WILTON, Conn. – Wilton's Daniel Fox was surprised to find himself in the lead pack of a cycling race late in last year’s Tour de Greenwich. But with the race winding down, the former professional rider’s instincts took over and he won for the first time since ending his pro career in 1993.
“I didn’t have a lot of time to think about it,’’ said Fox, 46, who will defend his title in Sunday’s race, which begins at 7:30 a.m. at Greenwich High School. “The instincts are still there. It came down to the end, and I rode a good sprint. I just beat the guy at the end.”
Fox completed the 20-mile ride in 48:50, a nose ahead of Matt Armstrong of Cos Cob, who finished in the same time. Carlos Restrepo of Wilton took third, also in the same time. The race is sponsored by Threads and Treads.
The victory was surprising for Fox, who figured his hard-core competitive days had ended long ago. He started riding again a few years ago for recreation and commuting. He found a safe passage from his home in Wilton to his job in Somers and found passion in riding for pleasure. In the Tour de Greenwich in 2010, he finished in the top 10. But serious racing was never part of the plan.
“After 15 years without any real fitness to speak of, I had no expectations,’’ Fox said. “As long as I was enjoying myself, I was comfortable racing.”
Fox’s cycling career began as a teenager in 1979 in his native Philadelphia, and he turned pro in 1988. He spent nearly eight years riding as a professional, with a stint in Italy. “When I hung it up, I was very frustrated,’’ Fox said. “The results just weren’t coming relative to the work that I was putting in.”
After Fox quit racing, he worked in the cycling industry for a few years. “That was even less rewarding than the racing,’’ he said. He finished college and obtained his law degree, putting the bike down while he focused on his family and career. He moved to Connecticut with his wife, Maura, a Wilton native, and figured his competitive riding days were done.
With four children and a busy career, Fox doesn’t plan to return to serious cycling. “I’m happily married with four kids and a Wilton mortgage to pay,’’ he said. “This is just for fun now. I got as much out of competitive cycling as I could in my 20s.”
If the chance arises again to repeat in Greenwich this Sunday, Fox plans to go for it. “I know the course very well now, and some of it is on roads I use to commute (by bike) to work in Armonk,’’ Fox said. “If I happen to be up there in the action again, I’ll try to make the most of it.”