Interview: Giddeon Massie - American Track Cyclist
American Track Star Giddeon Massie talks to Daily Peloton's Chris Graetz about his past and future endeavours.
During the Tour Down Under, Australia played host to some of cycling’s most prolific riders, promoters and teams. During the entire time, I did not sleep an extra minute as I was as busy as a spoke during one of Fabian Cancellara's famous time trials.
In the end it was worth it as I logged interviews with many of these personailities and talents.
Over the next month or so I will be sharing the thoughts and insights these sit-downs provided me with. Among them; Giddeon Massie, William Clarke, Wes Sulzberger (Francaise des Jeux), Karsten Kroon, Danilo Wyss, Thomas Frei, George Hincapie (BMC), Leigh Howard, Matt Goss, Michael Rogers, Allan Peiper (Columbia 2010 preview), Bob Stapleton, Hayden Roulston (Columbia-HTC) and Luke Roberts (Milram)
I am Christopher Graetz and in this article I recap the conversations I held with Giddeon Massie from the track events in Australia.
Giddeon Massie was born in Lansdale, PA, on the 27th of August, 1981. His dad played semi-pro baseball. Unfortunately, he didn’t continue because of knee injuries. Giddeon has excelled in the sport of cycling and below are some selected palmares for the track specialist.
2000 Olympic Long Team
Pan Am Games Gold & Silver medalist
7x World Team Member
World Cup Medalist
13x U.S. National Champion
Gideon Massie - On the track
Chris Graetz: How did you get into cycling to begin with and who was instrumental in this?
Giddeon Massie: My Dad was most instrumental in getting me involved in cycling. At the age of 9 and 10 I began joining him and 30-40 other adults on club rides maybe once a week. I was able to keep up with the group most times and very quickly set small goals to challenge myself. My parents looked for a way to provide further opportunity, and soon found a free program sponsored by a company called Air Products at what is now the Valley Preferred Cycling Center in Trexlertown, PA. The program teaches people of all ages and abilities how to ride and race on the track.
Chris Graetz: What about your earlier life. I hear you were good at many sports and probably could have gone somewhere with them?
Giddeon Massie: I played baseball from about that age, and started basketball a little bit later. There came a point where I had too much on my plate, and had to narrow my energies and focus. I enjoyed it all, but the Olympics were an aspiration from an early age. Cycling was the avenue I chose to pursue that dream.
Chris Graetz: You have other talents – in the musical industry?
Giddeon Massie: My parents always stressed that school took priority over sports. They also insisted that I be well rounded and encouraged me to play a musical instrument. My dad played the clarinet and he gave me his. Although I don't pick it up as often as I would like these days, I've been playing since the 5th grade.
Chris Graetz: Tell me about your first win you had. What did it feel like and tell us about the event?
Giddeon Massie: My first significant win was rather unexpected. It was my first Jr. Nationals at my home track in Trexlertown, PA and I was about 15. At that time I had my eyes set on the mass start and endurance events, but unbeknownst to me, my most thrilling night would come with an unexpected victory in the 500m TT. I slept in my National Championship jersey that night.
Chris Graetz: Biggest win?
Giddeon Massie: One of my more memorable wins came with my first Elite National sprint title. After four previous years of finishing second to a different person each time, I finally sealed the deal in 2006. It was a special accomplishment to me; a title i felt I was ready for many years earlier, but had narrowly evaded me on each occasion.
Chris Graetz: Who were your heroes growing up? Who do you look up to now?
Giddeon Massie: I'd say my Dad has always been and will always be one of my heroes. I appreciate his view and take on things more and more as I grow older. I've always admired athletes with work ethic and those that have overcome difficult circumstances whether on the field of play or off. Rarely do the results come easy for me. So I appreciate stories like that. I draw a lot of motivation from some of my closest friends that compete in other Olympic and non-Olympic sports too. Surrounding myself with true champions and successful, driven people, is key.
Chris Graetz: You have been an ambassador for clean cycling. What is your motto?
Giddeon Massie: Yes, I have been a very big advocate for clean cycling and sport in general. As professional athletes, we owe it to ourselves, those that support our efforts, and those that look up to us (many of whom we may never know or meet personally) to lead sporting careers that reflect a mentality of hard work, perseverance, and vision. Performance enhancing drugs in no way exemplify those qualities.
Gideon Massie - Bike Religion
Chris Graetz: What were your first Olympics like in Athens?
Giddeon Massie: My first Olympics in Athens was something very special and entirely unique. Put simply, it was worth all the struggles, hurdles and trials to get there; of course the task doesn't end once you've made it. I'll tell you what though, it's addicting, in a good way. I came home thinking, "ok, what do I need to work on and improve to perform better 4 years from now?"
Chris Graetz: What did you take from that heading into your next games at Beijing?
