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The Man Behind the Mike
 
By Staff
Date: 8/5/2003
The Man Behind the Mike
 

By Glenn Stilwell
AdventureSports Radio

We ride for miles and miles and miles. But cycling's behind the scenes groups are relatively small in number. For one man, he has seen all there is to offer, from the local criterium to the races of major stature. He sits above the concentrated gaze of fans lining cobbled streets to peer himself at the horizon, in hopes that hell be able to spot the leader first. And then hopefully pronounce the rider's name correctly. He is a cycle racing public address announcer, and his life is filled with cycling from dawn to dusk, and even more when the race is happening.

That man is Dave Towle. Dave Towle has been interested in bikes, like a lot of us, since an early age. He was a 13 year old when he saw his first bike race and hes been at more events than hed care to remember, now that hes in his mid-30s. During his career so far he has gone from that wide-eyed kid to being a wrench at the local shop, to announcing some of this country's greatest cycling events.

The Daily Peloton had a chance to sit down with Dave during one of his many coffee stops.

Daily Peloton: When did you announce your first race?

Dave: I was really lucky, and because of who I know, through working at the races for years, Len Pettyjohn had me do the Saturn Cycling Classic last year. Before that I was the announcer for the Saturn Cyberbike program. So in essence my first announcing job was for fake races on exercise bikes hooked to computers with common fans listening to me make stuff up about them.

DP: How do you remember the names of so many riders?

Dave: I spend about 2 hours a day reading about the sport. I've been to the top mountain and road races in North America for the last 5 years, and just being there, in person, really helps a lot. It's kinda like the way you'd recognize the people you went to high school with.

DP: Do you try to get to know all the riders, their habits, their assets and their weaknesses?

Dave: For sure, as that's such a huge part of the story. I really love it when you know two guys in a break have a history, whether it's good or bad!

DP: How do you decide what to say?

Dave: I really just go with my gut. I always laugh at myself, because when I have a "block", I just default to reading tag lines from sponsors. I actually lose myself in that, and while I'm doing it, I try to look for something significant in the race. I really try to find a positive spin, and that kinda makes it easy, as there are always a lot of feel-good things to say - our sport is the most beautiful in the world, after all!

DP: What have been your best and worst moments of announcing?

Dave: The best moment was actually at the Saturn Cycling Classic. Chris Wherry's dad had died that week, and he was having a day that most riders could only dream of, riding truly with the strength of two. Because he lives here in Boulder, and I'm actually writing to you on a computer I bought from him (that Henk Vogels spilled coffee all over), I knew the story, but didn't know how far to go with it. Every time I mentioned he was in the break, or anything about him, for that matter, a huge cheer would go up from a group of about 10 people. I mean they would freakin' explode. So, I kinda guessed they knew him.

After it became clear to me, listening to the race radio, that Chris was going to be a huge part of that days story, whether he won or lost, I decided to go over and say "hi", and see what was up. It turned out that the core part of that group was the Wherry family, his older brother, younger sister, and mom. They were so appreciative of the nice things they were hearing that they hugged me, and made me feel as happy, and as sad, as you could be. It was an amazing feeling, really. So, I'm sure you all know Chris went on to win, and I'll never forget looking out at about 5,000 people, and just about everyone was crying, they really were. It was so beautiful that the right man won on that day.

My worst day is easy; I thought Vogels was going to kill me when I incorrectly announced that he had lost to Meza in a sprint during the Tour de Georgia. Unfortunately I was listening to something I shouldn't have, and when the photo finish was being looked at, someone told me that Meza won, there was a lot going on, as theyd started the award ceremonies for the jerseys they were sure of... I cut in, "Mike, big news.... Meza wins", and Henk looked at me...I never want to feel that way again, Henk knew hed won.

DP: You wrenched for some pro riders?

Dave: Bob Roll, for one, when he was a mountain biker, ya know! And Ive been in a dream car with Mike Neel.

DP: Do you still help out any friends or family fix their bikes?

Dave: You bet! I don't mind, actually, but I limit the commitment and scope of projects now. I'd do anything in the world for my family, which is really a mom, dad and sister, so it's not too tough!

DP: You live in Boulder, Colorado. What makes that such a great place for cyclists to live?

Dave: Boulder is a town that, for some people, is just the only place you can live, for whatever reason. The real answer to that question seems to have a couple different roots. The old adage "birds of a feather flock together" comes to mind. You also have a great climate, and intelligent altitude, not too high or low, really great options for riding seems to be the icing on the cake. The mountain biking here sucks, which is hard for people to believe, but if I want to do a real, single track filled ride, you need a car, you really do. I think that's why IMBA is here, because there are plenty of trails, and awesome rides right out my front door, but they are all illegal.

DP: Do you ride with the Boulder pros?

Dave: I'll go out, do about 90 minutes on their easy days, but I bet the guys who let me tag along don't want their names mentioned. Clark Sheehan is my closest neighbor, and he'll take anyone out, he's such a nice guy! Chuck Coyle is another pro here who has time for a guy like me, and it's really special to ride with them.

DP: Whats it really like inside the pro peloton?

Dave: It's a bunch of surprising, cool guys, actually. They all really get along for the most part, and in America, you'd be surprised how intelligent these guys are. Alex Candelario and I have had some really meaningful talks, they do care about the support people, and appreciate things that are done for them, and that's nice, as living your dream is not always easy. Kim Bruckner and Chris Baldwin come to mind, as people who really care about those around them, Michael and Dede too!

DP: We can be fairly sure to the answer of this question - what would be your dream announcing job?

Dave: I'm going to school, this fall, taking French. I know it'll never happen, but a guy can dream, right?

Why yes. Yes he can

Thanks to Dave Towle for his time, wed like to invite people to hear Dave on his new radio program, "The Winners Circle," broadcast from Boulder, Colorado. Hell be talking to all those racers and special people he comes in contact with, and hell be bringing those interviews to the listeners of AdventureSports Radio every Wednesday at 9am Pacific Time (12pm Eastern Time).

The Winners Circle debuts tomorrow, Wednesday 6 August, with a terrific first show.


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