“After my race, I just kind of hung around, and I had a guy come up to me, and he was talking to me a little bit and telling me about his team,” Collins said. “They’re called Big D Cycling, and he was telling me that he was watching me race and watching how I took the corners.
“Eventually he got to the point where he just kind of outright said, ‘Here’s my card, call me if you’re interested in joining our team.’”
Collins made the phone call the following day and shortly after received an email from the team’s president that he had been accepted as a new member, he said.
He admits that joining a team wasn’t on his radar when he signed up for the race.
“That didn’t even cross my mind,” he said. “The only goal I had for this season was to do at least two cycling races, and that was it.
“I had no idea what was coming.”
Collins anticipates meeting his new team—based in Kansas City—Saturday.
“I’m pretty sure I’m the youngest one on the team, and that’s really nice because when I’m riding or racing with guys my age, they usually tend to be really arrogant,” he said. “Riding with an older team, they’re a lot more experienced, they’re a lot more willing to give wisdom and advice.”
It will also be his first time to race with the team.
Upon arrival in Kansas City, Collins said he will be given a racing kit to borrow, but he will eventually have to buy his own.
As a cyclist with Big D Cycling, Collins said he will try to participate in every race in which his team is involved while continuing to work as a financial aid representative at Tabor College.
Because he is unable to make it to Kansas City in time for Tuesday night training runs, he has arranged to train with the Specs Racing Cycling Team in Wichita, he said.
Already, Collins has upgraded from Category 5 to Category 4 based on his race results.
“Usually, if you want to upgrade to a Category 4 from Category 5, you have to do at least 10 mass start races,” Collins said. “But because I don’t have the money to do 10 races to upgrade, I appealed to USA Cycling and gave them my results and told them about the team and all that stuff, and they approved me upgrading to Category 4 just after that one race.”
A benefit of moving up is the ability to win cash prizes, he said, adding that each time he places in a race, he earns points for himself and his team.
Any personal points Collins receives go toward moving up to the next category, he said.
“One of the guys from the team that I’m on is really wanting to mentor me through cycling,” Collins said. “I do have talent, but there’s so much that I want to know that I have to learn still.
“He is willing to mentor me with that, and he said that just from the race that he saw, he thinks that I can upgrade to Category 2 by the end of next year’s season.”
Cycling involves endurance, and Collins trains to reduce his resting heart rate.
“The whole purpose of being an endurance athlete is to get your heart rate down as low as possible, your resting heart rate, because when that happens, you’re able to work at a much higher velocity than you would be able to (otherwise),” Collins said. “So you could do a lot of high intensity stuff, then take a couple days, recover, and then do that again, and over the course of months, your heart rate gets to be extremely low.
“Then in races, you’re able to push a lot harder than you would if you didn’t train that way.”
Early in the season—typically during the summer but possibly extending from spring to autumn—Collins fits in two workouts per day: one in the morning, and one in the afternoon.
“One is really fast, intense, really hard, and then in the afternoon, I’ll do volume stuff, so like 50-60 milers and I’ll do that throughout the week and then take at least two days off,” he said.
A month before a race, Collins said he rides a greater distance of miles to build a base, and a few weeks before the race, he will shorten the distance and instead do fast, short rides for a longer period of time.
Having already built his base, Collins is currently working to build speed.
“For the races that I’m doing now, they’re really intense and really fast, so what I’m doing is trying to build just raw speed because some of it just takes strength and that’s it.”
These days, Collins aims to ride at least 200 miles a week.
He admits that training in Kansas has its challenges.
“Kansas wind is equivalent to Colorado mountains because there’s always that constant resistance, the constant grinding over the gears, and keeping a rhythm and cadence,” he said. “I’ve learned to train in the wind because that’s what Kansas has.
“You have to learn to adapt.”
Collins recently accomplished his first 100-mile ride.
“I completed my first century actually a month ago maybe,” he said. “That was one of the things on the list to do this summer too.”
He participated in a race on a car road course in Texas last Thursday.
“It’s called the Driveway Series,” he said. “This race is every Thursday in Austin for 32 weeks, so it’s a huge event.”
While he led the race for a time, he finished in the top half of the field of cyclists but did not place, he said.
“The unfortunate thing was that there were 65 guys in the pack, and I always seemed to get caught in the middle with nowhere to go,” he said. “(I) didn’t realize how strategic these races were.”
