“Road racing is very strong in Texas and our area. Some of the best anywhere, in all disciplines.”
It is a mournful site, the last significant hill on the south side bike ride, going from Beltline Road west along Northwest Drive to I 30. The hill is relentless, punishing, with cyclists falling off the back like crumbs off a piece of cake to be enjoyed by those who conquer it.
This is a hill RANDY ROGERS knows well, living not far from it. But also from the many trips up it as part of the many Mirage Holiday public rides, helping either an overly aggressive cyclist who blew himself out on the previous 55 miles, or a new cyclist still feeling his way around the gear shift lever.
Rogers agrees to meet at a park at the base of the hill on an overcast day to take pictures for this story. A few female runners doing hill repeats, and a couple of street-looking high school thugs on patrol, watch Rogers in his colorful shirt and blue spandex shorts. Rogers could care less. He has the swagger of a bouncer; not cocky, but confident.
Using his experience as a dad, he can be a stern father figure with renegade cyclists, while The Mirage Team does one of its famous holiday rides. He doesn’t suffer fools lightly.
The photo op is quick. Rogers is teaching a 4H seminar immediately after, and later, he is off to the Ft. Worth Cowtown National Rodeo where he is showing several of his prize goats. (“I raise registered S. African Boer Goats and Anatolian Shepherd livestock guard dogs.” Post interview: Competitive as always, Rogers took first and second place during the shivering temperatures.)
A rare native of Dallas, he was born December 13, 1956, going to schools Bishop Lynch and W.W. Samuel. His parents moved from New York in 1955. “I’m the only ‘Texan’ in the family,” he says. His dad was a wall covering contractor and his mother was in the insurance business.
He was a rambunctious kid growing up. “If there was trouble in the neighborhood, I was usually involved. The belt was used frequently at my house and I deserved it.” And it was the belt used by his mom he was most afraid of. As a “pretty big Cowboys fan, back when the players actually had class,” he played the usual sports, he says. “Football, baseball, basketball. Later tennis, cross country and motocross. I was quite the explorer.” But his interests were a little different. “Working and making money, so I could have motorcycles and cars. Bad priorities!”
Eventually, a Latin teacher named Mr. Eaton, who had also graduated from Bishop Lynch, got through to Rogers. Eaton helped him “through some rough academic times and took extra time with me when he really didn’t need to. He wore the Peter Fonda glasses and longer hair than most teachers. He was a ‘cool dude’ in the 70’s.”
Rogers next tried college. But it wasn’t ready for him, or, he wasn’t ready for it.
He now lives in Sunnyvale along the south training ride route. He is married to triathlete whiz, BARBARA BELMONT (“I thought she’d go for a triathlete flat belly. Not me.”), and has twin 13-year-old girls, Kyndel and Kalli.
As a cyclist, Rogers got a late start, waiting until he was 42 in 1998, to actually take up the sport. “I was bored after I stopped auto racing after 10 years. Golf just wasn’t doing it for me.”
His first real rides with a group were with Richardson Bike Mart in Richardson. After several weeks of that, he did the first Ride For The Roses in Austin. “That was also my first experience with hills.” Though he was not happy about the hills of Austin, the sport had him hooked, eventually teaching him the difference between a derailleur and chain stay, while averaging 4500 miles a year on the bike. In 2000, he rode 6,000 miles, his highest. His favorite race is The TMBRA (Texas Mountain Bike Racing Association) Race at Huntsville. “Not too technical and a fun, fast course. The Tahoe Century is pretty nice and the Lajitas mountain stage race is a blast too. There’s nothing like racing in the desert.” His favorite race to watch is expected: The Tour d’France. “Lance made it exciting from the first time I watched it. Barbara and I also went to France for the race in 2004.”
Cycling has become an important part of who Randy Rogers is. “Above all other things, fellowship and friendship. I have a wonderful group of friends through cycling and I cherish their company. I met my wife Barbara on the bike. Everyone in our wedding party was a cyclist, triathlete or runner. After making thousands of laps and many acquaintances at White Rock, there was no more fitting place for us to be married than at Winfrey Point. Cycling has played a big part in making me the person I am today. Had I not noticed those guys in funny tight pants years ago climbing Elk Hill [hill along the south side training ride where Rogers’ lives] every weekend, my life would be MUCH different today.”
While riding or racing, Rogers’ mind wanders off. “Believe it or not, if I’m by myself, I’m almost always going over different breeding programs and pedigrees for my goats.”
But Rogers has other commitments that take his time. “With my kids being more involved in athletics and my ranching taking more and more time, I only rode about 3000 miles in 2006.”
