Ryan Bates

Ryan Bates

03/01/2013 in General

If Ryan Bates was in the movie the Matrix, in 2008 he walked into the room (Time Warner) with Morpheus (boss) and sat down.  He weighed the advantages of a bi-weekly paycheck (blue pill) versus a life of uncertainty and opportunity (red pill).  Ryan took the red pill and dove out of the secure surrounding of corporate America and down that rabbit hole into a life of guts’n’glory. 

Andrew – Ryan you have built the US Pro Tri team playing the role of the director and athlete.  Talk about the things that you have learned as you have learned to work with sponsors.  What were the goals when you started US Pro tri?  Have they changed as you learned the market?  What are your recommendations to top age groupers and young pro athletes?  

Ryan – Thanks Andrew.  I had been racing as an age grouper for 10 years, not turning pro until I was 28.  Turning pro for me had absolutely nothing to do with earning a living at it, but rather testing myself against the highest level in the sport.  I feel like I have a lot left to accomplish athletically, but I can also serve a higher purpose by supporting a lot of other pro’s.  That has and always will be the goal, to provide a platform to help pro’s succeed.  I spend the vast majority of my time courting corporate sponsors, which can be extremely challenging in a smaller fringe sport.  The good news is the sport continues to grow, and every year more and more corporations actually know what I’m talking about when I say “triathlon”!  We worked with Geico the last two years, and hopefully that will open some more doors to continue growing.
My recommendation for top age groupers would be to use some caution, and wait until you are sure you can do fairly well in the pro ranks before making the jump.  I see a ton of turnover in the ranks because people jump in too fast and without a plan, only to find themselves burned out and broke.  It is definitely not the same as doing an age group race.  I see many age group guys/gals beat a few pro’s who were having a bad day, and think that simply means they should be pro too.  I also think that they should really get a grip on the financing end of it, and realize that as a young pro you will most likely make little to no money.  I highly recommend that young pro’s have at least a part-time job to support themselves.  Realize that races often have 20-30 men and only 5 get a halfway decent payday.  Or better yet do what Starky and I did and work full-time several years, save up, then make a run at it!
Andrew – For a few seasons you have been on the fringe of breaking into that next level but you have spent quite a bit of time plagued with injuries.  What keeps you training hard and focused when the cards appear to be stacked against you?  How do you handle the let down of injury knowing that you are fit enough to perform greater than what the results show?
Ryan – Ha well this is true.  Much like you, swim/bike is a lot more natural for me.  Running has always been my huge obstacle.  My swim/bike has really improved a lot the last year and I can now hang with some solid packs, only to lose major ground on the run.  With large legs, huge calves, and size 13 feet I would probably be better suited to rugby.  My running injuries are pretty common, and for several years now I have not run more than 25-30 miles a week max.  But the constant room for improvement is what keeps me interested in this sport, every time I succeed or fail I always think “I know I can do better than that”!  Working full-time on the team eats up a lot of training/recovery time for me, so I try to focus on the quality over quantity.
Ironman is really new territory for me, and I’m hoping that if I can stay injury-free to focus more on long distance.  Speaking of which, you won your first two Ironman distance races in only two attempts!  But I think I read that you are not a fan of the distance?  With such immediate success are you re-considering more of a long-course focus?
Andrew – This spring and summer I will race half ironman’s, Olympic, and I plan on doing a couple of the ITU sprint distance races.  As good as I am at Ironman, I am still recovering from Arizona 6 weeks later.  Sorry not to have a more exciting answer about moving toward Ironmans.
You drive to nearly every race you do.  Talk about training on the road.  How do you break up your drives?  How do you determine when and where to train on the road? 
Ryan – Yeah this part is tricky for me.  A big part of what we do for our team sponsors is on-site at events, so I start doing a lot of work right at the time when I should be resting the most.  I drive to all of the races so that we can haul expo gear along.  Balancing the two aspects is tough so I try to bring along my family for help when available.  So I really have to pick and choose which races I want to focus on, because many of them will be sub-par due to team work.  I actually try to leave the house as late as possible so that I only do a very limited amount of training on the road.  If I can get someone else to drive on the way there that helps, or at least split it into two days.  Sundays I leave the race, drink a ton of coffee, and hammer down for home.
I seem to remember you logging a ton of road warrior miles in the car yourself.  Are you still driving to a lot of races, and what about now that you are married?  How do you fit in the training?
Andrew – I like to peak for a big block of races, so I find 4 races in 5 weeks that are all within a stones throw of each other, rent a car, and hit the road.  I am not one of the stop every two hours and walk around people.  I wake up, get a workout in, get to my destination and do a workout.  I prefer driving largely because it is so much cheaper.  You can rent a car for a week for the same price as a bike box one way on Delta or United.  I really just enjoy seeing the country and thinking about the next race as I sail there.
How does the US Pro Tri team look for 2013?  What are the key races/series for the team?  What race are you most excited about in 2013?
Ryan – We will carry over most of our lineup from 2012, with the addition of a couple new guys.  Our team will likely always focus primarily on events in the northeast quarter of the country, allowing us to race as a team far more often.  The schedule is typically a balance of WTC/Rev3 races along with some individually operated events.  Ironman Lake Placid and the Rev3 Ohio ironman races will probably be my personal focus.  As our team continues to grow it is very exciting to see what each year holds.  I have a blast every year and really look forward to the challenge!
Thank you Ryan for your time and your contributions to the sport and stay healthy. Please visit USProtri.com

 and support the sport of triathlon.

Ready for lucky 13!

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