A good sense of humor and a love for daily movement set the cadence that has steadily carried Victor G. Butcher to the victory lap of healthy aging. While the 71-year-old cyclist has always enjoyed playing sports, his journey with running began after a post-college ulcerative colitis diagnosis. To counteract weight gain as a side effect of his medicines, cardio was recommended.
To date, the CPA has completed 35 marathons in 28 states plus the Athens Marathon and regularly cycles in 100+ mile races. Vic has also participated in the Memphis Road Race Series for over 30 consecutive years and runs his own cycling group, Vic’s Ride.
The natural athlete reminisces about his early days cycling through the streets of Plano, Texas, with his babies in tow. “They were on bikes before they could even talk,” he remembers. His son, Clark, used to race road and mountain bikes and is the owner of Victory Bicycle Studio in Memphis.
Unfortunately, Vic discovered he had fibrillation after a surgeon could not operate to remove a deep skin growth. His heart kept stopping and some electrodes weren’t sending signals to his heart.
Vic was shocked, “I rode my bike 200 miles the week before.” After receiving a pacemaker and subsequently undergoing surgery to remove the tumor, Vic took a little time to rest.
Vic is the primary caregiver to his wife of 41 years, Lynn, who has multiple myeloma and became completely handicapped after a car accident 12 years prior. He says, “It was never about me. I only thought, how will I take care of my wife.”
Over the years, Vic has seen many childhood friends and peers be diagnosed with or die from various illnesses and diseases. “Some people let themselves go with age. It’s important for me to stay healthy. I’ve gotta stay healthy for my wife, too.”
While the cyclist has had to make some adjustments, like trading in running for shorter bike rides, the pacemaker is not a deterrent to his fitness regimen. Vic averages 125-150 miles per week. If the weather drops below 40, he will opt to exercise indoors at the Memphis Jewish Community Center.
Vic credits decades of weight-lifting to maintaining his strength, posture, and mobility over the years. He also says his humor keeps him young, backing up the statement with a few wisecracks that had me chuckling.
Vic is currently training for the Multiple Sclerosis Ride on September 10-11, and the Big Dam Bridge Ride on September 24. “I do it because it helps me feel good. I’m among the oldest of 200 cyclists in Victory Bicycle Studio’s Sunday training groups. Keeping up with everyone is definitely a confidence boost,” he says.
Vic’s Ride group meets every Saturday at 7:00 a.m. at Davies Plantation.
By Shlomit Ovadia
Photo by Daniel Scruggs