2019 Member Spotlight – Glenn ThomasAugust, 2019
How did you get involved in triathlon?
I started racing triathlons back in 2012 because I wanted really to learn how to swim. I was cycling regularly as well as running but I could not swim 25 yards without being totally gassed. I would go the pool and watch people swim what look to me like endless laps and ask “How are they able to that?” So I figured if I signed up for a triathlon race then I’d either learn how to swim or drown trying. Fortunately for me the wet suit doesn’t make drowning very easy so I survived my first race in the Outer Banks and kept signing up for races so I’d keep learning how to swim better. As a reward for completing my first season of racing I joined DC Tri in I believe 2014.
Could you tell us about the Tour of California?
The Amgen Tour of California (ATOC) was EPIC! I rode as an amateur with Carmichael Training (CTS) team who has coached me in the past. It is one of their Bucket List events. We rode ahead of the pros usually with a couple hour head start and even maybe 20 miles up the road. The challenge was to not get dropped by the team or get caught by the peloton–either the men’s or lady’s. Since we were the only amateur team in the race we had access to not only the course but to the finishing areas where the pro team buses were parked. We stayed at the same hotels as pro teams and had breakfast with them. CTS provided us with all the support of mechanics and massage therapists so all we had to do was ride and recover.
What stages did you ride and what was your favorite stage?
I rode the last three stages of the race so Stage 5 from Pismo Beach Bay to Ventura, Stage 6 from Ontario to Mt. Baldy and Stage 7 from Santa Clarita to Pasadena (Rose Bowl finish). In 3 days I did over 200 miles of riding and climbed 20,000 feet of vertical.
By far my favorite stage was the last one coming into the Rose Bowl. I was dropped by the CTS team as I was everyday (The CTS riders where monsters since they had 4 more days of riding and like over 300 more miles in the legs by the time I showed up.) and was picked up by the CTS team sweeper. I was just minutes ahead of the pro ladies peloton by the time we hit Pasadena so all the streets in downtown were closed to traffic but because we were with the race too, they waved us through. I stuck on the coach’s rear wheel as we ripped through the streets and intersections of Pasadena. Crowds along the road cheered as though we were the racers. Even totally exhausted, the adrenaline of flying past with everyone cheering you across the finish line just in time is as close as I’ll every come to feeling like I won on the Champs-Elysées.
How did you train for it?
Mileage. Lots of miles while training for my upcoming triathlons in spite of being told it couldn’t be done and I come up injured. I started in the February doing Saturday club rides pretty much by myself when the weather was miserable. Building from 45 miles to eventually doing 70-80 miles ride with as much elevation gain as I could find. Even did 2 weekends of back to back long rides so my body could experience the fun of doing say 5 hours one day and then getting back on the saddle at 8 am the next morning to do another 55 miles. It was worth all the training and I was so happy that I didn’t stop believing it could be accomplished without putting myself at risk for injury.
Did you get to ride with anyone famous?
I was able to ride with Chris Carmichael for those periods where I could stay up with the team. Chris rode in the TdF (Tour de France) with the 7-Eleven team–I believe first American sponsored team to ever ride on the pro circuit in Europe. I was also able to ride with NBA legend Bill Walton. Bill loves to ride with CTS and his bike which has a head tube on it longer than some people’s down tube for the seat. I was able to meet Jens Voigt too–Mr. Shut Up Legs–who is now broadcasting for NBC Sports. Jens came to breakfast one morning and just hung out with us before our ride to answer whatever we asked him. Finally, I saw Peter Sagan finish his stages and collect his green jersey. No selfie’s with Peter since I could not wait around with all the groupies. Peter is the rock star of the ATOC.
What do you enjoy outside of triathlon?
Before becoming consumed by swim-bike-run, I was totally consumed by rock climbing and skiing. My life’s aspiration–before getting married and having 2 sweet kids who are now very nice adults to hang with or ride with–was to be a ski bum in the winter and a climbing bum in the summer out West somewhere. You know like someone living on the street except I’d be living in and around our National Parks. So I started climbing way way before there were commercial climbing gyms where you can pull on plastic and get a latte. Back in my day, climbing was very neanderthal–we hung out under rocks in W.Va. hiding from the rain and landowners, scraped our knuckles over the rocks and never saw anything like a women out there–picture a movie scene more like something out of Deliverance. So today I cross train by climbing at the swanky gyms–EarthTreks or SportRock–and ski a couple of days every season–sometimes from a whirlybird if everything goes according to plan.