Unfortunately, this picture does not do Matt Herzberger, the cyclist, justice. He has been injured during the last year and the only time that I have seen him is during a weekly social lunch after I might ride in Bear Creek Lake Park with our mutual cycling friends.
Years ago, during some running races that I ran, there would be a category for heavier runners. This was the “Clydesdale” category. In some cases the heavier runners were also thoroughbreds. And in some cases the Clydesdales were race horses. Much like Secretariat, Matt Herzberger was a “cycling race horse”. At his lightest cycling weight of 195 pounds, Matt was faster than cyclists 50 or 60 pounds lighter than he was. Matt cycled the Bob Cook Race from Idaho Springs to the top of Mount Evans (just about 7000 feet of elevation gain finishing at the parking lot 200 feet below the 14,000+ foot summit) in 2 hours and 33 minutes. This is “Clydesdale Racehorse” status.
Unfortunately, Matt is working his way back to riding twice per week for 60-70 minutes. It is a far cry from his 10,500 miles a year that he used to ride.
Matt garnered his college degree from Illinois College in Jacksonville, IL. As an elementary teacher in an underprivileged school district south of Phoenix, AZ, he acquired a Schwinn bicycle- that was soon stolen. He joined the Arizona Bike Club (ABC) and became a protege of Jerry Reese, who was a cyclist in the 1968 Olympics. Jerry advised Matt to get a cycling license. With one of those, a 1986 LeMond bicycle, and a growing interest in the cycling community, Matt excelled. He became the vice President of the White Mountain Road Cycling Club. At club meetings, they had “didactic talks” about racing strategy, cornering, weight distribution, nutrition and drafting.
Matt took 1991 and 1992 off from cycling and moved to Colorado. Unfortunately, the 1993 Nationals were flooded out and Matt, in attempt to become more competitive in the new Colorado cycling environment, was granted downgrade status from a Category 3 racer to a Category 4 racer. That’s when it all seemed to click for him and he started winning time trials. As much as other cyclists loved drafting Matt, he would still stay ahead or pull away at the finish. He was a seriously strong rider.
If you really think that “I am just too large a person to be a good cyclist”, Matt should be your inspiration……although you may not realize how good a cyclist Matt is by just talking to him. He seems just like a regular Clydesdale……but a very accomplished one, indeed.
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