Meet Drake Deuel, the New King of the Strava KOM

This story was initially posted by VeloNews.


Drake Deuel’s postcollegiate route could have been relatively crystal clear: work as a application engineer while schooling for a spot on the U.S. Olympic rowing group.

Now, as of a month back, the 22-yr outdated Harvard grad is a complete-time Strava KOM hunter who options to go again to work in six months. I have my doubts.

On March four, Deuel smashed Mike Woods’s eight-yr-outdated KOM on the Haleakala ‘World’s Longest Paved Climb’ Strava phase on the Hawaiian island of Maui by 3 minutes. A handful of weeks just before that, he sustained a 430-watt exertion for 17 minutes to take the Piuma road climb KOM in Southern California from Phil Gaimon. 

That was the day following he concluded an eight-month internship as a application engineer at Zwift.

So why is Deuel, who does not have any own sponsors and isn’t earning any income by riding his bicycle, having the future six months to see how quite a few other records he can split?

“It is a way to get awareness, to get recognized,” the 22-yr outdated informed VeloNews. “Especially with no racing, if I want men and women to see the health that I have there’s not a large amount else that I can do other than smash some KOMs.”

Row Your Boat

Deuel put in eight several years as a competitive rower until eventually the coronavirus pandemic abruptly ended his season—and properly, his rowing career—in March 2020. He was scarcely into his junior yr at Harvard (and just again from the Maui trip that would inspire his Haleakala KOM a yr later on) just before he was despatched house to Dallas. He didn’t know it then, but the day he still left campus would be the last day he was in a boat.

Deuel informed me that at just one time he experienced aspirations to attempt and make it to the Olympics as a rower, so I wondered if he was crushed to have his profession ended so abruptly by a thing so out of his manage.

“I loved rowing, and I consider I received a ton out of it, but rowing is more complicated following an academic placing, in which it’s more durable to come across a group, and a large amount of the price is in the group part,” he reported. “People describe biking as a group sport, but rowing is a lot, a lot more so. So with no that part, you’re just rowing by oneself.”

Deuel (third from right) rowing on the starboard side for Harvard during the Head of the Charles Regatta
Deuel (3rd from suitable) rowing on the starboard side for Harvard during the Head of the Charles Regatta (Picture: Courtesy Drake Deuel)

Luckily, Deuel experienced uncovered that he loved biking suitable all around the time he entered higher education. In point, while the school yr was committed to the boat, summers were for the bicycle.

Multiple rowers have crossed around to biking and thrived, between them Olympic champion Rebecca Romero, as properly as German rider Jason Osborn, the reigning UCI e-sporting activities world champion. Deuel experienced some rowing achievements that hinted at opportunity successes on the bicycle: in 2018, he established two world records on the Concept2 indoor rowing equipment in the ten,000-kilometer and 50 %-marathon distances.

When I questioned Deuel to ID himself in a picture he despatched of his group rowing in the Head of the Charles Regatta, he reported that he is the just one in 3-seat, which is thought of the “dumb muscle” seat for men and women who are seriously strong but not as technically proficient.” 

“So I realized my health translated properly to biking,” he reported. “But it’s a issue of receiving out on the road and actually mastering about biking, so that even if you have the foundation health, you can build more.”

Ride Your Bike

Luckily, in addition to his physiologic affinity for it, Deuel reported he also uncovered biking to be seriously pleasurable.

“Just just before freshman yr of higher education, I was invited by a shortly-to-be classmate to take a biking holiday in Switzerland for ten days,” he reported. “I did that, and the initially day I received there was the initially time I ever clipped into a road bicycle. We went for a complete day trip all around Geneva and into France and again, I crashed six times, and decided that I loved it. Much less than a yr later on, I bought my initially road bicycle.”

Then, during his summer time breaks from school, Deuel rode more. Right after his freshman yr, he raced in New England for a month and a 50 %. Right after his sophomore yr, he took a trip to Colorado and did the Mount Evans Hill Climb, finishing 3 minutes driving EF Training-Nippo’s Lachlan Morton. Simply because riding up just one fourteener wasn’t sufficient, he pedaled up Pikes Peak, far too. That journey turned into a various kind of race.

“It was the initially KOM looking I ever did,” Deuel reported. “I consider the motive I went for it is there was a previous rower at major of the leaderboard that I required to take down.”

Deuel was however rowing at Harvard, but bikes were starting to be more than just a side hustle.

In the fall of his junior yr, Deuel read about Zwift Academy, the expertise ID method that the on the web-racing platform has hosted considering that 2016. He signed up and built it to the semifinals. That was not the only achievement of the method, having said that. Right after he’d accomplished the Academy, Zwift CEO Eric Min’s secretary reached out to Deuel, inquiring him if they could meet on Harvard’s campus just before the getaway split.

“I gave them my résumé at that issue,” he reported. “Of training course there was no way I could have expected the remarkable increase in acceptance of Zwift then.”

Deuel landed the internship at Zwift it was meant to be a buffer concerning his junior and senior several years of higher education. Then COVID-19 canceled in-person lessons, and Deuel put in the months main up to the internship at house in Dallas. He also understood he experienced sufficient credits to graduate early, so in May, he experienced a diploma and a month just before his internship—and postcollegiate life—began.

“I borrowed my dad’s van, drove from Dallas west, and managed to take some massive KOMs from Phil [Gaimon] in L.A.,” Deuel reported. “That was when I seriously begun receiving into it.”

Back again to Existence, Back again to Reality

Deuel came again from the mountainous landscapes of his road trip to a massive array of laptop screens. His internship at Zwift commenced in late June, and for the reason that he’d concluded early at Harvard, he was able to stretch it out virtually eight months, until eventually last February.

When you work from home and you work for Zwift
When you work from house and you work for Zwift (Picture: Courtesy Drake Deuel)

He reported that the experience was priceless.

“As far as mastering time management, own properly-remaining, mental well being, I uncovered a a lot more balanced technique than what I experienced in higher education. The framework of that time certainly aided me move forward,” he reported. 

At Zwift, Deuel dove into numerous features of the recreation. His initially venture was to assistance build a perform that would remove uncooperative gamers. He was also component of a venture that made important recreation-participate in features, like in-recreation steering, and he built the calibration resource for the Sterzo, an electronic steering system built by Elite.

“And at conclusion of the internship was some more inside tooling that I can’t disclose suitable now,” Deuel reported.

Deuel reported that Zwift was generous with his request to take six months off concerning the internship and the complete-time career he was provided as a application engineer. Right after hearing the story of his Haleakala KOM and on the lookout at his other Strava accolades, I questioned Deuel irrespective of whether he thought cycling could come to be his complete-time career.

“Well, I was just about on a conventional advancement route,” he reported. “Last spring, suitable just before [COVID-19], I was supposed to guest-journey with Aevolo at Redlands and then do Gila with CS Velo.”

Despite the fact that he’s not unfamiliar with executing at a extremely higher level and placing records, Deuel does not consider that his KOM venture will land him on a pro group. Now, he rides for the novice-advancement squad Group California, which tries to assistance proficient riders advance from the junior ranks to the pro level. He options to return to Zwift in September, probably even in person in Los Angeles. Nevertheless, when I questioned him just one more time if his new celebrity could be an indication that a various pathway was presenting by itself, he reported he was open up to the idea.

“I consider United states Biking just announced that pro nationals is again on in June, so which is a massive target now,” he reported. “When am I likely pro? As shortly as I gain the time demo at nationals. I just didn’t notice it could take place this shortly.”

This story was initially posted by VeloNews.

Direct Picture: Courtesy Drake Deuel