Dr. McCoy and his rough-riders: The unlikely trio of Highway 72

From left, Jeff Frizzell, Dr. Bill McCoy, and Dave Randall heckle each other while they line up for a chilly photo next to the Salem Community Center @ the Armory.

A heavy machine operator, an eye-doctor and an engineer are all riding bicycles when...

It sounds like the beginning of a joke, but despite the jovial attitude of these three men, it's no joke, it's part of their workout regimen.

Almost everyone is familiar with riding a bike, but not like this. Dr. Bill McCoy, Dave Randall and Jeff Frizzell are doing a little more than cruising down to the nearest convenience store for a pop and a bag of chips. Typically their 20-mile rides depart from Salem Community Center @ the Armory to Hwy. FF and back. Randall said they've ridden over 2,000 miles since they began riding together in March 2020; 95% of which was clocked in along Hwy. 72.

When asked why they do it, Frizzell explained that for him it's about staying in shape so that as each of them ages they can retain strength and health as long as possible.

"I'm in my 40s, Dave is in his sixties," Frizzell paused, looking over at McCoy. "and Bill's old." All three men laughed whole-60s. Frizzell got serious again before speaking.

"I know a lot of younger guys who can't do what these two can," as he nodded toward McCoy and Randall.

In addition to exercise, these men all say they genuinely enjoy the challenge of working alongside friends to stay in shape, and for Frizzell it's stress relieving.

"Oh yeah, your job is really stressful," Randall razzed sarcastically.

Frizzell looked at Randall with mock indignation. "What? It's stressful doing this," he said wiggling his wrists to pantomime imaginary controls.

"We're kind of an unlikely bunch," said McCoy who is an optometrist. "Dave's an engineer who works recycling batteries and Jeff's a heavy machinery operator."

McCoy said that he started riding in Salem over 25 years ago with some other local people . "But everybody left," McCoy said. "So, I kept doing it myself for a while." That is until his friends from the gym decided to start riding with him in March 2020. According to Randall they decided to ride together in order to continue their exercise regimen while the gym was closed due to COVID-19.

"Our first ride together was March 25," said Randall. However, March wasn't the first time the three men had met. They've been working out together at the community center for some time now. They all agree that it was the gym that brought them together.

Each ride along Hwy. 72 is its own adventure. "We were almost hit by a golf ball once as we were going past the golf course on our way out," Randall said. There are a lot of factors that go into riding bikes along Hwy. 72.

"There's a lot more roadkill than you'd think," said Frizzell, and he pointed out that there's some large dogs out there, leaving it at that. One important factor is weather, "We've done it in the rain," Randall said. "35-mile-per-hour wind and 30-degree weather and when it's blistering hot.”

According to McCoy, any given ride could be easier or more difficult depending on wind conditions. "If we get a tail wind at our backs, we might average 20-miles-per-hour," McCoy said. "But if we get a head wind working against us, then we might average 14-miles-per-hour.”

Another factor is equipment. McCoy pointed out that his bike is made out of carbon fiber, which makes it a lot lighter than your typical bicycle. Additionally, bicyclists wear special shoes that clip onto the pedals of the bicycle, something that McCoy says takes some getting used to.

"Jeff's had 22 flat tires this year," Randall said.

"Hey," Frizzell interjected, "Did you really have to tell the newspaper guy about that.”

"Dave (Randall) is our statistics guy," McCoy smiled.

McCoy said that Frizzell actually does the toughest part of the ride. He takes point, with Randall and McCoy coming along behind. McCoy explained, "The first person breaks all the wind, so the second person has it easier, the third person has it even easier."

McCoy said it's the same reason that geese fly in a V-formation. "And being in the front, that sometimes means Jeff (Frizzell) is the one that picks up all the nails and broken glass with his front tire," said McCoy.

McCoy wasn't kidding when he said that Randall is the statistics guy. Randall has kept a spreadsheet with all of their workout data since they started. They've done the 20-mile ride in under an hour a few times, which means that on those dates they accrued an average speed of over 20-miles-per-hour, and there are several weeks where they have added more than 100 miles to their total.

Bike riding isn't the only way these men stay active. All three of them visit the weight room at the armory and do cardio inside when weather conditions are less than hospitable for bike riding. According to Randall, both he and Frizzell, in the summer months, sometimes run after bike riding, and Frizzell has clocked in over 500 miles in running over the course of this year.

“Jeff trains us,” Randall said. Frizzell stood silent next to Randall’s praise. “That’s true,” said McCoy. “He’s the one that comes up with all of our workout plans.”

Randall said that he has clocked in more than 300 miles running and another 100-miles in swimming. "He's really quite the athlete," McCoy said of Randall. McCoy pointed out that Randall even participates in triathlons and regularly rides the Katy Trail.

Randall and McCoy also pointed out how tough Frizzell can be. According to Randall, one day in July when the heat index was well over the 100 degrees, Frizzell road all the way to Rolla and back along Hwy. 72.

These men work hard to keep in shape, but that doesn't mean they don't know how to relax. Many times, after a 20-mile ride they meet at McCoy's house for homemade ice cream. Frizzell also joked that it's the weekends between workouts that they can actually cut loose just a little bit. "Salsa Saturdays," said Frizzell. "And ice cream breakfast Sundays."

McCoy pointed out that their unofficial club is not exclusive and if people are interested in joining their workout group, they would be glad to have them join.

"Have you ever seen The Breakfast Club?" Randall mentioned of the 1985 cult classic. "We're kind of like the Breakfast Club.”.