Grin & Bear It
In Edmond, it’s a well-known fact that Dr. Charles Hetrick is in the business of smiles – he’s owned a successful dental practice, Hetrick and Holloman, D.D. S., at 218 E. 10th St. Plaza for 30 years. What few know is that much of his after-work hours and weekends are spent on a bicycle, which earned him the title of 2009 Oklahoma Cyclist Champion.
“Cycling is a coping mechanism for the stresses and strains of life. I enjoy the competition a little bit, but I enjoy the side effects of the exercise more than anything,” he says. “I think physical and mental health run hand in hand. I think you can deal with life’s stresses easier when you’re physically fit and mentally fit.”
Dr. Hetrick looked to sports to help him stay focused after he heard stories of dentists falling prey to the pressures that come with their line of work. Fellow dentist Dr. Jeff Baggett announced one day in 1985 that he’d signed them both up for the Tulsa Triathlon. “I said, ‘What? I can’t even swim!’” recalls Hetrick.
With a little bit of training, Hetrick became an able swimmer, but he was still not good enough to keep up with the natural-born mermen they were competing against. “That was my downfall,” he says. “When I started, swimming was my weakest event. When I finished, I liked it as much as anything.”
Hetrick and Baggett took on triathlons for the next seven years, including the Ironman Vineman, located in Santa Rosa, California with a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike ride, followed by a full 26-mile marathon.
“I’ve always been athletic,” Hetrick says. “I was on a wrestling scholarship at Oklahoma State University.” It was at OSU that he earned a bachelor’s degree in physical education. He briefly taught at Stillwater High School before deciding to go back for a degree in zoology.
Dental school soon followed in 1975 at the University of Oklahoma. “Four years later, I graduated, and I have been in Edmond ever since. It’s a fun place to work because people value what you do for them,” said Hetrick, who has watched the community grow for the last 30 years. In 1979, Edmond had only six or seven dentists according to Hetrick, but it now boasts 40-50 dentists or more.
It was Hetrick’s wife, Mary Beth, who led him to the New York City Marathon, which they participated in together. They also ran the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, D.C.
When Hetrick and Baggett competed in the Vineman, their wives and a friend decided once they got to California to compete as well. “One was a good swimmer, one was a good runner, and they decided that if they could find a bike, my wife would ride that, so they wound up doing a half Ironman as a team and wound up getting second,” he says proudly.
“She still runs, but I don’t,” Dr. Hetrick says. He narrowed it down to cycling because focusing on all three events was becoming too much. “If you’re working all the time, you’re going to be hurt all the time unless you’re superhuman,” he says.
Since the 1990s, he’s been racing bicycles all over the country. “Two years ago, I got back into it in a big way,” he says. “We just got back from Louisville, Kentucky. We were out there all week doing bicycle races — two tandem races and a single bike criterium.” A criterium is a race on a short course, usually one kilometer to one mile in length.
Hetrick kicked off the cycling season in February with a race in Arizona and spent nearly every weekend until the season’s close around Labor Day racing somewhere in the country. He and Baggett are still close friends and still ride together — often with their wives — but Dr. Hetrick now trains mostly with Peter Erdoes.
He tailors his training days depending on what type of race is coming up — time trial, road race, or criterium. “We don’t just go out and ride,” he says. “We structure everything we do so that we get the most value from our training time.” Practice sessions are generally three hours, three times a week. Mondays are usually for recovery from weekend competitions, so practice is an easy ride. Wednesdays and Thursdays are harder days.
Training doesn’t end with cycling season. “We train in the snow,” Hetrick says. “This was a hard winter to train, because there was a lot of snow and moisture on the ground, but we didn’t miss too