We had the opportunity to sit down with Cal Poly Alum and United Healthcare Pro Team star Lucas Euser to learn about life as a pro cyclist.
You’re here to ride the SLO GranFondo. How hard are you planning to ride?
Well this is my off season so, [laughs] I get one month off, October; so I try to ride as little as possible. But, you know I still ride 2 or 3 times a week. I 100% intend to enjoy myself on Saturday… I won’t do it as fast as I possibly could do it. I’m just here to have a good time.
Can you summarize your 2013 season and go over some of your personal goals for 2014?
2013 was one of my best years. With United Healthcare, which is a team that came to me, and picked me out and said, “Here are some things we would like you to do. Here are some ways to do it. Let’s work on this together. Let’s grow. Let’s build; as a team.” It was difficult at first to fit in and work on it because a lot of it was just, “hey we need you to just be patient, we don’t need you until the finish of races.” I’ve always been an aggressive rider and ridden with bigger teams that would say, “Hey, go out and do this thing and we will let the big guys take care of it at the end.” But I have had this slow transition to becoming one of the big guys, and it has been really nice. I don’t look at myself that way which is beneficial to everyone on the team in the sense that we share the workload. I’m happy to come through in the end if it is up to me, but we like to set it up on our team where there are options. It isn’t necessarily the strongest guy that is going to win a race, so we have options at the end of races.
Tactically we’ve been really good this year as a team. 16 out of the 19 or 20 on the team were on the podium this year. We had a solid year throughout all disciplines, from the crits to stage racing in Europe. We had a really good year; very consistent. For myself it was the best year I’ve had; fighting for podiums at big races in the US, being aggressive in Europe, and leaving a mark on every big race that I did; whether it was my blood on the ground or my feet on the podium, it was a mark of some sort [laughs]. I didn’t hold anything back this year and recognized each race as an opportunity. So I will continue that into 2014. [Lucas was too modest to note his specific successes for 2013 which included 4th overall at the Tour of Utah, a Team GC win at the Tour of Gila, a Team GC win at the Tour of Beauce, among many others.-ed]
The team’s ambitions are more in Europe for next year. More on the Pro Tour scale without being Pro Tour. We’ll fight for some invites in bigger Pro Tour races. I think we are looking at races like San Remo and Torino Adriatico. I don’t want to speculate, but I would love to see the team do a grand tour, whether it is the Giro or the Vuelta. I think that is something that the team is ready for. I think it is something that the guys on the team this year can grow from, because they have worked so hard to be where they are. I don’t know if you’ve seen the roster, but the majority of them are the same guys from this year to next year. It’s because we aren’t all big names that we work so good together. We share the love and look at ourselves as opportunists that will take advantage of any opportunity that comes into play. I think grand tours can be perfect for that style of riding.
Your team rides NeilPryde bikes. How are they as a sponsor?
The NeilPryde bikes have been great. This is my first year on them, but from what I’ve heard they have really worked hard with the team to evolve the product. A few years ago they started with the company and I think in 2011 they worked with UHC. I know that there were some kinks to work out, but the product that we got this year in 2013 was definitely up to my standards and the team’s standards, and from what I heard, they were a huge improvement to what they had been doing. That definitely shows that a company cares about their product, when they are willing to go out there and work with a team like ourselves, or ambassadors like us, and actually perfect the product; you know they are doing the right thing.
We have a really aggressive crit team, we have a bunch of great sprinters, and climbers like myself, and time trialists as well. We put these bikes to the serious test. People might think that is marketing, but we really are the product testers. We ride 30 hours a week. We ride 20,000 miles a year. We put more miles on our bikes that we do on our cars in five years. I put about 3,000 to 5,000 miles on my car every year and five times that on my bike. We definitely have helped shape them to where they are.
We are riding the Alize this year. It is a great bike; a good all around bike. It’s light. It’s stiff. It handles well. It’s aggressive. It can even be ridden in tri’s with more of a tri setup. You don’t necessarily have to go out and buy a TT bike. It’s a good bike that serves a lot of purposes. They have a better climbing bike, a little lighter weight, the Bura, and the Zephyr as well. It kind of fits in their range as an alternative, and is their answer to the Roubaix. But the Alize, for what we are racing was right up there with the best of them.
What do you typically do during the off-season?
I do many things. I rejoin normal human society. I pay my bills on time for once. I mow my lawn. I clean things that haven’t been cleaned in 9 months. Reorganize things that have been thrown astrue as I come home for just a few days and unpack and just leave things sitting out, or whatever it may be. I like to call it, ‘putting all the pieces back together’ so that I can just topple them and destroy them the next year. I love to focus on things that I don’t get to focus on during the season. A lot of it is actually outreach stuff.
There’s a lot of times when you have to be really selfish as a professional cyclist. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, because as you help yourself, you help others. But it is nice to come back and be a little selfless and actually give back to the people that have helped you all year long. So, I don’t hesitate when someone asks me if I can help move a couch, or put on their windshield wipers, or whatever it may be.
And I will take a small vacation. 10 days completely off the bike. No training; anything like that. Just relaxation. It isn’t necessarily the physical rest that we need during that period, it’s the mental rest. When you are so hyper focused for such a long period, you need your brain to check out for a few days.
You are going surfing?
[laughs] Yeah I am going “surfing.” I should clarify; my friends will be going surfing, because I am not a very good surfer. I will be wading in the ocean and sipping mai tais or whatever they have down there.
Yeah it is a friend’s trip that he has been planning for months. He invited me to come along at the last minute, and that was great, because it doesn’t happen all that often. The last time I took a real vacation was a few years ago, and before that I don’t really remember.
What’s the craziest thing you’ve seen during a race?
Aside from all the people that always think that flashing us is original? [laughs] Some of the most bizarre times are when you are descending at ridiculous speeds on roads that you probably shouldn’t be going that fast on. You are in this mindset that you are on a closed road, but really you are open to every single element.
I remember just a few weeks ago at the Tour of Britain, and this is just the most recent example, we were coming around a corner and this scared sheep just runs across the road. There was no time to stop. There was no way to go anywhere else. The fact that it just kept moving was the only reason we didn’t all die. It’s like, thank God that thing kept moving! All of a sudden you are aware that there are thousands of sheep around you and you think, ‘I should be a little more cautious around that.’ Moments like that happen far more than I would like them to happen, but we still do it and we don’t think about it and we keep going. Things like that are pretty intense.
You claim to be a hair model. Who, if anyone, rivals your hair’s prowess in the pro peloton?
I enjoy being different in many things and styling hair is one. I fought it for so long. I have all these different cowlicks and I fought it forever, but now I just let it do what it wants. It takes on a different personality each day. But I think that is also very definitive of who I am. My personality changes, but I am also very adaptable.
Your hair is a metaphor…
[laughs] My hair is a metaphor for my life! It is constantly changing. I’m always setting trends I guess.
You have an impressive pompadour.
[laughs] I appreciate that.
Thanks for your time. It was fun.
Yeah, of course, I appreciate it.