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Don Metz maintains a small, selective practice in Lyme, NH, concentrating on challenging residential projects

Don Metz's new book
More Than a Race

is now available

Book

An informative, concisely-written, insider's look at United4Health's remarkable team of four 70-year-olds' 2012 record-breaking triumph over the world's toughest bicycle race, the RAAM, the Race Across America.

Don The Cyclist

Don on Mt WashingtonIn 2010, at age 69, Don set the 65-69 age category record on Mt. Washington, 1:26:36.

He was second in points in his age category in the 9-event New England (BUMPS) hill climb series.

In 2011, he was again second in BUMPS points in the 70-74 age category.

In 2012, Don was a member of the United4Health, 4-man, 70+ team in the grueling Race Across America (RAAM). He and his three teammates broke the existing age 70+ record by 27 hours, as well as besting the age 60+ record by three and-a-half hours. Their elapsed time from Oceanside, California to Annapolis, Maryland was 6 days, 13 hours and 13 minutes at an average speed of 19.04 mph. Sponsored by UnitedHealthCare, the team was supported by a remarkable crew of 15 traveling with them non-stop in 2 RVs and 3 vans.


RAAM 70+ Record Breakers

Annapolis Md. 6 days and 13 hours after leaving Oceanside Ca., June 16-22nd, 2012. From left to right: Don Metz, Michael Patterson, Durward Higgins and Dave Burnett.

 


Don Metz Cycling Photo

Don Metz, 66, of Lyme competed in 20- and 40-kilometer road races at the National Senior Games in Louisville, Ky., in July. He won third place for his age group at 20K. (Valley News — James M. Patterson)

 


A Madcap Sprint Across America Becomes a Book

By Alex Hanson
Valley News Staff Writer

Based solely on a reading of his new book and an interview, Don Metz comes across as a guy who does exceptional things without really meaning to.

For example, in More Than a Race, his account of a cross-country bicycle race against the clock, Metz wrote that he and his three teammates set out to break the route record for cyclists of their age, 70. To do that, the team would have to average 18 miles an hour, non-stop for a full week with a vast support crew, several vehicles and no slip ups.

The team did that and more, crossing the country in 6 1/2 days at an average speed of a hair over 19 miles an hour. They shattered the record for their age group, and broke the record for a 60-year-old team by a healthy margin to boot.

Compete story.

 


More Amazing Metz?

By Erin Hanrahan
Valley News Staff Writer

Lyme -- Even in mid-race, pedaling at full cadence, Don Metz could appreciate the design of the scenic, winding bike loop that coursed through Louisville, Ky.'s, Cherokee Park.

After all, the park is considered a crowning achievement of the great American landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted, and as a fellow architect, Metz had long admired Olmsted's work.

But tearing through the park roads at top speed on his 16-pound Trek road bike, the 66-year-old Lyme resident wasn't exactly on a design pilgrimage. He was smack in the middle of the 20-kilometer road race at the 2007 National Senior Games earlier this summer, and it would take drafting of a whole different sort to get him ahead of the pack.

Metz, who qualified for the national event after finishing second at the New Hampshire Senior Games in 2006, hovered six inches behind the wheel of the riders in front of him and kept up, biding his time until he saw his moment.

About two miles from the end, it came. He broke away with an elite pack of five cyclists and rode to a third place finish among men 65 to 69.

It was a standout performance at what was Metz's first National Senior Games race, and only his second road race since he took up cycling a few years ago. At that point, he said, “Running was just hurting too much.”

From his home in Lyme this week, Metz said that qualifying for the Senior Games wasn't too tough for him, though talking about Metz and the senior games requires an expanded definition of “tough.”

The biennial Games, established in 1986, are now billed as the largest multi-sport event in the world for “mature adults.” Athletes need to be at least 50 years old to enter any of the 18 disciplines offered, but there's no upper age limit, and 100-year-old John Donnelly of Florida made news this year when he qualified in table tennis. In cycling, a 90-year-old man from Massachusetts completed the 40-kilometer event in less than an hour-and-a-half.

“It's still very competitive in the 70 to 74 group, and it starts to thin out after that,” said Metz. “A lot of these riders are former pros.”

Metz, by contrast, is new to his sport, but what he lacks in experience he makes up for in grit.

He won the 65 to 69-age division at the Mount Ascutney Bicycle Hill Climb race this year, and is a four-year veteran of the 24-Hours of Great Glen endurance mountain biking race.

Two weeks after he shattered his cheekbone in a mountain bike crash last year, Metz was back on his Santa Cruz full suspension bike and pedaling like mad through the Vermont 50-Mile endurance ride.

“Sometimes you feel a little snake-bit after something like that, so I was a little shy,” he recalled of that race. “I'll do better this year.” (He took 31 minutes off last year's time.)

The Senior Games don't offer a mountain biking event, but if they did, Metz said he would do it in a heartbeat. As it is, he said, the Games are a step in the right direction for an increasingly active older population.

“The whole idea of being old has changed so much,” he said. “To see guys who are 10, 15 years older than I am out there competing, and looking good, is inspiring.”

While opportunities to compete against athletes his own age inspire Metz to keep his skills sharp, his training partners, he said, are often 20 years younger.

"I'm very lucky" he said, grinning. Metz regularly bikes a network of trails in Lyme, and takes his road bike on long rides out to Tunbridge or Warren.

When he's not biking, he works full-time from his home architectural office. But Metz already has his eyes on the 2009 National Senior Games in San Francisco, where his extensive experience on the hills of the Upper Valley could help him engineer another top performance.

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Don Metz Cycling Photo

Starting line at the Huntsman World Senior Games in Hurricane, Utah, October 2007. Don, (# 110) brought home a silver medal in the hill climb and a silver in the downhill.

 

Don Metz Cycling Photo

Pushing the pedals 100 yards from a third-place finish in the Seniors Nationals in Louisville KY in June, 2007.


Don relaxing after the Senior Nationals competition in Louisville.