Pro Mountain Biker Christopher Blevins on Racing vs. Playing on the Bike

This past weekend Blevins crashed during the short track race (XCC) at Les Gets but still managed a top-20 finish. We're re-sharing our interview with him from last year.

This week we’re re-sharing one of our favorite podcast episodes, and we’ll be back next week with an all-new show.

Last year Christopher Blevins became the first American man to win a World Cup race since 1994, taking first in the final XCO race of the season at Snowshoe, West Virginia. He’s also the 2021 short track world champion, and has notched numerous podium finishes at national and international mountain, cyclocross, and road races. This past weekend Blevins crashed during the short track race (XCC) at Les Gets but still managed a top-20 finish. In the cross country race on Sunday he was not feeling well due to injuries suffered in the XCC race and pulled out of the competition.

In this interview we ask:

  • How did the Durango DEVO community-based cycling program shape who you are as a rider?
  • What is it about Durango that produces so many talented riders? Is it the elevation, or the terrain, or something else?
  • How does being a playful rider translate on the race course?
  • How did you get interested in spoken word poetry?
  • What did you learn through the process of preparing for and then racing your FKT attempt along the Los Padres route?
  • Which do you find more challenging: FKTs or World Cup racing? How are they different or the same?
  • As a professional athlete, what do you see as your role in important issues like climate change?
  • How can we balance the positives that tourism can bring to an area with the impact that it has in terms of the carbon footprint of travel and the strain on local resources?
  • Why did you decide to join the Trinity Racing team?
  • Were you thinking about becoming the first US male to win a World Cup race in 27 years at the start of the Snowshoe XC event last year?
  • Who are some entrepreneurs you admire? Do you see yourself becoming an entrepreneur in the traditional business sense, or is entrepreneurship applicable to making a career as an athlete?
  • What’s next for you?

A full, automatically-generated transcript of this podcast conversation is available to Singletracks supporters.

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Jeff 0:00
Hey everybody, welcome to the Singletracks podcast. My name is Jeff and today my guest is Christopher Blevins. This year Christopher became the first American man to win a World Cup race since 1994. Taking first in the final cross country Olympic race at the end of the season in snowshoe West Virginia. He’s also the reigning Short Track World Champion and has notched numerous podium finishes at national and international mountain cyclocross and road races. This month he’s got a short documentary film titled The long traverse that will be premiering online. Thanks for joining us, Christopher.

Christopher 1:25
Thanks for having me, Jeff.

Jeff 1:27
Well, so I want to start talking a little bit about your background. You grew up in Durango and participated in the Durango Divo community based cycling program, how did that program shape who you are as a writer?

Christopher 1:40
Yeah, man. You know, it has everything to do with the writer I am and the person I am truly, you know, growing up in Durango, you can look 360 degrees around you and see where a bike can take you. You know, like I had neighbors who are Olympians that net over and live right now. But I also you know, you could see a bike and help you coach and working in a bike shop is, you know, a skill mechanic you can travel around the world, like filming bikes or something. So it was really like it’s really woven into the community in Devo is part of that. And the whole philosophy is to develop lifelong cyclists and we kind of accidentally get fast in that process.

Jeff 2:18
Yeah. Interesting. Well, what is it then about Durango, though, that produces so many talented writers. Do you think I mean, you mentioned there’s Olympians, there’s I mean, net over? And is there there’s all kinds of athletes that come out of there? Is it the elevation the terrain? Or is it just that community that’s there in place?

Christopher 2:37
Yeah. I mean, that’s a question I’m trying to answer myself. You know, I mean, there’s no magic secret to Durango beyond all of the people. And in fact, we have, you know, hundreds of miles of trails out the back door. Right. But it’s really the people like Sarah, Tasha and Chad cine, the founders of Durango Devo. You know, I’ve created something that parents move to Durango now to put their kids in Devo, like other parents will different places to put their kids in some school. Yeah, yeah, that’s an estimate to how incredible the program is as a, as a foundational learning tool and development tool, you know, externally of cycling, that’s just the weigh in to building confidence and community. So yeah, I mean, there’s there’s a lot of different pieces to that. And yeah, you know, he just got to go to Durango and kind of talk to those people. And then it’s like, oh, okay, that’s why.

