An Interview with Pro Road Cycler Chase Coffman
Interview by Jeremy Lux, article by Eric Gasa
If there is one word to describe Springfield road biker Chase Coffman, it is determined… or maybe even stubborn. Either fits the situation, whether he’s trying to land flips with an ankle boot on or tearing down the track in a circuit. In short, Coffman is a guy who doesn’t give up regardless of peril (breaking his collarbone five times) or end goal (becoming an accomplished road racer). As an athlete and individual, his eyes are always trained forward on the finish line.
On the latest episode of Life in Motion, Jeremy Lux talks to Coffman about BMX, his transition into road biking, ministry, and how the sport has changed his life for the better.
“I got into BMX when I was 14 I think,” says Coffman, “…it’s just something I thought was super cool. Just me and my buddies riding bikes. I’ve always been one of those kids that just wanted to be the best at whatever. I was super competitive.”
Coffman describes riding his bike all day and night as a kid, trying to land bunny hops and 180s. That seems to have been the spark for him: “It's just like an addiction, you know, just trying to learn and grow. Fast forward a few years later and I started competing pro contests.”
But Coffman admits to still getting butterflies in his stomach, especially when just starting out.
“If someone is watching me [ride] that’s one thing. But if there’s a whole crowd of people, I freaked out. I didn’t want to embarrass myself or fall. It was weird,” he says, “The spotlight can be a little scary for sure.”
“Seems like you have a chance to scare yourself daily with whatever you’re trying,” says Lux.
But if it’s one thing that attracts Coffman to the sport it’s certainly the struggle. He explains how far he’s come since his first bunny hop and all the hours spent training. He likes to push things to the limit. That may be why Coffman transitioned from BMX to road racing, an experience he calls a bit of a “culture shock.”
Photo taken by: Ashley Molina
Coffman went from riding on 20-inch wheels to 26s. Though BMX and road racing may seem similar on the surface, they pose starkly different physical challenges to the rider. Compared to the 15-foot aerial jumps in BMX, road cycling’s penchant for throwing elbows at 30 mph makes it a completely different animal.
Coffman got his start road racing while working at Sunshine Bike Shop in Springfield, Mo. Many of his coworkers were into road cycling so in the spirit of competition Coffman decided to try his hand at it too.
“I was getting my teeth kicked in constantly [on a road bike] and I wanted to be able to go out with my buddies and kick their teeth in,” says Coffman. But what was originally an exercise to blow off some steam wound up being a real test of endurance.
Coffman explains his first criterium race, which is a 4-6 turn one-mile race jam-packed with “60-70 guys elbow to elbow, going 30 miles an hour,” says Coffman, “Kind of like a dogfight on bikes.”
“So, it’s like rugby, or I was gonna say like a roller derby?” asks Lux.
“Well, when you put 60 guys doing 30 miles an hour doing 50 laps,” explains Coffman, “it’s more like a slaughter fest.”
Coffman describes elbows and headbutts being thrown. Its an incredibly personal sport, sometimes leaving bikers locked shoulder to shoulder for 30 seconds straight down the lane.
To condition for the physical demands Coffman trains 15-18 hours, riding 300 miles per week.
“I wake up, I train for two to four hours a day, try to eat right, constantly stretch, and sleep 10 hours a day or else my body will give out on me,” he says.
So far, the hard work has paid off. In road cycling, beginners start at Category 5, moving onto the next category after 10 races until they are considered pro at Category 1 and receive a pro license. This usually entails being on a professional team and earning monthly paychecks for racing. This is where Coffman finds himself currently, riding professionally and traveling across the country and world to compete.
But even with all the racing experience and success under his belt, Coffman is still humble of his beginnings. He likens himself to a punk kid and a “mean dude” growing up, but racing has seemed to have smoothened out his edges. Today, Coffman uses his platform to help minister his faith to others through stunt shows across the country. Here, he takes a moment to talk about Christ and the impact on his life.
“I'll share about my past and losing my dad when I was 9-years-old and then my mom going in and out of prison when I was like 12 and then how I found bikes and that became my passion,” says Coffman, “Then I basically just share about how God got ahold of my life.”
One special piece of advice he gives is to be less judgmental and let go of some pride in our day-to-day lives. Coffman ponders the difference in our world if people just took more interest in each other’s lives and struggles. He suggests meeting curses and boos with love and compassion.
Coffman is still that guy who just doesn’t know when to give up but he’s also the guy who is thinking about life beyond the finish line.
“I don’t want to be just a good bike rider,” says Coffman, “I want to be way more than that.”
To follow Chase's journey check out his Instagram @chasecoffmann and his website; iamchasecoffman.com. To hear the full recording of Chase Coffman's interview with Jeremy Lux be sure to check out the Life in Motion podcast on iTunes.