Through cycling, Formanes lost about 100 pounds. His personality changed. He became a leader. And come Sunday morning, Formanes, 18, will compete at the Philadelphia Insurance Triathlon for the second year in a row.
His living room is more cluttered than it was three years ago, when he joined Cadence, a Philadelphia nonprofit meant to create opportunities for underserved young people through cycling. Four bicycles lean against the fireplace. Loose tires attach themselves to a wall. Fenders and gears lay on an end table, where they wait to be fastened onto a new ride.
Formanes didn't decorate the room with his wheels and trinkets before joining the foundation as a sophomore, he said, but back then he also wasn't the type to take charge. Formanes wears glasses, and he was shy, short, overweight - "small but big," he said. An easy target.
At Beverly Hills Middle School, and later at Upper Darby High School, bullies flocked to Formanes. In the library, one boy wrapped arms around his hips and tossed him to the ground for borrowing a computer. In the cafeteria, another boy squeezed Formanes' chest fat every day for months.
One time after class in eighth grade, a group jumped Formanes. Someone punched him in the back of the head and sprinted away, Formanes said. Another person stomped his foot against Formanes' face, bouncing the back of his head off the 69th Street asphalt. He suffered a concussion.
That last offense pulled Formanes to Cleveland, where he stayed with his grandmother and finished the last two months of the school year. Already overweight, Formanes gorged on fast-food.
Formanes swelled to about 280 pounds by the time he returned to Upper Darby before his freshman year, and he hardly stood taller than 5 feet. The taunting returned, and his grades suffered.
"I didn't want to go to school," he said. "I did anything I could to get through the day. That meant sitting in the back of the class, not paying attention, sleeping."
Formanes knew he couldn't stay at Upper Darby.
The next year he enrolled in online classes at Agora Cyber Charter School. And, tired of breathing heavily after walking upstairs, he joined Cadence. A year into the program, Formanes dropped about 30 pounds. The next year, 50 more pounds of fat fell off.
"I like this," he said. "As much as this hurts, I like being tired. I like being able to complain about having a hard day."
He gained confidence. Last year, Cadence leaders selected him and three other boys to attend a bike summit in Washington. There, Formanes met Patrick Cunnane, president of Advanced Sports International.
Talk to people about your weight loss, Cunnane told Formanes. It will draw more people to the sport, he said. And so Formanes has accepted a role as the face of Cadence. The home page of the foundation's website features a video about Formanes.
Last year, for the first time, he trained for triathlons to lose more weight. He would pedal and pedal, pushing the bike he called Blue Betty for about 16 hours each week, and still the scale didn't bulge. He was stuck at 201 pounds.
But triathlons pushed him to a new level. He shed another 25 pounds, though the weight has since returned. After a fall from his bike in February, Formanes suffered a broken right clavicle. He couldn't ride for two months.
Formanes graduated from Agora on Wednesday night, and he said he received about $21,000 in grant money for school next year. As a freshman, Formanes wasn't thinking college. His grades were poor, higher education too expensive.
He also didn't expect to motivate others about getting in shape. Or to set goals like his latest one: drop down to 150 pounds.
For now, though, he is just focused on the first step. In the fall, Formanes will attend Lees-McRae College in Banner Elk, N.C. - the only college in the country where you can minor in cycling studies.