A Look Back: Bill Robertson

For this installment of our PV history series, we take a look back at another illustrious rider from the earliest days of the club. Bill Robertson was already doing epic rides with the “big boys” as a 13-year-old and began racing as a junior in 1970, before Pen Velo was founded. He raced for Pen Velo (then sponsored by Talbot’s) in the mid-1970’s as an elite Cat 1 racer. He won the District Championship Road Race in 1975 and the Cat’s Hill Classic in 1976 while sporting the PV colors. He also competed in the Olympic Selection Road Race in 1976, again wearing a PV jersey. Bill retired from competition in the early 80’s. During his competitive career, Bill often raced against local legend Lindsay Crawford. But it was not until after a chance meeting while riding on Skyline Boulevard that Bill and Lindsay cemented a friendship based on their compatibility as riding partners that continues today. Click HERE to read Lindsay’s account of their friendship and some of their adventures.

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Bill Robertson, still riding 45+ years later

A perfect example of a life long love of cycling.

Since I, probably, have more miles riding with Bill then anyone else, I was asked to write a little of his cycling history.

I first met Bill in late 1969 when he was just short of 14 years old and already had a reputation of riding with the “big boys” on leg breaking 100+ mile rides which often included a fair amount of dirt roads/trails.

Bill was a member of PV in the mid ‘70s and had many successes, including 1975 District RR Champion, while wearing the PV jersey.  During that period as Cat I racers, we competed in the same race but had not yet cemented our relationship as two very compatible road riders.

During his teen years he traveled to Europe with the notorious Jobst Brandt and was introduced to the awesome roads of Western Europe.  A love of riding the Euro mountains, especially the Swiss Alps, has never left him.

During the early ‘80s both of us retired from competitive cycling and moved on to getting on with our respective lives.

Not much contact between the two of us until a chance encounter in 1986 on Skyline Blvd. Of course we were both on bikes. After chatting on the side of the road for over an hour, we committed to getting back into a high level of fitness with the goal of reliving his Euro experience some 17 years earlier and to return in July 1987.

Our plan was to arrive in Europe at a very high level of fitness and we succeeded by putting in some incredible miles in the process.  Many times weekends would include back to back 100+ milers including “Sierra rides” (Ebbets, Sonora, Tioga, etc.).  Plus, many more weekday miles sandwiched in between work and family.

July 1987 we arrived in Zurich with no reservations other than flights over and back, a rough route plan shaped like a figure 8, and a small saddlebag (weighing 6 1/2 lbs.) with every thing we needed for the three weeks.  Averaging 100 miles and 10,000 feet per day we never faltered due to our fitness.  Switzerland, Italy, France, Austria and Luxemburg all included in the figure 8.

Our plan was to continue this madness every other year until we fell of our bikes and, of course, that didn’t happen but, we did manage ’87, 89, & 91 with one of the interim years spent riding most all the Colorado Rocky Mountain roads (dirt and paved) above 10,000’.

Because of Bill’s time consuming, successful business, cycling had to go on the back burner after the ’91 trip until this past year or so and he has returned to cycling at age 60; enjoying it as much as ever.

On a personal note; I couldn’t have found a more compatible riding partner.  Reliable, punctual and very skilled bike handler.  We have such a mutual trust of each other’s bike handling that we ride very close to each other and some have said from certain angles it looks as if we’re on a tandem. If you’re curious about how well that works, ask him sometime about the two of us run off the road by a Corvette driver along the west shore of Lake Tahoe.

Lindsay Crawford