The 2018 Bay Area Senior Games went well for 86-year-old Turlocker Ray Houlihan, who has now won four gold medals in his senior cycling career.
Houlihan recently captured his third and fourth gold medals in cycling late last month in the 5K and 10K races, respectively, in the 85-90 age group.
“Now it’s getting miles and getting through the diabetes, if the opportunity presents itself and this race happens again I will participate again, especially going through what I have,” said Houlihan. “Also riding for health’s sake, but of course now it’s about 15 laps in morning and spread out during the day.”
The cycling events where Houlihan earned two medals were part of the 12th annual Bay Area Senior Games that took place from April 14 through May 27, with venues spanning from Santa Clara, Alameda and San Mateo counties. These Senior Games are for athletes, both women and men, ages 50 or older.
The cycling event took place in Pescadero, May 16-17. In the 10K on May 16, Houlihan clocked in at 1:05:33.
Houlihan, who has been racing since 1950, likes cycling because it feeds into two of his favorite things — staying fit and photography.
“All the great scenery I am able to see and capture has been a motivating factor. (It’s all) tied in together.”
His love of cycling started when he was a student at Monte Vista Christian in Watsonville, California.
Since he can remember, Houlihan has been an avid photographer, especially on his cycling adventures that have led him to areas that most cannot see without riding there or walking.
His ability to capture shots through his love for cycling has transcended into other sports for Turlock High, most notably football where he can be seen on the sidelines or in the stands rooting for his local athletes where he also once taught.
Houlihan taught for 32 years, including 15 years at Turlock High.
On top of all this, Houlihan also battles daily with Type 2 diabetes and neuropathy. He doesn’t let anything stop him from going, however.
“For many years I didn’t know I had diabetes,” said Houlihan. “But it’s motivation to see if I can do it. Sometimes I feel better than I did in my 40s. My numbers are good because of exercising and cycling has been a great thing. I had diabetes probably years before I knew anything. Along with diet, exercise is the best thing since you don’t want to get overweight.”
His hobby has earned him quite a few medals over the years including four gold — two in 2016 and two this year.
When not competing in an event, Houlihan can be seen touring the roadways.
He has ridden his bike to Sacramento from Turlock on three separate occasions and completed four trips through Pacheco Pass on San Luis Reservoir in 1981, ‘86, ‘88 and 2011.
Houlihan will be 87-years-old on Dec. 18, and he has no plans to slow down.
His current goal is to cycle 100 miles on his birthday for the next three years leading up to his 90th.