Monthly Archives: December 2011

The Best Cycling Story of 2011

The last weeks of December are a time for reflection, introspection, and a flood of Best-of and Top-10 lists across the Internet. I don’t have a top 10 list to share with you (instead I encourage you to go back and read all of the interviews on The Bicycle Story and pick YOUR 10 favorites to share with everyone you know). But, I do have one fantastic article to share with you; hands down the best piece of cycling-related writing I read this year.

Philip Gourevitch’s July 2011 New Yorker story, “Climbers” explores the history of the Rwandan national cycling team, its rising stars, and its founders to tell a smart, informative story about tragedy and redemption in Rwanda.

At over 13,000 words, Gourevitch’s complex narrative is difficult to summarize in a few lines. The stars of Team Rwanda were mostly young boys at the time of the 1994 genocide. A mix of Hutu and Tutsi,  the team offers its riders both an escape from poverty and an outlet that helps them deal with the horrors of their pasts. The team’s success and the riders’ status as national figures also brings with it new found pressure and expectations from family, fans, and friends.

The head of Team Rwanda Jonathan “Jock” Boyer is a former pro-cyclist who had success as one of the first American’s to race the Tour de France and later as the winner of the 1985 Race Across America. His life fell apart in the decades following his professional cycling career as his business crumbled, his marriage ended, and he spent a year in prison for “lewd acts with a minor.” Mountain bike legend Tom Ritchey (Boyer’s childhood friend) reached out to him to help found the Rwandan cycling team, which has in-turn marked the start of Boyer’s own redemption.

If “Climbers” was just an article about the history and relative-success of Team Rwanda it would be fascinating and enjoyable. That Gourevitch uses it as a catalyst to discuss the devastating genocide and the country’s progress towards reconciliation and recovery makes it a valuable piece of long-form journalism.

Now you should take the time to go read it yourself.

Adam McGrath: Cyclocross’ Wanderlusting, Micro-Farming Homesteader, Part 2

Adam and his mandolin in Japan. Photo via flickr.

Like the majority of American’s in their early 20s, Adam McGrath is making big transitions in his life as he finds his path. Granted, his transition is from pro cyclocross racer to rural homesteader, but it’s a transition just the same. More focused on sustainable living than podiums and prize money, Adam’s chosen to settle down on a small piece of land on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula rather than continue traveling the country and world to race cyclocross. In Part one of the interview, we talked about Adam’s rise to the ranks of pro cycling and his formative years of nearly-constant world travel. Part two picks up with Adam’s disenfranchisement with professional racing, the balance he finds living on a farm, and his future as a professional cyclist.

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Photos From Saturday at USGP Bend

Three teammates and I loaded up our bikes, piled into the car, and headed out from Seattle last Friday headed for Bend, Oregon for the last stop of the US Grand Prix of Cyclocross. Saturday’s pro races were spectacular. Katerina Nash took an early and decisive lead in the women’s race, but the battle for second between Nicole Duke, Meredith Miller, and Teal Stetson-Lee was fierce to the last corner. In the men’s race, Tim Johnson raced Jeremy Powers way off the front with a form he hasn’t shown all season long. Third place was a toss up between a chase group filled with people like Geoff Kabush, Chris Jones, Danny Summerhill and Ben Berden.

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Adam McGrath: Cyclocross’ Wanderlusting, Micro-Farming Homesteader, Part 1

Photo via Van Dessel Sports.

Adam McGrath’s story begins like that of the typical professional cyclist. Fast junior with promising natural talent rises to the pro ranks, travels the national racing circuit and makes a few forays into the European scene. From there, however, it takes a sharp turn towards unique. Nomadic travels around the world, the formation of strong philosophies on injustice and inequality, and homesteading on a small piece of property out on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula took precedent over racing. In part 1 of 2, Adam talks about his early exposure to cyclocross growing up in Boulder, CO, his path to professional racing, and his motivation to see the world.

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