He does two or three triathlons a year as well (he was on the board for the Tom Landry Triathlon) and makes it to the organized rallies when he can. In addition, “I plan to do the Royce City Time Trial series and a few Mountain bike races. Maybe an off road triathlon, too.” He organizes all of the Mirage Holiday rides. “Before I was the Mirage President, I was also the race director for our annual GARY GLICKMAN Memorial Criterium.” Gary Glickman was killed while riding his bike in 2004.
As a cyclist, Rogers has paid his dues through injuries, suffering a broken tailbone, fractured vertebrae, and cracked ribs. “I’d rather be upside down, rolling down the backstretch at Devil’s Bowl in my sprint car at 110mph than falling off my road bike at 18 mph any day!”
The team was started in 1982 and officially chartered in Texas as a non profit in January 1985. In 2002, Rogers was the race director for Mirage. In 2003, he was elected President of The Mirage Cycling Team, www.miragecycling.org which has a membership of 300.
The President of the Mirage Cycling Team is a guy you want on your side, a type of policeman for his club, who works two full time jobs (“I’m a goat rancher. Really!” And President of Qwik Couriers, Inc., a local courier service he started in 1986, serving the DFW metroplex area.). Rogers has raised the club’s image and reputation, but quickly credits past presidents for bringing the club to where it is today, especially KEN RIDEOUT. “He was an important one,” Rogers says. Other past Presidents he mentions KEVIN BUCY, TOM ELLIS, GUY SILLS, SUSAN LEEDS, GREG ROOT, SCOTT PORTER and JACK WRIGHTSON. “I believe our first President was BRIAN SPENCER.”
Rogers jokes that his job as President is to order the pizza for the monthly meetings. “We went from a three-pizza club in 2000 to a 16-18 pizza club in three years!” While the club had been viewed as an older men’s cycling club, Rogers has moved the club “in a different direction with a concentration on including more recreational cyclists rather than just road racers.” After chatting up the club at bike rallies, he and other members were able to get a more diverse team. “As a result we have a club that now reflects virtually all cycling disciplines. Recreational, track, mountain bike, triathlon, duathlon, adventure, road, etc. Being a single guy at the time, I naturally did my best to recruit female members as well.
“We only had about four female members when I joined and you can only hang around these leg shavers for so long before you need some female interaction.”
Cycling, in general, was gaining in popularity at the time and we rode the Lance [Armstrong] wave along with the bike shops. That was a big help.”
Rogers also had experience with sponsorship that would help the struggling team. “Coming from an auto racing background, I had chased sponsors for years. We needed some new sponsors and we needed a better relationship with the ones we already had. Some sponsors were really great and others we sported on our jerseys hadn’t sent us a dime in two years. Once that was corrected, it pretty much runs itself.”
Rogers being President, he had to lead the team into the future. “Keeping abreast of changes in the local cycling landscape was also one of my duties. I kept an eye on any legislation that concerned cyclists in our area including changes that the Parks Department or the City of Dallas may propose. They’ve been good about including us in any discussions or plans they had. We knew about the new paths and bridges at White Rock several years before any construction started.”
Last, as leader of a team he saw as having a wider impact, Rogers had to address the team’s apparel issues. “Expanding our apparel line was next and the members wanted a wider variety of cycling apparel. That job has taken on a life of it’s own. Dealing with seasonal changes, kit changes, inventory and cash flow, it has been the most difficult job. Having the right product mix at the right time of the year without having a ton of the clubs money tied up in inventory has been a challenge. I have an office that’s centrally located and there is someone here Monday through Friday, eight to five. So it’s convenient for members to come by at their leisure and pick up apparel. In the old days you’d have to wait until the monthly meetings and then we only inventoried short sleeve jerseys. Now it has expanded to a small retail operation. In January, MIKE WOERNER became our new President, but I will remain as what the club has always called ‘The Jersey Czar.’”
From its web site, “it is a non-profit corporation dedicated to the promotion and development of recreational and performance bicycling. It is for male and female cyclists of all ages and abilities. Most members have full-time jobs who enjoy bicycle racing and/or training. Mirage has historically been a road cycling club but in the last few years we have welcomed other bicycle related competition and expanded our membership and its diversity. We have really enjoyed having the additional talent and fun. Members have competed in road racing, criteriums, time trials, cyclocross, track, mountain biking, triathlons, duathlons and the RAAM.” Club benefits include a point system and discounts at our area stores.”
Some of the cyclists in the club that attend the rides include BRIGITTE JORDAN, MARK ROSS, KEN MACLEAN, KIETH HESTER, KEN LAWSON, STUART JOHNSON, GARY WOOLFOLK, FARANG GHADIALI, DAN SAUERWEIN, MICHAEL BROWN, and JOHN EDER.
