In August of this year, Danny Pate hung up his wheels after a long career that stretched across three decades. The 39-year-old was one of the United States’ most mercurial talents of his generation, with a U23 time trial world title to his name and a reputation as one of the most underrated domestiques in the peloton.
As the Cyclingnews Tour of Colorado continues, we sat down with Pate to look back at his career and the five races that changed his life.
US junior nationals – 1990 – something
The first race on my list takes me back to when I first started road racing. As a kid, I was big into mountain biking, but my dad – who raced at the time – asked if I wanted to try the road thing. I must have been around 14 or 15, and I’m going back a long time, but I remember our first ride on the road. I was wearing jeans and telling my dad, ‘I’m not sure about this, it’s not so comfortable.’ But the first race on this list would be the junior nationals at Wichita Falls, Texas. I can’t even count that far back to remember the year, but they used to have this race down there called Hotter than Hell, and it was just like that at nationals. I had no clue what I was doing in the race but I still managed to get a decent placing, with a top 10, and then in the time trial, I was sixth.
They weren’t my first races but that was the first time that I discovered road cycling, and it felt like a door had opened for me. It was a completely new experience and education to mountain biking, where you can just go out there and put the hammer down. In road racing, I started to realize that there was so much more going on, and you had to really think when it came to endurance and distance. I feel as though the Nationals showed me the depth there was to road racing, because until that point I really hadn’t figured it out, and now I come to think about it, I still haven’t.
I don’t have a huge recollection when it comes to the race itself, just that I had these really sweet Spinergy wheels, the sort that could cut a man’s arm clean off, and they were the shit. Nothing else mattered because I had those wheels. They were so heavy but they could really go in straight line, and I recall that on a ride before nationals I beat my dad in a small time trial. We would often race together – he would be in the masters category, and I would race junior, before we did the cat 3 events together. But after that time trial, he decided to shell out the cash on the wheels for me and send me to nationals. They were the coolest thing.
Saeco – I’m picking a year, not a race
You’re probably expecting me to choose my Worlds TT win but it’s not on my list. Sorry about that but to be honest, I’d won every time trial that year, except for maybe one, so winning Worlds wasn’t that big of a surprise for me. It was also a strange year because I’d gone to Saeco the year before, so when I won Worlds it didn’t really change my life. It was, of course, one of my biggest results but on a personal level, I just don’t think it had that much of an impact.
Read the full interview on CyclingNews.com