By now you know a lot about the miles Dragi rides, but what about the people he rides with? While Dragi is out taming the beast of cycling, he is also making an impact on people, whether it’s on those he rides with or those he rides for at numerous charity events.
Meet the Riders….
James Kwiatkowski of Bloomfield Hills
James started biking two years ago, about the same time he met Dragi while spinning on a trainer at a bike shop.
“I was Impressed by the miles Dragi could ride even when injured,” says James. “He’ll cut off a leg and still ride. I never met a man so tough. I call him the Dragon Master because he’s continually taming the sport of cycling—taming the beast of pain.”
According to James, “Dragi does not go for a ride. He spins two hundred miles. And he’s not comfortable doing that. Riding that long is hard. That is what is so interesting. To see someone so active is inspirational. I did my first 60-miler with him on the Fourth-of-July ride in 2016. Now I can do a century. He’s my first hardcore cycling friend,” says James.
When asked about the Rolo bike Dragi rides, James laughs, “It makes me sad. That thing is like a rocket. It’s given him a couple miles per hour advantage. That doesn’t sound like a lot, but on a bike doing so many miles, it is. It’s a head thing and confidence booster and he gets a ton of press because of it.”
“And what else do you know about Dragi?”
“He tamed diabetes. He was a rock guitarist.”
“Why is he such an animal?”
“You’ve got to be a hard core rebel to ride like he does. He doesn’t care what the doctors say. One doctor had to detach ligaments in his calf. This is really insane. EJ [EJ Levy of the Team/O2 Cadieux Bicycle Club] is riding 13,000 miles in great health. But Dragi is riding 14,500 this year no matter what is going on with his body.”
Dragi with James Kwiatkowski and EJ Levy
Charlie Deroo, Secretary, Team O2/Cadieux Bicycle Club
Charlie met Dragi three years ago at the Team O2/Cadieux Bicycle Club. Like many of Dragi’s fellow cyclists, Charlie is most impressed with Dragi’s ability to overcome numerous physical obstacles through cycling. Charlie rattles off a list of them that includes back, ankle, and heart surgeries. When asked to describe Dragi, Charlie’s words flow quickly, “Dragi has undeniable spirit—enough for six. He’s a wonderful, generous spirt, a force of nature, he’s indomitable!”
Chris Butler of Altair Engineering, Inc.
“Dragi is a good cycling buddy and a good buddy all around,” says Chris, a fellow co-worker and cyclist with Dragi. Proof is in the many snaps Dragi captures of Chris during their cycling adventures.
Dragi and Chris Butler
The pair met at the Bike MS: Bavarian Breakaway in 2014, a 200-mile charity ride that both Chris and Dragi participate in regularly with the Altair bike team. Chris has been on his bike ever since, riding more than 4,350 miles last year.
Altair supports cycling charity events, but Altair also helps make bikes better. According to Chris, Altair services provide many advantages for bike manufacturers including making bikes as light as possible with the best possible design. Both the Specialized Venge and the Rolo custom carbon fiber bike have been involved with Altair. “Both have serious advantages for bikers—and Dragi gets to ride both of these!”
Chris describes the types of services that Altair offers as “crucial” to any bike manufacturer. “Triathlon riders need more aerodynamic framesets and wheels. Computational fluid dynamics (CFD) could help this. Dynamics analysis could improve how a bike handles road conditions and virtual potholes. Fatigue analysis could help a bike’s durability. I’d expect to see a lot more interaction between bike manufacturers and Altair in these ways.”
Chris’s passion for improving bikes extends to those for more than one rider. “I happen to love tandem bikes and I see an opportunity here for manufacturers. One problem is that the typical tandem design is not stiff enough. There is too much flex between the riders. This area of improving tandems would be a perfect fit for structural optimization,” says Chris.
Dragi’s blog followers haven’t seen Chris and Dragi on a tandem yet, but hopefully that pic is coming soon!
Chris Butler’s tandem
Mark Cahn, President, Team O2/Cadieux Bicycle Club
Mark Cahn met Dragi through the Team O2/Cadieux Bicycle Club. Mark recalls some of their rides together through Kensington Metropark and Island Lake Recreation Area as “epic.” Mark describes Dragi as “enthusiastic” and “deceptively strong.” Mark adds, “Injury doesn’t stop Dragi. He keeps going.”
When it comes to supporting club races and charity rides, “Dragi is quick to raise his hand,” says Mark. In particular, for the Debaets-Devos Pro-AM Bicycle Race in Auburn Hills held the week before Labor Day, “Dragi took the initiative to bring in Altair to support the event with great swag to give away.”
“Dragi participates in many charity events—super long ones. He likes to ride 100-200 miles no matter what the obstacles. I don’t think he gets warmed up until 100 miles. More than people drive their cars,” says Mark.
“A lot of our rides together are local—daily or weekly to Detroit or points west,” explains Mark. Not really formal. That’s where the main riding takes place.”
Chris Donnelly in Detroit
About his own favorite cycling, “I like trails in the fall. I have a Cervelo road bike, a Specialized cross bike and a Trek mountain bike,” says Mark.
Mark has been cycling since he was 15. “Forty-two years of cycling brought me my share of abrasions, one broken bone. Safety equipment has improved dramatically. I broke my radius, lower arm near the elbow,” recalls Mark. “Not terrible. I was in France at the time, racing with a French team in 1983.”
When discussing century rides, those of 100 miles or more, Mark says, “The average person with a training plan can achieve a century ride. One factor not understood is drafting, taking advantage of shelter that a rider in front of you provides. Dragi tends to do a lot of solo rides. After 150 [miles], you typically do not have a group with you. Anything after that is solo and more difficult. Impressive when he’s riding 250 miles, 13-14 hours. One of the big rides we do in June and September is the Woodward Loop Ride. There is also a century ride in August promoted by Wayne State University that takes us to Belle Isle, Grosse Point, and Grosse Isle, which was started by the president of WSU who is a cyclist.”
Followers of Dragi know that when he holds his bike over his head, he has just finished a century ride like the ones Mark describes. For 2016, Dragi road 45 century rides and surpassed his goal of 12,500 miles with a grand total of 14,553 miles, 876 hours of pure riding time, and 797 personal records.
Century with Dragi and EJ Levy – Picture is the Featured Image on the Blog.