Sitting at an outdoor table typing away on his laptop, third-year Brock University student Benjamin Perry looks like any other student on campus. There’s little to indicate the St. Catharines man is one of Canada’s top prospects in road cycling.
At 21 years old, Perry has attained a level of success on two wheels most riders only dream of. He’s a paid professional cyclist racing on the Canadian Silber Pro Cycling Team, and on Friday, Sept. 25, he’ll represent his country at the 2015 World Road Cycling Championships being held in Richmond, Virginia.
Perry is one of three riders on Canada’s squad in the 162-kilometre Under-23 men’s race, where he’s aiming for a top five finish. It’s a lofty, but attainable goal that would be a huge step forward for Canada’s cycling program.
Three weeks ago, Perry’s Silber squad raced against some of the world’s biggest professional cycling teams at the Tour of Alberta. Winning the race against Tour de France-level teams was never a realistic possibility for the second-tier Silber team, but that didn’t stop Perry from keeping things interesting.
He ended up winning the six-day race’s climbing competition – beating out some of the world’s top riders along the way. It immediately put him on the radar of the biggest teams around, some of which contacted him afterward.
“I’m still really young in terms of cycling, so it’s a good stepping stone to be in contact with these teams now. I have my foot in the door,” he said.
But while Perry may be young for a cyclist, he also knows no cycling career can last forever. It’s why he enrolled in Brock’s Goodman School of Business Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) program after taking a year off after high school to focus on racing in Europe.
With cycling, I could break my leg today and be done. But if I get a business degree, there are a wide range of opportunities.
Perry’s ultimate goal is to represent Canada at the Olympics or to end up racing with a top-level professional team that would send him to the Tour de France, but the degree will give him a career option whenever it’s needed.
“With cycling, I could break my leg today and be done. But if I get a business degree, there are a wide range of opportunities,” he said. “I could still work in cycling if I choose with a business degree, so that’s where I think it’s going.”
Perry balances his training and racing schedule with both online and on-campus classes.
“If I keep going at this pace, by the time I’m done school I’ll either know I can make it as a cyclist, or I’ll choose to use my business degree,” he said. “It’s sustainable right now. I make enough money to live and I do enough school that it’ll take me about six years to do a four-year degree. I think it’s well-rounded to do that.”
Perry left for Virginia Tuesday, and races at 12:45 p.m. Friday. Live video of the race will be available at www.uci.ch.