Meyers spins his wheels at record speeds


For some people, retiring means the time to relax and slow down a bit has arrived.

But when cyclist Bill Meyers turned 65 almost a year ago, he was focused on finding ways to go faster on two wheels.

"I set a national record last year in my age group," Meyers said. "I think I have a pretty good shot of breaking that record this year."

Meyers' sense of confidence comes from a couple of months of solid training and some pretty impressive finishes in regional events.

The fact that he unofficially broke his own record a couple of weeks ago at the state time trial championships, which were held just north of Denver International Airport, also has boosted his confidence.

Meyers set the national record in New Mexico at the Moriarty Record Challenge last September when he covered 20 kilometers (about 12.5 miles) in a time of 27 minutes, 21.27 seconds.

At DIA, Meyers completed the same distance in a time of 27:16, but because the U.S. Cycling Federation did not recognize the time trails, he will have to wait to see if he can repeat that performance this September in New Mexico at the officially recognized event in Moriarty.

"There are a lot of factors that have to be considered in a time trial," Meyers said. "But if the wind and humidity are right, I think I have a pretty good shot. Breaking that record is my goal this season. "

Meyers has been riding since April and he shifted into high gear at the Cherry Creek time trails. The seven-race series was scheduled to take place over seven weeks, but snow canceled one of the events. Meyers said there wasn't any time to make up the lost race, but he won all six that took place.

He has taken part in three mass-start races, too, finishing second in all of them. A rider from the Boulder Race Team, Larry Bosch, has beaten Meyers in all of the races.

"He is a fantastic racer and the best sprinter in our age group," Meyers said. "He always seems to get me down the stretch."

Meyers said he has a friendly rivalry with Bosch, and admits that the Boulder rider is a little stronger in the mass-start events.

But Meyers holds the edge in the time trials, where riders start at timed intervals, ride most of the course by themselves and are not allowed to draft off of other cyclists during the race.

"Basically, you go as fast as you can without blowing up," Meyers said.

In the event, riders try to reach their maximum heart rate and then hold it for the length of the course -- normally a duration of 20- or 40-kilometers, depending on the division. Meyers said the idea is to set a steady pace for the entire length of the course. Riders must reach a level they can maintain from start to finish.

Mass-start races, by comparison, make strategy, timing and teamwork almost as important as a rider's power to push the pedals.

Steamboat racer Ian Prichard, who is 27 years old, races in Category I (a notch below the pros) and is familiar with both racing styles. He said he was impressed with Meyers when he met him for the first time in Denver a couple of weeks ago.

"That was the first time we officially met," Prichard said. "But I have heard his name in the past."

Prichard said he was amazed by what Meyers has accomplished in his career -- especially when you consider that the senior rider reached most of his goals last year without the aid of a traveling partner. Meyers has since teamed up with another Steamboat master division rider, Angelo Cilli.

Meyers said he got into racing late in life, and admires the young racers who battle in younger and more competitive race divisions.

"There are only 15 to 30 riders in our groups," Meyers said. "We are just out there to have some fun. Our races are competitive, but they're normally not that dangerous."

He said the groups are easily twice that size in the pro, Category I and Category II divisions.

"The elbows are flying in those packs and most of the racers are pretty serious about winning," Meyers said. "I don't know if I would have started racing if I had picked it up at that age."

But for "roadies" such as Meyers, Prichard and Robinson, cycling is about more than racing -- it has become a lifestyle.

Meyers plans to compete almost every weekend this summer, including major trips to Moriarty for the Record Challenge, Utah for the Huntsman Games and Kentucky for the National Masters.

Meyers, who started his competitive racing career at 53, said the fact that most events are age-graded has made it easy for him to stay in the sport. He said if he stays healthy he plans on racing until he gets tired of the travel.

"I could still have 20 more years of racing," he said. "As long as it's fun."


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