Member Spotlight: Garnett Whitmire's First Race
Most cyclists can pinpoint the moment in time when they became hooked on the sport. For Garnett Whitmire it was during a training ride on a quiet road in Maryland. As he was riding, he felt a sense of calm through the sound of his chain shifting through gears.
Nearly 8 years after he began cycling, Whitmire completed his first race on March 10, 2018. Every cyclist has a first race story, and USA Cycling recently caught up with Whitmire to hear his.
Whitmire started cycling while stationed in Maryland with the Navy in 2010 as a way to stay in shape and to have a hobby he could take with him regardless of where the Navy stationed him. While he completed several long-distance charity rides, he never really considered racing until moving to California in April 2017.
“When I moved to California, I started seeing a lot of cyclists again. I met a guy at Starbucks who was in his kit and we became friends. He introduced me to his friends who I started cycling with. They told me I had a lot of power and I should consider racing,” explained Whitmire.
With the support from his cycling friends he chose a first race, the Tour de Murrieta, a three-day bike race in Southern California. He continued to train with his racing team, Padyak Racing Team (PRT) of Chula Vista, Calif., every Wednesday. He rode his bike to work daily for extra training, found different bike shop rides throughout the rest of the week, and asked his team president for advice.
"It’s training when you’re looking down and cycling through your gears, but it’s therapy when you’re looking up"- Garnett Whitmire
Whitmire described his first race finish as “humbling, but a great benchmark for the future.” Despite not having the race he hoped for he said, “The overall experience was exactly what I needed.”
“The community has been so encouraging. From the announcers knowing my name every time I passed their booth to my family who came out to cheer for me to the other cyclists who told me to keep going as they passed. I couldn’t have felt more supported,” he said. “Despite having a disappointing finish, it was still a great weekend. I’m determined to do better; I’ve already signed up for my next race.”
For Whitmire, cycling is not just improving his physical fitness, but also his spirit. A veteran of the Iraq War, he spent the better part of 2004 in Fallujah. Cycling has been a release, helping him continue to handle the emotions that have followed after serving in a war zone.
“It’s training when you’re looking down and cycling through your gears, but it’s therapy when you’re looking up,” he says.
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