Ask the Coach Columnist, RBR Co-Founder, Ret.
I discovered the sheer joy—it’s not too strong a term—of pedaling when I began riding in the early ’70s to gain fitness for backpacking, mountaineering and skiing, my favored activities in my newly adopted state of Colorado. Riding also helped me lose the 50 pounds I had gained to play college football. But gradually, riding supplanted everything else as my primary recreation and means of fitness.
The mountainous Iron Horse Race from Durango to Silverton wasn’t a great choice for my first competition in 1976, but I survived—barely. By 1978 I was a Cat 2 and getting schooled by the young crop of future professional stars like Davis Phinney and Ron Kiefel. Fortunately, I was already old, at least by their standards, and soon qualified for masters racing.
Although I have had some competitive success over the years, especially in time trials, as I’ve grown older I increasingly enjoy just riding rather than formal competition. I like long adventure rides on a combination of dirt and pavement, coaching at PacTour’s Desert Camps in springtime Arizona, 2-week tours in the Rockies and Pacific Northwest, and also brisk tandem rides with my wife, Deb. We’ve ridden our Co-motion tandem in Arizona, Ohio, Oregon, Washington and points in between, along with many miles on the scenic roads surrounding our home in western Colorado.
Although Fred officially “hung up his keyboard and rode off into the sunset” in 2016, RBR will continue to feature his timeless, spot-on cycling advice on our pages.
I was a high school English teacher in 1977 and decided that if I was teaching writing I should at least take a stab at writing myself. So I churned out magazine articles about training, then did part-time stints at Velonews and at Bicycling Magazine, followed by 5 years as Bicycling’s Training and Fitness Editor. Ed Pavelka was my colleague at both magazines, and in 2001 we founded RoadBikeRider.com. Thirty-eight years after that first article in Bike World Magazine, I’m still writing about cycling.
And now, after over 40 years on the bike, I’m slower than I once was, but faster than I’ll be. I use lower gears to get up the 6-mile climb to Black Canyon National Park just outside town. I have given up trying to set personal bests on the local hills. I don’t use a power meter anymore because it would only chronicle my deterioration.
But the joy of riding hard, the satisfaction of getting up a tough climb and the camaraderie of a smooth paceline as we fight the wind together has, if anything, only increased. I’m hoping for many more years of riding, and writing.