when my team-mates made that decision, when the whole peloton made that decision — it was a bad decision and an imperfect time. But it happened.
When Lance Armstrong did that, I know what happened. I know what happened to cycling from 1999 to 2005. I saw its growth, I saw its expansion.
“I know what happened to the cycling industry. I know what happened to [his bike supplier and sponsor] Trek Bicycles — $100 million in sales, to $1 billion in sales.
“I know what happened to my foundation, from raising no money to raising $500 million, serving three million people. Do we want to take that away? I don’t think anybody says yes.
“I will tell you what I want to do. I would want to change the man that did those things, maybe not the decision, but the way he acted. The way he treated other people, the way he just couldn’t stop fighting. It was great to fight in training, great to fight in the race, but you don’t need to fight in a press conference, or an interview, or a personal interaction. I’d be fighting with you right now — I would be taking you on.
“That’s the man that really needed to change and can never come back. So it’s not an easy question, and I want to be honest with you. It’s not a popular answer, but what really needed to change was the way that guy acted.”
Despite Armstrong’s introspection and claims that, if possible, he would like to turn back the clock and “…change the man that did those things….The way he treated other people…,” in another question he demonstrated the density, the obtuseness he sometimes flashes that still drives detractors to distraction. Note the use of the word “scenarios” instead of “people.”
DR: Do you think you’ve been made a scapegoat?
LA: “Well, my actions and reactions, and the way I treated certain scenarios, were way out of line, so I deserved some punishment. Has it gone too far? Of course I’m going to say yes. But a lot of people will say it hasn’t gone far enough.”
It now appears that Lance Armstrong has come full circle – from a man who lied so profoundly for so many years to a man who now just can’t help himself from telling the truth.
John Marsh is the former editor and publisher of RBR Newsletter and RoadBikeRider.com. A rider of "less than podium" talent, he brought our readers consistently useful, informative, entertaining info that helps make them better road cyclists. That's what we're all about here—always have been, always will be. Click to read John's full bio.