After 39 years of writing about bikes, I’m riding off into the sunset, retiring from RBR.
I wrote my first cycling article for the now-defunct magazine Bike World in 1977. (I hope my article didn’t hasten its demise.) That was followed by a stint writing for Velonews when it was located in Brattleboro, Vermont. Ed Pavelka was the editor, and my association with Ed continued through my 15 years at Bicycling Magazine in various editorial capacities. In 2001 Ed and I founded RoadBikeRider, and I’ve continued to write for RBR ever since.
That first article in Bike World was about training, a topic I’ve come back to many times in my writing career. In my attempt to become a better rider and racer, I found that sharing my hard-won knowledge with others was at least as much fun as groveling in the peloton.
I have many people to thank for my time in cycling journalism, too many to mention here so I apologize in advance for those I have omitted.
Ed Pavelka has been a mentor, riding companion, teammate on our record-setting 1996 Race Across America team and motivational force for me since the ’70s. Ed took a chance on an unknown young writer, giving me the opportunity to write for Velonews, at the time the foremost racing publication in the U.S., and he also edited my first book. He came up with the idea for RBR and worked tirelessly to turn it into the best source of road riding information on the web.
Over the years I’ve had the pleasure of riding with many pros, including Greg Lemond, Steve Bauer, Davis Phinney, Ron Kiefel, Christian Vande Velde, among others, who were kind enough to slow down so I could keep up. I gleaned much useful training and technique information from them as I panted in their draft.
I’ve also had the opportunity to talk cycling with exercise physiologists and coaches so I could pass their expertise along to readers. Andy Pruitt, founding director of the Boulder Center for Sports Medicine and the father of modern bike fitting, has been a friend and source of inspiration along the way. He also repaired my knee so I could continue to ride!
I’ve had the privilege of coaching at Lon Haldeman and Susan Notorangelo’s PacTour Desert Camps for 21 years. Both are ultra-distance cycling legends and run equally legendary tours and training camps. Their example – and their smoothly run tours – have kept me young in this sport.
Local Montrose, Colorado, bike mechanic and shop owner Alan Ardizone won fame as RBR’s “Uncle Al,” dispensing cutting-edge tips in his inimitable style. He and his cycling wife, Leslie, have been my friends for 18 years during which time Alan has kept my bikes running and built my wheels.
Former Bicycling Magazine technical editor Jim Langley has also helped me with mechanical matters, inspired me with his years-long riding streak and continues to disseminate practical advice every week to RBR readers.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t thank my wife, Deb, for her unwavering support. She has listened to my article ideas, provided invaluable feedback and proofread my manuscripts all along the way. And she’s an accomplished cyclist in her own right – we have logged nearly 50,000 tandem miles since we got our first long bike 12 years ago.
John Marsh took over RBR when Ed Pavelka decided to ride off into the sunset back in 2010 and has continued the tradition that Ed and I started. John’s passion for the sport shows in the enthusiasm for cycling that RBR continues to spread to readers all over the world.
Most of all, I’d like to thank you, the countless recreational riders who have read my articles and books. It has been fun to share this knowledge, and your feedback has made me a better writer and rider.
I’ve hung up my keyboard but not my bike. I’ll continue to rack up 8-10,000 annual miles – and I hope to see many of you out on the road.
Penny Jansen says
Hi Mr. Matheny,
Thanks to a random encounter today (9-24-19) with my husband and you on the Colorado National Monument, I feel compelled to write you and thank you for your influence as a teacher. In addition to your high expectations in English, you introduced me to cross-country skiing and cycling – two activities I love to this day. I wish more teachers had the time, permission, and/or ability to introduce students to outdoor survival classes with field trips to Grand Mesa or Red Mountain or to listen to harrowing stories about tire blowouts on Cirro Summit and hope that never happens when I’m barreling down a mountain on a fully loaded bike at 48 mph. In other words, your teaching made a big impact on me. Thank you and happy cycling! Sincerely, Penny (Roushar) Jansen
Fred Matheny says
Thanks, Penny! It was great to meet Eric in the Monument. Deb was talking to him and discovered the connection. That was a lucky meeting for sure. It’s easy to teach well when we have students like you. We’ve kept up with your touring adventures around the world through your Mom and are impressed with your sense of adventure. I hope we can meet up for a ride at some point!
Fred (no more Mr. Matheny!)
Eric Seamount says
I am sorry not to be able to read any more of your article’s! I still have your book (Beginning Bicycle Racing) and still pick it up an read every spring. Growing up in Montrose I still remember seeing you ride around town and riding my crappy bike thinking I might someday be able to ride like you! After seeing Cycling in the 76 Olympics I fell in love with Cycling but I wasn’t sure how to get started. I doubt you remember this but when I got to MHS I was walking down the hall…you grabbed my Arm and pulled me aside and said “you have the perfect body for cycling!” that made my day!
I ran into you back in the early 2000’s at the Velo Swap in Denver and chatted for a little while. I wanted to tell you thanks! Thanks for Being such a Great English Teacher (even though I thought your class was so hard) I loved being in your class. I loved all the cycling Pictures you had hanging on the walls….and I can still see you walking to the windows and looking outside. We were supposed to be working but I always wondered if you were day dreaming about being out and riding you bike like I was.
I got transferred to Dallas for work so I don’t get back to Montrose as much as I would like….But If I do I sure would love to go out on a ride again with you! If you ever get down to TX you always have a place to stay.
thanks Again Mr Matheny and Happy Trails!
Glen Steen says
In the early 80’s I used Coach Fred’s Power to the Pedals program. I loved the program. It got me in great shape for the season. Received a great compliment at the beginning of the season.. On an early spring club ride I was up front with one of the better racer on the club. We always sprint for the stop sign warning signs. He took off about 500 meters from the sign and I was able to stay with him, not beat him but stayed with him. His comment: “What the hell did you do in the winter?” I would never have been that close to him in a sprint to the sign without Power to the Pedals. Thanks Coach!