Meet Drake Deuel, the New King of the Strava KOM

James J. Latham

This tale was initially released by VeloNews.


Drake Deuel’s postcollegiate route could have been relatively very clear: do the job as a computer software engineer when schooling for a location on the U.S. Olympic rowing staff.

Now, as of a month in the past, the 22-yr old Harvard grad is a entire-time Strava KOM hunter who designs to go back to do the job in 6 months. I have my doubts.

On March four, Deuel smashed Mike Woods’s 8-yr-old KOM on the Haleakala ‘World’s Longest Paved Climb’ Strava phase on the Hawaiian island of Maui by 3 minutes. A number of months ahead of that, he sustained a 430-watt effort and hard work for 17 minutes to take the Piuma highway climb KOM in Southern California from Phil Gaimon. 

That was the day right after he completed an 8-month internship as a computer software engineer at Zwift.

So why is Deuel, who does not have any individual sponsors and is not producing any cash by driving his bicycle, getting the next 6 months to see how numerous other documents he can break?

“It is a way to get consideration, to get seen,” the 22-yr old explained to VeloNews. “Especially with no racing, if I want persons to see the exercise that I have there’s not a ton else that I can do other than smash some KOMs.”

Row Your Boat

Deuel used 8 several years as a competitive rower until eventually the coronavirus pandemic abruptly finished his season—and efficiently, his rowing career—in March 2020. He was scarcely into his junior yr at Harvard (and just back from the Maui excursion that would inspire his Haleakala KOM a yr later on) ahead of he was despatched house to Dallas. He did not know it then, but the day he left campus would be the final day he was in a boat.

Deuel explained to me that at a person time he experienced aspirations to attempt and make it to the Olympics as a rower, so I puzzled if he was crushed to have his job finished so abruptly by a thing so out of his management.

“I loved rowing, and I consider I obtained a ton out of it, but rowing is much more tough right after an academic placing, exactly where it is more difficult to locate a staff, and a ton of the value is in the staff component,” he reported. “People explain cycling as a staff activity, but rowing is considerably, considerably much more so. So with no that component, you are just rowing by by yourself.”

Deuel (third from ideal) rowing on the starboard side for Harvard for the duration of the Head of the Charles Regatta (Photograph: Courtesy Drake Deuel)

Fortunately, Deuel experienced found that he loved cycling ideal close to the time he entered faculty. In truth, when the college yr was dedicated to the boat, summers had been for the bicycle.

Various rowers have crossed around to cycling and thrived, amongst them Olympic champion Rebecca Romero, as perfectly as German rider Jason Osborn, the reigning UCI e-sports activities earth champion. Deuel experienced some rowing achievements that hinted at prospective successes on the bicycle: in 2018, he established two earth documents on the Concept2 indoor rowing equipment in the ten,000-kilometer and half-marathon distances.

When I questioned Deuel to ID himself in a image he despatched of his staff rowing in the Head of the Charles Regatta, he reported that he is the a person in 3-seat, which is viewed as the “dumb muscle” seat for persons who are truly strong but not as technically proficient.” 

“So I knew my exercise translated perfectly to cycling,” he reported. “But it is a make a difference of receiving out on the highway and essentially discovering about cycling, so that even if you have the base exercise, you can create much more.”

Ride Your Bicycle

Fortunately, in addition to his physiologic affinity for it, Deuel reported he also discovered cycling to be truly pleasurable.

“Just ahead of freshman yr of faculty, I was invited by a soon-to-be classmate to take a cycling family vacation in Switzerland for ten days,” he reported. “I did that, and the to start with day I obtained there was the to start with time I at any time clipped into a highway bicycle. We went for a entire day excursion close to Geneva and into France and back, I crashed 6 occasions, and made the decision that I loved it. Fewer than a yr later on, I bought my to start with highway bicycle.”

Then, for the duration of his summertime breaks from college, Deuel rode much more. After his freshman yr, he raced in New England for a month and a half. After his sophomore yr, he took a excursion to Colorado and did the Mount Evans Hill Climb, finishing 3 minutes guiding EF Instruction-Nippo’s Lachlan Morton. Due to the fact driving up a person fourteener wasn’t ample, he pedaled up Pikes Peak, much too. That trip turned into a different kind of race.

“It was the to start with KOM hunting I at any time did,” Deuel reported. “I consider the purpose I went for it is there was a previous rower at top rated of the leaderboard that I needed to take down.”

Deuel was nonetheless rowing at Harvard, but bikes had been turning into much more than just a side hustle.

In the drop of his junior yr, Deuel listened to about Zwift Academy, the talent ID system that the on line-racing system has hosted due to the fact 2016. He signed up and manufactured it to the semifinals. That was not the only good results of the system, on the other hand. After he’d done the Academy, Zwift CEO Eric Min’s secretary reached out to Deuel, asking him if they could satisfy on Harvard’s campus ahead of the holiday break break.

“I gave them my résumé at that position,” he reported. “Of course there was no way I could have predicted the extraordinary raise in recognition of Zwift then.”

Deuel landed the internship at Zwift it was meant to be a buffer involving his junior and senior several years of faculty. Then COVID-19 canceled in-human being courses, and Deuel used the months foremost up to the internship at house in Dallas. He also recognized he experienced ample credits to graduate early, so in May well, he experienced a diploma and a month ahead of his internship—and postcollegiate life—began.

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

Back to Daily life, Back to Truth

Deuel came back from the mountainous landscapes of his highway excursion to a large array of laptop or computer screens. His internship at Zwift commenced in late June, and mainly because he’d completed early at Harvard, he was equipped to extend it out almost 8 months, until eventually final February.

When you work from home and you work for Zwift
When you do the job from house and you do the job for Zwift (Photograph: Courtesy Drake Deuel)

He reported that the working experience was invaluable.

“As considerably as discovering time management, individual perfectly-currently being, psychological wellbeing, I discovered a considerably much more balanced solution than what I experienced in faculty. The composition of that time absolutely assisted me move forward,” he reported. 

At Zwift, Deuel dove into numerous aspects of the game. His to start with task was to help create a perform that would take out uncooperative players. He was also section of a task that made key game-participate in aspects, like in-game steering, and he designed the calibration tool for the Sterzo, an digital steering unit manufactured by Elite.

“And at close of the internship was some much more inside tooling that I just cannot disclose ideal now,” Deuel reported.

Deuel reported that Zwift was generous with his request to take 6 months off involving the internship and the entire-time task he was available as a computer software engineer. After hearing the tale of his Haleakala KOM and on the lookout at his other Strava accolades, I questioned Deuel irrespective of whether he thought cycling could turn out to be his entire-time profession.

“Well, I was pretty much on a standard enhancement route,” he reported. “Last spring, ideal ahead of [COVID-19], I was intended to visitor-trip with Aevolo at Redlands and then do Gila with CS Velo.”

Although he’s not unfamiliar with executing at a incredibly substantial level and placing documents, Deuel does not consider that his KOM task will land him on a pro staff. At this time, he rides for the newbie-enhancement squad Group California, which attempts to help talented riders advance from the junior ranks to the pro level. He designs to return to Zwift in September, possibly even in person in Los Angeles. Nevertheless, when I questioned him a person much more time if his recent movie star could be an indication that a different pathway was presenting alone, he reported he was open up to the idea.

“I consider United states of america Biking just declared that pro nationals is back on in June, so that is a significant intention now,” he reported. “When am I heading pro? As soon as I get the time trial at nationals. I just did not recognize it could take place this soon.”

This tale was initially released by VeloNews.

Lead Photograph: Courtesy Drake Deuel

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