Nutshell version: English, 47, living in Taiwan ten years, Asia 24 years, former pro cyclist, former scuba professional, former atheist priest in Japan (long story), former editor, turned pro at 37 after 19 years of not riding a jot, raced 4 years on the UCI Asia Tour, did some cool races in Europe, Oman and Qatar, won a bit, lost a lot, spent another 2 years traveling solo and racing as a sponsored rider, went and got a job for 6 years at the Mongolia Bike Challenge, and now I’m the Comms manager for the Taiwan Cyclist Federation and the Taiwan KOM Challenge, and a cycling coach.
I love what I do because I work with people who love what they do – riding their bikes and working to improve and nothing makes me happier than when my folks achieve their goals, which is all-round awesome.
For extended version, read on:
I began the CrankPunk website back in 2010 so that I’d have a place to vent my opinions on the state of pro cycling at a time when it seemed few in the media were willing to do just that, and so that my friends could follow my exploits as I raced around Asia on the UCI Asia Tour and in Europe. Later, I started working for the Mongolia Bike Challenge and the Taiwan KOM Challenge and became a cycling coach, and as I’ve moved around the ibike biz, CrankPunk.com has morphed a bit too.
CrankPunk is me, Lee Rodgers, Englishman and former professional road cyclist on several UCI Continental teams, based and living in Taipei, Taiwan. The day job though comprises of organising bike races and coaching.
I write, when I do write, about this great passion of ours. I say ‘ours’ cos if you’re reading this then I’m presuming that you too are edging the bike-geek-o-meter’s needle dangerously close to ‘this one’s a lost cause’, and no doubt have at least one room in your house that bears witness to your love, manifested through countless sets of wheels, useless busted tires you for some reason keep around, chammy creams in various states of crustiness and endless nuts, bolts, saddles, hex wrenches and on and on and on, and maybe even a few race numbers strewn about too.
Maybe, unlike myself, your collection is nice and tidy and not looking similar to the compactor room in Star Wars. I’ve probably got three complete bikes in there, in pieces, that are just waiting to be re-discovered… I’ll get round to it someday.
I started racing originally over two decades ago, then walked away from cycling altogether when I was 18. I found it hard to contemplate the years of hard work it’d take even if i was to scrape a bare living from the sport, and eventually came to see no real future for myself in what I’d gradually discovered was a drug-addled sport. My generation was that of the EPO era, and all I can say on that is that I am glad I never had to make those same choices that so many riders of my generation did – though maybe, when I walked away, I already had.
I came back to the sport 19 years later in Japan (where I lived for a decade), purely as a way to lose some weight, but the competitive juices returned. Suddenly I was racing wherever I could and doing well enough to get a spot on a Continental team to race in the UCI Asia Tour. I’m not sure but i may have been the oldest neo-pro in the history of the sport. Highlights have been many, I loved racing again and challenging myself to improve, and every ride, still now after retirement, feels like a gift.
I won the Singapore Road Race National Championships in 2010 and the TT version in 2011 and 2013, and raced in 5 or 6 post-Tour de France criteriums in Europe in 2012, against guys like Cavendish, Andy Schleck and Tony Martin around cites such as Heerlen and Maastricht, with 10,000 mad Dutchmen cheering us on. I raced in the tours of Qatar and Oman in 2012, which was just mind-bending, truly – some idiot’s screaming at you in a cross-wind to ‘Close the gap! close the f*****g gap!‘… and you turn around and it’s Tom Boonen.
I had a quiet chat with Philippe Gilbert at the back of the peloton one day about my life, then his, rode back from the finish with Thor Hushovd and he said ‘I like your jersey’, I said ‘I don’t’, and he said ‘Ha, well I don’t like mine either!’, and had Fabian Cancellara lean over the table at breakfast and ask me to pass the muesli. I saw Peter Sagan move through the peloton like a barracuda through prey and thought to myself ‘He’s maybe the best bike handler I’ve ever seen‘, turned out he was . It took me until the last day of Qatar to stop waking up genuinely feeling as though that day would be my last, my stomach one giant knot, terrified of the sheer speed we were riding at, the closeness of the peloton, the toughness I felt around me from these battle-hardened men, then when I didn’t get dropped in the first tour, I started to have the best f*****g time of my life in Oman, where I suddenly realised that yes, they were younger, they were more experienced, they may have been better (some of them anyway 😉 ), but they weren’t dropping me and ByHolyF**k I was gonna finish two of these damn things…
Two months later I went on to win the 2.1 Tour de Taiwan Points Classification (2012) despite not being a sprinter, but by breaking away on 4 of the 7 days, huge mad breakaways where I had a blast, feeling stronger than I have ever done thanks to the mad months of racing beforehand.
I got 2nd on the GC at the 2012 Tour de East Java and 3rd on Stage 1 of the Tour of Brunei, where I was on my way to another top 5 GC finish until food poisoning struck and left me with my face slapped up against the toilet tiles for 5 hours. The biggest overall win of 2012 was at the Hong Kong Cycling Classic in October.
Between 2013- 2016 I rode as an elite amateur after competing in my last UCI race (sick of team politics), which was the Tour de Taiwan in 2012. I managed a GC win at the Tour of Friendship the following year, then eventually went off-road, finally getting back on an MTB after a a whopping 24 years off. I trained on it for two weeks then went and did an easy little race to ease back in, the 7-day, 1000km Mongolia Bike Challenge.
I competed in another 4 MBC’s with an odd Trans Alpe thrown in and went on to become the Communications Manager for the MBC, attending 6 editions in total. I’m currently the Comms Director for the Taiwan Cyclist Federation and the Taiwan KOM Challenge, inviting the pro riders such as Marianne Vos and her team, Vincenzo Nibali and Cadel Evans here along with media such as Global Cycling News.
I retired from racing at the end of 2016 and so far don’t miss it. But you never know, last time it was 19 years off before The Comeback 1.0, maybe I’ll get back to it sooner next time…
It’s been quite a ride, I got lucky in being able to come back but I also know I worked for it.
Thank you for reading, thank you for visiting, and thank you for riding. No matter what the bastards get up to, we must remember – this will always be our sport – not theirs – ours.
1st Singapore National Time Trial Championships
1st Overall GC Tour of Friendship
1st Tour of Friendship (Thailand) Prologue ITT
1st Rosso Cycling Championships, Taiwan
1st Tatajia 55km Hill Climb, Taiwan
1st Taiwan Cycling Championships Stage 5
2nd Tour of Friendship Stage 5
3rd Tour of Friendship Stage 3
3rd Tour of Friendship Stage 4
5th Stage 7 Mongolia Bike Challenge (MTB)
1st UCI 2.1 Tour of Taiwan Points Classification
1st Hong Kong Cycling Classic Criterium
2nd Overall GC UCI 2.2 Tour of East Java 2012
3rd UCI 2.2 Tour of Brunei Stage 1
5th UCI 2.2 Tour of East Java Stage 2
SURVIVED! The Tour of Qatar & the Tour of Oman!
1st Singapore National ITT Championships
1st Taiwan Cycling Club Series Championships, Stage 1
1st Yilan Classic Road Race
3rd Overall GC Tour of East Taiwan
3rd Stage 2 Tour of East Taiwan
1st Singapore National Road Race Championships
1st Kisamura Two-Day, Japan
1st Kurume County Century Road Race
2nd GC Tour of East Taiwan
3rd Tour of East Taiwan Stage 2