Written by Dagmar Fors Karppi Friday, 07 September 2012 00:00
“All I need to do is 25 miles a day,” he said on Aug. 28. “That means there are 18 days left as of yesterday and that would mean I can ride 450 miles in that time — and I need 454 so it is very doable.
“I presume I will be the first person on Long Island to reach that plateau,” said Bill.
When asked if there are any challengers for his claim, he said, “There are people who have done more, but I’m doing it while working. There are others who just ride their bikes a 100 miles a day. There’s probably one of them who has ridden 750,000 miles, but I work. I did my mileage while working.”
Mr. Bauer has an impressive history in cycling and a great list of events to remember.
He said, “I tried out for the 1972 Olympics. I won the 24-hour race through Central Park four times. I won a gold medal in the World Championship in the early 1990s.”
Bill Bauer knows former Tour De France racer George Hincapie. “Ricardo, his father, and Richard, his brother, also raced at the Oyster Festival. I raced against the father, Ricardo. I’ve known George since he was 8 years old.
“My last great race was with George, at Prospect Park in Brooklyn. He got first, the gold medal, and I got fourth. I was 52 years old then. It was my last hurrah. George graduated from Farmingdale High School in 1991, in 1994 he turned pro.”
Mr. Bauer worked in the printing/advertising area for 40 years. Currently he drives a bus for Hendrickson Bus Company, located in Bayville, which has given him more time to accomplish his goal. Between the morning and afternoon shifts, the Bayville resident has about three hours to ride.
Bill has a commitment to safety and took an active part in this year’s Triathlon that took place on Sunday, Aug. 26. The “Tri” starts and finishes at Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Park. The athletes complete a half-mile swim in Oyster Bay Harbor, followed by a 15-kilometer bike ride through Oyster Bay, Oyster Bay Cove and Laurel Hollow, and finish up with a 5-kilometer run up to the Planting Fields Arboretum and back to the finish line at Roosevelt Park.
Bill rides for GBSC /Babylon Bike/ Runner’s Edge Cycling Team and before the Triathlon, Bill was helping check out and repair bicycles for the participants. Bob Cook, the owner of the Runner’s Edge shop, was the main sponsor of the Triathlon. “I used to bike with him in the ’80s, I go a long way back with Bob Cook,” said Bill. “I also know Jose Lopez, the former Nassau County park commissioner. I knew him when he was 16 years old. I helped him out in cycling.”
Bill said, “Before the race, I went around the nine-mile course about six times to spot any potholes and to fill them in. I’m an advocate of bike safety, and wearing a helmet. I ran bike safety classes for youth at the Roosevelt School before several Oyster Festivals.”
The morning of the Triathlon event he worked at TR Park with the Babylon Bicycle Club. “I help all the cyclers with any problems with their bikes. My tent was next to Bob Cook’s.”
Bill explained that the swim section of the Triathlon started at 7:30 a.m., and after that the bike run began. I was there at 5 a.m. and until 10 a.m. We looked at the handlebars, and fixed flat tires and adjusted the gears. I’ve been doing that for a number of years, along with our local host GBSC.”
Bill said, “The winner of the Triathlon does it in under an hour.” That was true this year. Mike Polansky, GLIRC president, reported on the race saying, “Tom Eickelberg of Babylon scored his third consecutive winning performance, crossing the finish line at Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Park in a race record of 54 minutes, 58 seconds – excellent time for this half-mile swim, 15-kilometer bike and 5-kilometer run.”
Mr. Bauer said he saw the last person come out of the water. “He was close to 80. I’m sure he won his age group. I saw him on the bike and in the run, when he came in last. I knew then, that everyone was finished so this year I didn’t have to make the usual run to check for flat tires.”
Giving away some secrets from the world of cycling, Bill explained what he did after the race. He explained, “There is a group of riders from the Queens-Nassau border that start off in Little Neck and go through Oyster Bay at 10 a.m. every Sunday.” After everything was done at the park, I took my bike, and headed eastbound on Cove Road, almost to Moore’s Hill and turned around and met Mike Halpern of GBSC/Babylon Bike/Runner’s Edge Cycling team. Then we went back together to South Street and met up with the Little Neck group.
“They are another group of competitive riders. They drive 60 to 70 miles to get to Oyster Bay and were at their half-point before going back to Little Neck. My friend Gail Bialostok was there. She is the only woman who can keep up with them. She is one of the top female riders on Long Island and races with my team.
“The Little Neck club has about 80 riders. By the time they got to South Street there were only 11 guys and Gail that made it all the way. She is a former winner of the Empire State games – she won a gold medal, she’s a very good cyclist.”
Over the years Bill has ridden many different bikes. Today his is a Lite-Speed Archon, a titanium professional racing bike. “It’s the kind of bike people would use in the Tour de France,” he said.
When asked how many bikes he had owned over the years to get a gauge on his career, he said instead, “Oh my goodness. I was just thinking about how many flat tires I had over that time. I imagine about 20,000 flat tires. Way back then, they were $10 and $20. Today they are $50 and $60. I don’t want to know how much I spent over the years. I probably could buy another house!”
Thinking about the Oyster Festival again, Bill said, “I was the race director of the Oyster Festival Cycling Classic for 11 years. Eric Hayden won the first two years. He was a two-sport wonder. In 1980 he won five gold medals in speed skating at the Olympics at Lake Placid. It’s amazing how time flies. This is the 29th Oyster Festival. It’s 18 years since the last bike race they had. Time flies when you’re having fun.”
It’s evident that Bill is still having a lot of fun cycling. His avocation has given him great memories and still with a goal to achieve. Good luck Bill!