Paul

Paul

Hi, I’m Paul. I like bikes. I got into cycling almost four years ago now. A friend with an extra mountain bike invited me on a “road” ride. My perception of bikes at the time was, like, Walmart bikes. $500, maybe a $1,000 max. That sounded really expensive for bikes. Now I have a Cannondale SuperSix EVO for the road, SuperSix EVO CX for off-road, and a CAAD 13 for flatter crits and the trainer. The CAAD has recently been relegated to the trainer for this winter season— largely because I just recently picked up my first carbon road bike, the biggest gift to myself in a long time.

I guess I have expensive hobbies. Photography is what I do on the weekends. Mostly a weekend warrior— when I’m not racing, I’m at a wedding taking photos, and now I’ll be working out of our new location downtown at 208 S Wilmington St. A bike costs about as much as a camera setup, and you have to have a backup of each, right?

Photo: Andrew Futrell @darkskyhunter

A lesson I live by is the concept of “keeping [my] stick on the ice.” I took a photography workshop where “keep your stick on the ice” was used as a metaphor for keeping your camera up and not putting it down, like by your waist. Even if someone’s talking to you, keep it up at least around chest height. Never find yourself in a situation where you can’t take a picture. Every room I walk into, I set my exposure. That’s a habit. Never get caught off guard. If something happens, your stick is on the ice and you’re ready. I mean, that translates to life in general.

In 2014 I got an IT job in Apex, moving me to Raleigh from Winston-Salem. That company eventually got acquired and I eventually found myself as a Project Manager, sitting at a new desk in Durham next to this guy who told me a story of how he took some time off after college to ride his bike across America and I’m like “You did WHAT?” Mind-blown to discover this is a thing people do. At that point, hundreds of miles on a bike was a totally new concept to me. I wouldn’t get into cycling for a few years after that conversation, but now I’m like “Yeah, I can see myself doing that. That sounds awesome. Let’s go.”

When I was a kid I had a mountain bike that I’d ride to elementary school, but never much longer of a distance. Before that, I had this bike with a plastic shell around it and it legit looked like a motorcycle. I’d stick playing cards or whatever I could in the spokes so it would make the sound like my engine was revving up. I’ve always been into motorcycles, I don’t know why, hence wanting that plastic-framed bicycle as a kid. I’ve owned a couple motorcycles at this point— a Honda Shadow and a Rebel. Although I don’t own any motorcycles right now, my kids do love trips on the electric Super73 S1. Now, on the bicycle, my fascination is a little more data driven – like “How much power can I sustain for a 30 minute criterium?” For example.  A lot of metrics like that. Lot’s of tracking my year over year power growth via pretty graphs in my profile on http://intervals.icu

What’s my dream destination? I want to go, with my camera, to work the Tour de France. Also some one-day classics. I don’t even need to be on the official crew – I just want to be there and take photos. It could honestly also be the Giro or the Vuelta. Any/all of the Grand Tours. I really love Jered and Ashley Gruber’s work. They’re pretty renowned cycling photographers at this point. I found EF Education sort of because of them… Back to the “stick on the ice” lesson— the Gruber’s and I actually went through one of the same photography workshops, albeit at different times. So we are in the same alumni group on Facebook. They got tagged in that group for some reason a while back and I was like “who are these people?” Followed the rabbit hole to find them on Instagram, immediately fell in love with their work. I guess that was about 3 years ago now and it’s just recently come full circle in that, Jared Gruber just followed me on Instagram a few days ago. 

I’m most excited about the upcoming 2024 race season. See: https://raleighcrit.com/2024-race-calendar/

I want to finish / sprint with the pack in as many races as possible. I think that reflects who I am as a person because it’s an iteration over last year, just like me. Last year I learned a lot, racing a lot. I didn’t have the best fitness all season, but I learned to use what I had fairly well. This year will build on that tactical knowledge as well as the structured training sessions I've used to develop my fitness. Towards the end of last season, I started finishing with the pack every race. I got fifth in one race, which was awesome. I actually won 2nd overall in this past 2023 Triad Crit Spring Series. Maybe I’ll find my first race podium this season, but at the beginning of the year I just want to be able to hold on. Biggest win of my early season would be to simply not get dropped at NC State’s road race this March. I was dropped on lap 1 in 2022, dropped on lap 2 in 2023, so of course the 2024 goal is to hold on until the last lap. Ultimately the win for me is the PR, not the podium. Always me versus my ghost.

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