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Team Mountain Khakis Spotlight: Neil Bezdek

Name: Neil Vladimir Bezdek
Hometown: Aurora, CO
Current City:  My suitcase! Tucson, AZ this winter and then Winston-Salem, NC between trips to bike races for the rest of the year. 

Twitter: @NeilBezdek
Years Pro:  2012 will be my third year with Team Mountain Khakis/SmartStop.

 What is your favorite race memory?   

I get a lump in my throat when I think about winning Athens Twilight.   

The Harlem Skyscraper Classic on Father’s Day means a lot to me too.  I was living in NYC when I began racing, and I had to watch the event from the sidelines in 2008 because they didn’t have a Category 5 (beginner) race. A year later I came back and won the field sprint for sixth in the Pro-12 race.  Harlem is back on the National Criterium Calendar in 2012, and I’d love to return and win in front of a “hometown” crowd.

How did you get into cycling? 

I grew up mountain biking on singletrack trails outside of Denver, and got into road biking while attending college in Santa Barbara, CA.  After graduating I moved to New York City and worked as a full-time bike messenger for about a year. Eventually that adventure ran its course, and I got an office job. Suddenly pent up in a cubicle and desperate for an outlet, I stormed onto the local road racing scene.  Fifteen months later I signed a pro contract and now I’m thrilled to be racing full-time.

What does a typical training week look like for you in terms of mileage, workouts, nutrition?

Right now we’re smack in the middle of base season, which is the highest mileage time of the year. We use the winter to slowly build a long-lasting base of fitness that will carry us through the racing season.

We gauge our training in terms of hours and intensity. Most of us train hard for 5 days a week and ride easy on the other 2 days. This time of year, the typical pro cyclist rides 25-35 hours a week. Add that to our other job responsibilities–stretching, napping, and eating everything in sight–and it’s truly a full-time job!  

Everyone on the team trains with a power meter, which measures and records how hard a rider turns the pedals. We use that to pace our workouts and gauge how we’re making progress. It’s a complex, yearlong science experiment.

How long is your season and where do you race?

Our season starts in March with races in Florida, Arizona, and California. We migrate north as the season unfolds. Our final race is Boston at the end of September.

What is your role in the team and/or specialty?

I’m the uncle on the team. Adam Myerson, veteran and team captain, functions as the dad who drives the van and keep the kids in line, while I’m the go-between. I’m a couple years older than most rider on the team (I’m currently 27), but getting a late start in road racing means I have a similar level of cycling experience. On the race course I’m an all-arounder, happy to pilot a leadout train for one of our sprinters but also capable of going for results myself.

If you’ve participated in 24 Hours of Booty, tell us a little bit about your experience.

Team Mountain Khakis/SmartStop participated in the 24 Hours of Booty ride in Charlotte, NC in July 2011. Leading the opening laps of the event was a true privilege, one that equals anything we do on the race course. But, my oh my, was it hot! I was impressed by the dedication of the participants. So many cyclists, fans, and support teams happily braved the heat and stayed at the event for the full 24 hours.  

What do you want to do when you retire as a pro?

Race as a Master and remind young hot-shots that getting a pro contract doesn’t turn you into Superman overnight.

Tell us a cool story about cycling, racing, or other interesting tid bit.

Working as a full-time bike messenger in Manhattan for a year (2007-2008) was a true adventure. Like many suburbanites, I was fascinated from afar by the edgy, urban subculture that messengers had created. I showed up to New York City as a complete outsider and discovered that there’s little overlap between the courier industry and the subculture. Being a courier is a strenuous, dangerous, maddening job–manual labor with poor wages. But I stuck with it for a year and saw an incredible cross-section of the city. Those were some of the very best and very worst days I’ve ever spent on a bike.

I also maintain a weekly blog on Bicycling Magazine’s website: www.bicycling.com/blogs/ramblingman

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