When you think of Eatonton and Putnam County, you may not think of it as a potential training ground for cycling athletes, but in fact, that’s what it was this summer for Argentinian cyclist Mateo Marasas.
Over the summer, Marasas trained with Nuovo Corso bike shop owners Don Walker and Jim Stone to improve his stamina so he can make the switch from BMX cycling to track cycling.
The skill set required for BMX cycling transfers well to track cycling, Marasas said. The difference between the two is simple: BMX stands for Bicycle Motocross, and cyclists compete in races or freestyle competitions, often on dirt trails full of bumps and hills. Track cyclists race on banked tracks or velodromes.
“I’m a really powerful athlete I would say, but my endurance is not as good, so I have been working on that a lot,” Marasas said. “A BMX race is 30 seconds, and now my longest event is one minute, and that difference of 30 seconds, if you don’t have enough endurance, you feel it a lot.”
Marasas’ connection to Eatonton was through Walker, who is a sponsor at Lindsey Wilson College in Kentucky, where Marasas studies sports management. The two had planned to work on transitioning Marasas into track cycling last year but were unable due to COVID. Once races resumed, the door opened for them to start training.
“I have been doing a lot of road riding because it’s … the easiest way around Eatonton, because we don’t have a velodrome, and Jim [Stone] has been taking me to Atlanta to practice in the velodrome two or three times a week,” Marasas said. “Plus he was taking me to races, so he’s been a huge help with Don Walker.”
Marasas enjoyed his time in Eatonton, saying he liked that it was small and quiet, and it was good for cycling because of its many side roads that aren’t full of traffic.
Over the summer, Marasas competed in several races, including one in Rock Hill, South Carolina before he headed back to Kentucky. The Rock Hill race was a sprint tournament at the velodrome, which according to Stone, Marasas won.
For future goals, Marasas aims for track cycling in the Paris Olympics in 2024, and of course, to graduate college.
“I want to try to stay in the U.S., working here, so I will need to find a way to combine sports and work in order to stay here,” Marasas said. “But these … are my biggest goals: the Olympics in 2024, find a way to stay in the U.S. related to cycling and to be able to keep riding and keep getting better in my sport.”