Jeff 3:32
Right. Yeah. Yes. Super unique. And what’s interesting, too, I mean, Fort Lewis College there, right, obviously has like a really good cycling program, but then you chose to leave Durango right for college and, and everything. So, yeah, again, is it? I guess it’s the community that’s there. But there, there are also multiple paths, right?

Christopher 3:52
Yeah. Yeah, for sure. You know, I think, you know, people who grew up in a small town can relate to, you know, looking elsewhere for college. And it was a it was a really good decision for me, like my sister, other families out in California. Okay, I want to choose a college I would choose independently of cycling, but at the same time, be able to pursue the Olympics. Yeah. In college. Right, right. And just frankly, collegiate cycling is not built, really to support that in mountain biking and maybe different for track or road in some ways, but it’s almost a better path for for certain individuals. It really depends on where you know where you’re at. But for me better to carve out my own sort of individual training and cycling program alongside my school. Yeah. And you’re in San Luis Obispo. I have community and friends who can push me as well.

Jeff 4:42
Yeah, that’s awesome. Well, your upcoming film, The Long traverse is sort of set there or near St. Louis Obispo on in California. And I want to talk about so at the beginning. You kind of open and close with some of your spoken word poetry. So that’s the one My first question is like, how did you get interested in that and build kind of the skills for doing that?

Christopher 5:06
Well, you know, freshman year of high school, I had a poetry unit. And I was like, Man, I actually liked this, like, writing raps, like, you know, a lot of eighth graders do you know, and then I started to realize, wow, I can actually use this to express some things in. And I really like rhyming and all of that. So that’s where it started. And it’s, it’s stuck. It’s stuck with me, you know, it’s always been just a different kind of outlet to cycling, a different outlet, a different form of the same expression, if that makes sense. You know, there’s not really that many intrinsic differences in like, you know, expressing yourself through something like cycling versus poetry, music, but it’s obviously an entirely different medium. But yeah, and then like freshman year of college, I wrote an album that was really like a rite of passage for me, you know, kind of culmination of biomarker 18. The album’s called biomarkers, it’s like, stepping out of high school into adulthood. Yeah. And yeah, it’s cool now to be able to weave it back into the sport with something like the launchers.

Jeff 6:05
Yeah, that’s really cool. I mean, do you have other outlets for it as well, I mean, this, this seemed like a natural one, right? Like a video and like in the mountain bike world, like, we watch a lot of videos, and we love videos. But yeah, I mean, do you get to, like, perform it live? Or like, what else are you able to do with that sort of passion? And how do you share it?

Christopher 6:25
Yeah. I mean, I’ve always wanted to have that little, you know, cafe or bar, you can go in and do open mic, might have your community there. You know, the fact is, I can’t do everything at once. And right now, I’m a bike racer, right. So that means I’ll probably be recovering instead of going to an open mic night at a bar. Yeah. But that will be available in the future, you know, yeah, just cycling is something that kind of sticks with you. And you can do it when you’re when you’re older. So it’s poetry, music writing. So right now, you know, in the past couple years with the Olympics, and in everything, like I’ve took a couple advanced, more advanced poetry classes in college, which was really exciting to learn about Sonic texture and form. That was kind of the way to carry that forward. But yeah, for now, you know, it’s, it’s sort of it is in the background to cycling, but that’s okay with me.

Jeff 7:18
Yeah, that’s interesting that you say you can’t do everything at once. Because looking at like your resume so far. I mean, you’re young. And you’ve already done so many, like really different things, you know, from like, BMX to road to cyclocross to winning all these mountain bike races. And the other thing that I’m really struck by is you’re like a really talented and playful rider on the bike. And I’m curious to know, like, how does that translate into racing like that sort of playfulness and style, if you will? Yeah. Well,

Christopher 7:50
I think you know, that the playfulness all comes from BMX in Durango Devo. You know, like, the, the people like Steven Davis, who’s marathon national champion, who I grew up riding with in, I mean, Steven and I riding when we were like, 12, and whatever. 15. Like, it was incredible. We just like, do these insane lines and our coaches leading us and it was all fun and play based, you know, and that came from, I think, the mix of different disciplines I dabbled in, or really, myself and grown up, primarily BMX. And then I think, you know, when I race, I’m actually far less playful than I am. Every time I ride, you know, it’s funny. It’s something I’ve been thinking about recently, like, my legs are, there’s locks straight out when I’m descending, so I can ever more. Yeah, I’m never gonna, I don’t want to be someone who pops a wheelie or doesn’t no-hander in a race because I’m in that race to win, you know, right. But the second the race is done if there’s a pumptrack right there, and I have any energy left. I’ll go do it. But yeah, I mean, there’s always room even in the middle of the Olympics or something to to let what you learned from playing on the bike, come back in and help you go faster.

