By David Arkin
For Robert Lepard, it all started with bad knees.
The Muleshoe dentist of 19 years, who will take part in Saturday’s Tour of Muleshoe, simply couldn’t take the pain the constant pounding on the pavement was causing his knees.
He had been running for years and lettered in track at Texas Tech University. About 10 years ago, he realized the time had come for him to pick up a new form of exercise.
He found bicycling.
“Several of us used to run together,” said Lonnie Adrian, a Muleshoe man, who helped organize Saturday’s race. “It was just easier on our knees to do something else, so we found bicycling.”
Lepard quickly excelled at his new sport.
“He’s real strong,” Adrian said. “He’s a real athlete and real competitive. He rides real hard.”
When Lepard first started bicycling he said he had a hard time getting used to the posture.
“The way you have to sit is hard on your knees and your back,” he said. “You have to sit in that angle for a long time. It creates strain and you can get dehydrated because you are exercising for a long period of time.”
Being on a bicycle for several hours at one time can be difficult for more reasons than just strain on the body.
“When I’m biking for several hours I try to daydream or think about family issues,” Lepard said. “You’re out there for a pretty long time and you have to focus on something. Sometimes I’ll even listen to music.”
When he’s riding with partners, Lepard said he focuses on movements they’re making.
“With your partners your mind is on pulling with them,” he said. “And you have to spend a lot of time paying attention to where other riders are in relationship to you. You have to watch the road to see if there are any problems.”
Lepard, 46, said he doesn’t think age will ever keep him from riding.
“There are some riders up in the Portales area who are in their 50s, 60s, and 70s,” he said. “This is something you probably can do as long as you have your health. You can ride at whatever pace you want.”
However, Lepard isn’t so sure about how he’s going to fare on Saturday in the Muleshoe race. He said he hasn’t been able to train as much as he would have liked.
“I’m just not as prepared as I have been in the past,” he said. “That is mostly because I have teenage kids and have been giving my time to do the sports they’re involved with.”
To be in shape for a race Lepard said he has to train five days a week, two hours a day, for weeks ahead of time.
“I just haven’t been able to give that kind of time this year,” he said.