Stuart Lamp raced at the professional level in cycling for about nine years. Now, his job is to promote the sport and organize rides, including one in his hometown this month.
“The sport has been a big part of my life,” said Lamp, a Decatur resident who is East Coast regional manager for USA Cycling. “To be able to give back to it and be responsible for it growing in various areas of the country is something I really enjoy.”
USA Cycling is the governing body for competitive cycling in the United States, including BMX, mountain bike, road and track.
“We want to keep delivering events to develop the next wave of Olympic athletes and to give older athletes a way to reach their personal best,” said Lamp, organizer of the Red Kettle Ride in Decatur on Sept. 23. He enjoys seeing participation in cycling across age groups, including those who get involved in the sport after college, when they’re settling into a career and even later.
One example, he said, is the wife of a local longtime racer, who’s in her 40s, who decided to try racing for herself this summer and has been racing ever since, Lamp said. “Whether they’re cycling or running marathons or 5Ks, people want to challenge themselves and get healthy.”
Lamp, 34, has 15 years of experience racing mountain bikes, road races, criteriums, stage races and time trials. He started racing mountain bikes in the fall of 2000 when he was a high school senior and started winning regional events in the Southeast. A 2001 graduate of Decatur High School, he reached the professional level for mountain bike racing just before heading to college at Lees-McRae College in Banner Elk, North Carolina.
He joined the school’s Collegiate Cycling Team, one of the country’s top collegiate cycling teams, and was the individual winner of the Southeastern Collegiate Cycling Conference in 2002. He then switched to road racing and, the next year, won the individual conference title for road racing. Through 2005, he was one of four members of the team that won the Team Time Trial National Championship. After that, his biggest wins were a couple of state championship titles in Alabama and a few local races in 2006.
After graduating from Lees-McRae in 2006, Lamp returned to Decatur to take a job as coordinator of special events with the Decatur-Morgan County Convention and Visitors Bureau. In less than a year, USA Cycling contacted him to see if he was interested in working with the organization.
“At the time, I wasn’t looking for another job,” Lamp said. “I was happy at the CVB.” But he interviewed with the organization, and, within a couple of days, received a job offer. He started in 2007 as regional coordinator for mountain bike racing for the East Coast, and later was named regional coordinator for the Southeast to oversee all aspects of competitive cycling in the area.
Lamp is able to work from home for the Colorado Springs-based USA Cycling. “It does give me a chance to be with my kids and not miss out on opportunities to be around them,” he said. “I can’t imagine working in an office and traveling like I do and being able to have the relationship I have with my kids.”
He and his wife, Whitney, have a 9-year-old son, who has taken up cycling, and a 5-year-old daughter.
A USA Cycling Level 2 Certified Coach, Lamp is also an associate coach with Portland-based Wenzel Coaching. “I’ve coached racers, runners and triathletes, mostly (athletes in) endurance sports,” he said.
John Ortiz, of Madison, was one of Lamp’s clients for two years. Lamp put together a training plan for Ortiz, who had been cycling for about three years.
“I’m competitive by nature and I wanted to be the best I could be,” Ortiz said. He started training in October 2015, following Lamp’s plan every day for four to five months. “My goal was to be faster and stronger and he delivered that in spades.” And, Ortiz has lost 50 pounds since he started cycling.
Ortiz doesn’t race competitively, but he does ride with a group of racers on their weekly training rides. Ortiz's biggest single accomplishment came when he was part of an elite cycling group that Lamp assembled to ride 100 miles in under four hours. “I was able to stay with the group for half the ride and I finished in under 4½ hours. That’s amazing,” Ortiz said. “Stuart is a super nice guy, very knowledgeable and very good at what he does.”
“I haven’t raced, at least bike racing, in recent years,” Lamp said. His last event was in 2012 at the Elite National Criterium Championship in Augusta, Georgia. Instead, he’s been running the past couple of years because it’s more manageable with his heavy travel schedule and still satisfies his competitive streak.
“This was really my first year to train and do what I needed to do to succeed,” said Lamp, who ran a half-marathon in February. “I’m getting ready to run my first marathon, the Rocket City Marathon, in Huntsville in December. That’s my goal.”