Matt Long is the toughest New York City firefighter you could ever meet. Let’s count the things he’s endured: He survived a tower collapse on 9/11. Four years later, as he was biking to work, he was run over by a 40,000-pound bus. Three years and 43 surgeries later, Long completed a marathon (and then an Ironman). After he began training to make the U.S. Paralympic cycling team for the 2012 Games, he was hit by a Buick. Despite this all, he says he’s training harder now than he has his entire life.
Long now races cycling criteriums, events known for crowded packs of riders, high speeds, and barriers meant to protect spectators from flying cyclists. “Look, it’s not if you crash, it’s when you crash,” Long says.
He’s also toying with the idea of riding in this year’s Race Across the West, a three-day, non-stop, 800-some-mile trek from San Diego to Durango, Colorado. “It’s constant riding, pushing yourself, sleep deprivation, all of that stuff,” Long says. “What appeals to me is that you’re pushing your body nonstop.”
Despite his ultradistance riding ambitions, Long doesn’t look like an emaciated endurance athlete. His pecs pop. His shoulders are sculpted. And the man has cannons for arms. “My wife doesn’t want me to look like the typical cyclist,” says Long, who in addition to being a husband is a father of two. “She’ll tell me I’m getting too skinny. So I like to keep up my muscle mass in the weight room.”
Long’s workout regimen is a combination of weightlifting, CrossFit-style conditioning workouts, and of course, plenty of cycling either on the road or on an indoor trainer. Think you have the stones to hang with him? Here’s what seven days of his training looks like.