DIRT Dad Matt Brownson – I am a little over a year into riding and that includes my Walmart Roadmaster period (200lb bike) not too long ago. Prior to that, I was a soccer player coming up, including the Olympic Developmental Program (pre-high school) in Ohio. I played up into college where I fractured my tibia and pretty much ended my competitive sports career.
How’d you get into Zwift?
I had been riding for about 6 months and riding through the winter (south of Cleveland). Often the temperature was 15d F (that’s cold!!!). My LBS owner kept seeing my (outdoor) mileage on Strava during the winter and asked if I was looking for ways to avoid the frigid cold, told me about Zwift and educated me on smart trainers. I bought a used Wahoo Kickr Snap and a trainer wheel that day.
How long have you been riding/racing?
I am a little over a year into riding and that includes my Walmart Roadmaster period (200lb bike) not too long ago. Prior to that, I was a soccer player coming up, including the Olympic Developmental Program (pre-high school) in Ohio. I played up into college where I fractured my tibia and pretty much ended my competitive sports career. At the same time, I played basketball (point guard and HUGE Bobby Hurley fan) through high school and then did they whole Hoop-It-Up 3 on 3 circuit and open gyms until about 2 years ago when my knees and legs started letting me down. I was really looking for a competitive outlet and loved cycling immediately!
How did you notice DIRT and why did you join?
I noticed DIRT really early on with all these strange “brackets” by riders’ names with DIRT in them when I was free riding. As I recall, I got a few Ride Ons and the connection caught my attention. I searched on Google and found the Facebook page where I recall immediately liking the snarky (yet supportive) banter which was right up my alley. Names like Stern, Nowell, Mastroianni, Carver, McAfee, Mutchler, Zook, Heintzelman, Baird, Guay, GUTs, and Jackson kept popping up and I liked their competitiveness and humor balance. I started watching Jason Mutchler YouTube videos and saw a guy working his a## off like I had been in hoops. Was inspired to get better at that point.
Any big goals, races coming up?
No IRL racing aspirations. Probably a crit or two (my wife HATES the idea) and I have a 100 miler later this fall. My goals are based on stretching distances out and endurance primarily. Also, if I’m honest, getting 6 pack abs one last time in my early 40’s now is a pure vanity goal – just to say I’m capable of it.
What do you do for work?
I am in industrial sales for a company based in Cincinnati (OH). We provide process heating, pressure and temperature control systems for manufacturing companies. I took over as the VP of Sales and Operations in January which required my move to Cincinnati ahead of my family. During that time I’ve been truly grateful for Zwift as a healthy diversion from some loneliness at times, and all the brothers and sisters of DIRT to ride with an against. Also fun, my wife and I could do “date nights” riding together virtually in the Family Values ride. It’s been a tough period, but we recently purchased a house (right off the Loveland bike trail- you guys are all welcome for a ride if in town!) and the family will be under one roof again!
Can you tell us a bit about the family?
I’ve been married for 16 years – we met at a hip-hop dance club (always a solid place to meet your wife), and we now have 4 kids, ages 6 to 13. We are very busy with soccer, school and all the day to day things, which is why I have to squeeze in stupid-early rides! We started out in an 800 square foot house in a neighborhood in Cleveland that wasn’t the greatest with 3 kids in a bedroom. God has been good and through good friendships, connections and hard work, we have been blessed as we’ve entered our 40s. We are grateful to be in the place we are – mind, body, and spirit.
How has Zwift helped with family and work balance?
I wouldn’t say it’s helped with the balance per se, but just helped my energy, confidence and thinking immensely. I do some of my best trouble shooting (issues with kids or work) in the middle of a 1.5 hr ride up the Alpe. Our family in general has become more active too which has been great to see!
Any advice for others?
Just jump on that bike, spin your legs, get your heart rate up, sweat and be the best version of yourself. It’s a struggle to keep up on Group Meetup conversations at times (although I love listening) because I know so little about VO2, aero wheels, or virtually anything technical. I just love to free ride (Zwift and IRL), get my heartrate up and immerse myself in great ride music! I hope each can find their solace through the physical effort that comes along with Zwift specifically, and cycling generally. It’s changed my deal!