When I first heard the voice I knew it had to be him, the voice has a certain tonal quality that makes it stand out of a crowd. The accent is somewhere between a Rhode Island coast and Massachusetts nasal. The last time I heard that unique sound was in 30 years ago in Northern NH. My job that winter gave me lots of time to cross country skiing and “the voice” was working at one of the areas that I spent time at.
Paul Curley has always been a cyclist he has raced professionally in Europe and here in the US. He was on the national team for a while. He continues to race to this day at the very highest levels in the 55 plus age category in cyclo-cross, Cat 3 in road cycling and other endurance sports. Initially it was his voice that caught my attention, but it was clear he was the center of attention to the other competitors in the race.
The starter came to tell the group of 55 plus racers at this cyclo-cross race that we would be starting in two minutes. Paul rode away for a little more warm up everyone watched him, I heard someone whisper “where’s he going?” like Paul has some secret ritual that he wanted to get in on. About five seconds before the starter’s gun went off. Paul rolled back into the front of the group. He was in the mix the entire 50 minute race and eventually won it.
Not able to catch up with after I race, I found his phone number and called him, he was putting the finishing touches on one of the two big rides he organizes each year for the American Lung Association: one is a ride across Massachusetts and the other is a ride from Plymouth to Provincetown. You can check out the rides at http://www.lungne.org/. He is also a Technical Delegate for cycling events at the Special Olympics.
He still rides competitively when ever he can. His only daughter is a racer and had raced that weekend with him in Vermont. His wife he said is tolerant of his racing but he tries not to push it. Recently he has step down a category from the Pros to race in the Cat 3. This means while he is not racing at the highest level he is a 55 year old racing (and winning) against 20 year olds. I asked him to what he attributed his longevity in the sport and his ability to continue to compete at such a high level.
“I have a natural governor on my body that regulates how hard I can go so I do not blow up or breakdown.” His only overuse injury was a slight knee problem 30 years ago, and I have fun doing it.”
As modest as Paul maybe about his cycling, he has returned much to the sport that has given much to him, but not just coaching but organizing and giving back. He took his passion and made it part of his life.
You See Timmy: To be really successful, passion and fun have to be part of what you do.