Everyday Athlete – Danny “Red-Line” Brooks

Danny, at the 2013 Tour de Cure Tulsa.
Danny, at the 2013 Tour de Cure Tulsa.

Drive and tenacity can overcome most any obstacle. And Danny has proven that time and time again. Starting on a flat-bar bike, he’s quickly moved up the speed and distance ranks, never letting little things like heat, humidity, or crashes set him back. I called him “Red-Line” in the title because this man will readily max his engine and then some to push himself harder and faster. In the list of Unsung Heroes, I’d list him as a “Perpetual”, because I’ve never seen weather, distances, grades or climbs stop him, and I know I never will.

Rolling: How long have you been riding? And I don’t mean big-wheels or tricycle-type riding. I mean “Please have me committed so I can stop pedaling” riding.

Danny Brooks: I have been riding in earnest for 4 years. 1.5 years on my own and 2.5 riding with a team (Superior).

Rolling: What got you into riding in the first place?

DB: There are many, but the main reason was health. Triple bypass at 53 (St Francis). I participated in outpatient cardio rehab. It is there that I learned how important exercise and nutrition are to having a quality lifestyle. When I had my surgery I was given a second chance. I am not going to blow it this time. I want to live to be 100. But not an old fogey 100. I want to be me as good as I can be at 100. I hope that means I am riding bicycles, chasing my girl, and eating good food (not necessarily in that order!).

Rolling: What types of riding do you?

DB: [Stationary] Trainer (in off season), slow (base miles), paced (team riding), and organized bicycle rides.

Rolling: Do you participate in any other sports or training? If so, how do they help/hinder your riding?

Danny conquers Pump Back Hill on the 2012 Dam J.A.M.
Danny conquers Pump Back Hill on the 2012 Dam J.A.M.

DB: I was swimming, weight-lifting but have not had the time lately. I need to get back there. I have periods where I do 2 cardio workouts per day – 1 hour of elliptical , 1.5 – 4
hours bicycle.  But lately it has been all bicycle riding. Swimming improves cardio, endurance, and flexibility. Weight-lifting promotes strong, lean muscle mass and speeds up the metabolism. Elliptical is a lot like getting your base miles.

Rolling: What goals (if any) did you start out with, and did you meet them?

DB: My goal at the start was to lose weight. I did! But when everyone else stopped riding in the off-season so did I and because I love food so much I put the weight back on. At the beginning of the next riding season it was like I was starting over from ground zero. After I got my road legs, I started riding more often. I lost fat, but started gaining muscle. Also my appetite increased (if you can believe that 🙂 ). So after 4 years I have lost some weight, but I am still not at the weight my doctor asks me to be at. It is a continuous struggle. I will never sit down in the off-season again and I am attempting to curb late night snacking. So far so good.

Rolling: What’s your preferred riding fuels (liquid and solid) and why?

DB: If I ride in a long event on Saturday, I eat spaghetti Thursday evening or Friday during lunch. Then a spinach omelet for breakfast. As we ride and stop at the rest stops I go for all the usuals (especially pickle juice). During team rides I eat occasional peanut butter crackers. I usually drink water. On longer rides I will drink a tropical punch Gatorade.

Rolling: Best post-ride meal?

DB: For me it is about comfort. Burger and fries and some kind of desert (ice cream).

Rolling: We all crash at one point or another. Tell us about your own favorite spill.

Leading the charge on a Team Superior Monday Night Ride
Leading the charge on a Team Superior Monday Night Ride

DB: They are all stupid. But I do learn the lesson each time. One was a problem with chain maintenance. I shifted and went to neutral. The next thing I know is everyone gathered around me and saying things like, “He [you] don’t look so good” and “I think you passed out man” and “Stop tryin’ to move that arm”. Broken collarbone, broken scapula (shoulder bone), broken ribs. The second lesson was all about paying attention to your front wheel when riding in a peloton. For some reason I felt the need to look behind as I traveled right on the rear wheel of my front man. We began a descent and it turns out big people go down a hill faster than little people. I looked forward right in time to see my front wheel cross the back wheel of my front man. I was very proud that I fell softly and did not break anything, but totally embarrassed that I let myself get into that situation.

Lessons learned:
– Pay attention to your chain and your cassette. When shifting is not perfect, address it.
– Always pay attention to your front wheel… period.

Rolling: What’s the toughest ride you’ve ever done?

DB: Tulsa tough gran fondo.  109 miles of fast paced riding through the hills of Tulsa, OK.

Rolling: Of the sayings found in the video @#$% Cyclists Say, about what percentage have you said?

DB: Probably 75%.  Smile I’m not a climber. Can you put these on a scale? I’m not a sprinter. Is this a strava segment? (nose blowing) This headwind sucks!

Rolling: This sport counts more grams than Inglewood. What do you think of shaving weight from the bike?

DB: I think it is important. I used to think more important than I do now. I have 2 bikes. One weighs in at 17 lbs. The other comes in at 27 lbs. I definitely went faster when I first purchased the lighter bike. Then I bought a new set of lighter wheels for the light bike. I went even faster! But then I took the old wheels off of the lighter bike and put them on the heavy bike and I am almost as fast on the heavy bike. I think making your wheels light is the most important thing you can do to go faster.

Rolling: If you could go back to when you started riding, what advice would you give yourself?

DB: I would have told myself to start riding at a much earlier age.

Rolling: If different from what you’d tell yourself as a noob, what do you think the best piece of advice would be for a rider starting out in road biking?

Passing the 100 mile mark on the Team Superior Riverside 110
Passing the 100 mile mark on the Team Superior Riverside 110… in February!

DB: Cycling is really challenging. When you get tired don’t stop, keep pedaling. If you keep doing this, you get better at it. Ride with others. They know what they are doing and can help you and if there is crash or a mechanical problem, they have your back just like you have theirs.

Rolling: Before you were a cyclist, you used to be a runner. Was that to win some kind of bet to see how long you could go without smiling?

DB: Exactly! 🙂 Running is fun, cycling brings fun to a whole new level.

Rolling: You recently participated in Tulsa Tough, where you completed the Saturday Gran Fondo – 109 miles – at just under 18 mph. What’s next on your bicycling bucket list?

I have grand visions. Many of my team mates are already way ahead of me. 5 year plan:

  • Finisher: Tulsa tough Saturday and Sunday Gran Fondos.
  • Duece: Tulsa tough Saturday and Sunday Gran Fondos in less than 5 hours each. (avg > 20 mph).
  • Ace: Tulsa Tough Mondo Fondo (127 miles) in less than 6 hours. (avg > 20 mph)
  • Participate: Tulsa Tough Riverside Criterium Master’s class.

I know, totally un-achievable, but I can die tryin’ can’t I?  If I even get the chance to try these, I would consider myself a warrior!

My team mates are my heroes. Some have achieved these.

Rolling: Bonus round – now’s your chance to make an impression on lots (I mean, well, maybe a dozen) people. Anything you’d like to add?

DB: There is a saying, “Make each day count.” For me cycling is one of the ways to get there. If you sit on the couch, you are not making the most of the gift you are given. Get up and ride! You will be glad you did.

"If you sit on the couch, you are not making the most of the gift you are given.  Get up and ride!  You will be glad you did." ~Danny Brooks
“If you sit on the couch, you are not making the most of the gift you are given. Get up and ride! You will be glad you did.” ~Danny Brooks