Lance Armstrong he’s not, nor would he want to be, but Conway’s Jim Magyar can hold his own in a bicycle race.
The medals and citations that festoon his home give impressive testimony to his predilection for the art of racing, a sport that has held him captive for years.
He has conceded space in his home in west Conway for his bicycles and the trappings he employs for training, including modern timing devices, computers and television apparatuses.
His bicycles are marvels of the genre shaped in the configuration of the best in the field.
At 75 years of age, Magyar might well be one of the best in the field of Senior Olympics. He has competed with telling results in racing events in eight surrounding states imposing his skills in bicycling on his competition.
Magyar has been aboard bicycles for a good part of his life, racing since he was 14. He honed his skills as an adult rider while serving the Baptist Church in Colombia, South America, for 35 years as a missionary and performing tasks as a media specialist and director of a national media center.
"When I returned to the states, I explored the programs of the Senior Olympics and became interested in competing.
I think every state has events for seniors — many more that just bicycling," he said. "I took part in cycling races in Arkansas and later branched out to compete in other states."
While he painted a picture of racing against other seniors, he offered a comment attributed to his wife who said facetiously, that "I never make any money. I just win medals."
His wife does not ride but she is there for all Magyar’s challenges, a one woman cheering section.
From his point of view, the competition among senior riders racing in the Olympic events is surprisingly keen. They compete in groups that move up in five year increments.
"I now compete in the 75 to 79 group," he said.
The Conway rider keeps up with the senior events via the Internet. He feels inclined to give the Senior Olympics a "boost" since several sports events are available to seniors who wish to stay in good physical shape.
"You might have seen me at the fitness center - and that’s part of my training in addition to schooling for my bicycling events. I train about 10 hours a week."
And to the query about cycling’s allure, Magyar has a ready answer: "You try climbing a 10 percent grade hill, and you’ll find out how exciting it can be. It’s a sport with people getting hooked on it as people get involved in other sports. It’s a challenge. And I like cycling because it’s an individual sport, unlike a team concept which can let you down. And it’s great to compete against people who are in your age group. Also there is the thrill of winning and the fellowship is good."
He’s content to ride alone mostly, except when he is competing in Senior Olympics events. His training is computerized. He rides a road-racing bike and a time trial bike in his garage, taking on specific courses. On the road, he rides some eight to ten thousand miles a year. Each day finds him going about 35 miles, working on specific aspects of training like climbing and sprinting and the like.
Magyar is a native of St. Louis. When he completed his tour of duty with the Southern Baptist Church - he is a member of the Conway First Baptist Church — he chose Conway as his home since two of his six children live in the area. He has been here for some 10 years.