ALEXANDRIA, La. (KALB) - As a teenager he got his first taste at roofing toting shingles up a ladder. When he was 20, he became a self-employed contractor. Now in his late 40s, Tracy Martin is blazing his own trail on a bicycle.
Riding his bike went from that of a hobby to somewhat of an addiction.
“Six days a week,” explains Martin. “Minimum of three hours. Weekends usually longer rides.”
Tracy Martin may be an amateur racing cyclist, but he’s on the level of some of the pros. Martin first got his start riding when he was 26 as a way to recuperate following a discectomy.
“My first cousin owns Red River Cyclery,” says Martin. “He suggested, ‘Tracy, you need something for recovery so why don’t you start riding with us?’”
He began as a club rider for several years before his competitive edge kicked in and he started racing mountain bikes and road racing. Martin, probably better known in Alexandria, Louisiana as the owner of Tracy L. Martin Roofing, will come home from work, rest and then get on his bike and ride for hundreds of miles each week to prepare for races.
“Anywhere from 200-300 (miles) a week,” adds Martin. “Just depending on if I’m training on-road or off-road.”
As a roofing contractor, Tracy doesn’t have a normal 9-to-5 work day. His day begins at daylight and lasts until noon, allowing him time to rest when he gets home and then pedal for hours in the evening all around Central Louisiana.
“Nobody wakes up and says, ‘I want to be a roofing contractor.’ It’s just hard work, but the liberty and freedom it gave me for my family and to do this sport that I love is – that’s what great about it,” describes Martin.
Last month, on April 8, Tracy Martin competed in the Austin Rattler – a 60-mile mountain bike race in the capital of Texas featuring roughly 500 participants. One of the riders Tracy was going up against in the men’s 40-49 age division, was none other than legendary cyclist Lance Armstrong.
“That was kind of interesting. Like, ‘well I’ll see him on the starting line.’ Ten of us had gotten away on a break,” explains Martin. “Lance happened to be in that group. At the end of the day, we were close.”
Two years older than Armstrong, Martin would defeat the former racing great by almost five minutes to place second in his age group.
“Younger, older people; everyone thinks it’s kind of cool,” explains Martin. “Everyone still remembers Lance, so wow. That was neat. It really was.”
His success in 2017 didn’t end there. Earlier this month, Tracy placed top-five in the 45-49 age group at the USA Cycling Marathon Mountain Bike Nationals in Arkadelphia, Arkansas.
“I had raced the same race a couple years ago and I think finished fifth, this year fourth,” adds Martin. “Next year it will be back at Arkadelphia, so maybe hope to do even better next year.”
Although a competitor, Martin always takes time to rest on Sundays. He’s a Sunday school teacher and worship director at Wilda Baptist Church in Boyce, Louisiana.
“My faith and faith in God is number one, my family is second and then whatever else I do follows,” says Martin. “As long as God gives me the health to ride and continue in competition, that’s fine by me.”
It’s officially the offseason now for Tracy Martin, but you’ll still find him going out for long rides and even training at CrossFit Alexandria. The Cenla cyclist turned 48 today.