Mark Curran has always been around things with two wheels that go fast. Beginning with a lawnmower-engine-powered mini-bike at about age 8, he progressed to riding motorcycles with his father and began bike-riding in earnest at about the same time. Mark’s formative years on the bicycle were spent riding with his dad on the family’s tandem (a 40-pound Gitane battle cruiser). Twenty-mile rides progressed to 50 miles to 80 miles to 100 miles and soon the duo were riding at the front of Sunday club rides with USCF racers and doing 5-hour centuries regularly. Always competitive, the team learned how to make a tandem go fast and it was quite a sight to watch them stand up and sprint a tandem through rollers at 30+ mph. They were a fixture on group rides and could be found weekly at the local Tuesday Night World TT Championships, hammering the 10-mile course. If you think the half-point turnaround is tricky on a single bike, try it someday on a tandem.
At age 14, Mark started riding his single bike more and more and got the urge to race. Raised in a small town in Connecticut, he was fortunate that the single bike shop was extremely supportive. He joined their race team and was given a summer job in the shop. The job lasted several years, providing a way to pay for a race frame, parts, and race entries. A couple of seasons of junior racing passed without incident or notable success… but it was tremendous fun.
Mark’s earliest memory of racing is lining up at a big race in New Haven, Connecticut with Roy Knickman and a few other national-class riders. At the gun, the fast kids took off and lapped the field in very short order. It was clear to Mark at that point that while he was a solid bike rider, racing was always going to be a sporting hobby!
Mark raced sporadically during college and in 1989 relocated from New England to Utah in pursuit of a PhD in Human Genetics. His move west resulted in marriage to his wife, Jan, and corresponded perfectly to the big boom in mountain biking. When not in the laboratory, Mark could be found tearing up dirt in the Wasatch foothills or the dirt paradise of Park City, Utah. A few NORBA races were done for fun, but the big mountain bike events were forays south to Moab to ride Slickrock and a yearly trip around the White Rim trail.
Moving away from Utah, bike racing went on hold for over a decade while Mark pursued career achievements. Upon settling in New Jersey, he began riding again in earnest, quickly regaining bike fitness and started leading fast group rides each weekend. At the same time, Jan became serious about riding – she got fast and was invited to join the Riptide ladies team.
After a season watching her race, Mark decided if Jan was going to race, then he should too. After a season of crits and road races and getting the feel again, he discovered the NJBA TT Cup. Always a TT nut, it was only natural to go all-in for the Cup series, which has become his focus for every season since 2010… A smaller rider with a flat power curve and bike-handling skills honed over four decades of riding bikes, Mark excels at harder races with lots of turns and technical features. The longer and steeper the hills, the better Mark does.
Mark joined the Elite Endurance gang in 2010 and credits Kenny with providing practical and strong planning and race guidance. Mark’s TT performances have gone from mid-pack finishes to regularly finishing on the podium and even taking the occasional win. In 2010, he finished 4th overall in cat 4/5 for the Cup Series and in 2011 he came 2nd overall.
Mark is a 45+ rider and a Cat-4 on the road. He is a founding member of the Knapps’ Racing Team in Lawrenceville, NJ.
“Started full-time training with Coach Ken in 2011 and our collaboration has produced a number of wins, podiums, and TT PRs. Working with Ken has brought my racing to a new level with measurable improvements each season and a long-term strategy to reach my cycling objectives. Thanks, Ken!”
Winter Weight: 135 lbs
Target Race Weight: 132 lbs.
Birthdate: November 25, 1966
Childhood Heroes: “I have always looked up to my father who was extremely hard-working and dedicated to his family. We didn’t have a lot but we had what we needed. My uncle Joe was a PhD chemist who inspired me to study molecular biology and contribute to the sciences.”
Hobbies and Interests: “In addition to a long-term interest in bicycle technology and aerodynamics, I hold the highest level Amateur Radio Operator [HAM] license available in the United States and have operated from foreign locations, including Aruba and the Galapagos Islands. I am also a high-level ten-pin bowler and have competed in several Professional Bowling Association events over the years.”
Favorite Movies: “The Great Escape, The Professional, The Mechanic, anything Monty Python and anything with Terminators.”
Musical Tastes: “I’ll listen to anything except opera. Favorite artists include, Lyle Lovett, John Hiatt, Allison Krause, Neil Young, Mark Knopfler, The Beastie Boys, Sir Mix-a-Lot, Ludacris, U2, and the G3 guitarist shows.”
Favorite TV Shows: “I do not watch much TV but tune in nightly to Jeopardy and have the DVR programmed to record anything ‘cycling.’ I particularly enjoy watching cyclocross World Cup events on Universal.”
Favorite Meal: “Eggs, potatoes, and toast.”
Favorite Breakfast Cereal: “Oatmeal made with water and a bit of crushed walnuts.”
