Heiden's schedule keeps him almost exclusively in Sacramento. If he's lucky, he makes it back to Cheesehead country to visit his parents once a year. His sister Beth, who won a bronze medal in the 3,000 meters at the 1980 Games, is a mother of three in northern Michigan.
Now that he's 40, his thighs are slightly smaller than Earl Campbell's, but the tributaries of veins that adorn his arms leave little doubt that the man is still a serious athlete. He stopped in-line skating the three miles to work from his modest house in Sacramento's River Park neighborhood; a broken wrist would have amounted to occupational suicide. But he stays in shape cycling or running along the American River, which abuts his backyard, and working out in a small gym in his house. He also plays in a recreational hockey league at a rink in Sacramento. "I'm not the best stickhandler, but I might be the best skater out there," he says without a trace of irony. "At this point in my life, I'm really more concerned with being the best doctor I can be and being respected by my peers, being known for more than skating a couple of laps around a rink faster than anyone else."
Whatever free time he has he spends with his wife, Karen, who's in her final year of an orthopedic residency at Davis. With some reluctance, Eric confesses that like any doctor worth his stethoscope, he has cultivated a passion for golf. "I guess I'm officially an old man," he says sheepishly. "I probably play once a week, and my handicap is 15, but I'm getting better."
Given his track record, oval and otherwise, is there any doubt that in a decade he'll be ready for the Senior PGA tour?