Of all the cyclists scheduled to compete in Sunday’s Jefferson Cup Road Race in Charlottesville, VA, none will be as hungry for the podium as Cyclus Sports-Greensboro lead rider Franklin Brooks Deese. At twenty-four years old, Brooks is the youngest rider on the CS-Greensboro team, though that hasn’t stopped him from being their top performer, a position reaffirmed by his 1st place win in the overall 2014 SRS Regional Series. Looking ahead from that podium, an outstanding 2015 season seemed a given for anyone who has followed this genial, hard-training rider. Unfortunately, it is often in these moments that life sees fit to throw rocks in the road.
His off-season training was first delayed last fall after a knee injury incurred while mountain biking, but Brooks bounced back from his first major injury more determined than ever in his training regimen with CS-Greensboro and Cycle-Smart coach Jacob Fetty. He rode hard all winter, exceeding training goals with doubts and recovery behind him, only to be plagued once more by a strained muscle in his right leg weeks before CS-Greensboro’s 2015 pre-season races were set to begin.
Brooks tends to carry himself with a good-humored optimism, but he admits that there have been some rough patches while being laid up. “Physically it’s been relatively easy,” he says of his recovery, “I have a great support system in my family and the team, so I had everything I needed. The hardest part has been mentally and emotionally. Having committed so much to the team, going from full gas to step back and lay on the couch was really challenging.” Watching Josh and Matt train and attend their first races of 2015 while he’s been out of commission hasn’t been easy for him, but Brooks says he’s learned a great deal from the experience. “So much of who you are is wrapped up in how you train. It’s hard to be away, but the team has helped keep things in perspective. Watching them train has motivated me to take it slow and make sure I’m recovered.”
Coach Jacob Fetty has also served as an important resource for him during his time away. “He’s been a huge benefit in injury, and training in general,” Brooks says. “His experience and perspective on doing things the right way has been invaluable. He’s been there, and knows how to come through injuries and be stronger on the other side.”
Rest assured that Brooks has no intentions of being anything less as he prepares to reenter competition. Aside from his own goals for 2015, he says a huge motivator for him this year has been seeing his teammates’ perform and improve in their inaugural races. “I’m so proud of them,” he says. “It’s kind of weird to say that as this young kid on the team, but they have worked so hard this winter. They’ve got wives, kids, and have worked harder than guys ten years younger with unlimited free time. It’s only fueled my fire to get back out there and do them proud.”
Like most riders, the drive for the podium is always present in his racing, but more than anything Brooks is looking forward to being back on his bike full time and in the pack again. “It’s not always about winning. It’s about the process. I love the atmosphere of the races, meeting other riders. There’s something special about being a part of that community, and I’m excited to get out there again.”
Time off recovering certainly hasn’t shaken his love for the sport, or his determination to see CS-Greensboro perform to their top potential this summer. Fans keep an eye out for those blue, red and gold kits around the southeast this year, and competing riders, beware. I wouldn’t expect anything less than excellence from Brooks Deese in 2015.