Bicycle Racing is Hard, But Not Racing is Harder
By: Franco Bicycles | June, 05, 2018
In our effort to answer this question, Franco Bicycles will be showcasing riders from our two Franco Factory Racing squads to hopefully find some answers over the next year. Our next rider showcase is Galen Burk, who turned to bikes to battle his weight and a long-time member of the bicycle industry. Read on, meet our good friend Galen, and follow him on IG to keep up with his training and racing.
Bicycle racing is hard. So, when I decided to take it up again that decision was accompanied by a host of emotions—mostly anxiety and anticipation.
I am not a big guy, just 5’7”. Though at one time in my life my weight got up to 180 lbs. I had denied it for years, but the pants weren’t lying. I was shocked when I got onto a scale. I decided something had to be done. I hadn’t exercised in years and after a series of events I ended up back on a bike. I rode when I was younger, so it wasn’t the first time, but it had been a while. After getting permission from the “boss” for a new ride, commuting to work, and eventually joining a cycling club I lost 37lbs give or take. I promised myself I would never get heavy like that again.
Fast forward to 2012, my last year of racing, I was promoted at work. It opened new opportunities, but things got complicated and my riding time was severely reduced. I think I may have even gone an entire month without getting on the bike. Can you guess what happened? My weight shot up. I never said, “I’m not racing anymore” and I kept renewing my license, but I wasn’t training and I wasn’t racing. This carried on through to February 2016. I was now 169 lbs. Not quite as bad as before but I felt like I broke my promise to myself. I was riding regularly again but it wasn’t enough. I downloaded an app to help me track the in-and-outs of my calories. Slowly but surely the weight began to come off. Then something terrible happened, but created a great opportunity.
I was laid off in June of 2016. Suddenly I had some extra time in my life. So, while hunting for work I began doing longer rides regularly. I still wasn’t fast, but physically I felt good and my weight was very much under control; I could eat and drink anything I wanted to. The longer rides provided an additional benefit—they helped me deal with the layoff.
During my unemployed period I found myself at Franco Bicycles helping with some odds and ends. I have known Hector and Julian for a bit and it helped me being there. They’d been talking about a new team and wanted to know if I was interested. I said I was, but to be truthful I wasn’t sure. I wasn’t sure I could hack it anymore. All the training (time and pain), the racing (more time and pain, nerves, plus driving all over the place), probable crashing (hurts and can be expensive) … I just wasn’t sure about the commitment. It is still daunting even now after making the decision to do it. So, I was a bit wishy-washy for a while. Then Jonathan told me about the Santa Monica Mountain Challenge. I couldn't say why I’d never heard of it before, but I hadn’t. I started knocking out the climbs one by one. I didn’t light it up or anything, but I was climbing faster than I had ever before. Suddenly this racing idea didn’t seem so farfetched. I can’t say I’m in the best shape of my life, that was 10 or so years ago, but I believe I can be competitive. And I might be able to help my team mates.
I am still anxious about getting out there again, but I am also looking forward to seeing how I do. We have a good group of guys and a great group of sponsors. It should be interesting…I will be finding out soon. I’ll let you know how it goes.
Written by: Galen Burk
Bike Profile - Custom Latigo RS1