A few weeks ago, Coach Fred Matheny emailed me to let me know he thought it was the right time for him to “hang up his keyboard” and “ride off into the sunset.”
Fred’s been writing about road cycling with wit and wisdom for nearly 40 years, the last 16 of those with RBR. His spot-on coaching advice on training, skills, nutrition and related topics has benefited countless roadies over the years. He’s certainly earned his ride into the sunset.
As we discussed his farewell, he wrote: “As far as ‘retirement’ goes, I’m more of a Tim Duncan than a Kobe Bryant. So how about if I write something that you can run in RBR Newsletter in which I bow out and thank many of the people who have helped me along the way?”
I appreciate his approach to retirement as much as I always appreciated his cycling advice and the way he presented it. He just wanted to keep it low-key and say thanks to a few people in his article, which follows this one.
I want to say thanks to Fred.
I’m one of those countless roadies who has benefited from his coaching advice over the years. Before I took over RBR in 2010, I was a long-time, avid RBR reader. I often cribbed his Ask The Coach tips and utilized several of Fred’s eArticles through the years. I distinctly remember buying his “Peaking for a Century” before I did the Six Gap Century for the first time. It helped me tremendously. And to this day I never fail to benefit from re-learning tips and techniques that have escaped my memory over time.
I encourage you to add your own note of thanks to the Comments below Fred’s article.
But Fred’s farewell is not a goodbye. He will continue to write back to Premium Members who write in asking for his specific advice (which we’ll run as Ask the Coach items, as appropriate), and he has an open invitiation to write about anything that moves him as he pedals through retirement. Here’s hoping he’ll feel so moved from time to time.
Moreover, what gives RBR its enduring character is that our good, solid, practical cycling advice is, by and large, timeless. Fred’s writing fills the pages of our website, and we’ll continue to run pieces he’s written over the years in future issues of RBR Newsletter, to the benefit of even more roadies to come.
As I was editing Jim Langley’s Tech Talk column today on caring for your carbon bike and components (good stuff from Jim, as always!), I was reminded of a calamity that befell my buddy Mike on the Tour de Wyoming last month – proving one of Jim’s points about taking care when parking or laying down your carbon ride.
After our ride one day, Mike, Scott and I hopped on our bikes and rode down to a local watering hole for lunch and a couple of beers. We leaned our bikes against each other in a stable configuration to save space, as there were already a bunch of other bikes parked against the nearby storefronts.
When we came out later, all three bikes had been moved – and it was clear they had been knocked down before they were moved.
We all inspected our rides for damage. Mine and Scott’s were unscathed, but Mike’s rear derailleur – a snazzy Campy carbon model – had been dinged, and the hanger was bent to the point of messing up his shifting. He hand-bent it enough to make the shifting acceptable and rode the next day with only a few complaints. The biggest issue, it seemed, was that the derailleur was perilously close to his spokes. Shifting into your spokes, of course, never ends well. That didn’t happen to Mike, but something worse did.
At the end of that next day’s ride, as we pulled into camp, he decided he’d take his bike down to the mechanic’s trailer for a proper repair. Unfortunately, when he stood on the pedals outside his tent, his rear derailleur basically disintegrated.
Bent but not broken, Mike chose the only option available to him in light of the fact that the mechanics did not have any spare rear derailleurs available. He chose what he thought was an acceptable gear combination and had his bike made into a fixie for the final day’s ride.
I don’t recall the gear combo he chose, but that last day included a 10-mile descent at an 8 percent grade, so he didn’t really need to pedal much on that bit. But leading up to that was a testy 2- to 3-mile climb that we didn’t really expect. I felt for Mike as he stood and powered over that climb, working tremendously hard.
His situation just perfectly made Jim’s point about protecting your carbon. Certainly, do all you can to protect your bike. Sometimes, though, even when doing the right thing, stuff happens. This was one of those times.
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.