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Chuck Coyle's Racing Chronicles: Mike Ley
 
By Janna Trevisanut
Date: 12/17/2002
Chuck Coyle's Racing Chronicles: Mike Ley
 

“She’s watching wrestling, creaming over tough guys, listening to rap-metal, turn tables in her eye…”
--Bowling for Soup

With the help of increased television coverage on channels such as OLN, bigger races here in the States (San Fran, Philly, NYC) and through great results from domestic riders on the world wide scene (thanks Lance,Tyler, Christian, Kevin, Jonathan…), the sport of road cycling has been on a big upswing over the last few years. I can only hope that this trend will continue until when I am out climbing one day someone will drive by and cheer rather than throw a finger or something a bit heavier at me.

While this is the good news the reality is that cycling is still not a mainstream sport and there is a very limited amount of financing driving it along. There are a bunch of new TT3 teams this year and more on the horizon but many of them are dealing with small budgets which make them not much more than glorified club teams that allow for little more than entry into a few select ‘pro only’ events.

I bring this up because there are great riders out there who are trying their best to be professional cyclists but run into so many roadblocks that it is incredibly hard just to get a decent contract. This sport is difficult enough, let alone having to worry about being able to merely squeak by. A perfect example of this scenario is professional cyclist Michael Ley.

Michael is going into his fourth year in the professional ranks and after having some very promising offers by a few teams is now facing the possibility of not getting on a team at all. Last year he rode solidly with good results in bigger events like the Gila and Cascade stage races. The fact of the matter is that in this sport having good results is not enough; it is lot like trying to get a job in any other industry. You have to be good at what you do but it is so much about whom you know and get along with. Michael had been talking to a few teams and after some good discussions one seemed like it was a done deal. Unfortunately for him it fell through at the last minute and now he is left high and dry with very little time left before most teams have filled their roster.

It is easy to depersonalize people in professional sports, to look at them as objects and not humans. It is simple to lose sight of the fact that these are real people. When Chris Wherry won the Saturn Cycling Classic he really did cry when talking about winning it for his father. We are real people who are doing a job just like anyone else; we just get paid to ride our bikes. Yes, it is a dream job to have but it is a job nonetheless. When someone gets kicked off a team or is not able to land a good contract that is one person who is out a job, one more unemployed person in the world

I suppose we can only hope that the sport will continue to grow and good riders like Michael will not have to worry about getting a job; wouldn’t it be nice if it was more a choice of which team to go to rather than just getting on a team at all…

Michael Ley:

Born: San Diego, CA August 16, 1973
Height: 5’8”
Weight: 148 lbs soaking wet
Hometown: Fort Collins, CO
Years Racing: 7 (3 as a professional)
Professional Teams: 2000- 7UP/Colorado Cyclist; 2001- Zaxby’s; 2002- Jittery Joes
Education: BA in Sport Science from Colorado State University (with 4 semesters with a GPA of 3.75 or better)
Significant Other- Married to Naomi in August of 2000

Career Highlights

1999
-1st GC, Valley of the Sun Stage Race (Elite)
-4th GC, Collegiate National Championships (and again in 2000)
-NCAA All American (and again in 2000)

2000
-1st Colorado State Road Race Championships
-13th First Union Manayunk Wall Hill Climb
-19th Saturn Cycling Classic

2001
-16th GC, Cascade Cycling Classic
-19th GC, Tour of the Gila

2002
-5th GC, Platte Bridge Station Stage Race (won 1 stage)
-3rd Elam Cycling Classic
-13th GC, Cascade Cycling Classic
-15th GC, Toru of the Gila
-23rd USPRO Criterium Championships

Thanks for reading,

Chuck
Team 7Up


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