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Ride and tie the Cool thing to do

By: Sara Seyydin Journal Staff Writer
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Dr. Frank Lieberman believes “It has nothing to do with age.” So, the 71-year-old psychologist from Cool set about discovering what compels senior citizens to compete in extreme sports. He chronicled their stories of triumph in his newly released book. “People are looking at what we do, not at why we do what we do. Why do we push our bodies?” Lieberman said. “How does the mind and body relate to all of that stuff?” The Auburn area, which hosts events like the Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run and the Tevis Cup, was the perfect backdrop to his research. Lieberman already knew many local seniors testing their competitive limits — partially because he is one of them. Since he turned 60, Lieberman has completed Western States, the Tevis Cup and the Swanton Pacific 100 Mile Ride and Tie. Saturday, the 6th annual Coolest Ride and Tie gallops into Cool, an event that Lieberman and his wife, Linda, produce. The race features distances of 25, 18, 13 and 5 miles. “There is a 5-mile ride. It’s one way to introduce ride and tie to new riders,” Lieberman said. The endurance sport of ride and tie combines running with horseback riding. Each pair starts off with one rider on horseback, while the other runs. The runner eventually catches up to where the rider has tied the horse and jumps on horseback. Lieberman said the Coolest Ride and Tie mandates there be six exchanges. First place is awarded to the fastest trio to cross the finish line. On his quest to find the underlying motivations of older athletes, Lieberman said he found most don’t expect to be the overall winner, but continue to compete anyway. Lieberman dug deep into the lives of his subjects, examining their internal and external reasons for aspiring toward extraordinary feats of athleticism. Some of them have completed the Hawaii Ironman, Molokai to Oahu Outrigger Canoe Race, Tevis Cup and the Swanton Pacific 100 mile Ride and Tie, all at over age 65. “Nobody wants to stop. The only thing that will get you to stop is some physical impairment,” Lieberman said. “We’re afraid to stop because you know what that’ll mean — bad news.” Fellow endurance athlete Tony Brickel, 59, of Pilot Hill, has logged 1,000 miles on the Tevis Trail. He is Lieberman’s right-hand man in planning the Coolest Ride and Tie. Brickel said he hopes to run and ride for as many years as he is able. He also enjoys competing against others in his age group. “I like the healthy lifestyle,” Brickel said. “You see so many people who can’t even go on a mile hike. There is no greater placer to be than in the outdoors.” After the ride and tie this weekend, Lieberman plans on going on a couple of book signings, one for the Sons of Retirement. Despite an accident in the Tevis Cup in 2008, where he was airlifted out by helicopter, Lieberman continues to ride and run. He has no plans of slowing down anytime soon. “I don’t want to be old,” Lieberman said. “I want to still be 21.” Reach Sara Seyydin at saras@goldcountrymedia.com.