Dust. That’s exactly what stray thoughts and worries turn into when cranking the pedals up a steep grade with no end in sight. Your heart’s heavy thump pounds in your ears. The fire burning in your legs only serves as a reminder to pedal harder and faster. The euphoric pain dissolves stress even faster than the road soars past.
For one TCU senior, cycling is more than just a form of transportation. Alex Gibson, a senior geology major, is a sponsored cyclist working toward becoming a regional professional. Gibson invests more time, energy and passion into riding a bike each week than most do in a year. Whether it’s tearing up the races on the weekends or riding with the TCU Cycling Club on weekdays, Gibson is most at home behind the handlebars.
But cycling hasn’t always been a part of his life. Gibson only began riding after he obtained a job with a local oil and gas company that provided the funds to purchase a road bike.
“I wanted to stay in shape,” Gibson said. “Biking is what I do to stay fit.”
Regular rides of 100 miles or more ensure that Gibson holds on to his goal of staying healthy. The Trinity Trails and the Fort Worth road system serve as his training ground while he’s not in competition.
Gibson trains year-round for various types of competition. He rides in traditional road races as well as criterion, which take place on shorter circuits for a specified time or number of laps. Gibson also competes in cross-country races and off-road marathons on his mountain bike.
Rain and thunder plagued his first stage race early this year. After completing the first road race stage riding inches away from his competitors, he geared up for his time trial stage. In the time trial, riders compete individually for the best time.
“You grind it out as fast as you can,” Gibson said. “It’s just you against the clock.”
The results from the time trial were delayed and the weather was getting worse, so he headed back to his hotel to get some sleep and prepare for the next stage. It wasn’t until the next morning that he discovered he’d won the race.
“It was my first stage race,” he said. “I would have never expected that in my life.”
At one race, Gibson fell and cut open his chin, needing seven stitches to fix the damage. But a little “road rash’ didn’t slow him down.
“It’s all worth it,” Gibson said, looking back at his injury.
Senior history major Andrew Young, a fellow cyclist at TCU, said he had gotten to know Gibson through the TCU Cycling Club.
“When I first joined the club I immediately noticed how much Alex enjoyed sharing his passion with both the people in the club and the newcomers to the group,” Young said.
In addition to the TCU Cycling Club, Gibson is a member of the TCU Geology Club and the Phi Delta Theta fraternity. He said he’s found great friendships within his fraternity that will last a lifetime.
After graduation, Gibson plans to continue training and competing in races.
While cycling is a passion for him, he says it won’t be a career. Gibson plans to attend graduate school to get his master’s in geology. He will continue working in the oil and gas industry with hopes to someday start his own small, independent oil and gas company.