In his fifth Pedal to the Meadow on Saturday, Lincoln Gill posted his fastest time.
He believes he can go even faster.
“I definitely took it up a notch (this year),” he said. “I’m already thinking about dialing it up one more notch for next year.”
The 64-year-old covered the 15.75-mile climb from Kekaha to Kanaloahuluhulu Meadow in Kokee State Park, in a personal best of 1 hour, 57 minutes, 20 seconds.
It was one of the races where everything went right, where he felt strong and confident throughout. No bad stretches. No doubts. No mutterings about never doing this race again.
“That was the first time I felt that all the way through,” he said.
The easy-going, positive Gill powered his Trek bike up Waimea Canyon, an elevation gain of 3,875 feet. A photo taken of him at the start shows a big smile and a shaka.
“When I started the race I really felt like, let’s do it. Let’s have some fun at this thing,” he said.
“I maybe could have gone faster, but I pushed myself enough that I never hurt all the way through,” he said. “Within a minute or two of finishing, I felt like I was totally recovered.”
“Conditions were perfect and it was just a great race,” he added.
Gill isn’t new to athletics. When he attended high school in Rochester, Minnesota, he played football, baseball and basketball — “with hockey on the side,” since everyone in Minnesota plays hockey.
The Wailua Homesteads man was a backup placekicker on the football team at the University of Utah.
While that was four decades ago, Gill feels good about his overall condition today. He believes that his flexibility, his mental toughness, are as good as ever. Being fit also gives him more energy and focus in his profession, being real estate broker.
There is a reason for his success, for getting faster while getting older, and it isn’t luck.
Gill prepared well for this race. He focused. He paid close attention to exercise and diet. He biked more than past years, he practiced yoga, and he did leg workouts. He cut out starches and red meats and added a protein shake.
“I definitely got more miles under my belt on the road with my bike. I made a conscious effort to refine my diet. It wasn’t that bad, but I refined it to be even better.”
It paid off.
“Immediately after I have finished some races, I have told myself I don’t know if I’ll do this again,” he said. “After Pedal to the Meadow, I quickly thought about it and I want another crack at it.”
He isn’t one of those who takes bike racing too seriously. He has owned the same Trek bike since he took up road cycling in 2004. He could spent a few grand on a lighter, newer model, likely slice a few more minutes off his Pedal to the Meadow time and move up a few places, but that’s not his style.
“I just decided last summer to tune it up a little bit and it’s as good as new,” Gill said.
But for Gill, it’s more than the quest to push race faster than ever before. When it comes to Pedal to the Meadow, he loves the challenge and the camaraderie that come with conquering this course.
He was inspired by the number of men and women in his age bracket, 60-69, who did well.
“I love their spirit and all their attitudes and doing the best they can at it,” Gill said. “It’s really eye-opening of how healthy a lot of people are trying to be as they age.”
One rider in his age group, Jeff Soulier, finished in 1:09 flat, good for third overall. That someone his age could post such a time gave Gill even more reason for his optimistic outlook on life.
“That just means the door is open, the sky is the limit,” he said.
For Lincoln Gill, it always has been.