Jeffrey was driving home from work in Connecticut on his 40th birthday. He pulled up outside a bike shop and bought himself a new road bike, with which he spent his first spin falling over because he couldn’t clip out and his heart “almost exploding” having made it only to the end of the street. Jeffrey struggled with his comeback to cycling, but he had never been one to settle for mediocrity. “I’m either all the way in or all the way out.”
So he persisted.
As a child, Jeffrey was obsessed with anything that was powered by wheels. Sometimes it was a skateboard, sometimes it was a scooter and sometimes it was a bike. Unlike many cyclists, Jeffrey’s interest in cycling is not hereditary, but in his teens he pursued a life on the saddle of a BMX, eventually competing on a national level.
Cycling became an important element of his childhood due to the freedom it granted. He could go wherever he liked on his bike and it offered a feeling of independence. But that all changed as he got older. Once Jeffrey got his driver’s license, the bike took a back seat and was lost to time.
Jeffrey didn’t feel he was making the progress he wanted with his new bike, so he started working with a cycling coach and over time grew stronger and more confident. Believing in his ability and hungry to keep pushing, he signed up for his first race – a local criterium – in which he finished last. Although disappointed it gave him a reality check. Still committed to the ‘all in’ approach, Jeffrey put his head down and got serious.
Throughout this process he had invested in almost every brand, component and piece of kit available, but he was never totally satisfied. His hard work and dedication paid off and by his mid 40s he was starting to get results. With these results brought an increased level of confidence and competitivity, seeing Jeffrey entering races with nothing but a win in mind.
A year or so later he was competing in a crit in Washington D.C. and hit the deck. His injuries were substantial and it put him off the bike for longer than he would have liked. This was a couple of years ago now and Jeffrey is still recovering, but his determination and will is even stronger. It was a set back of course, but the break in racing has given him time to think and consider his goals. He has his sights set on a national championship win, and isn’t letting anything get in the way of that goal.
Although he admits that his all or nothing attitude can be traced to his childhood, there is no doubt his time in the US Marine Corps contributed to the vigour. He learnt a lot with the Marines and relates a great deal of his constitution and endurance on the bike to this experience. “Throughout training and your service [with the Marines], you are forced to deal with high levels of pain and discomfort. It’s both physically and mentally challenging, just like cycling.”
He was introduced to FiftyOne through a buddy whilst on a cycling holiday in Majorca, where Jeffrey was riding a custom titanium bike. It was a great bike, but Jeffrey’s ability lay in the hills, which was hindered due to the extra weight. His friend Paul was riding his own FiftyOne and it was the paint job that initially drew Jeffrey’s attention. He would ride beside Paul all day in awe of the colour and design of the bike, constantly prodding and inquiring about it.
On the flight home to the US, Jeffrey’s titanium frame was badly damaged. It wasn’t long after he got home that he was participating in the Bloomin’ Metric Charity Ride in Connecticut, but he was without a bike. Paul offered to lend him his custom FiftyOne, as the two men were of a very similar size and stature. Jeffrey accepted.
“Riding the FiftyOne was a defining moment for me,” he said. “It did everything I expected, but in an exceptional way.” That bike was not even designed with him in mind, yet it served him better than any custom bike he had ever mounted. “Most bikes I’ve had are usually brilliant at one thing, but this bike had absolutely everything. I had to have it.”
Jeffrey comes from a family of artists and when it came to the paint job, he knew exactly what he wanted. “The bike is only about cycling.” He didn’t want any other references on it and settled on a subtle yet beautiful design. “For me it’s like getting a fine G&T and then mixing a glass of red wine into it.”
Unlike a lot of cyclists, Jeffrey’s fondness of bikes is not hereditary. As a kid, the bike gave him a great sense of freedom, and even to this day the bike makes him feel like that free kid again.