Reader Athlete: Jordan Davies

Age: 72

Residence: Huntington
Family: Partner, Cassandra; children, Elisabeth, Tristan and Owen
Occupation: Retired; type-designer and painter
Primary sport: Cycling

Jordan Davies didn’t begin cycling until he was in his 30s, but soon after that he developed his fascination with time trials. After moving to Vermont he initially put his bike away, but these days you can find him atop the leaderboard for his age group in the championship series put on by the Green Mountain Bicycle Club.

VS: When did you start cycling?

JD: I moved to New York City in 1968 when I was in my 20s. I had never owned a bicycle and when I was about 30 I began to ride. I don’t remember what got me started, but I got a ten-speed bike and started riding in Central Park. Eventually I joined the Century Road Club and by the early 1970s I started doing some of their races.

VS: Was that the start of your love for racing?

JD: I did a few out-of-state races in the ’70s, but initially I wasn’t a very good racer. Then I went to one or two state championships and did pretty well, but that was in the days when there were no categories and the helmets didn’t really protect your head. There were open races in the spring, but because there were no categories, everyone rode together and the trick was to get out in front as soon as you could to avoid accidents. I broke two collarbones in different races.

When we moved from Manhattan to Brooklyn I started riding in Prospect Park, which has a smaller loop than Central Park but was less crowded and better for cycling. The club moved their races to Prospect Park, which was very convenient for me. I did pretty well in the club races but what I really liked was the time trials. I won the championship for the club one year.

VS: You’ve won the championship series of the Green Mountain Bicycle Club time trials five out of the last six years and eight out of the last ten. What do you like about time trials?

JD: I like time trials because I like the idea of racing against my own time. When I first moved to Vermont I stopped racing because I was working crazy hours and I had kids. I didn’t join the GMBC until I was in my 60s and I just happened to fall into an age group where there are very few riders. I found the club on-line and went to one of their races in a beautiful old steel frame Colnago with shifters on the down-tube. After that I bought a Specialized aluminum bike and last year I got a carbon fiber frame. I’ve always had good wheels for my bikes.

VS: A quick look at your numbers shows that you’re not slowing down. How do you explain that?

JD: I’ve been doing more riding and I just got better at the discipline, but buying aero bars was the thing that made the biggest difference. It’s partly technical equipment and partly practicing harder and getting a feeling for the courses.

VS: Do you have a training regimen?

JD: I just ride. I don’t do anything like interval training, but I deliberately ride hilly routes, in part because I live in a hilly area.

VS: Do you do other sports?

JD: We have ski trails right out the back door. I had never skied until I moved here, but I bought a pair of cross-country skis a few years ago. It’s a good cross-over sport, but I can’t say that I love it. I used to do some skating but I haven’t done that in a while. In the winter, I mostly put my bike on rollers and ride indoors.

VS: Tell me about your passive house.

JD: My partner Cassandra (Wilday) is a landscape architect and she teamed up with architect Dmitri Sarantitis to create a house that would be a very controlled environment. The house faces south and there are huge windows to bring in the heat. Even in the winter, the living area can be 75 degrees without the heat being on, but we do have radiant heat on three floors.

VS: I understand that you’re an artist. Can you tell us a little bit about your work?

JD: I have a Masters in Fine Arts and in the past I’ve exhibited and sold my paintings and won some prizes. Then I went to work as a graphic designer and put my painting aside for many years, but I’ve started painting again. At this point in my career I prefer portrait painting. I am hard at work on that and plan to continue in this vein for the future.

VS: You’ve also made historically accurate reproductions of 19th Century wood types. Can you talk a little bit about that?

JD: I first got into designing type fronts because I had a proof printing press. I was working for a poetry bookstore and I printed some books for them. I was familiar with the metal type that was available, but I became interested in the design and bought a book on old wooden fonts. I design type fonts and my work is distributed by three different companies.

VS: Are you racing again this season?

JD: I intend to do most of the GMBC time trials this year, but I noticed that last year my times weren’t quite as good as the previous year. I’m still getting used to my time trial bike. No matter how much I train and how many thousands of dollars I spend, you reach an age where you really won’t get better no matter what you do.

VS: What would you say to folks who think they’re too old to race? 

JD: I just would encourage people to just ride and get exercise and if they’ve ever been competitive I would encourage them to actively participate in time trials. It’s a lot of fun. The riding itself is very beneficial for the aerobic part, but the competition is also good for you — you get encouraged by seeing other people your age doing it.

Phyl Newbeck

Phyl Newbeck lives in Jericho with her partner Bryan and two cats. She is a skier, skater, cyclist, kayaker, and lover of virtually any sport which does not involve motors. She is the author of “Virginia Hasn’t Always Been for Lovers: Interracial Marriage Bans and the Case of Richard and Mildred Loving.”