Nick Clark built out a bike shop pretending to be a successful retired pro cyclist. He made it work by carefully pitching his imaginary wins at a certain level—a bronze medal here, a national time trial there—which nicely backed his entrepreneurship without triggering too much interest in his past. But in the age of the quantified self, all it took was an unlikely personal time, posted to the Strava social network to nab a "King of the Mountain" badge, for it all to unravel.
When you know to look for the lie, Clark's breakthrough result is easily disproved – but why would you think to fact-check a junior race from almost 30 years ago? He had the stories; he had the medal – there was little reason to question any of it.
Why does this deserve a 20000-word feature article at Cycling Tips? Well, he wasn't just a fake pro cyclist.
Fair enough; that would be an easier story to read. It'd certainly be an easier story to write. A fake pro; a real-life Walter Mitty. The end.
But that's not the story you're reading, because things are about to get much more complicated, much stranger, and much darker.
His life was mired in other deceptions and accusations of sexual misconduct that supposed victim advocacy group SafeSport helped him get away with and now refuses to talk about why.
Over a period stretching many months, CyclingTips has made multiple approaches to USAC's SafeSport department for comment or information on the case.
To date, we have received no response whatsoever – including to specific questions about whether Clark had ever been investigated, whether SafeSport was aware of the complaints about him, whether anything further had been done besides taking the rider testimonials, and why the complaint was unable to proceed further.
Exposed by a Strava KOM: the many lives of a fake pro cyclist [cyclingtips.com]