This is a follow-up from yesterday’s post, A Chance Meeting with an Olympic Track Cyclist. In 2008, I happened to meet Olympian Giddeon Massie at my local bike shop, Bike Religion* in Newport Beach. In the time since I’ve gotten to know Giddeon, he’s been racing for Bike Religion on the road and track all over the world in preparation for his 2012 bid to compete in his third Olympic games. In addition to competing in Athens and Beijing, he’s a 16-time US National champion and Pan-Am Games champion. If you’re unfamiliar with track cycling and it’s events, Giddeon’s a sprinter. And sprinters are a unique bunch. If you took someone with the power and strength of an NFL linebacker, the agility of a running back, the endurance of a 10k runner, the reflexes of a Formula One driver, the inward calm of a martial artist and the mentality of, well, a sprinter then you’re starting to get the picture. Track sprinting is one of the most compelling events in all of cycling.
Recently, I asked Giddeon to share with AGR readers about how he got started, his proudest achievement, and a few Group Ride insights. He was kind enough to oblige -
How did you get into track racing and what’s your favorite aspect of this unique side of the sport?
I began track racing when I was about 10 or 11 years old. Prior to that, I rode with my Dad on the road and began to do local group rides at about the age of 9 with him and 30-40 other adults. I challenged myself even at that age and would say, “Dad, today I don’t want to finish last on this hill,” or “Today, I’m going to finish in the front group of the ride.” My parents sought a place for me to focus those energies. Growing up in Eastern Pennsylvania, we were very close to one of the most prominent Velodromes in the US. With the free programs that are available to riders of all ages, like Air Products and Bicycle Racing League, my interest was piqued and my skill level was raised.
I think my favorite aspect of Track Cycling is the track craft that goes with riding the Velodrome, whether Enduro or Sprinter. I began my career with a focus on the endurance events, but only a short time later turned my focus to sprinting. The speed, closeness, and aggressiveness of that racing appeals to me. I’ll be a fan long after I’m finished competing.
What’s your proudest achievement as an athlete?
My proudest achievement as an athlete is not so much any particular win, but having the continual opportunity to look challenges, struggles, and defeat in the eye and overcome them. I believe, as an athlete, that is the most satisfying victory. I’ve competed in the sport at this level for over a decade all over the world, and let me tell you, I’ve lost and failed a whole lot more than I’ve won. But it is that “no quit, I will not let this beat me” mentality that has shown through. Those struggles are often blessings on the other end.
What’s your favorite pre-race music on the iPod?
Any Group Ride tips for people just getting into cycling or considering Group Rides?
My suggestion for group ride tips would be to come prepared. That includes making sure your equipment is in good working condition. Don’t have the inevitable mechanical and be forced to rely on someone else to fix it. Otherwise, grow accustomed to riding in a tight, professional looking group, don’t half wheel your partner and don’t be afraid to sprint for some city limit signs! Have fun with it, but most importantly be safe and anticipate that drivers don’t always recognize how quickly we are traveling, nor do they always see us. Be courteous and keep your eyes open.
*About Bike Religion: If you live in Orange County or Southern California be sure to stop into the Bike Religion shop at 149 Riverside Ave, just off Pacific Coast Highway along Mariners Mile in Newport Beach. The owners, John and Rachel Tzinberg, are a power couple – he’s a Cat. 1 strongman and she’s a former professional racer. They’re sure to get you whatever cycling-related products you need. If you’re visiting the area, they can hook you up with a high-end rental and point you in the direction of an awesome ride along the coast. BR has a great Saturday morning Group Ride that leaves from the shop at 8am and even offers free on-site bike servicing.