Consider it a grudge match.
The Source’s own most senior reporter is off to B.C. this week to settle a score with an octogenarian who beat him in last year’s Prospera Gran Fondo Axel Merckx bicycle race.
Geoff Lee, 67, who is originally from Ontario, but has called Lloydminster home since 2008, said he still relives the moment when the older rider blew by him during the grueling race held in Penticton.
“The 87-year-old beat me by one minute,” said Lee, grinning with the remembrance.
However, the humble rider said when he thinks about it, maybe it wasn’t such a terrible loss.
“I didn’t mind him beating me so much because it showed me what an active lifestyle can do for a body,” he said, while noting he wasn’t in peak performance shape for last year’s race.
“I was injured last year, but am feeling good now.”
Lee’s been an athlete most of his life and began training for triathlons in 1980— he later completed three of them while living in B.C.
He’s played hockey, downhill skied and has been cycling as long as he can remember.
He’s run six marathons, including those in New York City and Chicago.
“I would have done the Boston (Marathon), but I missed the qualifying time,” Lee said.
This week, our man will be facing about 3,500 other riders who all start the race with a single blank fired from a pistol.
Those numbers, Lee admitted, has him a little concerned.
“If you touch a wheel, for example, you’re going down, so you have to be careful,” he said.
A few years back, in 2013, in a truly international deal, Lee found an all-aluminium, Holland-made Beoni bike he eventually purchased from a seller in Ireland.
He’s been training all year for Penticton’s 2016 gran fondo, and hit the road in ernest during early April and typical trips around the city would often cover 80 to 85-km every training day.
A gran fondo is a long distance road cycling event where riders follow a particular route and race against the clock.
Last year, Lee completed the 92-km portion in 3:30 while averaging 26.2 km/hr on a hilly course during a cool, cloudy day.
“I’m hoping to be more than 27 km/h this year, but weather is always the big factor,” he said.
This year’s forecast for the big race is expected to hover around the 24 C mark with a 60 per cent chance of showers.
“I like it cool,” said Lee, “but if it rains, it will slow things down for everyone.”
Lee said he learned a valuable lesson while puffing up the race’s hills last year.
“I bought a new climbing gear,” he said.
“It makes a big difference.”
Lee’s life of competition nearly ended a few years ago, however, when he was at a local arena for some fun.
“In 2012 I fell straight back on the ice while skating and slammed my head,” he recalled.
While not immediately noticeable, the effects from the fall would effect Lee for the better part of a year, and the headaches, blurred vision and constant ringing in his ears would take him off the road.
“I didn’t knock myself out and there was no bump or anything,” he said of the fall.
“It was delayed for about 48 hours, then it hit like a freight train—it felt like my eyes were pushing right out of my head.”
It took many months, but Lee finally healed to the point where he thought he could compete again—a feat he accomplished when he rode in Canmore’s 2014 gran fondo.
“I thought if I could do that, it would make everything better,” Lee said.
“I felt I was back.”
Despite the injuries, and the fact he’s worn a pacemaker since 2000 because doctors were alarmed at his alarmingly low pulse rate, Lee said the secret to why he hits the road as often as he does is a simple one.
“I just really like competition and staying in shape keeps you young,” he said.
On the road again
July 12, 2016 12:00 AM
The Source's Geoff Lee is back at it, this time in Penticton for that city's Prospera Gran Fondo Axel Merckx bicycle race.
Consider it a grudge match.
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