By Jenny Kosatka
As many of you know, Richmond, Virginia, was host to the UCI Road World Championships September 19-27. I was lucky enough to experience the event in person, as I cheered on my cycling heroes while they battled it out for the coveted rainbow jersey. Fans came from all corners of the globe to do the same, and the air surrounding the course was electric with anticipation. Amidst all of the excitement, I had the opportunity to sit and chat with a pro cyclist on Astellas Cycling Team, Brandon Feehery, who had just competed in the Men’s Elite Team Time Trial World Championship race.
As we talked, just far enough from the Libby Hill climb that we could hear each other above the roar of the massive crowd, I tried to imagine what it would be like to race in an event of this magnitude and the long, hard, devoted road to get there. Fortunately for me, I was sitting with someone who could describe this journey first hand, and at only 23, also share in the anticipation of great things to come.
If you race your bike in the Chicagoland area, you are probably familiar with the name Feehery. Between racing and officiating, the Feeherys have been a dedicated part of the cycling community for quite some time. Brandon recalls this being the major reason he became interested in cycling at such a young age. “I was 10 years old when I got my first road bike. My dad races, and I remember watching him race and wanting to as well.” Brandon’s older brother, Shane, was also present, and as Brandon and I spoke more about his early cycling influences, he said with a grin and a nod, “And of course, this guy!” Shane has quite an impressive resume as well and currently races for the Summit Pro Cycling team based out of St. Louis, MO.
Brandon was a natural, and by age 11 he was competing at the national level. It wasn’t long before he was contending the podium, and when he took 3rd place at the 2009 National Criterium Championships for his age group, he knew that his passion was to be a pro cyclist. Since then, he has competed in numerous national championship races, winning the 2014 Collegiate Road National Criterium and Overall titles, and has achieved his goal of becoming a professional cyclist.
“The setbacks were disappointing, but being here, racing in the World Championships was a great experience for us.”
Brandon has been racing for the Astellas Cycling Team since 2012. He specializes as a sprinter and as a lead-out rider. When he is not on his bike, he enjoys playing hockey and hanging out with friends… and yes, I made him clarify as I dismissed a small pang of jealousy; his job is to race his bike.
Astellas Cycling was one of the 27 Elite Men’s Trade Teams that competed in the UCI Road World Championships Team Time Trial. With a race distance of 38.6 km and 240 M of climbing, the course was described as a flat and fast, a “classic TTT course with a sting at the end.” Even though they have a lot to be proud of, a non-conforming bike issue set Astellas back one rider from the start, and a couple of mechanicals taxed their overall finish time. Brandon described the feeling as bittersweet, since they had been riding very strong leading up to the race. “The setbacks were disappointing, but being here, racing in the World Championships, was a great experience for us.”
Brandon and the Astellas Cycling Team hope to make future World Championship appearances, and I have no doubt that we will continue to hear both names frequently apropos professional cycling. In the meantime, look for Brandon next road season as he battles it out for NCC points or as he races for a victory in one of the various UCI road races. (In particular, he has his sights set on the UBC Grand Prix!)