Q&A with a former Pro Cycling Challenge racer

009- Independence Pass 2012

The fourth annual USA Pro Cycling Challenge rides through Colorado Aug. 18–24, zipping into Breckenridge for the Stage 5 finish on Friday, Aug. 22. We’re all revved up for the intense racing action, miles of cheering, and town celebrations (don’t miss Breck Bike Week) during what’s becoming a favorite late-summer tradition.

Former National Champion, Olympian and USA Pro Challenge racer Timmy Duggan shares insights from the saddle:

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Q: How did you get involved in cycling?

A: I grew up as an alpine ski racer, racing for the Summit Co. Race Team and Eldora Mountain Ski Club. One of my coaches was a former pro cyclist and he got me into cycling as off-season training for skiing. When I stopped ski racing at 18, I decided to pursue road bike racing 100 percent.

Q: What does a typical training week look like leading up to a race?

A: As a WorldTour rider, our races are one day up to three weeks long. On any given day, we race between 90 and 120 miles. My typical training week would include about 25+ hours of on-the-bike time, with off-the-bike exercises, yoga, and weight lifting as well. The USA Pro Challenge presents a particular difficulty with the altitude. If you don’t spend the time and energy adapting to altitude before the race, you really don’t stand a chance.

Q: How many calories do you burn a day during this race?

A: During a typical stage of the USA Pro Challenge, I might burn over 4,000 calories just during the race. Add in another 2,000 calories to cover the rest of the day…that is a lot of food to eat! Eating definitely becomes a chore half way into a stage race.

Q: What goes on in your head while racing?

A: During the most intense moments, I try to keep my thoughts the simplest. “Breathe, Breathe, Breathe.” “Stay on the wheel, stay on the wheel, stay on the wheel.” “I can do this, I can do this, I can do this.” You have to replace the painful and negative thoughts with positive self-talk.

Q: Any advice to an amateur biker looking to go pro?

A: Don’t think about it too much. Just pick your path and go for it. It will seem stupid or silly at times but just believe in yourself and do it. And ride your bike. A lot.

Q: What have you learned about yourself from participating in the Pro Challenge?

A: It’s really reinforced in my mind what a special place Colorado is. The towns, the terrain, the people. I’ve been all over the world. Colorado is truly amazing.

Best bets for experiencing the race in Breckenridge:

  • IMG_3905Stake out a spot in the morning. The Riverwalk Center lawn is a great home base and features a jumbo viewing screen. Catch the free Big Head Todd and the Monsters concert here after the race.
  • Wear a silly costume, cheer loudly and ring your cowbell as the riders pass by.
  • Make a day of it and relax on a sunny patio for lunch, walk Main Street’s shops and browse the bike-centric booths and activities near the Riverwalk Center.
  • Be a part of the action and sign up to volunteer.

For info on parking, road closures, the route and more, visit the Breck Pro Cycling site. For race day alerts and road information, follow @BreckProCycling on Twitter. Looking for more information on where to watch Stage 5 of the race? Visit GoBreck’s blog for more in-depth information.

– Lisa Pogue