Name: Robert Marion
Team: American Classic Pro Mountain Bike Team
About.com: What are your first memories of biking?
Robert Marion: 2004 Being a fat guy at 255lbs with a department store bike in blue jeans walking a lot with a sore butt and wanting to lose weight.
About.com: How did you get hooked on mountain biking?
Robert Marion: I was trying to lose weight. I found out about a local mountain bike race an hour from home, so being the competitive person I am with everything I do, I went to the race. My biggest problem being whether to register as beginner or Clydesdale. I remember thinking I won't always be over 200lbs, so I entered beginner and finished 2nd. I was hooked!
About.com: How does it feel to be a professional athlete?
Robert Marion: It feels great! All the cheers and support from the fans is awesome! I always wanted to be a professional athlete. Never thought it would be riding a bike wearing underwear in public.
About.com: As a kid, did you think this is what you would be doing?
Robert Marion: I grew up driving race cars and playing football. I always thought I may be doing something like that. I did finish college as a physical therapist assistant and worked at that full time for five years from 2003-2008. I keep all my credentials current. You never know when I may need them. Once I started cycling it became a lifestyle. I sold three cars I had restored and used the money to open a bike shop in 2005 which I still own and work in daily full time along with training.
About.com: What do you feel is your greatest biking accomplishment so far?
Robert Marion: Winning the US Cup Triple Crown pro men 2012 or losing 110lbs. I go back and forth between the two.
About.com: How do you deal with the physical and emotional stress of racing?
Robert Marion: I've never been one to have big issues with stress, emotional or physical. I just keep focused on the future and what I can do to continue my improvements. I perform well under additional stress/pressure; I use it as fuel. I also have good support from my wife, which makes everything easier, and great support from sponsors with the best equipment.
About.com: What does a typical day of training consist of?
Robert Marion: Two - four hours of zone 1-2 riding with specific intervals taking up 10-120 minutes of that time. My coach and I try to stay focused on the goals while working on my weaknesses.
About.com: How do you stay fit through the off season?
Robert Marion: What off season? I move directly from mountain biking to cyclocross, then directly from cyclocross back to mountain biking. I haven't spent more than five days without riding since I started riding at the end of 2004.
About.com: Do you have advice for mountain bikers who are just getting started?
Robert Marion: Don't get discouraged. At times it will be very hard and you will want to quit, but we all had those times(still do). Keep pushing forward. When (not if) you fall down, get up quickly, let the blood run and push forward. Challenge yourself. If its not hurting, you're not challenging yourself enough. Rewards will come if you stick to it.
About.com: Feel free to include anything else!
Robert Marion: When I graduated high school in 2000, I weighed 250lbs and was recruited as an offensive lineman for d1,d2and d3 colleges. I didn't even know there was such a thing as bike racing. I started riding in 2004 to lose weight. I was tired of being fat! Keep your options open all throughout life. You never know when your path may fork. Be ready for a journey.