Kathy Petrillo had gold on her mind — and she mined it. The Jupiter resident handily won the 5K and 10K cycling time trials in her age group at the 26th annual Martin County Senior Games on a hot afternoon, qualifying once again for the state games. The cows in the pasture across the road didn’t seem
to notice the cyclists whooshing by.

In the time trials, it’s a race against yourself, power pedaling for personal best. A sensor fitted on the helmet records both start and finish as the rider passes under the timing bridge and the watchful eyes of computer and camera from MOGO Timing of Port St. Lucie.

“I want to be the fastest woman out there,” the vivacious Petrillo had said, while kitting up for the race staged under the guidance of Dave Gladding, Sports and Athletics Co-ordinator of the Martin County Parks and Recreation Department.

And she was — whizzing the 5K in 7.50.85 minutes and the 10K in 16.07.72. That’s pretty whippy, an average speed of 25.5 and 24.5 miles per hour, respectively. “She’s one of our fastest female riders,” said Florida Senior Games event manager Sarah Kirchberg.

Petrillo holds the state senior games’ records in her age group. These qualifying trials for the state games, to be held Dec. 5-13 in Clearwater, had drawn women from different parts of Florida, including Mary Lo Williams, who took second place in both races and 10K National Senior Champion in her age cohort, Cheryl Cherry, who took first in her trials, according to MOGO which supplied all the results and rundowns.

She’s a beast,” said her husband, Tom Cherry, who rode in the men’s trials. He finished second in the 5K in his 65-69-year-old age group and first in the 10K. The former football coach at Wellington High School and Forest Hill High School had been inducted into the school’s first Hall of Fame. Retired now, the sporting Cherry couple was living in Claremont. “The women are faster than the men,” he said. But he was being chivalrous.

The men were plenty fast, including 84-year-old National Champion Bill Otto, outfitted in a red and black skinsuit like an eerie visitor from Planet Velo. Joe Pfeifer of The Villages competed on a custom-made, one-of a-kind 18-gear recumbent because, he said, “I just like to see if I’m getting better.”

The Florida Senior Games draws athletes from all over the state, from people as diverse as 55-year-old runner Adam Goldstein, the COO of Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines, and legally blind bowler, Mary Northrup who competes in the 80- to 84-yearold age group. The Florida games feed into the National Senior Games, which include a variety of sports from archery to volleyball.

The cyclists are especially competitive said Nick Gandy, director of communications for the Florida Sports Foundation and, as for Petrillo, she “gets it all figured out,” he said, impressed with her strategizing.

Aerodynamics are critical and before the race Petrillo had pulled a pair of booties over her dialed-tight, Louis Garneau cycling shoes and fitted on her cycling gloves like fingerless mittens. “It’s all about aero,” she explained, adjusting her Garmin power meter linked to a microcomputer on one wheel which measured her power from leg to leg, her cadence and her speed.

“I’ve got to get on the bike,” she’d said, pulling on a pair of white skintight sleeves. No training wheels nor basket nor ooga horn like the one you had as a kid. This bike is a Canadian-made, carbon-fiber Argon, built for time trials and triathlons, modeled up for her by Tom Rassage of the Bicyclery in West Palm Beach. It’s sleek, a 12-gear high-performance job with electronic shifting, semi-disc changeable wheels, white laydown handlebars that look like wings, a set of black grips jutting out from its front like bull’s horns and painted a shimmering blue-green and emblazoned with her Wellness Warrior logo.

“I ride on power,” she said. She took a sip from a canister of her own home-brewed mix of fluids to replace electrolytes, showed me a bottle of Overdrive, which she called “my secret weapon,” snugged on her white Kask helmet, snapped in its magnetic, clear visor and wheeled away into Florida’s senior cycle
history. “50’n fabulous,” she said. That’s her mantra.