Once on the road to destruction, a local cyclist now promotes a healthy lifestyle | B y S i m o n G o n z a l e z
JJONATHA N DUBE L matter-of-factly discusses his
schedule. He wrapped up the grueling 14-race North Carolina
Cyclo-Cross series in December, and immediately began training
for gravel bike race season. There’s a 55-miler coming up in South
Carolina, followed by a 100-miler. Transitioning from one disci-pline
to another means packing on the miles. This time of year,
that means somewhere between 250-275 miles per week.
“In the summer, it could go up to 350,” he says.
He’ll do about 40 races in a
calendar year, and ride thou-sands
of miles. Not bad for a
53-year-old with a full-time job.
Not bad for a guy who, by his
own admission, was an obese
alcoholic just a few years ago.
“I was a 12-pack-a-day guy,
seven days a week,” he says. “I
was drinking like a fish; I was
These days, the Wilmington
cyclist is a lean, fit 5-foot-10,
155 pounds. He’s a member
of the United States Military
Endurance Sports (USMES)
team, a position that requires
athletic talent and the will-ingness
to serve as a positive
Dubel is a regionally compet-itive
bike racer in his second
season on Team Chronos, a
15-member elite squad for
“We’re the older guys,” he says.
“Usually in cycling anything
over 35 is considered masters.”
Every USMES athlete is
a former or active military
member, or a spouse of one. Dubel served four years in the
United States Navy. His two sons are both on active duty. One
is in the Navy. The other, a Ranger with the 82nd Airborne in
Fort Bragg, recently deployed to the Middle East.
Gravel road races and rides combine cycling on surfaces
such as asphalt, gravel, dirt, some singletrack trails and main-tenance
or B roads. The courses vary from hard-packed dirt to
softball-sized rocks. Dubel was riding for a team out of Wake
Forest called Spoke Cycles
when he did a gravel bike race
with a couple of USMES riders,
including an elite team member.
They suggested he apply to join
“The more I got into it, the
more I liked that camaraderie,
that brotherhood,” he says.
“Both of my boys are in the
military, I’m former military,
and my dad was a World War
II POW, infantry. It’s kind of a
natural fit. I never thought of
myself being a gung-ho military
dude, but it turned out to be
The mission of USMES
athletes is to encourage current
and former military members
to be active, whether through
cycling, running, swimming,
or any combination. They
compete in eye-catching kits
and make themselves available
to anyone who’s interested. The
goal is to recruit new members
to the club, where they will
find support and encourage-ment.
Above: Jonathan Dubel climbs Mount Lemmon out-side
of Tucson, Arizona in March 2019 during training
with the United States Military Endurance Sports team.
Opposite: Dubel trains with his Cervelo Aspero gravel
bike at Holly Shelter Game Land in February.
COURTESY JONATHAN DUBEL