Rogers hasn’t had a regular training schedule, he says, for a couple of years. “On the weekends I get in at least one long ride and some shorter ones during the week. During the winter when there is little daylight in the evenings I force myself to ride the trainer and do some swimming, weight training and running. I don’t do much ‘training’ anymore, but I’ve spent countless hours with KEVIN ROBERTS and MARVIN HESTER.
“Listening to my wife’s workout schedule makes me tired enough.” As a result, he doesn’t keep up with his own personal records much. “I just ride as hard as I can at any event I’m at. I do remember averaging over 20mph for the first time at the Hot Rocks Rally in Rockwall a few years back in the rain. It was a little dicey at times but I had a blast.”
Rogers enjoys his time on the bike, but has some favorite moments with friends. “There’s been several, really. But last year I was actually in the same group with ‘Smackdaddy’ RANDY TINNEY going up Elk Hill. He was jabbering on to somebody as usual and I was gasping for air. I was still close enough to hear him and that was fun, even though he still kids me about my legs. Those guys are so fast that I rarely get to ride with them so it’s a treat when I do.” There was also his first podium finish at a mountain bike race last year. He rarely, if at all, mentions it.
“Road racing is very strong in Texas and our area. Some of the best anywhere, in all disciplines,” he says, listing the contribution of each group. “TXBRA [Texas Bicycle Racing Association] does a great job with the Texas Cup and road racing in general in Texas. Triathlon has their act together because the promoters are generally the same over and over and they have extensive experience. I was sad to see the Tom Landry Triathlon go away. Mountain bike racers are a great group and don’t take themselves too seriously. They compete hard during the race and then you’ll see them hanging out at the awards ceremony joking and drinking a beer together. DORBA [Dallas Off Road Bicycle Association] and TMBRA continue to broaden the sport and do great work locally and across Texas. Mountain bike racing is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Track racing is a niche that needs to be developed further. We have a great facility in Frisco and I attended my first race there this summer. The racing was exciting, but I was confused most of the time about how the races were structured. All in all, racing in Texas is alive and well.”
Rogers also feels good about the areas’ support of cycling, its cyclists, and its future. “Overall, I think it’s pretty good. JIM and RHONDA HOYT from Richardson Bike Mart are by far the greatest supporters in our area, if not the entire country. Few people do more for the sport than Jim and Rhonda. Dallas, and now Mesquite, have invested or are considering investing heavily in more transportation routes for cyclists, so that’s certainly a positive thing for us.”
While he considers Lance Armstrong and Ronald Reagan heroes, Rogers has two means of inspiration. One is his weight scale, he says. The other is wife Barbara asking “What did you do today?” Translation, he says: “What CARDIO did you do today?”
When he has time, Rogers enjoys the music of Stevie Ray Vaughn. His favorite restaurants include Lakewood’s Scallini’s for pizza (“After a few laps at the lake, it’s hard to beat.) and Sushi on McKinney.
Someday, Rogers would like to explore northern California, “Maybe a mountain trip somewhere. Do a couple of fun things like the Triple Bypass. This year is pretty booked though, as my wife and I are going to Italy with some friends to ride and drink plenty of wine!” Business wise, he would also like to build his business and maybe “move on to something else.” Meanwhile, life has been good, he figures. “I have two lovely daughters, a beautiful wife, a good business, some great friends and a home full of animals. Right now I couldn’t ask for much more.”
The 65 mile Holiday ride is a safe goal ride for recreation riders. It is one where a new cyclist can build their confidence riding in a group and test their mettle, if they choose, at the end of the ride, especially going up the hill at Northwest Drive toward I30. “Those of you that want to continue the social pace,” Rogers warns on the web site, “fear not as there will be several riders not tagging onto the faster group. Also, there are several ways to short cut the course in case you don’t want to ride the entire 100K.” He polices the pack that can number over 300. “A nice conversational pace out to Seagoville and back with a rest stop at halfway. On the way back in, ‘Hammerheads’ can feel free to roll off the front and pick up the pace for the last 25 miles at I20 and beat up on each other for the last part of the ride.” And then he gets direct, if the message still isn’t getting through. “We usually have riders from several other clubs around the Metroplex joining us. So please keep the pace in line for which the ride is designed. THIS IS NOT A WORKOUT RIDE. So please don’t try and make it one. This is a social ride.” If they haven’t listened, the hill and adjoining park await them like a cemetery, after they have given their last breath to a hill that needs no passing cyclists’ breath to live. Randy Rogers will pick them up, and carry them back in, just like a rancher would.
The state of cycling:
“Triathlon has their act together. I was sad to see the Tom Landry Triathlon go away. Mountain bike racers are a great group and don’t take themselves too seriously. Track racing is a niche that needs to be developed further.”
As for Rogers, “I have two lovely daughters, a beautiful wife, a good business, some great friends and a home full of animals. Right now I couldn’t ask for much more.”