Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Have Your Bicycle and Ride it Too

Elite athlete and Litespeed employee, Chris Brown, punches the work clock and the full-time training clock 

The laws of cyclist’s nature dictate we’ve all gotta eat, sleep and ride. That’s just the way it is. But sometimes there’s a little thing called a job that likes to get in the way. Chris Brown, account manager for Litespeed, has found a formula for working it all in—training, racing, more training—all while earning a paycheck, too.

“Peter Hurley, our CEO, really supports everyone being in the sport,” Chris says. “I’ll go out at lunch with Brad DeVaney, the head designer, and draft off his scooter, going 35-plus mph. Extreme race-pace simulation has really helped my training. Then after work, with daylight increasing now, I can get in a couple more hours.”

Chris, a Category 1 racer and a member of the Litespeed-BMW Cycling team, has been racking up wins on the Litespeed C1R this season. “The aerodynamics is probably the biggest thing,” he says, regarding the flagship model of the C-Series.

  “I am a very aggressive rider and like to be off the front. I get hit by the wind and can really feel the difference with the aerodynamics of the C1R, especially when combined with a carbon aero wheelset.”

Recently, Chris soloed away from the pack at the 3rd annual Aaron Schaffer Memorial RR in Sparta, Tennessee. A week later, he took on the Sunny King in the PRO/1 Criterium held in Anniston, Alabama. Ninety racers lined the start, but less than half of the cyclists finished. Riders who toughed out the 42-mile crit, held an average of 28 mph. Chris crossed the line in 13th place. “I was proud of that,” he says, “because I was racing against guys who only race for a living.”

Chris went on to crush the competition at the 21st Annual Highland Rim Omnium in McMinnville, Tennessee, winning both the criterium and the 112-mile road race. With a mad sprint, Chris nailed second place in the Berry Peddler, a 76-miler with some mean climbs and a separate time trial later in the day—both held just north of Chattanooga in Dayton, Tennessee. “I for sure should have won one of them,” he says, “as I just made a tactical mistake, but that is all part of racing.” 

 Litespeed-BMW Cycling Team

The Litespeed-BMW team comprises 17 Category 1 and 2 racers, who live in the Southeastern United States. They train and race on the Litespeed C1R and the L1R. A 9-member developmental squad, made up of primarily Category 3 racers, works hard to ensure the team continues to spin a victorious future. These elite team members all work full-time jobs while maintaining an impressive race schedule. And some of the athletes work for Litespeed. (For a play by play of Chris’s recent races and to find more info about the Litespeed BMW team, visit www.litespeed-bmwcycling.com/2012.)

Nine to Five

Chris, who has been working for Litespeed for10 years, hooked up with the company while racing and touring the country with Cane Creek cycling components. At the time, Litespeed Bicycles was also sponsoring the Cane Creek team Chris had been racing on. Eventually, with a marriage on the horizon, Chris was beginning to feel the desire to settle down. “I needed a change,” he says, “but I’d never done the full-time job kind of thing. They were growing,” he adds of Litespeed, “and I was ready to get a ‘real’ job.”

In addition to having a career that fosters time in the saddle, Chris also lives in an ideal location to log time on countless routes. “Chattanooga is great for that,” Chris says. “We have a variety of roads and climbs. It’s a hidden gem.”

Riding Resumé

Chris first gained cycling credo in the Asheville, North Carolina, area where he attended UNCA College and hit the trails on a mountain bike.  He nabbed 2nd place in the Collegiate Mountain Bike Championship and held a pro license for several years. Before that, he was into motocross. “I used to enjoy racing motocross, but it was pretty dangerous,” he says. “I got out of that and got into mountain biking and just really enjoyed it.” Yet, while training for trail races, Chris would log plenty of hours cranking through road workouts. “It doesn’t beat the body up as much,” he explains.

Out on the road, Chris found he had an affinity for speed. “I think it’s just the fact that you can really push yourself,” he says. “I like the competitiveness of it, but having fun is the most important part at the end of the day.”

While Chris has an obvious talent for cycling, he says he wouldn’t be able to reach his full potential if it weren’t for the people supporting his training and racing efforts, like his wife Cary, brother-in-law Bill, and his in-laws, the Litespeed-BMW team with manager Chris Chotas and the folks at Litespeed like Peter Hurley and Brad DeVaney, among others. “Most importantly,” he adds, “I thank God for blessing me with these abilities and giving me the joy I have racing.”

Vitals and Victuals

Top post-race meal? CB: Anything my wife will cook me! She takes great care of me on the food front to keep me fueled up.

Most annoying ache? CB: A lot of times in races my left hand will randomly go numb a bit. Otherwise I stretch nightly and don’t really have any nagging pains or aches, fortunately!”

Pre-race ritual? CB: Man, I can’t let out all of my secrets and I am not superstitious, but lately I have found my Litespeed socks to give me superpowers. 

Clif Bar fav? CB: Chocolate Chip, yum!

“It’s light, it’s plenty stiff, and I feel like you really benefit from the radical aerodynamic design. I’m a believer. I feel like I am able to save energy as far as the wind-cheating benefits over the course of a race.”

Goals for the season:
  • Win TN State Crit and Road Race Championship
  • Win the TBRA (Tennessee Bike Race Association) BAR (Best Area Rider) series championship
  • Win a Master’s National Championship jersey in Bend, OR in September
  • Have Fun!

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