Westwood Velo’s Mike Gisler is one of the region’s top time trialists. Formerly a bunch sprinter, he has matured into a specialist in the Race of Truth, winning the 2006 and 2007 NJ State Time Trial Cup Championship – along with winning the 2007 New Jersey State Time Trial Championships! He has also kept some of that powerful sprint, using it to full effect to win the spring epic race Battenkill-Roubaix.
As a kid, Mike was on a bicycle every day, but it wasn’t a road bike – he was building ramps out of old refrigerators with his friends and doing suicide leaps on his BMX, seeing who could jump the furthest. However, once he obtained his driver’s license (and started smoking cigarettes), he didn’t touch a bike again until his late-20s when he bought a mountain bike just to, as Mike says, “Get in shape!” But in short time the bike was collecting dust in the garage…
During the winter of 2001, Mike had his driver’s license suspended. Instead of relying on rides or mass transit, he decided to get around by bike. He remembers riding that heavy slug of a mountain bike to and from work every day, coughing constantly because of his previous smoking habit. But in time his lungs got stronger, as did his legs, and he was beginning to commute with ease, chopping his ride time down.
When he got his license back in the spring of 2001, he had the cycling bug and bought his first road bike, a $900 truck Giant, triple chainring and all. He started doing club group rides. At first he was getting dropped regularly, but within a year, he was the one dropping hammers.
By the following year, Mike was in the best shape of his life. He was now doing group rides with racers and trying to compete with them. Mike says, “On that Wednesday Night Ride I would get pounded into the ground, routinely getting dropped, but I kept coming back…” In his first race, a training criterium, he finished near the front.
A few days later, he won the Cat-5 Park Ridge Cycling Classic, attacking on the first lap and staying away. He was forever hooked.
Since then, Mike Gisler has won the 2003 Pete Siena Memorial (in a race-long break with Ken Harris), Rockleigh Crits, numerous time trials, and the epic Battenkill-Roubaix.
Height: 5’ 7”
December Weight: 153 lbs.
Race Weight: 138 lbs.
Birthdate, Location: Westwood, NJ.
Childhood Heroes: “Batman, Superman.”
Hobbies and Interests: “I like to ski. But cycling is really my only hobby…”
Favorite Movies: “The Matrix, Pulp Fiction.”
Musical Tastes: “Rock, metal, alternative. Metallica, Creed, Distrurbed, Nickelback.”
Favorite TV Shows: “CSI, Lost, Heroes.”
Favorite Meal: “Spaghetti.”
Favorite Breakfast Cereal: “Honey Nut Cheerios.”
Favorite Pre-Race Meal: “I kinda just eat what’s in the fridge in the morning.”
Favorite Ice Cream Flavor: “Starbucks Mocha with Chocolate Chunks.”
Childhood Dream: “I wished I could fly or stop time.”
First Car: “1978 Chevy Malibu. Mega piece of shit.”
First Job: “I delivered the Community Life newspaper once a week. I was about eleven years old and hated every minute of it, packing about 200 papers in plastic bags. Then my father would drive my brother and I around, dropping us each off with a wagon full, then pick us up when we were done. It felt like it took all night. I remember packing them Tuesday nights and delivering on Wednesdays. All for like five bucks…
“My first real job was a busboy at a restaurant. I was fourteen. Isn’t that illegal? I worked about twenty hours a week and remember making $60 a week. At the time, I liked that!”
Favorite Vacation Spot: “Anywhere but work.”
Pre-Race Feeling: “Anxious.”
Early Racing Memory: “Winning my first race at Park Ridge.”
Funny Racing Memory: “I was in the Cat-3 Fitchburg Road Race. I was getting hammered each time down the super fast 60mph descent, finding myself at the back of the pack. I would have to bridge back to the field at the bottom. The last time down was no different. I was off the back of the field, but then I see a rider come blasting out of the woods on the side of the road. I won’t mention what team he rode for! And he joined our field. This guy just took a free lap! Some other riders saw this and with good right they where pissed! I just laughed. I rode next to him the whole way up the final climb and all I could do is wonder how many laps did this kid actually ride? Three? Two? One?”
Greatest Racing Moment: “On my son’s birthday, I won the Flanders Time Trial. It was my first Overall win at a time trial. I had come close a few times, taking second at Sandy Hook and High Point, but I have to admit that first place feels much better than second.”
Most Painful Moment in Life: “Losing my Mother.”
Worst Injury from Racing: “I broke my collarbone while racing the AT&T race a few years back. But my worst crash was at Mengoni in Central Park. In pouring rain while approaching the finish on Horseshit Alley, I was racing towards the front – I wanted to win the race! – and suddenly I was going off the road at 30 mph, straight into a tree. I flipped over. I got up dizzy. People looked at me like I was crazy. I ended up walking my bike to the finish, then driving myself to the hospital where I stayed overnight! In the end, my entire body was sore as hell and I came away with a nasty hematoma on my ankle.”
Closest Racing Friends: “Paul Bertinato, Espen Kateraas, Jeff Cordisco, Ken Lundgren, Paolo Zenoni.”
Funniest Racer: “Rob Woudenberg.” Favorite Race: “Battenkill-Roubaix.”
Embarrassing Racing Memory: “This was before I started racing. I was on a Wednesday Night Group Ride and remember stopping at a light and being so dizzy that I fell over because I couldn’t unclip.”
Toughest Competitors: “Ken Harris, Matt Howard. I’m not mentioning any of my Westwood teammates!”
Favorite Athletes to Watch: “The New York Yankees.”
Last Halloween Costume: “I was a bum – in my teens! I told you I was a bum!”
Qualities You Most Admire in People: “Honesty and determination.”
What You Love Most About Riding Your Bicycle: “On my TT bike, man I just like going FAST!!! I’m an adrenaline junkie, I suppose. More speed, more speed…”