By Jennifer Ann Gordon
Wesley Yates, 91, is going strong. An avid skier and cyclist, and a lifelong outdoorsman, Yates recently purchased an electric road bicycle, or e-bike, from Freewheeler Bicycle Center in Davis. He rides with the Over the Hill Gang, a group in the Davis Bike Club. “I noticed that the others were getting a little faster,” said Yates.
After 26 years of road cycling and unwilling to give up riding with the group, he looked into an electric assist bicycle, which requires pedaling, but assists the rider as much or as little as he wishes.
“Riding the aerodynamic e-bike is like having a constant tailwind; and you get to decide how strong a tailwind you want; you select the levels of assist you want, from low to high,” said Yates. “The ride is so smooth and going up hills is great. The e-bike has opened a whole new window for me; it allows me to do a lot more riding than I normally would be able to do.”
In 1970, Yates joined the volunteer ski patrol at Sierra-at-Tahoe, and spent everyweekend during ski season on the ski patrol for the following 19 years. When a friend told him that the best way to prepare for ski season was road biking, Yates borrowed a road bicycle from a friend and joined the Davis Bike Club. When Yates first joined the Davis Bike Club, his role model was an older longtime member of the club, Doc Wright, who was then 94 years old.
Yates has held only one job his entire life—39 years in the Agricultural Engineering Department at UC Davis. Receiving his BS from Iowa State University, Wesley came to UCD in 1949 as a grad student. Once he received his Masters degree in 1951, he advanced through the ranks to Professor of Agricultural Engineering. “I never did drive a car to work. I commuted on my Schwinn 3-speed.”
Yates, who resides at the University Retirement Community (URC), focuses on his skiing all winter through early spring, and cycles during the warmer months. He goes on 3 rides each week—Woodland, Winters, and Dixon.
His advice to other seniors? “Keep active.”