Just got off of a conference call with the team (a yuuge team, great team, the best team, by the way - seriously, though, I could not be where I am today without Team RideBiker and Sho-Air). But anyway, as with almost everything in the cycling industry, things are changing for the upcoming 2017 season. Though change is sometimes hard, I would venture to say it's almost always good. That being said, here are three things that I'm looking forward to on my bike in 2017:
1. More of the "FUN" stuff! I'm looking forward to lining up at more of the true tests of MTB skills and endurance like the Epic Rides Series, and the Breck Epic (*Hint hint - let me know if you have a couch I can sleep on for any of these!). After an Olympic cycle when the battle for precious UCI points is put somewhat on the back burner, I see no reason why mountain bike racing shouldn't bring those hard-man, massive-loop, hold-your-own-in-the-wilderness style events back to the core of the US race scene. They always include awesome racing, with rad race atmosphere, and a worthy party for afterward.
2. More of the "COME ONE, COME ALL!" stuff! I'm also stoked for all of the crazy people you'll find at a bike race! Last year, I met a guy at the Iron Horse Bicycle Classic that claimed he'd been living off of his bike for the past year - everything he owns on his bike, riding from town to town following the good weather and the sunshine (this is actually my backup plan if it turns out I never get a job with my math degree). Across the street, the strider bike races were going on, with the Cruiser Crit was getting ready to take off a few moments later. Events and bike races like the Iron Horse have a little of something for nearly everybody. With everything we have to worry about in the world these days, it's nice that we can all show up to a sweet local MTB race and agree to all have an awesome day on our bikes!
3. More of the "RELATIONSHIP" stuff! Over the past year, if there's one thing that's become clear to me about what it means to be a professional in the world of mountain biking, it's that good results at races are only small part of what makes a successful pro. I just read Teal Stetson Lee's latest blog post over my morning coffee, and she's totally right: what matters even more than results are my "personality, my work ethic, my relatability, my appearance, my connections, my messaging and philosophies, my values"... She has a bunch more to add, so you should really just go read it for yourself. But anyway, I'm looking forward to building more of the kinds of relationships in 2017 that make the MTB racing world keep turning; to keep building my own brand and flare as a biker. I'm looking forward to working with more awesome companies like Trek Bikes, who have been with me from the very start; keep an eye on their Trek Race Shop website - you might catch a glimpse of Emily and me there in the coming months. I'm looking forward to spending more time with Durango Devo, and World Bicycle Relief and all of the other individuals and brands that help make the MTB world what it is today. All that is to say, if you see me around - out training or at a race - come say hello! Part of what makes the cycling world cool is that we can all be pretty awesome friends. So let's keep that going!