Jeff 9:04
Yeah, I mean, has it affected you though, like where you are right now, in your racing career? Do you? I don’t know, sort of second guessed those times when you’re like, Oh, I’m gonna go hit the pumptrack. And then you’re like, maybe I shouldn’t because I don’t want to, you know, fall and break my wrist.

Christopher 9:19
Yeah. Well, you know, I think I’ve like grown up in as a BMX kid, like, I’ve broken my wrist a number of times. I, you know, have literally three quarters of my life of like, learning what not to do. Yeah, we jump I probably shouldn’t hit. And I think I’m, you know, I’m good at that. And I’m not really willing to take risks. Right now, you know, my career’s is what is like racing, so I’m not gonna go to the bike parking, do something crazy, but yeah, it’s always like, there’s always a balance there. And you just gotta kind of intuitively know what it is for yourself.

Jeff 9:57
Yeah, makes sense. Well, I want to get back to time Talking more about the film. So a big part of this is about this los padres route in I believe it’s the Los Padres National Forest. Right. Tell us a bit about the route and like how that came together and sort of your involvement.

Christopher 10:14
Yeah. So I live in San Luis Obispo. And it’s 45 minutes from the start of the route, which is in between Santa Maria in cuyama, California, okay, out in the valley on the other side of the Los Padres. And then the route that Los Padres traverse climbs up and over this year, Madre mountains down to Lake Attuma, which is, which is close to Santa Barbara. So you’d like you could continue for 20 miles or so and get to the Pacific Ocean. Okay. And on the way you you come from, you know, the east, which overlooks the Mojave Desert, you started 2000 feet, climb up to 5500. Mike trace the top of this ridge, which is like if anybody goes and looks at the film or looks at any graphics, like there’s these wavy ridges that just go and go and go. And it’s really amazing place and it’s it’s right under the nose of a place like Santa Barbara close to Los Angeles. And a lot of people don’t really know what’s out there in the Los Padres. Yeah, and the route is 80 miles. 11,000 feet of climbing goes up to over 6000 feet, like all of a sudden, it’s like you’re in Lake Tahoe. Yeah. And you don’t see I didn’t see a single soul for all 80 miles, you know. So it’s really rugged. And if you’re, you know, if anyone’s interested in doing it themselves, do the research and be prepared. Bring a spot device. Yeah. But in a larger view this route like, yeah, it’s an amazing bike ride. It’s one of the most amazing one day rides you can do, truly. But it also is incredible in like history of the route and kind of the different stories which we can get into. I do want to say, you know, the route was established by Dylan Jones, who is local. And I talked to him a while ago. And then like mento de Jiang, some people who are local to Santa Barbara, done it a handful of times. And yeah, Dylan, I mean, the route has been there for, for, you know, hundreds of years really like it in different situations. But yeah, Dylan is the one who first did it, I think in a day. And I was talking to Chris Burkhart. about it. And that was kind of the impetus from there. Yeah.

Jeff 12:18
Yeah. Well, so the film, you know, a big part of it is you sort of preparing and then racing for fastest known time attempt along the route. So I’m curious to hear some of the things you learned about, you know, the route and about yourself in that whole process of preparing and then and then ultimately, racing.

