Name: Charles (Chuck) Pena
Nickname: I don't really have one, per se. "Pineapple" was a nickname in high school because I spent my summers as a kid in Hawaii visiting my grandparents. "Zanzara" (Italian for mosquito) was a nickname when I raced because I had a habit of animating races at often the hardest moments thereby annoying and irritating everyone else (and often breaking the race apart). And "Ace" was a nickname I earned as bike courier. I've been called other things as well, but they aren't particularly flattering.
Birthplace: San Francisco, CA USA
Weight: 134 pounds / 9.6 stone / 60.8 kg
Previous clubs: From first to last (sponsor in parentheses) - Victory Velosport (Kodak Ektar); Unione Sportiva Coppi's (Coppi's Restaurant), a club/team I started which became Squadra Coppi (Java Shack); Lanterne Rouge (Java Shack). I also created a just for fun club on Strava for my "senior" riding pals called WAFO: We Are F**king Old!
Bike:Felt FC, Hollands (custom aka bespoke) 653 Reynolds, Bridgestone MB-2
Favourite rider: Of the current crop, Peter Sagan. Love that he is more of an instinctive than "by the numbers" rider. And how can you not love his personality. All-time favorite is Fausto Coppi. Short list would include Anquetil, LeMond, and Hinault.
Favourite other team: Of the World Tour pro teams, Dimension Data (formerly MTN Qhubeka) because part of my coming back to cycling after a 15+ year hiatus was reading Land of Second Chances: The Impossible Rise of Rwanda's Cycling Team. As the only African-based team, Dimension Data embodies much of the spirit of Land of Second Chances. But my favorite team will always be the team I created, Unione Sportiva Coppi's (sponsored by Coppi's restaurant in DC and named after the great Fausto Coppi, il campionissimo). It was a riding club that raced -- the perfect blend of camaraderie and competition. I was famous for leading long, death march training rides in the mountains. Along with my partner in crime, Seth Turner, we were the two "out of control" editors of a monthly newsletter where we basically ripped everyone in the club (including ourselves). Cycling journalist, Maynard Hershon (who became a good friend), read our stuff and said it was the best newsletter he ever read.
Most memorable ride: Not a single ride, but doing RAAM (Race Across America) the first year they had teams (1992) was pretty memorable (Irvine, CA to Savannah, GA - 2,911 miles). On the first day, my teammate (Sam) and I were supposed to ride to Quartzsite, AZ to handoff to our other teammates (Paul and Dave). But approaching midnight, we were still 20 miles short and totally gassed. We found a rest stop and called the guys to tell them they'd have to get in their support van (we each had one) and drive back to where we were. Sam sat down, buried his head in his hands, sobbed, and said, "This is hard." We laugh about that all the time now. Two other fun memories from RAAM. (1) Climbing at night from the low desert up to Flagstaff, AZ (7,000 feet). Pitch black except for the support van headlights illuminating the road. Probably the easiest climb I ever did because I couldn't see far enough ahead to have any real sensation of climbing. (2) Crossing the Mississippi River. For whatever reason, the bridge we needed to ride over to go across the Mississippi River closed at night so we had to get there before sunset or else get docked a time penalty for having to drive across. With 20-some odd miles to go, we were cutting it close on time. I can't tell you how fast I rode, but I hammered like Greg LeMond on the final day TT in the '89 TdF to get us across.
Biggest thrill: Going to the first week of the '91 TdF with Breaking Away Tours. We'd ride part of the course in the morning, stop somewhere for lunch and to watch the race go by, and then ride some more to our next hotel. And we got to meet and spend time with the Motorola team. My wife, Karen, has been in love with Dag Otto Lauritzen ever since. Close second would be riding the Worlds road race course in Richmond, VA last year.
Biggest disappointment: Well, I never got to date a supermodel.
Miscellaneous likes: Espresso, movies, travel, good food, dogs.
Miscellanous dislikes: People who aren't on time, eggplant, artichokes, olives.
Favourite cake: I'm a Yank so "cake" has a different meaning on this side of the pond. Honestly, I'm not much of a sweets person (my gastro culinary weaknesses are hot dogs and potato chips). But if I had to pick something that qualifies as a British cake, I'd pick scones (especially blueberry scones).
Favourite drink: Negroni (after all, I'm a contributor to PEZ Cycling News and a Negroni is the official PEZ cocktail). But I also enjoy good wine (I grew up in northern California so was introduced to wine early in life and my older brother works for Mayo Family Winery in Sonoma).
Favourite TV show: I actually don't watch a whole lot of TV other than sports and movies. As a kid, I loved "The Man From UNCLE." I remember keeping a whole kids' hospital ward up late to watch it.
Favourite singer: Currently, Adele (although that's a somewhat "conventional" choice). A more unconventional choice might be Keira Knightley, who sang her own songs in the movie "Begin Again" and the music is just great. It's hard to pick just one all-time favorite, but if pressed I'd say Karen Carpenter. We may never hear a voice like hers again. (As an aside, my brother - who used to be a professional jazz musician - actually dated Karen Carpenter for a bit.)
Best friend: Anthony Fernandez (we lived across the street from each other and have been best friends since we were 4 years old). After we saw "Breaking Away," we bought road bikes and road all around San Francisco. We were so clueless! Anthony isn't what I'd call a "serious" cyclist, but he still likes to ride and has a Specialized Roubaix.
Biggest influence on career: My mom. She was the one who pushed me to do well in school. And told me that if I wanted to work in the national security arena that I needed to go to Washington, DC. Moved to DC after college to go to grad school and have been here ever since.
Biggest drag in cycling: I'm not sure what the question means. So I'll just say that it's the rider. No matter how aero you make the bike, the rider still accounts for way more drag.
International honours: Not sure if this is an "international honor" (remember, I'm a colonist so we spell things differently), but in 2006 I wrote a book Winning the Un-War: A New Strategy for the War on Terrorism (still available on Amazon) that - while not a bestseller by any means - was fairly well received in certain circles in the U.S. and abroad.
Personal ambition: If we're talking about cycling, don't really have any. I don't ride with any real goals or expectations. I just ride to ride and to enjoy the company of the people I'm riding with. In terms of ambition in life: Be the best dad and husband I can be.
If you weren’t a cyclist what do you think you’d be? Well, I used to be a competitive tennis player in high school and college (and continued to play team and tournament tennis after college). But if I wasn't cycling, I'd probably be playing golf (a sport I came to later in life as something to do with my father-in-law). My daughter, Marin, is an up-and-coming junior golfer (she is the only girl on her varsity high school co-ed team) and I love the time we have together out on the golf course.
Which person in the world would you most like to share a beer with? My daughter, Marin, when she's old enough to drink (she's 16 now so in another 5 years).