While many people his age are settling down, Roy Messer is hitting the road for a two-wheeled journey that men half his age would never even attempt, much less finish.
Messer, a self-made Internet domain magnate, will celebrate his 70th birthday this weekend by going on a 70-mile bike ride from his home in Santa Rosa Beach, up the 331 bridge into Freeport and back.
"I've got friends from all over coming in for the 70-miles ride," Messer told The Sun, adding that 15 to 20 cyclists will begin the journey. “And I know of seven or eight of us that intend to do the whole 70 miles."
For most people, 70 miles on a bike may seem nearly impossible. Messer may barely break a sweat. In 2010, he joined a group of cyclists on a 3,412-mile, 49-day bike adventure from Los Angeles, Calif., to Boston, Mass.
"It was a blast. It was the happiest I've been as an adult, ever," Messer said. "If you trained, it was a piece of cake."
Messer has only been cycling for about five years. He picked it up when he and his wife were looking for a healthy hobby. A friend invited him to do a bike ride in New Zealand, so he and his wife bought bikes and started some intensive cycling training. Pretty soon they were prepared and took the trip through New Zealand. Since then, Messer has cycled in numerous countries around the world, including Vietnam, Cambodia, Ireland and the Tuscany region of Italy.
He has plenty of time for his hobby now. He makes a comfortable living off the traffic on thousands of domain names he owns, and occasionally sells. A few years ago, he sold the rights to vodka.com to a Russian billionaire for $3 million.
"It's an interesting gig. I have no employees. It's 24/7/365," said Messer, who also owns the domain name rings.com. "It's a money-making machine."
Messer isn't spending all that money on his cycling lifestyle, though. Along with the 70-mile ride, he is also celebrating his birthday by donating 70 bikes to the Bikes For Tots Foundation. The foundation is operated by Bill MacBride of Miramar Beach and accepts donation at Robin's Bikes and Fitness in Destin.
"We gave them a few bikes last year. I knew I was turning 70 this year. I just had this idea like, 'Let's give him 70 bikes this year.' " Messer said.
To donate a bike to a child in need, visit Robin's Bikes and Fitness at 11166 Emerald Coast Parkway in Destin or visit the website at bikesfortotsfoundation.com.
“Last year, we raised enough money to donate 73 bikes to under-privileged children,” MacBride told The Sun. “We’re still collecting money, so it’s not over. I hope to have over 100 bikes.”