Christopher 12:39
Yeah, so I was, I was starting to say is, this is an iconic ride in an incredibly hard fkT, you know, or whatever. Big effort, there’s not really a word for the non fkT. But it’s like the White Rim in Moab, but I think it’s harder. It’s even more rugged out there. But like, I went into this wanting to, you know, establish his fkT and, like, learn about the area, but I really wasn’t thinking about what it meant to write something that’s that has this much history in it, excuse me. Yeah, and how much I could learn through that process. And it really came from Dylan oscillator, who is another Dylan Dylan Jones, of arbitrary Association, and is a climate scientists and he’s really on the forefront of, of advocating for, you know, appropriate trail restoration and stewardship, as it you know, coincides with like, policy and climate change. So I learned a ton from him. And and then the primary thing which I say in the film is like, we think of something like an FK t as going out in kind of conquering the land, right, you’re like you this route you’re making it through. But it’s much more beautiful. I think when you when you fall kind of into the land, and you really appreciate where you’re riding and the fact that you get there. And there’s this route, you know, the the history from the Chumash peoples who were there, the wildlife wilderness zones established on both sides of the road ranching, as long along with the extraction and everything, there’s, there’s a lot to unpack in the Biden is just the way in to having those conversations that I otherwise, you know, wouldn’t have in Yeah, that’s been the most amazing part of the process.

Jeff 14:25
Yeah, I mean, the film is really different from a lot of mountain bike films in the fkT. Attempt to I mean, like you’re in there, and it’s clear that you’re talking to people like Dylan Oh slinger, and, you know, some of the folks you know about the history of the area. And then even there’s one point I think, you know, you said it was your first time doing trail work and a while so you’re actually like out there working on the trail, like what did all of that do for you like in terms of your attempt, were you able to do that before the attempt or was this afterward that you kind of went back and learned all that stuff?

Christopher 14:59
Yeah, that was good. For so that was back in March, and well, you didn’t see it’s just how muddy it was out there. You know, like it was it was good show work conditions, terrible riding conditions. Right. But you know, yeah, it was, I’m not embarrassed to say at this point, it was the first day of trail work in five years that I’ve done, right. So many of us take for granted, the places we get to ride, and I’ve been one of them, right? Like, I ride so much amazing single track, and there are 1000s of people and 1000s, hundreds of 1000s of dollars that go in a single track. And living in California now, 1000s of miles of singletrack are burning every year, like it’s just gonna happen right at the point. So acknowledging through something as simple as Yeah, caring for the trail that you love the most going out and volunteering for trail days, you start to develop more connection to that to that land that the trail is on. And understand, like, you’re not just shredding that berm, just for the sake of apar. Right. And you can actually, like I said, fold into the land a bit more. And it’s much more rewarding. It’s a much more beautiful experience to see the depth of writing in that way, you know, I think two years ago or something, I would have thought of trail work as a burden. Yeah. But now I see it as a way to appreciate riding even more. And that’s available

Jeff 16:21
to all of us. Yeah, interesting. But also in the film, you mentioned, sort of the carbon footprint that’s associated with professional bike racing. And I’m curious about that as well. Is that like, a new realization for you, as a result of this process? Or is this something you’ve been thinking about for a while?

Christopher 16:39
Yeah, well, you know, I wasn’t sure what my place was in conversations around the environment, any of us feel that way? We don’t know, how to be a part of, you know, advocating for clean air, you know, clean water and healthy planet, right. It’s like, I mean, that’s what it is. And we all get that. But we also live in a system that, especially if you’re traveling a lot for new job like I am, where your carbon impact footprint is quite high. And you know, my job, I’m going to be flying on planes all over the country. But the way to the that I’ve that I’ve learned from from smart people to think about where we’re at collectively is like, there are systemic problems, that individual action cannot solve individual action. She’s a part of it. But it’s about collectively, understanding what systems we’re occupying, and how to how to change, see and everything like that. And I think that the mountain bike industry, the cycling industry generally has a lot of work to do there. But it’s not something we have to do, right. It’s not like a burden, there’s so much to be gained from stepping into that conversation, right, including, you know, lowering our individual carbon footprint. But more importantly, understanding how our voice as an industry can advocate for appropriate policy legislation and people who are out there stewarding the land.

Jeff 18:02
Yeah, that’s awesome. I mean, I think, I think you’re onto something here too. I mean, it’s this younger generation of writers and athletes like yourself, that are really stepping up and saying, Look, we’re mountain bikers, we like mountain biking, because we love the environment. Like, over the years, I feel like mountain bikers have been painted as sort of enemies to the environment by like, hiking groups or, or different other outdoor recreationists. And, you know, the fact is, like, we love riding, because we love trees, and we love clean water, and all the things you’re talking about. So that’s a really awesome sort of platform for you to be able to help bring more awareness to for sure.

