Ellen Noble taking the U23 leaders jersey at Gloucester. Photo via cycle-smart.com
For most people, riding bikes in second grade meant cruising around on park sidewalks with friends. For Ellen Noble, it meant lining up against adults in her first mountain bike race. It helps explain how, at just 19, she’s a professional cyclist with two cyclocross and two mountain bike national titles and nearly a dozen UCI podiums and wins to her name.
Though she’d been making a splash for a few years as a prominent elite junior, it was just last season that Noble had a major breakthrough and established herself as one of the strongest racers in the pro women’s field. She credits much of that success to joining the JAM Fund cycling team, the nonprofit development squad founded by Jeremy Powers, Alec Donahue, and Mukunda Feldman. I spoke to Noble about her early days racing with her parents, her development into a professional, JAM Fund’s successful development program, the difficulties of being a teenage pro athlete, and much more.
Posted in Cyclocross, Interviews, Mountain Biking, Racing
Tagged al donahue, american cyclocross, ellen noble, jam fund, jeremy powers, mukunda feldman, NECX, new england cyclocross, professional cyclocross racers, women and cycling, women's cyclocross
Allen Krughoff riding in Colorado. Photo by Dane Cronin.
Nearly any conversation about U.S. cyclocross these days will hit on two points: its status as a participant sport and its explosive growth. USA Cycling says it’s the fastest growing sector of cycling in America, with participation numbers quadrupling over the last decade. That boom paints a picture of a big sales of cyclocross bikes and a sport flush with sponsorship money and good salaries for professional athletes. But that’s often not the case. While there are certainly some American cyclocross pros making a nice living, many racers receive little money beyond travel expenses, equipment, and race-day support and often have to hold down another job to make their racing life viable.
It’s a reality Allen Krughoff knows well. Over the last few years he has established himself as one of the best domestic cyclocross pros, notching wins and podium spots at the country’s biggest races (as well as an impressive 7th at CrossVegas as one of the few Americans able to hang with a stacked field of Euros). Financial success as a bike racer hasn’t been on such a consistent rise for Krughoff, however. Last summer, on the cusp of his best season yet, he and fellow pro Meredith Miller were scrambling to pull together sponsors for their new, two person Noosa Professional Cyclocross program. I spoke to Krughoff about the difficult business side of being an American pro, his winding path to cyclocross racing, launching and maintaining his own team, and more.
Posted in Cyclocross, Interviews, Racing
Tagged allen krughoff, american cyclocross, boulder, growth of american cyclocross, meredith miller, noosa yogurt, noosacx, pro bike racing, professional cylocross, raleigh clement, working man's pro
Glen Copus with a fleet of Elephants in Spokane. Photo by Ben Tobin via Elephant Bikes Facebook page.
For a man whose career has woven in and out of many major eras of bike history, Glen Copus has managed to fly under the mainstream radar remarkably well. He raced cyclocross in Santa Cruz in the late 70s and early 80s with American cross pioneers Laurence Malone and Dan Nall. He learned how to build bike frames from Keith Bontrager, one of the godfathers of mountain biking. Copus worked as a race mechanic in Europe for the US women’s road team in the 80s. He did production building for Serotta, Bontrager, and Rocky Mountain Bikes. He was in it and has the stories to tell. But one doesn’t get the impression that Copus ever wanted to be a bike industry “name” so much as he wanted to just go to the workshop, put his head down, and build amazing bicycles. When he launched his own bike company Elephant after an 18 year stint in metal fabrication, he chose the name in part to keep his own off the downtube. Today, Copus continues to build Elephant bikes out of his garage workshop in Spokane, WA–a mix of custom frame orders and small-batch production runs. In this interview, Copus discusses his long history in the bike world from shop rat to professional builder, life as a race mechanic, bike art versus commonsense craft, the business side of frame building, and more.
Posted in Bike Industry, Cyclocross, Frame Builders, Interviews, Mechanics
Tagged bill woodul, custom bike builders, custom frame builder, dan nall, elephant bikes, glen copus, jeannie longo, keith bontrager, laurence malone, rocky mountain bikes, santa cruz cyclocross, serotta
Frank The Welder. Photo by Bear Cieri.
Frank Wadelton, aka Frank The Welder, is a legendary figure in American frame building. He’s worked at Yeti, Spooky, Mongoose, and many others and had a tremendous influence on mountain bike design. These days he builds under his own name, Frank The Welder. This short film from Jake Goss provides a great glimpse into Frank’s life and career history.
Posted in Art, Cyclocross, Everything Else, Frame Builders
Tagged cycling documentary, frame builder history, frank the welder, frank wadelton, ftw inc, mongoose, mountain bike history, new england frame builders, spooky, turner, yeti
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.
Posted in Cyclocross, Interviews, Racing
Tagged adam myerson, american cyclocross, aspire racing, behind the barriers, crossvegas, JAMfund, jeremy powers, jpows, NECX, rapha focus, stephen hyde, sven nys