Category Archives: Cyclocross

Jeremy Powers: Life at the Top of American Cyclocross

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Jeremy Powers under the lights at CrossVegas. Photo by Motofish Images courtesy Emily Powers.

Jeremy Powers likely doesn’t need much introduction to The Bicycle Story’s readers. He is almost unquestionably the best American male cyclocross racer of his generation. Powers has won every race he’s entered so far this season save for his impressive 3rd behind Sven Nys and Lars van der Haar at CrossVegas. He’s been similarly dominant the last few seasons notching dozens of wins, two national titles, and a few USGP overall titles. Despite that, success in Europe has eluded Powers. He’s hoping to buck that trend this season and has made some radical changes such as quitting road racing and launching his new one man Aspire team to try and make that happen.

Off the race course, Powers is nearly as ubiquitous in American cyclocross. His popular Behind The Barriers web series evolved into a full-on cyclocross media company with live race coverage, analysis and more. His nonprofit JAMFund charity works with underprivileged cyclists in New England and is developing some of the best up-and-coming US cyclocross pros. Talking with Powers the week before he headed to Europe for the Valkenburg World Cup, it was clear that his success is not just the product of a huge engine and good handling skills (though that’s certainly essential). He’s taken a meticulous approach to all aspects of his career–training, racing, building a team, media exposure, partnerships, developing younger riders, etc–and it’s paying off. I spoke to him about his new Aspire program, his deep history in the sport, the challenges of Europe, what it will take to get Americans on World Cup podiums, the growth of Behind The Barriers and JAMFund, and much more.

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Andy Bokanev: Photographing the Life Within Racing

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Andy Bokanev on a ride in LA. Photo by Kelly Nowels.

Lauding the Internet for breaking down the barriers between creators and their potential audience is so commonplace it’s cliche. But without that easy access to eager Instagrammers, tweeters, and bloggers, Andy Bokanev almost definitely would not have had his blazing fast rise from hobbyist photographer to professional. In the course of about a year he went from shooting local cyclocross to embedding with pro teams like Hagens Berman and Rapha Condor at major US races and working with big brands such as Specialized and Castelli. In a similar vein as his cycling photography contemporaries Emily Maye, Emiliano Granado, and Daniel Wakefield Pasley, Bokanev’s work centers as much on life around bike racing–the race prep, the mechanics, the bored hours whiled away at the crappy motel–as it does on the actual racing. I sat down with Bokanev in a loud pub in Seattle to talk about his foray into photography, his efforts to break into professional work, cycling’s attraction, his photography influences, his immigration to the US, and more.

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Jessica Cutler: The Tough Race for Cycling Equality

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Jessica Cutler at Nationals in Boulder. Photo by Lori Brazel.

Like many women in the American pro peloton, Jessica Cutler came to cycling fairly late. She didn’t really start racing competitively until her late 20s and signed her first pro contract at 32. She’s been making up for lost time over the last three years, though. The time-trial specialist has notched dozens of time trial wins and lots of top-5s and -10s in stage racing, cyclocross, and track. And–again like many of her pro-racer colleagues–she’s accomplished all this while holding down a job at home; in her case as a family lawyer. I sat down with Cutler in the weeks between the end of road season and the start of cross to talk about her race career, riding through injuries, balancing law work and cycling, the need for pro women to find outside financial support, the tough path to gender parity in cycling, and plenty more.

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Sam Smith: Making Bike Movies, Waking up Happy

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Photo courtesy of Sam Smith.

Filmmaker Sam Smith is probably best known as the eccentric-looking guy following Jeremy Powers around with a camera for the web series Behind The Barriers. But Sam’s roots in cycling films reach back over a decade. His first film, Transition, centers on the 2004 North American cyclocross season, following the stories of guys like Barry Wicks, Ryan Trebon, Adam Myerson, and Geoff Kabush. He followed up with a sequel to Transition, a short-lived “video periodical” called Cyclofile, before eventually starting Behind The Barriers. And though he’s left Behind The Barriers, Sam is still producing cycling films including the forthcoming Working Dogs and a new episodic series called Acro Velo. Sam and I spoke about his history with filmmaking, his junior years of bike racing, working on Behind The Barriers and his decision to leave, his filmmaking influences, and much more.

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Spencer Paxson: Fighting to the Top as a Working Man’s Mountain Biker

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Photo from konaworld.com.

There’s something of an adoration–occasionally bordering on idolatry–for the working men and women of professional bike racing. We hold high racers such as Erik Tonkin, Tristan Schouten, and Mo Bruno-Roy who put in a full week’s work and still make it to the podium on the weekends. That esteem is, in part, a recognition of their serious dedication to the sports we love and their willingness to sacrifice time to compete at the highest levels. But it is also that we can see ourselves in working pros, unrealistic as that is. Few of us will actually spend the time training to compete at that level and even fewer have the genetics to do so. But their success feels just a little more within our grasp, a little more aspirational to those of us finding time to train and race in between all of life’s other commitments.

And though he eschews the notion that his full time job is a badge of honor or an excuse, Spencer Paxson falls squarely among that top tier of American working pros. He routinely places in the top 10 at national-level professional cross-country mountain bike races, placed 5th at the 2012 cross-country nationals, has made the US World Championships selection, and was on the 2012 Olympics long team. I spoke to Paxson about the challenges of balancing his office job with his bike racing job, what it means to have a career as a cross country racer in the ever evolving world of mountain bike racing, coming up under the mentorship of Erik Tonkin, and much more.

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