T“THE CLUB has 1,200
members, a little over 1,200.
It’s nationwide,” Dubel says.
“We try to recruit through
word of mouth. If I’m in a
race and there’s a guy on the
sidelines and he’s cheering
and it looks like he’s really
interested, I’ll talk to him,
see if he wants to give it a try.
Some take it up and will line
up for a race. It doesn’t have to
be a bike. They can run, swim.
It doesn’t matter how you get
your fix. The whole thing is to
get off the couch.”
Dubel’s mission goes beyond
encouraging military members
to be active. He’s also passion-ate
about relating his tale from
obese alcoholic to fit cyclist, to
give hope to people struggling
with addictive behaviors.
“It doesn’t matter where you
are or where you’ve been, how
old you are, you can change,”
he says. “I was 47 when I
finally stopped drinking. My
story is not unique. I’m just
trying to get it out there and
make sure people realize there’s
another way. If someone sees
this and stops me on the street
and wants to talk, I’m there. I
may not have the exact answer
for them, but it might give
them interest enough to search
out some help. That’s what I’m
looking to put out there.”
Dubel says he was a func-tional
alcoholic. He somehow
“Just a 50-year-old man living life right the second time around.”
— Jonathan Dubel
Above: Jonathan Dubel competes in the 2018 Boone-Town Throw-Down race in Boone. It is
part of the North Carolina Cyclo-Cross Series (NCCX), Dubel’s main competitive focus. Opposite,
clockwise from top left: Dubel navigates a muddy course at another race on the NCCX series in
Salisbury in 2019. Dubel poses with his teams more than three decades apart: with Cycles De Oro
(leaning on the bike at right) in Greensboro in 1982 and with the United States Military Endurance
Sports (USMES) Elite and Masters Elite Chronos Team in 2019. Dubel rides with the USMES team
during training camp in Tucson, Arizona in 2019. Dubel competes in the Super Fat 2-hour race at
the 2019 U.S. Open Fat Bike Beach Championships in Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina.
managed to keep his job, but
the drinking took its toll. On relationships — his first marriage
failed — and on his health.
“I had that proverbial look in the mirror, and I was like, ‘I’m
going to die. I’m going to have high blood pressure, diabetes,’” he
says. “I’d already started getting gout. I had a doctor tell me if I
didn’t lay off, the gout was going to be so bad they might have to
amputate a toe. It was bad. I was like, I’ve got to do something.”
The something was cycling. He had been a competitive rider in
his late teens and took it up again in his mid-40s. At first, it was
just something to help him get back into shape. Then he began to
“I got more and more into the performance aspect of it,” he says.
“I tried a few races and got blown out bad. I was like, I don’t like the
way that feels at all. I used to be a very good racer when I was 18 or
19, but now I was 40-something that didn’t mean much.”
The urge to be a competitive cyclist replaced the urge to drink.
“One day it just clicked. I went cold turkey,” he says. “The
funny thing is I can’t remember what exactly happened the
WBM march 2020
COURTESY JONATHAN DUBEL
COURTESY JONATHAN DUBEL