A torn tendon four years ago forced Russ Meyer to give up running. So he opted for cycling, and fell in love with the pursuit—so much so that he recently biked from Reno to San Jose, Calif. to raise money for a scholarship fund.
“When we were growing up, getting on a bike was the only way to get around. We’d ride for a couple of miles to go play baseball, lugging our bats and gloves along. As I got older, I got away from it, like people do when they ‘grow up.’ I did ride as an adult, but I really just kind of dabbled with it. Instead, I became a runner.
Four years ago I blew out a tendon in my foot. The doctor told me, ‘We can put your foot back together but your days as a runner are over.’ Of course, I didn’t really believe it, so I rehabbed it and when I thought I was ready I tried to run in a 5K race. Well, I was in pain for a couple of weeks after that, and I said I guess I really can’t run. I decided to get serious about riding, so I went out and bought a brand new carbon-fiber bike and got enough bells and whistles to make me feel like I was moving up. I had a friend who had been riding for a while as a way to lose weight, and we’d go out riding on the weekends, 30-35 miles every weekend when the weather was nice. I decided I could really get in shape doing this, so I started riding my bike to work two days a week, which is a 25-mile round trip.
I decided that I’d like to do a multi-day ride. I had done ‘century rides,’ and they’re fun but at the end of the day you’re done. Where could I ride for a long weekend? Then it dawned on me that the NACUFS conference was coming up. I could ride my bike from Reno to San Jose, Calif. I figured it would be about 250 miles, maybe a three-day ride; it would be fun.
I don’t know how this all came about, but we got to talking about how I could raise some money on the ride. The Clark DeHaven scholarship came up, and I thought, ‘Cool. I could raise money for the scholarship fund.’ On the day of the ride, I left work Friday evening and I rode for about 50 miles. That night, [my wife] Julie picked me up and we drove home. The next morning, she drove me out to where she had picked me up the previous night and I rode from there. That was the day we went over the mountains, through the Sierras, about 86 miles. We stayed in a motel in Jackson, Calif. The next day I got up really early and rode through the Central Valley from Jackson to Tracy. The next day was Tracy to San Jose, up over the mountains by the coast. The ride across the Sierras was really amazing I was seeing terrain that I’ve driven across dozens of times, but it was really nice to be able to look down at ravines that I’ve driven by so fast that I hadn’t had time to look at before.
We ended up raising over $17,000. When I started I thought if I could raise a couple thousand dollars that would be great. Dave Annis, from the University of Oklahoma, told me I shouldn’t ride unless I could raise at least $5,000, and I thought, that would be amazing. But people and companies really stepped up. It was great.
What I think about when I ride depends on the the of ride. When I’m riding to work, which is a relatively short distance, I try to use it as a workout and so I’ll be thinking in those terms. I try NOT to think about work. On longer rides, with a friend, it will be more or less riding side by side having conversations. On the really, really long rides, I break them down into smaller segments and think about how to get from A to B. I make a game out of it sometimes to get myself through it.
Now, it feels like if I don’t get out in a given week I miss it because I really enjoy it. And I follow cycling races, like the Giro d’Italia and the Tour de France. I guess I’ve become a cycling geek.”