Drew Gonzales of Casa Grande High School rides for Team Swift and is in training for races all over California. Press Democrat photo by Jeff Kan Lee

 

By BOB NORBERG
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Cycling takes up a large part of Drew Gonzales’ life. He competes in races most weeks and hopes to qualify to race internationally, a dream of his.
“I am looking forward to a race in Canada this summer,” said Gonzales, a Casa Grande High School junior. “I have two teammates this year who were in Europe racing with a national team. It exposed them to a higher level you can’t get here in America.”
Gonzales is in his second year riding with Team Swift, a Sonoma County development team that is meant to be a training ground for budding racers.
“In the short amount of time he has been riding, he has moved up in the ranks quickly and qualified for the national championships and finished 12th, which is good for only racing a few years,” said his coach, Laura Charameda. “He is on an elite team now that travels around U.S. He will be returning next year and be a captain.”
Gonzales said he spends 15 to 18 hours a week in training, on top of racing and spending time in hotel rooms traveling.
“I will normally do four or five weekends of racing and take one off, but then I am still training,” Gonzales said. “I am afraid that someone else has trained harder and is faster. It is fear that drives me to train.”
This summer, Gonzales will compete in the nationals again in Augusta, Ga., and will attend a training camp in Arizona, where he will contend for a spot on a national team and to participate in a race in Canada.
As focused as he is on racing and as successful as he has been, however, Gonzales sees college and not professional racing in his future.
Gonzales, who was on the soccer team his freshman year before taking up cycling, takes two Advanced Placement classes and one honors class, tutors students in math twice a week and plays saxophone in the school band.
“If I wasn’t so good at school, I think I would,” Gonzales said of a pro career. “I think I will keep racing when I get to college, collegiate racing, which is well put together. I don’t want to focus on going pro, it is such a tough field.”
His plans are to attend UC Santa Barbara and major in engineering.
“I am looking to stay in California, and I am looking to go into engineering. It is important to do something I love,” Gonzales said. “I think I will have more of an idea after I take some more classes.”
Balancing school and cycling is difficult, he said, but he has learned a lot with Team Swift, including teamwork and leadership qualities.
“I got into cycling through a friend who rode,” Gonzales said. “When I was in 13 or 14, my friend took me on a ride and it was the most painful thing ever. The first thing he did was take me to a hill. I didn’t make it up. But it is so much fun. It never gets easier, it just gets faster. You just push yourself into the next heart-rate zone.”

You can reach Staff Writer Bob Norberg at 521-5206 or bob.norberg@pressdemocrat.com.

NAME Drew Gonzales
Age: 17
Birthplace: Petaluma
Lives with: Parents, Andy and Cynthia Gonzales; brother, Dean; sister Lauren
What’s in his iPod: Dubstep
Favorite hobby: Cycling
Favorite TV show: “The League”
Favorite food: Chinese
Quote: “As normal as a bike racer can get, that is me. I have done my best to balance my time to community service, school and sports.”