This Business Insider story on Mike Woods walks you through Mike Woods’ improbable path to becoming a professional cyclist.
“I wish I had taken up cycling a lot earlier,” Michael Woods says over Skype, laughing. “Running’s an awesome sport and a beautiful sport, and I loved it, and I still love it. I just don’t know why I banged my head against the wall for so long in pursuit of such small reward.”
Woods is racing at this month’s Giro d’Italia, the biggest stage race in cycling after the Tour de France, and he has agreed to give up a half-hour to share his improbable story, about how he went from working in a miserable job at a shoe store to cycling full time, about how after racing bikes professionally for only three years he landed a spot on a WorldTour team competing at the sport’s highest level, about how he has been thriving at an age when professional athletes are thinking about retiring or have already done so.
It started when he was 18 years old and ran a mile in 3 minutes, 57.48 seconds, which, as far as we can tell, is the fastest mile ever run by a Canadian on Canadian soil. Like many Canadian kids, Woods grew up dreaming of playing in the NHL – left wing for the Maple Leafs – but by his mid-teens, he says, he found that his 5-foot-9, 135-pound frame was better suited to running. In high school he set records in the 3,000 meters and won gold at the Pan American Junior Games in the 1,500 meters (at 19 he earned a top-50 world ranking at that distance). He won a track scholarship to the University of Michigan, raced on the Canadian national team, and believed he could become one of the best milers.