Giddeon Massie: In Beijing, I knew what to expect once i was there. I had done that dance before. Regrettably, I think I lost my edge come race day. I had spent so much energy to simply qualify, as our individual qualifications within the team ran their course to within a couple days of our first race.
Chris Graetz: What did you take from that heading into hopefully your Third games at London in 2012?
Giddeon Massie: Heading into London, I want to ensure all my bases are covered. I want to enjoy every moment of the Journey. Lord willing I will be there, but Beijing seemingly came and went in a flash. I want to enjoy the struggles and triumphs of this next one all the way to the door step. Because after all, thats what it's about. The journey.
Giddeon after a race
Chris Graetz: What are your other interests besides cycling – what do you do when you’re not on the bike?
Giddeon Massie: My other interests are plenty. I obviously love sports in general. I love to play them, I love to compete. I'm a huge tennis fan and I love Formula 1 car racing. The amount of technology and money that goes into the teams and cars just fascinates me. I enjoy a game of golf every once and a while, but mostly I enjoy spending time with my closest friends. I'm a big movie fan and have no qualms with going to the theater by myself. I enjoy talking autos and life in general with those same childhood and athlete friends, that i've become closer with over the years.
Chris Graetz: Tell us about your 2009 season?
Giddeon Massie: Boy, 2009 was all over the place. I struggled with direction and questioned if continuing down the path that I've been blessed with for most of my life, was a rational decision. With goals and aspirations that seemed to be slipping far from my grasp, making sense of it all became more difficult when I was unable to find a team and the funding to compete at the elite level. Fast forward a couple months; enter, Bike Religion.
I happened into the Newport Beach bike shop of John & Rachel Tszinberg, two Sydney, Australia natives. John empathized with where I was, and encouraged me to race for the club. I explained that my heart was still set on the track and London, but really I was just itching to compete as I had missed the previous track World Cup season. With some doubt still lingering as to where I was heading, I joined Bike Religion and found myself just enjoying racing every weekend.
Something I remember doing as a Junior. I did nothing but Pro and NRC category Crits for the next three months or so in Southern California, placing and winning. It just felt good to be out there. Half way through the summer i set my sights on the track season in Trexlertown, PA and our Track Nationals to follow shortly after in October. When the dust settled after our Elite Nationals I had walked away with 3 National titles and a renewed confidence. I took advantage of my results and the support that Bike Religion provided, and headed to Australia to race and train for two months. It was a fantastic opportunity.
Chris Graetz: Goals heading into 2010 and Goals beyond 2010?
Giddeon Massie: My goals for 2010 have the big picture in mind, and that is London. Most immediately, I want to put a good showing in at World Champs and then look at Pan Am Championships.
Chris Graetz: A wish for 2010?
Giddeon Massie: My wish for 2010 would be to have the support to see this journey to fruition. I won't be able to compete at this level forever, and my body is quite anxious to remind me of that from time to time. But I want to be able to have more of a focus on improving the little things. That is where the support and backing come into play at this level. The small things are what make the difference.
Gideon on the road
Chris Graetz: What advice do you have for someone aspiring to turn professional?
Giddeon Massie: My advice for someone aspiring to turn professional would be to stay true to themselves. As with anything, have realistic goals, but don't sell yourself short. Aim for the "unattainable". Nothing worth achieving comes easy, so embrace the good times as well as the hard times, and never lose sight of your vision or why you are there. Lastly, always listen. You can learn something from even the least sensible piece of advice.
Chris Graetz: You mentioned you are looking for a track team? How is that going? Who have you ridden for before?
Giddeon Massie: Yes, I'm looking for a professional track team. One that would allow me the opportunity to compete in the World Cups, as the U.S. does not have a sprint program at present. The search is ongoing, but I'm thankful to have the support of Bike Religion right now. Although, they are not currently a pro team, they have done a lot for me. So a big thanks to them. I've ridden for pro teams such as Focus 2004 and Spike Professional Cycling Team in the years prior.
Chris Graetz: With Ben Kersten making the transition from track to road, Any aspirations to perhaps try road racing (criteriums) in the future?
Giddeon Massie: As with any competitive athlete, I think there is always the inkling of "Well if he can do that, so can I", or the "I can do that better than him" mentality from time to time. Truth be told, criteriums and road racing in general is a whole different beast. Hats off to Benny for successfully making that transition. To do it, takes a full commitment though. I still have my sights set on my first love of track, so for the immediate future, my energies will remain there. But who knows? Further down the road, perhaps that could change.
We wish Giddeon all the best for his future endeavors and look forward to seeing him claim a few more victories.
Previous Chris Graetz Interviews
Richie Porte – Tasmanian Wheelman On The Move
Richie Porte – Getting Started
Zak Dempster – Bendigo Boy On The Prowl
Cameron Meyer – Young Gun
Next: Australian Will Clarke (Genesys Wealth Advisers Cycling Team)
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