It is a cold and grey autumn morning when I make my way back home from the grocery store. When I want to cross the road, I see two cyclists coming down the hill and passing me quickly. I recognise Eamon Lucas and his girlfriend who are going out for a quick morning spin. 3 hours later I walk in my favourite coffee bar in town, Alley Cat Bikes and Coffee and see Eamon already sitting in the chair, ready for our interview. He switched his spandex for a casual outfit, jeans, a shirt, and a fashionable scarf. Eamon is the type of guy that is very present when he is somewhere. Eamon is loud and he makes no secret of what his goals are, he knows that he’s strong, and doesn’t make any effort to hide this fact. That Eamon is confident of what he is capable of, sets goals accordingly, and doesn’t make this a secret is something I actually highly admire in an athlete. In this year, I got to know Eamon as one of the most honest and genuine people I know from the scene who just happens to be pretty loud.
Regardless your opinion on Eamon, one cannot deny that the man is quite a character. He is born and raised in the Pacific Grove California but moved to the Netherlands in September this year for his cycling career as he signed with Dutch UCI Continental Team Delta Cycling. He now lives in the same city as I do, Maastricht. As the city isn’t too big, I often bump into him. Eamon ended up in Maastricht as his girlfriend started an MA study at Maastricht University. Alkmaar is the other place in the Netherlands where Eamon often resides. There he moved into the house of World-Tour rider Laurens ten Dam who Eamon knows since 2016 when Laurens stayed in the US for several months.
Text & Photography: Brian Megens
2017 was Eamon’s debut year in fixed gear crit racing. Although he already had a proven track record in road cycling, he had no experience in fixed gear crit racing when he entered Red Hook Criterium Brooklyn No.10. As if that wasn’t scary enough, Eamon was also one of the new guys in a top team, Specialized/Rocket-Espresso meaning that there was no time to ‘just start and see how it goes’. Despite a false start, where Eamon had to qualify for the finals through the Last Chance Race, RHC BK No.10 was won by Eamon’s teammate Stefan Schaefer which meant mission accomplished for the team. Since then, Eamon showed his strength on a fixed gear bike several times resulting in the Rockstar Top Antagonist Award in Red Hook Criterium London No.3 and a win the NL Crit Series ‘Draai van de Kaai’ beating out a top international field. However, a top qualification in a Red Hook Crit is still missing. We wanted to meet up with Eamon to talk about his first year in the fixed gear scene, his signing with a UCI pro road team for 2018, and his ambitions and goals coming from that.
On the question when and how he got into cycling Eamon answers “that was in 2009 through my dad who always encouraged me to go out on a bike. I started with BMX, mountain biking and I sucked. I crashed, or I got dropped, and I remembered that I cried often on the way home.”
If it wasn’t for his dad, Eamon probably wouldn’t be on the bike anymore. His dad, who almost turned pro if it wasn’t for a bad crash which caused him to go into a coma for 60 days, always had positive feedback for him. “With some weight loss my performance increased, and I tried road racing. In the first years, I sucked, but my dad was always there to point on the positive. In 2010 I got onboard on one of the best US Junior teams. I became 2nd in the Nationals in Time-Trial and 17th in the UCI Junior World Championships. As a U23 rider, it took a while before I started to get results but I see 2017 as my best year so far. I won a lot of races including several Elite races in Belgium, two stages in the Tour of America’s Dairyland. The investment came through after eight years of pedalling, and that’s why I came to Europe.”
It was Aldo Ino Ilesic that got Eamon into the fixed gear scene. “Aldo stayed in my house a couple of times in 2016, and he talked about Red Hook Crit and told me that he thought I could be good at it as it probably suited me as a rider. So because of him, I got onboard of Specialized/Rocket-Espresso. I am really grateful to him for that.”
In April 2017 Eamon was standing at the start line of Red Hook Criterium Brooklyn No.10 which was his first fixed gear crit ever. “It was terrifying, just next level. You just don’t think but go, you can’t hesitate, can’t be scared, and you have to be at the front if not you’re f*cked, and then when you are at the front, it is all a game of who has the biggest balls. But fixed gear crit racing taught me how to stay relaxed in hectic situations, how to read a race, read the peloton, positioning, bike handling, everything. I mean everything was just a next step that I needed in my career.”
Because Eamon just signed with UCI Continental Team Delta Cycling his focus will be on the road, and the question is if Eamon will be racing Red Hook Criterium next year. Luckily, he has a clear answer. “Definitely, and luckily I can stay part of Specialized/Rocket-Espresso. I want to win a RHC! 2017 was a lot of learning, who is good, when are they good, now I know now how good their teams are. Me or my teammates, we just need to win it. RHC’s are prestigious, I think the longer UCI races will add to my ability to stay fresh in RHC finals, and my technique is not going anywhere. The focus on UCI races is only going to help my fixed gear season I believe. I actually think that fixed gear crits can benefit all road cyclist. I mean change the old school way of thinking and get on with the programme!”
When I ask Eamon what his goal is for next season he doesn’t even need to think. “I want to win UCI races and make it to the pro ranks. The World-Tour is my dream of course, but the Pro-Tour would already be a good start.”
When the interview is done, and we see Bram Linnartz, a fixed gear cyclist riding for Team WIT, walking in. Eamon immediately gets out of the ‘interview’ mode and greets Bram with a big smile. To me, this shows how Eamon truly is, serious, ambitious, and confident when he needs to be, but whenever he can Eamon doesn’t take life too seriously and just wants to have a good time with the people around him.
|Team 2018||UCI Delta Cycling / Specialized Rocket-Espresso|
|Team 2017||Crit-life, Specialized/Rocket-Espresso|
|Team 2016||Astellas Pro Cycling|
|Team 2015||IRT Pro Cycling|
|Team 2014||Hagen’s Bermen U23|
|Team 2010-2014||Junior and U23 USA National Team|
|Team 2011-2013||California-Giant Specialized|
|Team 2010||Specialized Junior Development team|
|Team 2009||Vos Racing Cycling Team (California)|