How #Browen Became ‘A Bromance Like No Other’
by Nicole Haase
Owen Daniels and Brandon Lyons share a fist bump at the start of the road race at the 2023 UCI Para-Cycling Road World Cup in Huntsville, Alabama. (Photo: Casey Gibson)
What started as a silly joke after a long day of travel has grown into a bit of a movement for the U.S. Para-cycling team.
During a recent road world cup swing through Europe, the hashtag #Browen was born from some jet lag and a coach trying to smash the names Brandon and Owen together to signify that Brandon Lyons and Owen Daniels were assigned to a car from the airport.
On that trip, the U.S. handcyclists, who have been friends for years, had asked to room together — a rarity for teammates who compete against one another, Lyons said.
Sharing a room meant they often showed up to team meetings, training sessions and meals together, and every time they did, the portmanteau of their names grew in popularity among their teammates and coaches.
Teasing about the nickname and the guys’ “bromance” brought a levity to the team’s early May trip to Ostend, Belgium, both cyclists agreed.
Cycling is both a team and individual sport, and it requires the members of the U.S. national team to find a balance between focusing on their own goals and working toward the greater success of the group. It’s understandable that camaraderie and closeness among teammates, particularly those that compete in the same class, can be difficult to forge.
But that’s never really been an issue for Daniels and Lyons. Their individual paths have put them on the same team and in the same classification for the first time this season. Even without their shared passion for cycling, they’d get along, said Daniels, because they have so much in common.
“It’s quite refreshing to actually have someone you can spend time with and enjoy these trips instead of worrying about if your teammate is going to be a nuisance or a nightmare,” said Daniels.
No one knows better than the other what these men go through in training and competing. Instead of looking at each other as rivals, they view the other as friendly competition and use the other both as motivation and a sounding board.
“When you’re in the same class and you’re competing for the same spots and everything is so tight, sometimes there can be — you’re competitive, but not always in a positive way,” Daniels said.
But there is none of that with Lyons and Daniels. Lyons said seeing Daniels do well motivates him to train harder and go faster. They push each other to be better athletes and feed off each other.
“Do I want to beat Owen? Absolutely! Does Owen want to beat me? Hell yeah!” said Lyons. “We definitely root for ourselves both to do very well. I hope we both do well every single race.”
#Browen started as a lighthearted joke among the team.
The seeds of something bigger were planted as the athletes were waiting to start time trials in Ostend. Daniels and Lyons told U.S. Paralympics Cycling director Ian Lawless that if they finished in the top two spots, the team social media had to post a picture with the hashtag #Browen.
It was a bit of pre-race banter, but Daniels looked at it more as a simple joke.
“Me and Brandon just wanted national team points,” Daniels said. “Our goal was just top seven. If you asked us if we thought we were going to podium, we really didn’t know. Our whole plan was just to get points towards the national team.”
Instead, Daniels ended up crossing the finish line with the fastest time, and just a blink behind him was Lyons.
“For us to go one and a half seconds off of each other and like that was amazing,” Daniels said. “In a 30-minute time trial and you’re that close, it was awesome.”
The first- and second-place finishes solidified the legend of #Browen. The men thought U.S. Paralympics Cycling would put a picture of them on the podium on social media. The faux movie poster about the “bromance like no other” was more than they could have imagined.
Now they’re preparing for their next act as the United States hosts its first road cycling world cup event this weekend in Huntsville, Alabama. They will get to compete for their country in their country for the first time. It’s also the first opportunity that many friends and family, including Daniels’ wife, will have to see them compete at the international level.
“It’s super exciting to have the first ever world cup here in the U.S.,” Lyons said. “Coming off our successes in the past trip, this course in Huntsville suits us very well. It’s a course we’re both familiar with and we’re excited to have a little bit of an advantage on our side in the U.S., on a course that we’ve already raced before.”
Their success in Belgium has put them in the spotlight and solidified that the U.S. men’s H3 competitors can actually win and be competitive in the class, something the team has not been able to sustain in the past. But the men say they relish expectations that they’ve now set for themselves.
“Going forward, maybe we’ll have some pressure now of continuing to trend upward and trying to be a force,” Lyons said.
The immediate focus is on Huntsville, but #Browen has big plans.
“I’ll be the first to say that I think #Browen should be at the world championships,” said Lyons.
Daniels concurred and suggested #BrowenParis2024.
“The sequel is coming soon,” Lyons said, referring back to the U.S. Paralympics Cycling faux movie poster.
“And it’s going to be better than the first movie,” said Daniels.