BEING PRO — Brian McCulloch
Team: Elevate-KHS Pro Cycling
Hometown: Yucaipa, California
You just wrapped up what seems like a pretty exciting 2018. You went from racing in Asia to winning the Belgian Waffle Ride to the birth of your son, then off racing the Tour of Utah.
Yeah, 2018 was a wild ride, but I wouldn’t have it any other way! At Elevate-KHS Pro Cycling, our sponsors push as hard to grow the program as the riders do to win races, and that combination has led to a lot of racing opportunities.
This was my second Tour de Taiwan, and it is such a tough race! One of the most unique challenges about this race is that there are only two other teams or so that speak English within the peloton.
This reality reinforces a notion I learned as an amateur racer—that your reputation is everything, and in cycling, leading by example is mandatory. When there is a language barrier, you really learn how important building relationships amongst fellow riders/teams is!
I love riding mixed terrain and was so fired up to win the Belgian Waffle Ride. At the start of the race I wanted to finish completely drained, to tap all I had, to leave the field of battle knowing that there was absolutely nothing more that I could put into the pedals.
For me, that is what I love about gravel and bucket-list events; it’s all about self-exploration and revealing an athlete’s character!
Nothing is guaranteed in cycling, nor was my spot on our Utah roster, so when my son was 10 days old, Joy and I went to Fawnskin, California, near Big Bear so I could train at altitude.
We stayed with some family friends, and not only did I get to train for the Tour of Utah, but they taught me valuable parenting lessons and how to deal with sleeplessness. As a non-climber, being able to finish that race against WorldTour talent is a memory I will always cherish!
As for the Tour of Utah, that is such a grand event, and I do mean grand! The Larry H. Miller group goes above and beyond to create an incredible race that is brutal, gives back to the community and is accessible to fans.
You did all that while coaching at Big Wheel Coaching with your wife Joy at the same time. How do you manage your clients and your fitness?
Every week I put together a “week in focus” schedule, and then each day I make a “win the day” task list. My lists are detailed but not overly complicated. I include my coaching tasks, as well as my training assignment so that I am always accomplishing the things that move me, my family and my athletes forward.
I don’t always get it all done, so I roll items over and keep charging forward every day. It’s not a perfect system, and my wife thinks I should rest more, so maybe I’ll put that on my “win the day” list in the future.
How has your time spent being pro fluctuated, and how have you dealt with that?
When I started racing for Elevate-KHS Pro Cycling, I worked in the highway construction business, working 50 hour weeks and training at night.
I had two jobs and would not slack on either of them. Yes, I still have two jobs—coaching at Big Wheel Coaching and racing for Elevate-KHS Pro Cycling—both of which I take very seriously. I love my work, and bask in the hard work of it all.
Occasionally, it is hard to balance both effectively, but to me, it comes down to a simple notion I learned in yoga, which is to be present. When I am coaching, reading training plans or talking with a rider about their event, I am totally focused.
The same goes with my training; I don’t use ear buds, so I can be completely immersed with the task at hand. I work to bring this drive to each race I do, but especially the critical moments of the events so that I can contribute everything possible to our team’s success.
Do you have any wisdom you can share about participating in the BWR?
The Belgian Waffle Ride is a bucket-list goal for any rider, and to conquer it requires the following:
1. Develop a robust hydration and nutrition strategy. There is nothing easy about 140 miles of dirt and grit, so every competitor must stay well-fueled for the day’s battle.
2. Embrace the ups and downs of the event. Everyone will have good and bad moments. Remember, the tough times don’t last, but tough cyclists do! Keep a cool head when adversity strikes.
3. Make alliances on the road. I don’t care how strong you are, you can move so much quicker by working with other riders, so don’t kick your buddies when they are down, lift them up, take an extra pull and help them so that they will repay the favor when your bad moment arrives. When cyclists work together, the reward is faster speeds, more fun, and a common bond forged through sweat and toil. It’s glorious!
What would you like to accomplish in your life outside of cycling?
Great question, simple answer; I want to transform the notion that a cycling coach’s sole goal is to get their athletes fit. Through Big Wheel Coaching, Joy and I are driven to help athletes at every stage of their development and teach them the practical skills necessary to be successful, regardless of their FTP.
We see the future full of athletes that can maximize their cycling experience at every stage of fitness! We want our athletes to have more than a strong motor; and we want them to be like a crafty pilot that can navigate the ever-changing landscape of competitive cycling.
Anything else you’d like to promote?
Really just the idea that developing a champion’s or warrior’s mindset can help you achieve things beyond your expectations. I’m not perfect and work at actualizing this mindset every day, but I can assure RBA readers that they are capable of far more than they know.
Human beings possess immense potential that’s just waiting to be unlocked, so be bold, dream big and work hard.
I promise you the journey is worth the sacrifice!
I am proud to represent the brands that support the Elevate-KHS Pro Cycling team: KHS Bicycles, Maxxis tires, Xpedo pedals, HED wheels, Ryders eyewear, JLVelo, 4iiii Innovations, Velo saddles, BONT Cycling, Kali Protectives, AMP Human, Chamois Butt’r, Rennie & Associates, Full Speed Ahead and Webiplex.