Christopher 18:43
Yeah, you know, in what I’ve learned, like, throughout this project, the larger versus like, like I said, and I’ll say it again, is, there’s so much to not gain, but like, reclaim throughout this, you know, it’s not something you’re gonna lose by volunteering at trail work, or like, you know, stepping into this conversation, and I think Cycling has a lot of is lagging behind the skiing industry are climbing, that are really at the forefront of talking about the places that there gets recreated. And this is sort of something we’re going to have to do, whether we choose to, you know, consciously or next year, 5000 miles of singletrack burn, right, like it’s just going to continue to happen, and we’re going to continue to lose the places we love to ride but more importantly, the communities that those trails are in are going to suffer.

Jeff 19:33
Yeah, for sure. Well, I’m curious to know is this your first fkT attempt your first major one that you’ve done?

Christopher 19:43
Yeah, I rode the right rip the White Rim solo in a day went pretty hard but like didn’t wasn’t going for that. T I was just trying to do this six hour workout my coach had. It was just a convenient way to do it. But yeah, I really think this model of fk T You know, on routes is really cool. And it’s obviously come out of the pandemic and socially social distance events and everything. What I want to emphasize is like, it’s not, it shouldn’t just be these 80 mile routes that only a handful of people can do in a day. Like, there’s a different kind of fk t, which is like, you know, funnest known time, you know, you bring some friends, and you bring a sleeping pad, and you camp out, right. And that’s my hope and creatively where I want to go with new production company is like, telling that story, allowing people to step into a route, like long traverse, like the Los Padres. And they can choose, you can either go fast and test yourself on it. Or you can do you know, an intermediate option, or you can bike pack the long one, but it’s about consciously choosing a route that can tell a landscape story, and benefit the community that That route is in and at the same time, like a sweet route, right, like an incredible ride on the bike. Yeah,

Jeff 20:59
absolutely. Yeah. Well, I’m curious to know to like, as a professional athlete, how is it different when you’re racing an fkT versus a World Cup? I mean, obviously, the crowds are incredibly different. The courses are different. Is one more challenging, would you say? Or are they just different?

Christopher 21:17
Yeah, well, you know, my primary discipline, cross country, mountain biking is like, is far from six hour ride. It’s an hour and a half and brutally intense from the from the jump. Yeah, but a lot of my training, I do a ton of four hour, five hour high endurance rides, where you’re basically going hard all day. And that’s like how you build an engine. And that’s exactly what fk T’s are, is pushing yourself and really digging into that, like that hive level that like you just you can’t go too much above men. You can’t go too much below if you want to go fast. So yeah, it really builds fitness. It is yeah, it’s obviously a mental thing to, to lock in solo for six hours versus have 1000s of fans screaming at you for an hour and a half.

Jeff 22:04
Right? Yeah. Well, it almost sounds like you’re suggesting that like, I mean, could you potentially be setting those FKT’s as part of your training? And then like turning around and going and racing in the World Cup? Or are these like two, sort of separate things like you can only focus on one at a time? Yeah, well,

Christopher 22:22
that’s something you know, we touched on a little bit in the film, but not that much is like I had just come back from the Olympics, when I did the, the fkT. And I had like, a week off, and then a week up in Truckee, and my girlfriend’s just like riding for fun goofing off. And then I, you know, only had a couple of weeks until the World Championships. And last thing I wanted to do after the Olympics is do intervals on pavement, you know, yeah. So that was a perfect opportunity to train by adventure. And having something like that I learned throughout throughout the pandemic, that picking Strava segments instead of doing intervals, or creating a mock race is a really beneficial way to train gives you a carrot Chase. Yeah. And it is just that, so I didn’t think I was going that well, after the Olympics. I was tired, as many people are after. Something like that, right. And as I just gonna write out the rest of the season, and then yeah, I ended up having the best month of my life. Yeah. Athletically, I think that something like, well, the effort and the Los Padres did set me up for that.

