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Posted on Feb 14th 2017
In past months we've highlighted National Champions, pro riders, and record holders as the Athlete of the Month. The blog is a little different for February. Drew Miller and his wife, Marla, started N Plus One Apparel in 2015 while living in Houston, TX. Since Drew is a celebrating a birthday this month, he gets to answer a few questions.
1. Where did you grow up?
The small town of Sulphur in Southwest Louisiana. When people hear that you are from Louisiana, they ask if you’re from New Orleans. But our town was actually closer to Houston than New Orleans (but I was still brought up as a Saints fan).
2. Did you play sports when you were growing up? Tell us about your position and what you loved about it.
I started playing soccer at the age of 5 and completely fell in love with the sport. I ended up as a goalkeeper despite not having a bit of a height disadvantage. Over time and with experience, I learned how to play angles and read the offensive players to be able to be in the right time at the right place. I also worked on plyometric and speed drills during the summers. I’d take a bag of orange cones out into a field and work on speed, strength, and improving vertical jump. I ended up playing through high school and a few years in college before it started to feel more like a job and really wasn’t fun anymore. I still have not played in an organized soccer game since then.
3. What is your favorite food?
Pizza. For years, each Friday evening has been designated at pizza night. I usually eat as much as I possibly can. It pretty much satisfies my craving for “unhealthy” food for the week. I eat that much with the understanding that I am going to try to get out and ride the bike at least 50 miles or run at least 10 miles the next morning to try to burn some of it off.
4. When and how did you start cycling?
For about as far back as I can remember as a kid, my dad and uncle have always been into cycling. I remember taking many weekend trips to go to races and events with them ride. I always really wanted to join, but would not have been able to keep up very well on my BMX. So in my childhood, I used a bike as most kids do. It was a form of freedom. I would ride to my friends’ houses, explore trails in the woods, and take some pretty sweet jumps into the yard using a wooden ramp that my dad made for me.
A bit later in life, after I was "all grown up", gas prices approached $5/gallon. I thought it would a great way to save a few bucks by riding a bike to work. I went to the bike shop and picked up a mountain bike (since there would be lots of hopping on and off of curbs to use sidewalks on very busy roads). I realized I enjoyed riding to work so much that I started riding more just for fun after work.
So after a few years of too much beer and generally not taking very good care of myself, I decided that this would be a great way to get some exercise. It soon became clear that I “needed” a road bike (starting the cycle of my N+1). I started riding a daily 10 mile loop near my house. I would be absolutely exhausted when I would get home. Very quickly I worked my way up to 15 miles, then 20. Within about a year, I was regularly riding anywhere from 50 – 80 miles each Saturday morning along the Gulf of Mexico. It became the one thing that I looked forward to all week long. The rhythm of the pedal strokes was meditative, like my mind was subconsciously working through things on a nice long ride with a refreshed feeling by the time I got home. I got hooked on the feeling, and have remained addicted to this day.
5. You are a great runner - when did you start running?
My dad was really into running as well when I was growing up. If he had a 10k or a half marathon, I would always get to enter the 1 mile fun run. Even at 9 years old, I took it pretty seriously and wanted to do well. I rediscovered running during a particularly rainy stretch of weeks in Florida. It was way too rainy to ride the bike, so I figured I’d go for a run instead. It had probably been about 5 years since I had gone for a run so I wasn’t sure what to expect. As it turns out the bike had gotten me in pretty good condition. I just started running and before I knew it I had covered 10 miles. Once I realized that it was a pretty easy way to get a great workout rain or shine, I started running regularly.
6. What is your favorite thing to do when not working or cycling/running?
Looking at new bikes at the shop or talking to others about bikes, wheels, components, and routes. Even if I don’t “need” a new bike at the time.
7. What is the best place you've ever visited?
I moved to Pensacola, FL right after college and I have been a beach person ever since. I would sometimes spend my entire lunch hour driving to the beach and back just to be able to look at the water for a few minutes. There is a calming effect of the waves. Being near the water, saltwater in particular, I felt like I could enjoy and see things that most people were only able to experience on vacation. I really loved seeing dolphins, sharks, rays, and sea turtles. Sometimes all in the same trip.
So it is only natural that my favorite place is on the beach. I actually have 2 favorite places. One is Opal Beach. It is in the National Seashore between Pensacola Beach and Navarre Beach. There are no buildings in sight and once you park you can walk about 10 minutes and have a stretch of beach completely to yourself. The other favorite place is Bahia Honda State Park in the Florida Keys. It literally looks like a postcard or a shot from some kind of “Exotic Tropical Beaches” calendar. The coolest part is the drive on the Overseas Highway to get there. Atlantic Ocean on one side of the road and the Gulf of Mexico on the other.
8. When did you start N+1 and how did you get the idea?
We started N+1 in late 2015. I thought it would be a great way to be involved in cycling and meet others. We had the idea because there are very many companies that make kits, but not too many that made casual items and tees.
9. What are some of the things you are looking forward to for N+1 in 2017?
Looking forward to releasing some new designs and attending some different events for 2017. My favorite part of N+1 is keeping up with all of the awesome folks we’ve been able to meet over the last year. We truly enjoy seeing everyone's success and what they have going on. We’ve been able to meet and work with people of all skill levels. We have been fortunate to work with people like Tour de France veteran and Olympian, Brent Bookwalter of BMC Pro Cycling, as well as some talented and driven younger pros that are on the rise. From pros all the way to some hardcore weekend warriors and triathletes that we meet at events, it’s awesome to see the same level of passion and enjoyment that each one of them gets out of riding a bike.
10. Milk or dark chocolate?
Dark Chocolate. I think I read once that dark chocolate has antioxidants, so I’ve convinced myself that it is health food.
11. Do you have any rides or runs in particular you are looking forward to this year?
Anytime I’m able to go back home to visit Pensacola I’m always excited about riding there. Miles and miles of bike lane riding right next to the Gulf of Mexico is nice. Another ride I always look forward to is the Blue Ridge Parkway when we visit Asheville. Incredible views!
12. How many bikes do you own? Any plans for adding another +1?
Right now we have 5 bikes. The most recent is a new Specialized Allez Sprint that joined our family in October of 2016. I think the day you start shopping for your next bike is the day after you’ve just bought one. That’s part of the fun. Even though I’m not always buying, I’m always shopping.
We had the pleasure of meeting Allison Arensman during the Amateur Road National Championships in Louisville last July. She had quite an impressive weekend coming away with first place wins in the time trial, road race, and the crit. Since then we've kept up with her and recently had the chance for a Q&A. Read [...]