DIRT Dad Billy Beasley – Most of my cycling was outdoor/solo in the dark hours of the morning, before work/family commitments, there was finally an indoor cycling solution, with power data, linked to Strava, with a community of cyclists. In May of 2017 for an early Father’s Day present, “the family and me” got me a Wahoo Kicker!!!
How Long Have You Been Riding/Racing?
I’ve ridden bikes since childhood – growing up “in the country” outside a small town in Louisiana. It was mostly BMX riding to get around our 100+ acre pecan farm to do my chores. I stayed involved and quite busy with high school sports (Football, Tennis, and Weightlifting), but managed to buy a cheap mountain bike. It was quite a feeling of accomplishment with those first few “distance” rides down the highway to a town five miles away!
When I attended college, I had cable TV for the first time and began to learn about endurance cycling (Tour, Giro, Vuelta, etc). Unfortunately, my Mechanical Engineering degree studies kept me busy, so I didn’t ride in those years. I was intrigued with endurance sports regardless of not having the typical body type. It was so interesting seeing the mental and physical discipline required, the cause and effect process of training experimentation and how that would differ from my resistance training background.
After graduating from Louisiana Tech in 1997, marrying my high school sweetheart (Kristi), and starting work, I met a road cyclist at my first job. He helped me train to complete my first metric century on a “Wal-Mart” mountain bike, then I was hooked!! That has followed with 20+ years of about 500 to 1000 miles of riding per year, on various road bikes, combination of outdoor riding and indoor dumb-trainer miles before work before the sun comes up. Occasionally I would fit in weekend outdoor group rides and normally one annual metric-century per year as a training incentive.
How Did You Get Into ZWIFT?
Being a Mechanical Engineer, tracking data, understanding the power transfer efficiency and aerodynamics of cycling as always interested me. In 2012, I discovered Strava, which sparked more interest in data management which was all in spreadsheets up to that time. But never having a power meter, data was still limited to RPE, HR, Distance and Time. Then in early 2017, ZWIFT advertisements started showing up in my Strava feed, I checked it out, and I was sold!!!
Since most of my cycling was outdoor/solo in the dark hours of the morning, before work/family commitments, there was finally an indoor cycling solution, with power data, linked to Strava, with a community of cyclists. So in May of 2017 for an early Father’s Day present, “the family and me” got me a Wahoo Kicker!!! My original intent was to replace my dumb-trainer winter miles to Zwift miles, and continue with summer miles outdoors. But the community aspect of Zwift and the safety aspects emphasized by my family priorities, Zwift has developed into 99% of my annual mileage now.
How Did You Notice DIRT And Why Did You Join?
When I first started ZWIFT in May 2017, I enjoyed some group rides, adding miles, and getting accomplishments, badges, and level-ups. After a few weeks, I began entering some races and finally was able to enjoy some competitive cycling that I had never been able to schedule before starting ZWIFT. However, I had never cycled consistent enough or with enough intensity to worry about recovery. I ramped up my miles and intensity too quickly and by September 2017 I had developed Rhabdomylosis (overload of the blood stream with damaged muscle fibers leading to Kidney failure). After a 3-day stay in the hospital, a month off any physical activity, I started all over again.
During my time off the bike at the end of 2017, zwiftinsider.com was helpful for me to learn about registering with zwiftpower.com, racing in appropriate Categories, and training plans with appropriate loading and recovery cycles. The first 9 months of 2018 was centered around building a new foundation of easy miles, enjoying the numerous ZWIFT world expansions, but I was still scared to sprint or race.
By October 2018, as my Zwift routine continued, I started seeing some of the same folks at same times, a few who were DIRT members. I learned what the team stood for and how it fit my similar objectives, daily time slots, and Husband/Dad/Work balances. So I joined DIRT on Zwiftpower.com and Strava and then my first DIRT Sprintapolooza the next day. Who knew that DIRT would grow from under 100 members when I joined to such a large and diverse team that we have today??!!
But to be honest, I still didn’t know what I was getting into when joining the DIRT Team. I thought I would just be riding around on the daily/weekly group rides, instead of solo rides I had been doing. Little did I know that a subset of the DIRT community could be so encouraging. Not long after joining DIRT, I met Ed Zook, Nathaniel Boersma, and Sebastian, and they quickly became a great source of knowledge, encouragement, and shared goals as we were at similar overall abilities, but various strengths and weakness. We’ve battled outsiders and battled each other on many ZWIFT events. These guys have continued to push me beyond my what I thought was possible, have helped to build my confidence, and have made this journey very fun. They have also introduced me to many other great DIRT members.
Any Big Goals/Races Coming Up?
With so many awesome events in the ZWIFT and DIRT communities competing for my available training/racing time, I have found the Wednesday Morning Grind Fondo (MGF) and the Friday Sprintapalooza to be my two favorite times of the week. The rest of my weekly/monthly training schedule is built around those events. With those priorities, my goals for 2019 are to repeat on the podium in the MGF (Cat C), continue to be competitive in the Sprintapalooza friendly banter every week, and then build the rest of my training schedule to upgrade to Cat B by end of the year. 2020 goals will be to continue working to improve the power curve to eventually become competitive in Cat B races. Since I know that it will take substantial time in Cat B to be competitive, I look forward to supporting all the top-tier DIRT Cat B’s any way I can to ensure the podium gets DIRTy every week.
What Do You Do For Work?
I graduated from Louisiana Tech in Mechanical Engineering. Upon graduation, I worked in operations and maintenance management at various paper mills in Louisiana and Alabama for International Paper and Georgia Pacific. During that time, my wife and I always thought we would become business owners at some point.
We moved back to South Louisiana where I continued in the paper industry until 2012. After several years of planning, my business partner (from church) and I started an Independent Diagnostic Laboratory and we just celebrated our 7thCompany Birthday this past summer. My primary role in the business is finance, operations, administration, and people development.
How Has ZWIFT Helped With Family And Work Balance?
My cycling time was limited and interrupted by weather, seasons, and safety when riding before work. Since ZWIFT, my family and I both appreciate the safety of indoor riding. I’m able to train more, experience competitive cycling, and improve my health. This is all accomplished before our family is up and going each day.
Kristi and I have one daughter who is a senior in high school this year. She is competitive in recreation swim leagues, high school swim team, and also a few years on the tennis team. She also has served on several mission trips, and just returned from 9 weeks this summer in the Philippines. We also have a son who is a freshman in high school this year. With his background in cross-country, he has been ZWIFT running for the past year. Recently, he has taken the evening shift on “our” ZWIFT cycling station and is now a DIRT member. He has been building his base and experimenting with a few races!!
Any Advice For Others?
ZWIFT and DIRT Team activities can be a lot of fun and a fantastic experience. Because it is so challenging and enjoyable, we have to be diligent to plan appropriate recovery. Also remember that our bodies and our health are a gift from God our creator. Cycling, running, swimming, and resistance training are all important fitness tools to add years and quality of life. It is always a challenge as we strive to do our best to balance family, friends, and work priorities. We all (me included) need reminders that these things are tools to achieve the primary goals in our lives. If we are not careful, it is easy to let these great tools become the primary goals.
Lastly, I’d encourage everyone to make sure you enjoy the fun and banter of the Discord channels. This has allowed for many various friendships, encouragement, getting challenged to new fitness levels, and technical/training advice. RIDE ON & GEAUX DIRT!!!