Living the Dream: Introducing Obed rider Austin Sullivan
Living the dream. We say it, we wish for the opportunity—but what does it mean to us? The $4 million oceanfront with the two-car garage, a dog, and a cat? The lakefront stead, with a quiet fishin’ hole out back? Is it the Vanlife buildout of your dreams, parked up in the Rockies? Is it the corner office in the high-rise, having finally “made it?”
We’re cyclists, so our version of "The Dream" likely involves epic experiences on two wheels. A trip through the Dolomites. A weekend out—fully self-sustained—on your bike doing the bikepacking trip through the Canadian Rockies… the ride of your dreams.
Or it’s whatever Austin Sullivan is doing.
Austin Sullivan (or "Sulli" as most call him) is doing life on his own terms. And that means experiences on two wheels, stories from many of which he’s going to be delivering to you here—on our blog—in the coming months. So, we wanted to give you a sense of who he is before he takes you on his journeys of this year, from North Georgia to the Rocky Mountains.
A cross-country runner in his youth, Sullivan got into cycling while still in college. He looked around for some events to jump into on his road bike. The first was the Six Gap, a stage race in Georgia, just north of Dahlonega with over 11,000 feet of climbing. He was hooked. “That got me turned on to going uphill,” he says. He followed that up with an MS150 fundraiser—his first back-to-back stage race with 80 miles on Day 1 and 70 miles on Day 2. Suddenly, Sulli was a cyclist. He helped run the Valdosta State University cycling club team, until it was graduation time, and then moved to Austin, Texas.
There, Sullivan found a fun way to earn while pedaling: Pedicab.
“I saw the bike taxis and said, "I can be a professional cyclist", he says with a laugh. For four years, he carried people to college football and baseball games and concerts in the Austin area. “I was one of the fastest in town!” he says. “Back then it was all human-powered, but the guys I rode with, we had a lot of fun racing each other.”
He then packed up the pedicab in his truck and hit the big events; concerts, and festivals like Lollapalooza, Bonnaroo, Electric Forest, and Coachella. It makes for the most interesting people-meeting. From George Strait concert cowboys and cowgirls to EDM kids dressed in the wildest clothes, he’s carried ‘em all.
“I’ve ridden people to events from Delaware to Oregon, Colorado to Texas, and met wide swaths of people,” he says. “I love the exercise, meeting new people, and showing them a good time. Transportainment, we call it. People enjoy it.”
While that pays the bills when he’s not wrenching with Obed in Chattanooga, he still gets out on the weekends and…you guessed it…rides hard.
“I started doing bikepacking routes, and really got into that,” he says. “One of my first overnighters was in 2015 in New Mexico. I remember it vividly because I ran out of water multiple times. I was knocking on doors asking for water, and once climbing down a ledge and lowering my bike so I could get to a creek and use my filter to get water. If there was a time cycling could have killed me most, it was then. But it was amazing. I was hooked.”
A year later, he took on the vaunted Colorado Trail with friends. After 12 days on his mountain bike, he called it the hardest thing he’s ever done. The endurance bug had him, with multiple finishes of the Huracan 350 bikepacking route in Florida, the 350-mile Trans North Georgia, and the Wyoming Bighorn Trail Race, with one of the smallest fields he’s ever experienced. “I was one of two that started…. And I was the only one that finished.”
That has segued into gravel, with two finishes at the 350-mile Unbound Gravel XL, races at BWR Asheville, and sessions on the trails around Steamboat, Colorado during SBT GRVL.
Living the dream? We think so.
“Many of my friends have said just that; that I’m living the dream,” he says. But I gotta say, there are moments that definitely do not feel like a dream, whether it’s falling on two wheels or something breaking on my bike. But I’ve built my life around bikes and sharing that experience with people, whether riding with friends, racing or giving people rides. It has been awesome, and I’ve gotta pinch myself sometimes.
Check-in on our blog in the coming weeks and months as Austin drops in with some of his adventures on two wheels.