Fred Boethling
El Tour de Tucson & Race Across America Ultracyclist of 2006

No more training wheels!

by John Hughes

When he was four years old Fred Boethling went for a trike ride . . . for about five miles out to and along the Minnesota river. At midnight the police returned him to his parents in Bloomington, MN. Why? Just exploring, seeking adventure.

The love of adventure has fueled Boethling's life for 61 years. He has climbed volcanoes in Mexico and peaks in the Canadian Rockies, and taught skiing and made ski films. He has trekked from Badwater across Death Valley to the Panamint range and across Axel Heiberg Island in the Canadian Arctic. He has explored caves in Alberta and Missouri. With a degree in Geological Engineering he has searched for oil from Midland, TX to northern Alaska.

This year he had his biggest adventure . . . so far: racing solo RAAM.

Although he thrives on adventure, Boethling is a man driven by purpose. He was diagnosed with prostate cancer in early 1998 and had surgery in July 1998.

He came "face to face with my own mortality, started to think about all the things that I'd like to do, and realized that I probably hadn't taken care of myself the way I should. At age 52 I made a list of things I wanted to do while I was still able to do so. I had raced bicycles as a young man and high on that list was competing in the 3,000-mile Race Across America. I hadn't ridden in years, had put on weight, and knew I needed to get with the program."

   Boethling's palmares
      Aug. 2002 Minnesota W-E 10h 55m 199 mi
      Sept. 2002 Wisconsin W-E 19h 55m 290.8 mi
      June 2003 Wyoming N-S 30h 27m 351.5 mi
      May 2005 Utah S-N, Two-man
with Dan Crain
8d 13h 34m
      June 2005 RAAM, Two-man
with Dan Crain
19h 28m 352.9 mi
      Oct. 2005 New Mexico W-E 27h 58m 401.9 mi
      April 2006 Florida W-E 27h 58m 405.3 mi
      May 2006 Colorado N-S-N 2d 2h 35m 631.7 mi
      May 2006 Colorado N-S 23m 8m 315.5 mi
      May 2006 Colorado S-N 22h 14m 316.2 mi
      June 2006 RAAM 12d 7h 3m

Since 1999 Boethling has trained hard, lost 35 lbs, and has set nine cross-state records — more than any other ultra rider. In 2004 he began volunteering as the Records chair for the UltraMarathon Cycling Association.

In pursuit of his RAAM goal in 2004 Boethling officiated RAAM. In 2005 he and Dan Crain set the RAAM two-man age 60+ record of 14.85 mph (8d 13h 34m).

Driven by purpose and thoroughly prepared, this year he crossed in 12d 7h 3m, setting an age 60+ solo RAAM record of 10.31 mph.

As a result of his accomplishment readers of Tailwinds magazine elected Boethling the El Tour- Race Across America Cyclist of the Year. Boethling will be honored at El Tour in Tucson in November.


After RAAM Boethling said: "I wanted to make a statement about age and lifestyle choices. Aging doesn't mean the end of life as you know it."

For Boethling finishing solo RAAM was a life-changing experience. Why? "Solo RAAM is so different from team. Finishing team RAAM was an accomplishment, but I only rode half the miles. This year I pedaled every mile. Solo is five times harder than team. There's more wear and tear on the body and no time to recover."

A graduate of the University of Minnesota, Boethling has spent 40 years in the business world. He is currently Chief Executive Officer of CapSource Financial Inc., which sells and leases over-the-road truck trailers and related equipment.

His business world is very stressful and cycling provides time to relax. Meetings with Boethling are often interrupted by calls on his cell phone — but he doesn't take calls, even from his partners, while riding.

Boethling's corporate colleagues respect him, but in the competitive business world he doesn't get a lot of positive feedback. Solo RAAM provided that.

"Solo RAAM was such a big project, the completion of a long-term goal. I have a tremendous sense of accomplishment and get such positive feedback. People say 'Gosh, you raced your bike across the country. That's so impressive!' That feels good."

What's next? "I'd like to do solo RAAM when I'm 65 and two-man RAAM when I'm 70. And then I need to go back to Minnesota — I crashed last year while trying to set the north to south record.

Fred Boethling is an accomplished ultra racer and effective business leader, always looking for the next adventure. At age 61 he is an inspiring example for us baby boomers trying to avoid old age. In his 80s he'll still be pushing the pedals, although by then he may need to put the training wheels back on to set his next record.

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