Bicycles have been a huge part of the 54-year-old Watson’s life. The Houston native won his first bike race when he was 13, worked at bike shops through high school and college at Berkeley, and then took his first full-time job with a bicycle importer.
At one time, he was racing in some 30 events annually; now, with a growing business and a home remodeling project under way, it’s about five, but still a hobby.
Watson and David Bradfield co-own Arundel Bicycle Company, in Fort Worth. The business designs bike accessories that are manufactured in several factories and sold to bike shops in the U.S., Europe and Asia.
In fact, Arundel’s water bottle cages for racing bikes are used in every major event in cycling, Watson said, including the world championships, Tour de France and Olympic Games.
“It’s very rewarding to see [the bottles] in the Olympics,” he said. “You think, ‘There’s a guy from Kazakhstan; how did he get that?’”
The company has donated items for a raffle to benefit Ride for Heroes: saddle bags for behind the bike seat, handlebar tape.
In this month’s Ride, Watson will pilot a stainless steel bike he made himself, one of some 50 prototypes he and Bradfield are experimenting with.
“It’s on the weird side,” he said. “Carbon fiber is the popular choice. Bike nerds will be drawn to it, because the top brands don’t offer stainless steel.”
Those willing to pay about $300 should be able to buy a bike they can enjoy at most cycling events, Watson said. The average price for bikes dueling it out at the front of Ride for Heroes, however, is about $4,000.
“It’s like grand pianos or wristwatches,” he said. “The levels have no limits. Sometimes people even have bike frames made by a particular guy. You pay in advance and hope he doesn’t die.”