Jeff 23:29
Yeah, that’s really interesting and surprising to I’m sure, because it’s not like, I don’t know that that fits into a lot of training models, existing ones anyway. I mean, maybe you’re, you’re kind of charting a new one. So it’s really interesting. Well, we’re gonna take a break. But when we come back, we’re gonna talk more about tourism, environmental issues, and Christopher’s historic World Cup win earlier this year. Stay tuned. The next time you’re shopping for mountain bike gear, check out single Each week, we share our favorite product pics and exclusive coupon codes from our partners. You can also use the page to search for whatever you’re buying from complete mountain bikes to brake sets and tire sealant, that single And to get our weekly pics delivered to your inbox, be sure to sign up for our newsletter. Links to the newsletter and deals page are in the show notes. And we’re back. So Christopher, we kind of talked about this, but the film raises a number of issues from climate change the forest fires and even indigenous land acknowledgments. So I’m curious to hear more about sort of your role as a professional athlete, what you see as your role in all of these issues. You mentioned climate change and forest fires. And I guess the one we haven’t really talked about is this indigenous land acknowledgement. So what’s kind of your thinking behind including that and how are you able to sort of promote that that idea?

Christopher 24:57
Yeah, well, you know, first and foremost, like The opportunity I have, as a bike racer, as someone who gets to ride 20 to 30 hours a week, and call that my job is one a privilege. And it’s one where I can learn so much through the bike, like I started bike racing at a very high level when I was five years old. Yeah, geez. And, you know, the bite has always been a classroom of sorts, you know, and I’m just realizing now that the depth of learning that can come from from writing, you know, or stopping, you know, and looking around after a ride sometimes, is really immense. And it’s also like, you know, my experience riding and racing is very different than someone who’s just getting into it for the first time. And that’s, that’s special, right? That the bike is such a diversity of experiences people can have. And now with that, you know, with the fact that I can learn so much through the bike, that’s the opportunity that is truly a responsibility in some ways, but but, but a special thing that I can that I can undertake, right. And I have a lot of indigenous friends on the Navajo Nation. And one in particular, who’s on the, from the Blackfeet, reservation, makayley Oliver, who’s in the film, and learning about how the bike is a form of expression in culture for them, you know, that’s the fundamental, same, you know, feeling of just riding your bike. But on the Navajo Nation, the trails that are there, that people are building, or rebuilding were initially Shepherd trails, you know, for sheep and horses. And for centuries, the name people have have used those trails, and that the bike is just a way to continue that tradition. And it’s something that is entirely beyond the bike, right? Like, it really is. And it is what I’m talking about with a connection to the land, and there’s no better people to learn from and to lead these conversations, then indigenous peoples who’ve, you know, stewarded the land for centuries and have been forcibly removed at times. Right. So as far as that relates to riding your bike, you know, it’s guys, right, it’s here. And it’s like, it’s one way to get out on the land in to have these conversations. So yeah, you know, there’s there’s continued learning along this vein that I want to go on, but I’m fundamentally stepping into and understanding that, like, indigenous leadership and issues of the climate is really important.

Jeff 27:20
Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. That’s really timely as well. I’m curious also to hear sort of your take on how we can balance the positives that tourism can bring to an area, and also the impact that that has in terms of our carbon footprint on of travel, and also the strain on local resources, like what’s kind of the way that we can balance those two things out, in your opinion.

Christopher 27:45
Yeah. So, you know, I’m relaying a lot of what I’ve learned from from dealing in the protector winters crew, and just to, you know, rundown kind of the statistics, and this is especially relevant to California, in the western states, but Outdoor recreation is a bigger industry as far as jobs than then extraction. And you know, there’s a lot of dollars $900 billion for the outdoor industry in the United States. And there’s a powerful voice there. And it like I said, it supports a lot of jobs. It is not perfect, obviously. I mean, that includes snowmobiling and, and motorsports that you have a high carbon footprint. And so you run on fossil fuels, right. But in a place like the cuyama valley that has sort of transitioning out of oil towns there do not have many opportunities beyond extractive industries and mono culture, carrot farming that comes from Bakersfield we touched on this a little bit in the film, click the cuyama used to be essentially a swamp land, as I understand it, and it’s a critically overdrafted water basin. And now it is dry and brittle. And there you know, this is a this is a big thing to get into. But Outdoor recreation is just one solution that can potentially supplant extractive industries. Right. Right. It includes horseback riding, it includes hiking, it includes writing, and some somewhere like Koyama, that’s beautiful, you know, accessible to major populations is really a great place to build trails sustainably, and to let the local community drive and to, you know, answer the call and to create jobs and livelihoods for those people.

