Benjamin Gorman-Stamps is celebrating his 11th birthday the hard way — riding 111 miles along the Santa Monica Bay, back and forth between Venice and the base of the Palos Verdes Peninsula.
What You Need To Know
- Benjamin Gorman-Stamps is celebrating his 11th birthday by riding 111 miles along the Santa Monica Bay
- Gorman-Stamps will be doing a Century Ride (100 miles) with an 11 mile victory lap
- In October, Gorman-Stamps decided to get ready to ride
- For the better part of the last seven months, he’s been training himself to get there
In the parlance of the cycling community, Gorman-Stamps will do a Century Ride (100 miles) with an 11 mile victory lap. It’s just the latest in a show of fearlessness that’s uncommon in a young man his age.
In October, Gorman-Stamps got ready to ride more than 100 miles to celebrate his birthday, and for the better part of the last seven months, he’s been training himself to get there.
“I’m doing it because I knew I was determined, and all of my friends have been going on centuries, so I decided that I would do a century and 11 miles for my birthday,” Gorman-Stamps said. “I love biking.”
Determined is right.
Little more than a week ago, Gorman-Stamps pinged a reporter’s Instagram inbox. “Are you going to report on my historic ride on May 1,” the message read.
That there was no question mark felt appropriate: though it was phrased like a question, it didn’t feel like it. A few days later, another ping: he had started a live video on Instagram, tagging the reporter again.
“That’s him for sure. He’s relentless,” said Justin Rhone.
Rhone is the president of Urban Demand Cycling, a community of riders that recently took Benjamin in as one of their own. It took a minute, though, Rhone admitted.
“Just because he’s a 10-year-old. I didn’t believe he could keep up with us — we’re a faster paced group,” Rhone said.
But Gorman-Stamps was relentless; he would tag, pester, and comment until he got the result he was looking for. Rhone had just posted an update on a recent weekend ride, when he got another ping.
“‘Oh, no invite? Is it my turn yet?’ OK man, let’s go,” Rhone recalled saying to himself.
Gorman-Stamps started taking riding seriously last year, when he and his mother, Mia Gorman, bought him a bike that they rode back home from their local shop.
It got more intense as he began diving into the cycling community. To join bigger rides, like those of Ron Holden and Geo Delgado’s Ride for Black Lives events, typically starting outside of Delgado’s Burgers 99 restaurant, Gorman-Stamps would set his alarm for 4:30 a.m. to get there.
He came to love cycling because of “all of the support, and all of the people,” Gorman-Stamps said. “There’s a lot of friendship, and a lot of people helped me…they invested in me a lot.”
But when he decided to ride a century, he got serious, and he was connected with cycling coach David Brinton. Brinton is a former pro cyclist, multi-time world champion, and competitor in the 1988 Olympics.
When Brinton was first contacted, he was hesitant. Personally, he wouldn’t set a 10-year-old boy onto such an ambitious goal. The training for a century puts a lot of wear and tear on a young body, and recovery time is important for a ride of such significant distance and duration — they’re expecting to be in the saddle for about nine hours on Saturday.
But, with the goal set, Brinton put Gorman-Stamps on a regimen that involved one major ride a week, and a ton of recovery.
It’s worked well so far, Brinton said. On a recent tune-up ride, Gorman-Stamps was able to ride 50 miles at an average of 16 miles per hour, which delighted the coach.
“The thing that makes this so special, such a remarkable achievement, is that I’ve never seen a 10, 11-year-old boy accomplish something so great,” Brinton said. “There are so many life lessons in this, putting the work in, having the dedication, seeing improvement and gaining confidence that when you put your mind to something and have a concrete plan…amazing things can be accomplished.”
Gorman, Gorman-Stamps’ mother, has championed him the whole way, both publicly and subtlely — neither she nor Gorman-Stamps made it clear who exactly is behind each and every one of the messages from his Instagram account.
But her son, she said, has always been outgoing and gregarious.
“That’s just his personality. I try to work within his tendencies versus trying to make him conform to something else,” Gorman said. “He’s not trying to hurt anybody, he’s just trying to see to this personal goal.”
Gorman-Stamps is still a kid, his friends, family, and coaches are careful to remember — he’ll still play Fortnite online with friends, he still chases whims, he still cuts into conversations when he’s bored. And a big part of the reason he’s doing this milestone ride is to inspire other kids to ride with him: most of his friends in the cycling community, he noted, are older teenagers.
But a ride like this, Rhone said, says a lot about who he is and what’s coming down the road for him.
“I’m sure he’s going to be somebody special in a couple more years…when he gets to be 16 or 18 and he has some really dope non-profit, doing really dope stuff in the community or across the country, hey, I’ve seen it from ground zero,” Rhone said. “I wouldn’t be surprised if he was doing something really well in a few years.”