By Frank Sarate, SoCalCycling.com
SoCalCycling.com: How, where and when did you get started in the sport of cycling?
Richard Meeker:I grew up in Plymouth PA about an hour and a half northeast of Philadelphia, PA. I started racing in 1978, it started as a result of my father selling my motorcycle for riding it on the street without a drivers license after the 3rd time of getting caught my motorcycle was sold. I needed transportation to get to and from my fathers gasoline service station so I purchased a bicycle to commute. My first bicycle was a $350 italian Cortina racing bicycle. I commuted six miles each way back and forth from my fathers service station after school and on weekends. On one of my summer weekly commutes I met on the road Rob and Dave Lettieri. We became instant friends and started training and racing together. I owe my cycling career results and success to Paul Lucas, Kevin Bonham, Tom Jones, Rob & Dave Lettieri. Without their mentorship, leadership & guidance I could never have been successful as I am today.
SoCalCycling.com: How long have you been actively racing for?
Richard Meeker: Since 1978. There was an off year or two but mostly since then.
SoCalCycling.com: Having been around awhile. Have you seen the sport change?
Richard Meeker: Absolutely, yes. It’s so exciting to see all the incredible technology and information that continually grows our sport to be so fun and successful. From the bikes to the clothing to the aerodynamics.
SoCalCycling.com: What young riders do you see making an impact on the local scene and have the potential for the next guys racing in Europe?
Richard Meeker: We have quite a few very successful young riders on the local scene and every year new faces keep surfacing. A very close friend of mine and old teammate Paul Abrahams is running a very successful team here in Southern California with very talented young riders called the CashCall Team. Many of these young riders definitely have the ability to become successful and race in Europe if that is one of their goals.
SoCalCycling.com: Not including city limit signs or winning the sprint to the local café. How many wins do you get last season?
Richard Meeker: 28
SoCalCycling.com: What are your goals for the future and will you be going to the Masters World Championships?
Richard Meeker: To win the World Masters Championships. Yes, I did attend the World Championships in Stavelot, Belgium. I absolutely want to thank Breakaway from Cancer Masters Cycling Team for the incredible opportunity to to go to Belgium and race that race. It was an incredible experience that I wish I had attended many years earlier.
SoCalCycling.com: What are you favorite races to do locally and Nationally?
Richard Meeker: Dana Point Grand Prix, Manhattan Beach Grand Prix and always the National Championships.
SoCalCycling.com: What are your most memorable results?
Richard Meeker: Winning all the National Championships. I have won the road race, multiple criterium championships, the points race on the track & the team pursuit.
SoCalCycling.com: Having been able to test some of the latest product before they hit the market, what do you see as the next trends in the sport of cycling to make people save a few grams, go faster or be more efficient?
Richard Meeker: Wheel technology is amazing how the keep getting lighter, more aerodynamic and stronger. It’s also amazing how carbon cycling frame technology keeps advancing itself. Being apart of the Shimano’s skunk works test program has helped me learn technology faster and stay ahead of the curve of technology, especially Shimano’s Di2 electronic shifting technology. I absolutely love that product.
SoCalCycling.com: Being good buddies with Chris Horner, it must have been pretty cool to see Chris take the win at the Amgen Tour of California?
Richard Meeker: Yes when I met Chris years ago he was this young kid with this long pony tail with an incredible desire and drive. When I first met him I realized that if he really wanted it he could do anything he wanted in the sport of cycling. He listened and did everything he needed to do to become a success in our sport. He has always had the skills and ability, however he has always been a domestique, always working for other riders and never being able to show his true talent that he possesses. Watching that incredible stage last year in San Jose as he crested that mountain I was so excited and it brought tears of excitement to see him finally be able to fulfill his dream.
SoCalCycling.com: You currently ride for the Breakaway from Cancer Masters. How did this team come about and what is the mission for the team?
Richard Meeker: The team started quite a few years ago as a result of a few guys at Amgen that had a desire to ride their bikes and race within the company. The team was formed by Jerry Jane and Matt Skelton. These guys are great quality people and I’m honored to be apart of this incredible team. Our team is Non-Profit and our mission is to help people & share with people that yes they too can breakaway from cancer. I love this team and I love this mission.
SoCalCycling.com: Without giving away your training secrets, can you tell us what you do to stay fit (weekly mileage, hours, group rides etc)?
Richard Meeker: Daily rides consist of Monday being a rest day, Tuesday and Thursday rides are the same – a 40 mile ride, Wednesday a 55 mile long slow distance ride, Friday is a faster 35 mile ride and Saturday and Sunday consists of racing both days or longer hard training days. 300-350 miles a week, depending on the week. Which is about 15 hours. Mostly group rides.
SoCalCycling.com: What type of mileage and hours does the “Average” Masters Racer put in on a weekly basis during the season and what type of mileage and hours does a “Winning” Masters Racer put in?
Richard Meeker: Since most of us work full time the most important thing along with riding is nutrition and rest, which so many people neglect. The three pilars to a successful Masters racer and winner is riding, rest & nutrition. All three are just as important as the other. So, 12-15 hours a week of riding/training & 300 miles on average is more than enough to be successful and win races. I believe the average Masters racer is well over trained and under rested. Which is so prevalent in Southern California from what I see.
SoCalCycling.com: What tips do you have for Masters racers that are juggling family, work and are looking to improve with the limited time that they have?
Richard Meeker: The challenge with this question is I am not juggling a family so that anyone that has a family or wife and kids I truly commend them for juggling this sport and racing with a full time job.
SoCalCycling.com: Rich, thanks for taking the time to do this interview.