Learning the skill
A native of Brighton, Colo., Collins has been cycling since he was 15.
“I had worked with a guy who had been cycling for about 30 years, and I had tried so many things like BMX, skateboarding, mountain climbing, other things, and then cycling caught my attention,” he said. “All the other things, I had just kind of given up, but for some reason, he really kind of counseled me in that area.
“We started cycling together, and then I started doing a lot on my own and it’s just kind of developed I guess.”
In the beginning, however, Collins took it upon himself to learn.
“I was an awful cyclist at 15,” he said. “I had nobody to coach me or anything like that, it was just kind of like trial and error, see what works.
“Eventually I worked hard enough that people who had been cycling for 30 years were just amazed at what I was capable of doing. It wasn’t really that I was fast; it was just my determination.”
Collins’ abilities were noticed by more experienced cyclists during a ride on Peak to Peak Highway in Boulder.
“It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done,” he said. “But once I got to the top, once I had finished, one of the guys said, ‘Wow it would’ve taken me years to have accomplished this. No way I would’ve done this at his age,’ so that was just kind of like, ‘OK well maybe something is stirring in me at this age.’”
Following high school, Collins came to Hillsboro to attend Tabor College. He retained his passion for cycling, summiting Mount Evans, which sports the highest paved road in North America.
“Mount Evans was the hardest thing I’ve ever done on the bike,” he said. “People come from all over the world to do that, and it’s a 28-mile ride up the mountain, and it’s the highest paved road, and you end at over 14,000 feet.
“It’s brutal. I was dying, but I made it, so that was great.”
He graduated from Tabor in 2012 with a degree in Biochemistry.
After a brief training stint in North Carolina following graduation, Collins moved back to Colorado. Additional schooling, however, brought him back to Kansas last August.
“I had plans to go to graduate school at Wichita State, and so I enrolled there,” he said. “I was like, ‘Well, I might as well get settled in Kansas,’ and so I came back.”
He found work as a personal trainer in McPherson and Hillsboro, with an additional position at Tabor in the IT department, before eventually landing his current position as a financial aid representative.
As a graduate student at WSU, Collins is studying exercise science.
He earns credit for training and racing and anticipates an earlier graduation date as a result, he said.
A greater passion
Collins said his passion for cycling goes beyond himself.
“(Cycling) is the only thing that I’ve done that has really been a passion that is more than just for me,” he said. “Whenever I get on the bike, I feel like it’s what I’m supposed to do, and the Lord has just really put this passion in me that I’ve never had before for anything else.
“Whenever I’m training, I always have to remember that it’s not about me.”
Collins has a dream to use cycling to bring awareness to human trafficking.
“My dream is to start an organization I have named ‘ReDefine Slavery’—based on 1 Corinthians 7:22—bringing awareness to sex slavery and human trafficking,” he said. “My idea is to own a bike shop that caters to serious racers and recreational riders but to also have it be part of this organization where people are able to be part of the ReDefine Slavery Cycling Team.
“Not only would there be a bike shop but also a studio where I could train people to race for causes like these, not necessarily mine.”
Collins said he would like to have elite riders for the team but also involve anyone who is interested.
“It’s just super sad that sex slavery is one of the most vile criminal acts and is going on as we speak,” he said. “Many people aren’t aware that this is happening, and if they did, perhaps they would think differently about their trivialities.”
He is still in the beginning stages of creating a mission statement, he said, but sees the opportunity with the Big D Cycling Team as a stepping stone.
“Being taken on (by) the team out of Kansas City is a huge step because I am able to get experience on how teams work and thrive,” he said.
With all that has happened the past few weeks, Collins said it is evident it’s part of a bigger plan.
“Everything has happened since that one race, and that’s not by coincidence,” he said. “I just wanted to say first of all that my efforts—I mean of course I have to do my part with training—but without Christ I just couldn’t. My motivation wouldn’t get me through what my goals are.
“All I’m doing is using my talent and my gifts and then God brings whatever He wants to me, so that’s really cool,” he said. “My abilities and what I can do doesn’t stem from anything that I’ve done, it’s a gift, and as long as I keep using that gift for His glory, then I think He’s going to reward me and He’s going to see that.”
Noah Collins is currently seeking sponsorships for expenses to include team gear, race fees, travel and components. For more information, he may be reached at 303-915-3418.