Mac on the attack
East Jordan's Mac Brennan makes steady climb on cycling circuit
Mac Brennan of East Jordan celebrates after winning the Le Champion Pave Criterium in Flint July 24. Brennan, 21, is in his first season as a member of Team Panther, an elite amateur cycling team that will take part in the Cherry-Robaiux Old Town Crit and Road Race Aug. 13-14 in Traverse City.
Brennan, a 2008 East Jordan High School graduate, is in his first season as a part of Team Panther -- an elite amateur cycling team that travels throughout the Midwest and Ontario -- and has already found the victory podium.
Competing in the Le Champion Pave Criterium in Flint in late July, Brennan earned his first career Elite Pro/1/2 victory as he joined a breakaway group near the halfway point and held off a number of attacking riders to take the road-circuit style win.
Brennan and his Team Panther teammates will look for more success this weekend when they compete in the fourth annual Cherry-Roubaix Old Town Crit and Road Race Aug. 13-14 in Traverse City.
Brennan, 21, said he plans on taking part in both the criterium on Saturday, and the Road Race -- which this year doubles as the Michigan State Road Race Championship -- on Sunday.
"This is my first year racing with Team Panther and it's been a great experience," Brennan said. "It's been a real step forward as far as competition level. It's a step forward from last year and the support that the team and I get from racing with other guys really takes racing to the next level."
Brennan, who began competitive cycling as a sophomore in high school in various Michigan Bicycle Racing Association events, rode for Priority Health of Grand Rapids last season before joining Ohio-based Team Panther, for the 2011 season.
"They come to Michigan races once in a while and they do a lot of bigger races as well," Brennan said. "I was looking to get into (bigger races). ... I wanted to take the next step and they were really responsive."
Brennan and his teammates have spent the summer competing in national competitions in Georgia, Missouri, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Ohio and Michigan.
Now in its fourth year, Team Panther is looking to make a commanding presence in the elite amateur peloton with high-profile riders under age 25. Among Brennan's teammates are former professionals Paul Martin and Kirk Albers.
"Mostly it's been the same type of training," Brennan said. "I'm slowly progressing as I get older. The biggest difference has been in racing. The bigger races we go to have such a higher competitive level, it's harder and there's more depth in the field.
"It's really re-learning how to race."
Brennan, a former cross country and ski standout at East Jordan High School and triathlon runner, caught the cycling bug years ago while watching the Tour de France on television with his father, Pat.
"I've always done a lot of endurance sports and it's just something I wanted to try so my dad and I looked into it," Brennan said. "I started out with junior racing and Michigan has a cycling organization (MBRA) that organizes a calendar of races and I just found races to enter."
Brennan eventually worked his way up the cycling category ladder to his now Elite Pro 1/2 status, where he's currently third in points on the 2011 Michigan Challenge Leaders board.
Brennan said he typically rides 2-4 hours a day during the week and races nearly every weekend. Some bigger races may last a week, some four days.
Brennan said his riding style is that of an all-arounder, much like that of 2011 Tour de France winner Cadel Evans of Australia.
"It's a little bit of everything," Brennan said. "I'm still learning where I'm at and what I really excel at. Until you get to that pro level, it's hard to know your one niche. I'm still progressing, hopefully I'll get to that top level."
Brennan, who attends Michigan Technological University, said he'd eventually like to race professionally for a U.S. domestic team.
"That's what I'm trying to work for," he said. "This year, I'm learning to race at a bigger level. Next year, it's getting results to get noticed."