Last week 303Cycling caught up with Aaron Bouplon, of the Rocky Mounts squad. Aaron's an amazing rider with quite a story.
Here are the stats....
Name: Aaron Bouplon
Size: 6 ft. 3 inches, 175lbs
Cat: 2 (cx) 3(rd)
Strength: going hard
Years riding: 4
Occupation: Geek/co-owner Boulder Running Company
Team: Rocky Mounts
History: Former pro runner and Dartmouth graduate.
The first time I meet Aaron it was at his first cx race in Littleton, he had just borrowed a Surly Crosscheck from a good friend of mine, Kevin Jordan, and I believe Aaron got his ass whooped in the race but I never saw a person sooo excited from finishing that bad. He was hooked!!!
Now, I guess almost 4 years later Aaron has risen to the ranks of cat 2 and is slowly getting ready to become a 2 on the road also. But, that is just the start of story, there some highlights... pro runner, hockey player, getting fat, taking up cycling, running a business and more.. read on..
[303Cycling] Before cycling you were a runner, how far did you take running?
[Boups] I started running in fourth grade at an interschool meet and did well. My parents were extremely supportive and drove me and flew me everywhere I wanted to go. They told me that they would take me as far as my legs would allow. After a Wisconsin state high school championship in the two mile, I guess they had to prove it by shelling out a fortune to sending to me to Dartmouth. I raced all four years at Dartmouth and got better, won the New England 5000 meter championship, was on a few stellar teams, and missed All-American in the steeplechase by two spots. My PRs where decent, but not strong enough to get a major contract: 3:52 for 1500, 8:12 for 3000 indoors, 14:17 for 5000 indoors and outdoors (darn tactical races), and 8:48 for the steeplechase. I chose the steeplechase because I figured out early on that I was not built to be a distance runner, a fact I wish I’d have acknowledged when I was choosing between running and hockey. At 6’3” tall and 175 pounds, I’m not exactly designed like a distance runner. I continued to run after college and was sponsored by Brooks and the Boulder Running Company, but I missed the team environment and discovered the need to pay the bills. I tried the marathon, which I am absolutely not built for and despise, it paid a couple of months rent, but made me dislike running. I took a few years off and then did a little girl motivated comeback, ran alright, but lost the desire when I lost the girl. It’s important to realize one’s limitations and act appropriately.
[303cycling] Why did you switch from running to cycling and how was that transition for you.
[Boups] The transition wasn’t really a transition at all. After running I played a ton of hockey and allowed myself to bulk up beyond the 175 weight level. As I approached my marriage (about three and a half years ago) I decided to really let myself go figuring that if my wife married me at my grossest, she would dig me forever if I were fit... it seems to be working. With my weight buoyed to 225 pounds by a diet of laziness, Big Daddy Bacon Cheeseburgers, French fries, and Mountain Dew, I realized that I really was a big fat pig and needed to do something about it. I had a $50 Salvation Army bike and a $5 yard sale trainer. I began to ride in my basement, taking one bare-chested photo per month, to see the change. As spring rolled around I started getting outdoors to ride and really enjoyed it. I went on a ride with a friend and made him work pretty hard, which got him to thinking that I should ride bikes competitively. He got a job with Yeti, got a new bike, gave me his old frame and I rode and rode. By my current standards, I wasn’t even riding warm-up distances, but it was more than nothing. I got pretty fit by late summer when another friend told me about cyclocross… and then lent me his bike to race on. After a less than stellar forty-eighth place in a Cat 4 race I was hooked. With great results like that I figured, “Why not?” I now needed my own bike, I called my friend from Yeti, his buddy was selling an awesome cross bike, my wife bought it for me as an early Christmas present, and I’ve been racing ever since.
[303Cycling] You do both CX and road events, do you have a favorite?
[Boups] Cyclocross is the most amazing sport in the world. I love time trialing and the honesty of rider versus the clock, but cyclocross combines that honesty with guts and skill. I’m still working hard to catch up with the skills portion. Approaching my fourth cyclocross season, I realize that I need to nail the skills side of the sport; sharp corners, remounting, and steep hills. Late last year I picked up a mountain bike and have been working hard to deal with my deficiencies. These challenges make cycling more fun than running.
[303Cycing] Your athletic knowledge is very deep.... so how advanced is your training?
[Boups] I’ve purposely made it primitive. I found that when I was running there was a lot of structure and I would dread workout days. Now I ride hard nearly everyday, but try to mix it up with the type of effort. I find that my body is able to recover daily and I don’t need a rest day between hard efforts, or even between races. I have started throwing in some real long rides to train for the increasing length of road races as I cat-up. It’s amazing the difference between sixty miles and eighty miles when you haven’t trained for either distance. I almost forgot beer… I drink a lot of quality beer which accounts for my “reserve tank” which is located between my belly button and my belt. I’m not sure if it helps, but it gives me motivation to train the next day.
[303Cycling] What do your old running buddies think about you cycling?
[Boups] It seems that a large percentage of my old running buddies have taken up cycling now that they’ve gotten older and have the money to spend on bikes. Provided one stays rubber side down, cycling is easier on the body.
[303Cycling] What advice would you give someone looking to "go big" in their sport?
[Boups] I’m still looking for the secret to going big. I have made it a mission to try and convert every mid-twenties runner who falls short of being elite into a cyclist. I kick myself for not getting serious about cycling earlier. Every week I learn something new that I try to pass along.
[303Cycling] OK last question, what is the biggest race you are targeting for this year and why?
[Boups] I would love to rock at cyclocross states. My problem to this point with states is my lack of technical skills combined with snow and mud. I propose that states be moved to late September on a TT course, probably my only chance of winning… well that or tricking everybody else into missing the start of the race.