Mid-Life Cycling

Mid-Life Cycling

24 August 2017

Robert Davis Is Still A Winner

Yesterday I alluded to my brief, undistinguished "career" as a racer.  Among other things, I mentioned that the best I ever did was a third-place finish (out of about 25 or so riders) that resulted from the crash of a rider who probably would have taken my place on the podium had he not taken his tumble.

The time I spent competing--and, more important, training for it--left me with respect for those who continue to train and race, and admiration for those who win.  If anything, these days, I feel even more respect and admiration for those who are not considered "elite" or "world-class" cyclists, especially with all of the scandals and shenanigans at the so-called higher levels of the sport. 

For most cyclists, the reward of cycling is cycling itself and the memories it inspires.  For a relative few, there are tangible rewards: in the rarest of cases, money, but for a few more, trophies and other momentoes.

Robert Davis, with his trophy from the bicycle race he won in 1949, when he was 16.

Robert Davis has one on his bedroom dresser.  Every morning, it reminds him of a 100 kilometer race he won.  His victory even earned him, and the race itself, an article and photos in one of the world's most popular magazines.

That magazine was Life.  The race, however, is one you probably don't know about--I admit, I didn't, either, until today--unless you were involved in it or lived in the US state of Georgia.  

Robert Davis, then.

The Valdosta Times-Boys' Club Bicycle Marathon ran for the first time in 1946 and continued every year through the 1950s.  Davis competed in the Marathon's third edition, in 1948, and again two years later.   In between, in 1949, he won.

Robert Davis crossing the finish line.

He was 16 years old and finished ahead of 100 other boys around his own age.  They all prepared for the race by riding after school and during holidays; some, like Davis, delivered the Times on their bicycles.  When he crossed the finish line, with hundreds of people cheering him on, he felt "elated," he said, that he "could have the endurance" to ride such a distance.

Davis has every reason to be proud, nearly seven decades later.  If nothing else, he's inspired some young people.  Among them are his two grandsons:  Both are avid cyclists. 

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