Favorite Pre-Race Meal: “Coffee, half a bagel, and a couple of gels.”
Favorite Ice Cream Flavor: “Peanut Butter Cup.”
Childhood Dream: “To do something useful for humankind. This is why I entered the medical field as a researcher.”
First Car: “1960’s Dodge camper van with pop-up top that the family had for years. The slant, six-motor was in the cabin between the driver and passenger seats. The starter solenoid was shot, so I would start it by taking a big screwdriver and crossing the terminals. Worked fine but freaked out the parents or whatever young lady I was dating that week. Note to kids – parents of young ladies have an intuitive distrust of young men with camper vans. My first cool car was a Fiat Super Brave that was fast as stink and looked Euro cool.”
First Job: “Paper route, and then bike-shop job. I’ve worked in a pizza house and spent a couple summers farming during college. I currently work in the pharmaceutical industry in drug development.”
Favorite Vacation Spot: Park City, Utah. Also have enjoyed Kona, Hawaii, Yosemite National Park, Aruba, the Galapagos, and Antigua.”
Pre-Race Feeling: “Anticipation and excitement. I used to get nervous, but at the level I race at it’s a worthless emotion so I have gotten past it.”
Early Racing Memory: “Getting dropped in my first crit, then finishing mid-pack the second time out. Third race, I helped drag back a break and got a top-ten. During the second year of racing, I remember doing my first 25-mile TT. As a 15-year-old back in the day before aero bikes and computers, pacing for 25 miles was HARD. I did about 64 minutes on a road bike with downtube shifters.”
Funny Racing Memory: “At a criterium in New London, Connecticut, as a junior I was feeling great. Rode at the front all race. The course had a short steep climb, a 90-degree corner, and a 400-meter sprint to the line. I came into the bottom of the hill hot, drilled the climb, and crested the hill alone. Made the corner and sprinted for the line and what should have been my first win – except there was still one to go! I still recall the announcer saying, “… and we have young Mark Curran from ECBC who has blasted off the front on the hill and is looking to hold off the field for the last lap…” They caught me, of course.”
Greatest Racing Moment: “Watching Jan win her New Jersey State Championship. Kenny coached her for fitness and I spent the race calling out tactics from the sideline. Jan unleashed a great sprint and took the finale over several stronger riders who raced ‘less smart’ that day.”
Best Race Results: “Winning the NJ State Team Time Trial with Bill and Toby in 2010, and then winning the Flanders TT solo in 2011. We spent a year planning our TTT win, making several practice runs, discussing strategy, and then getting the job done on race day, putting in not only the 4/5 winning time but one of the top two-lap times of the day. My Flanders win was wonderful and reflects my love of climbing and technical courses along with fantastic preparation and planning by Kenny Lundgren. Winning Flanders was a key goal for 2011 and my first time on the top step.”
Most Painful Moment In Life: “Although we’ve lost close friends and family over the years, they were of advanced age. We count our blessings in this regard.”
Worst Injury from Racing: “My handling skills and some dumb luck have kept me out of large crashes on the road. On the dirt, I fall regularly and hard and have bashed all sorts of soft-tissue but not yet broken anything. Knock on wood! I struggled with piriformis syndrome through the 2010 and 2011 seasons, but thanks to a lot of help and great medical care from Pam Wilson it is now under control and I can train and race pain-free.”
Closest Racing Friends: “My teammates and the NJBA TT Cup crew. I greatly enjoy training rides with nearby teammates and fast men Brian Griffith, Bill Sasiela and Toby Hanna. Training with these guys is like motorpacing for me!”
Funniest Racer: “Since naming myself is not allowed, I must select good friend and killer Cat-3 racer Darth Firthious.”
Favorite Race: “Flanders and Chatsworth. Although I do very few criteriums now, there is a fondness for the Zeppelin Crit and the now-defunct Cyclonaut Racers Criterium in Stafford Springs, Connecticut.”
Embarrassing Racing Memory: “Breaking away in the New Britain road race, getting caught, then giving up and dropping out. At the car, I threw my helmet in disgust and anger. A short lecture by my dad and I have never done anything like that again.”
Toughest Competitors: “In the cat 4/5 TT Cup for the last two seasons it’s been an ongoing battle with Roy, Mike, and Erick. These guys are committed and bring their best week after week. I admire the tenacity of fellow Elite Endurance racers Chris Fritz and Ryan Pettit. Kenny is tough as nails and the only guy I know who wants wind and rain on race day.”
Favorite Athletes to Watch: “Pro downhill mountain-bike racers and World Cup cyclo-cross. These guys have mad skills.”
Qualities You Most Admire in People: “Honesty, integrity, and tenacity. Bring your best to everything you do and keep your head high.”
What You Love Most About Riding Your Bicycle: “Being outside, being fit, and riding with friends.”