Tag Archives: Cyclocross

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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Bill Schieken: Cyclocross Passion and the Art of SVENNESS

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Photo by Sean O’Donnell.

Cyclocross lends itself to obsession. Participants either love it and go all in or hate it vehemently. Rare is the middling cross racer with a lukewarm attitude. Bill Schieken of In The Crosshairs falls squarely among the cross obsessed. He is best known for SVENNESS, a web series that recaps the major international cyclocross races and breaks down racers’ technique and strategies. (The title is a play on Sven Nys’ name and a nod to his dominance and nearly-unparalleled bike handling skills). But SVENNESS is just the tip of Schieken’s cyclocross iceberg. He also launched a similar web series, Like a Vos, that’s focused on women’s racing, runs a cycling team, wrote a cyclocross skills book, is a photographer, announces races, is a race series director, and occasionally finds time to actually race. I spoke to Bill about the evolution of In the Crosshairs, SVENNESS, Skills, Drills, & Bellyaches, his history with racing, and much more.

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Elle Anderson: Cyclocross’ Up-and-Coming Crusher

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Photo from theroaddiaries.com.

A relative newcomer to the sport of cyclocross, Elle Anderson came into this season swinging hard. She bagged four wins in a row, taking the top step on both days of the Trek CXC Cup and both days of the Grand Prix of Gloucester. To the casual cyclocross observer, it seemed like Anderson had simply appeared out of thin air. I spoke to her about her success so far this season and how it’s shaping her cycling goals,  her short career as a cyclist and long history as an elite athlete, balancing a non-racing career with her high-level racing, and much more.

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Jeff Bahnson: Cyclocross, Bike Touring, and the Freedom of Adventure

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Photo from Van Dessel.

In 2008, the MABRA cyclocross series championship race was a heated battle between Jeremiah Bishop and Jeff Bahnson. Ultimately it was decided by a close sprint at the line with Jeremiah—a seasoned pro and multi-time mountain bike national champion—winning by half a bike length. That a championship race came down to a sprint is not surprising, but Jeff’s near-victory is remarkable because he was just 15 at the time.

Something of a cyclocross wunderkind, Jeff grew up in Newark, Delaware. His mother, Lauri Webber, is a strong elite racer and Jeff came up racing with the Delaware Cyclocross Coalition of Delaware (which includes notables Weston Schempf, Marc Vettori, and others). He has four junior and collegiate national championship titles and has had strong results in the US and Europe.

This summer he took a break from training and toured across the United States with his friend Felix Smith. They chronicled their trip with photos and stories at lostonbikes.com and plan to put together a book of the 35mm photos they took along the way. In this interview, Jeff talks about his early experiences racing, his rise to the elites, his summer bike touring adventure, his future as a professional cyclist, and more.

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Mo Bruno Roy: Cyclocross, Working Pros, and the Debt of Chasing your Dreams

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Mo at the Gran Prix of Gloucester. Photo from GPGloucester.com

Mo Bruno Roy is one of the fastest women in U.S. cyclocross. The New Englander consistently places top-5 and -10 at the biggest domestic races and typically cracks the top-50% at the World Cup level. In and of itself, that’s an impressive feat. But Mo’s earned her palmarès while maintaining a full-time career as a massage therapist. In this interview, Mo talks about her entry into cycling, the struggle to find the balance between her race career and her day job, how the lack of financial support for women’s racing often necessitates being a working pro, how the demise of the US Gran Prix (USGP) cyclocross series will impact American cross and much more.

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