David Towle – An Obsession For Cycling

Written by: Myles McCorry

You will always hear David Towle before you see him. Not a bad character trait for a commentator. He is loud, passionate and has a loud, obsession for biking.

I recalled him first as back ground noise at the Tour of Georgia a few seasons ago. Busy and sweating in the mille of photographers elbowing for the finish shot, his voice drifted above the hum of excited crowds with expected and predicted race information. Suddenly the heat and excitement was sliced open by a comment so contrary, to what usually drones out from a race P.A.:

– “ I don’t think he is going to stay away folks, He’s flogging himself like a rented mule out there!”

I was used to commentators giving time checks and explaining to an informed audience, tired anecdotes of clippless pedals, not the thunderbolt that arrived seconds later:
-“He’s been in the bank, he’s got the money and now he’s high tailing
it in the get away car!” – Pure Magic!

Cycling finishes for the spectator can be like an early sexual experience. A lot of waiting and anticipating and then in a blur, its all over. Mr Towle changes all that. He plays to an audience, always full of excitement; his animated annunciation raises the spirits, motivates the assembled masses. His informed, over enthused chatter can build a stationary crowd into hysteria and is broadly entertaining enough, that non-cyclist and dragged comp anions, construct an interest in the proceedings. His motivation for our beautiful sport is
infective. At the finish of the third stage of the 2008 Tour of
Ireland there was a 5-minute period where I didn’t actually see him draw breath!

From upstate New York, Towle was a cyclist from birth but his talent was in his voice not his legs. David fell in love with biking as a kid when he went to watch the Red Zinger classic (prelude to the Coors classic). He raced in the nineties and like most of us always wished he was better than he was, but never lost the interest.
He came into commentating because of the Saturn ‘Cyber-bike’. Two turbo trainers linked to a TV screen in the back of a van doing the auto show circuit. Cyber-bike needed an announcer and he needed a job. The dog and pony show of two six year olds racing on bikes too big for most
adults was in fact to lead to his break. The sideshow was scheduled
at the ‘Saturn Cycling Classic’ and the finish announcer didn’t show.
David was handed a mik and an American dream story. When the eventual victor Chris Wheary, whose father had just passed away, took to the win and then the podium, there wasn’t a dry eye in the arena when his mum and sister came up too; a legend was born.
A few seasons later, when I now hear the big guy with his sharp accent manning the microphone, at stage end; a rye smile forms at the corner of my mouth.
“When this break is caught it’ll be like watching a lion taking down an injured Antelope on the Serengeti”
David Towle Interview Cavendish
Stage starts, middle race, can be quite jaded affairs. The riders are tired, it’s early and the whole event has 5 long hours ahead of it.
Towle can change the assembled, glum faces in an instant. An un-named,
very lean rider arrived at the stage sign-on. As he climbed the steps
David introduced him to the crowd with the following typical Towel
“ Yes folks he looks skinny but in an hour when the race gets going, this guy will be like a cocktail napkin with an outboard motor attached!”

Like him or love him –David Towle commentating makes stage racing better!

Top Three: ‘Towlisms’

1.“…There is so much attacking at the head of the bunch that someone
should call the police”

2. “The field is strung out like a runway model…”

3. “We used to call this lovely city Boulder, I’d now like to welcome
you to Downtown Pain City!”

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  1. JT says:

    Dave Towle IS American Cycling! Great that you realized he was more than background noise at the TdG. He helped put the race on the map with Lance Armstrong back in 2004. I miss his calls like “It’s like Godzilla versus Mothra out there”. Thanks for calling attention to an unsung, but clearly heard, hero of bicycle racing.