What's Cool In Road Cycling

Project Echelon Ready to Rock Detroit Cycling Championship

The Detroit Cycling Championship is on this weekend in Rock City. Eric Hill, founder and president of the Project Echelon veterans non-profit and domestic elite racing team, took a few minutes to share some thoughts on what makes this race event special.

• Tune in to this weekend’s Live coverage of the Detroit Cycling Championship and Click Here to Listen Live:

Please introduce yourself and give us a little back ground on you and your team.
My name is Eric Hill. I am the founder and president of the Project Echelon veterans non-profit and domestic elite racing team. Project Echelon educates, equips and empowers veterans through physical activity and self-discovery. As an organization, Project Echelon removes the barriers to healing by fostering relationships between veterans, their communities, and professional athletes through mentorship, structure, and the promotion of long term health and wellbeing through endurance sport.

As elite athletes, we are privileged to have the support of coaches, sponsors, race promoters and communities. Most of us have had someone who identified our passion and talent as we were coming through the ranks and helped us achieve our personal goals. For many of our veterans, they know physical activity is a healthy outlet to address issues related to PTSD, TBI, addiction, and suicidal ideation. When a veteran friend and subsequent co-founder of Project Echelon, Eric Beach, reached out to me in 2016 wanting to take control of his life and create structure through physical activity, with a goal of completing a triathlon, it was clear that his limited network of support in the sport and access to knowledge and equipment was a major barrier to his success. After we saw the tremendous personal growth Eric made through our mentor relationship and the successful completion of his triathlon, we decided to create a non-profit that would make those same opportunities available to more veterans. Project Echelon was born.

The riders on the Project Echelon Domestic Elite Team are national champions, UCI stage race winners, and world class competitors, but they are also coaches and mentors to the veterans we serve. Every member of our team contributes to the success of our veteran community in achieving their goals through the sharing of their experience, knowledge and social networks to help ensure personal success. In this way, we are committed to using the bike as a tool to transform the lives of our veterans and make our communities stronger. We are privileged to use the platform of professional cycling as a venue to share our mission, share our passion, and be a positive agent for change.

2. What’s your history with this race and what do you think makes this race unique from other races?
The Detroit Cycling Championship is a must attend event and should be on every team’s bucket list. Detroit is a special city in a unique part of the country that we don’t get to race in or travel through very often. The community has done a lot of amazing work over the past few years to revitalize the city, making it a great place to visit on top of a great place to race. The arts and dining districts are awesome and there is always live music on tap or sporting events to attend. One of the things we always make a point to do is ride to the Lake Erie lakefront and cross the border over into Canada during our morning ride.

3. Any special memories or stories from racing here in the past?
The Detroit Cycling Championship is definitely a race that we look forward to every year, in part because of the professionalism of the race organization and the stellar prize purse, but also because of the venue. This course is built for aggressive racing, which fits our style and strengths as a team, and creates some high energy race dynamics. In 2018, we won the Detroit Cycling Championship from a day long break of 3 riders with a surprise sprint with half a lap to go from Ryan O’Boyle. That race was a special one since we didn’t decide to travel to the race until the day before, so everything was planned on a whim and a strong desire to get some top racing in. Looking forward to the opportunity to repeat and take to the top step again in 2021.

4. Goals for this weekend – what do you and the team hope to achieve?
After winning the Armed Forces Cycling Classic, 4 stages of Tour of America’s Dairyland, placing 4th at US Pro Nationals and 2nd at Intelligentsia Cup, we have proved ourselves to be a formidable crit team with a lot of depth. We are definitely aiming to come away with  a spot on the podium.

5.  What would you say to riders and fans who haven’t seen this race before?
Project Echelon has built an attacking brand of racing. When we pull up to the line, people know they are going to have a fight on their hands and that controlling the race won’t come easy. Whatever the outcome, you’ll know that Project Echelon was in the race and that we raced our bikes hard.

As far as images, I have linked our portfolio from Snowy Mountain Photography, so take your pick! I think using the image from Armed Forces would be great, especially since Stephen is on our Gateway roster. Can you provide that image… I’d have to dig to get the original copy.

– Eric Hill
Project Echelon Racing Director
Project Echelon Non-Profit Co-Founder

Instagram: @erhill88, @ProjectEchelonRacing
Facebook: @ProjectEchelonRacing

“I never said it would be easy. I only said it would be worth it.”

• Tune in to this weekend’s Live coverage of the Detroit Cycling Championship and  Click Here to Listen Live:

 

 

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