Jeff 29:23
Right. Yeah, I mean, this is what I’m learning as well, in understanding these environmental issues is that, you know, there’s no such thing as no impact, right? I mean, just like the fact that we are human, and we live, like, we’re going to need food, and we’re going to need, you know, place to go to the bathroom and all that stuff. And so it is a matter of like, what can we kind of replace if it is this, you know, this monoculture agriculture or it’s, you know, extractive industries like outdoor recreation, yes, it’s going to have an impact, but it’s going to be much less than sort of these things that hopefully it’s replacing. So that’s that makes a lot of sense

Christopher 30:00
totally. And it’s a way into, in the same way, you know, in a microcosm, I was able to learn about these things through this one bike ride in the Los Padres on an aggregate level, outdoor recreation is a way to begin thinking like, Oh, how about creating community gardens are the local food resilience, or food sovereignty for indigenous communities? How do we support those efforts? You know, for those communities like that’s reachable from the outdoor recreation world? And I think it like I said before, it colors in more beauty to like, what it means to be a cyclist or whatever you are out on the land.

Jeff 30:39
Yeah, that’s awesome. Well, earlier this year, you signed with Trinity racing, which is a team that takes a pretty unique approach to racing across a number of cycling disciplines. Why did you decide to join the team?

Christopher 30:53
Yeah, you know, it was a good opportunity for me to try different things kind of have a little more freedom to hop in a road race, racing cyclocross, and think of the race calendar as a puzzle. And I can, you know, put the pieces down myself. And I think it Yeah, it was a good, it’s a useful team. But it’s also got a lot of people who can throw their weight around against the pros. So it’s been a lot of fun. And it’s cool to do something like A Tour of Britain, in between the World Championships and snowshoe World Cup.

Jeff 31:23
Yeah, that’s awesome. Well, I wanted to talk about your win at snowshoe because it was a huge one for us and mountain biking. Were you thinking about sort of that? I guess that accomplishment at the start of the race? Like have you been tracking the number of years it had been? Since there was a an American to win the cross country? World Cup race?

Christopher 31:44
Yeah, I was well aware. Really? Yeah. Okay. Yeah. I was, you know, I mean, it was on the forefront of my mind to break that drought. Biggest thing I wanted to do in my career truly. Oh, wow. You know, I mean, alongside my goal now, which is when a gold medal appears. Excellent. But yeah, you know, for my entire life as a mountain biker, from age 15. When I started going over to Europe, I’ve always known us is lagging behind, and the women are crushing it, obviously. And the sheer fact that yeah, they had three spots in the Olympics, and we only had me shows information ranking. And I think that I’m the first of this wave of talent in development, including, you know, what’s been brought forth from Nika that will continue to put us on the top step. Right. And yeah, I’ve said this before, like, my winning snowshoe wasn’t just a result for me, like it was the result of all of this development from USA Cycling, you know, different news writing programs that put me in that place. And it was a lot of work a lot. Yeah, no doubt. It’s going to continue. You know, we’re not going to go 27 years without a World Cup. We now Yeah,

Jeff 32:53
that’s awesome. What did you think it was going to happen? It snowshoe? Did you feel like that was where you were going to have a better chance than maybe some of the other races during the year?

Christopher 33:01
I had zero expectation of winning. Euro, you know, I like especially after tour Britain, I was like, Yeah, well, snowshoes the home race. like it’d be great to just be there, like finish the season. And like halfway through toured Britain. I’m like, Yeah, well, maybe actually, this will put me on really good form for snowshoe. And then I had a good short track. I was fourth in the short track on Friday. And the World Championship Jersey has like, alright, front row, new game plan. I’m not going for the top 20. Like last World Cups. Yeah, I’m sticking in the front group. And I’m staying there. Yeah. And then, even like halfway through the race. I’m in the top five. And I’m just waiting patient. And I’m like, Yeah, I feel good. I had a moment. Yeah, like way that my mom and sister as I’m going by, and then a couple of laps later, like, look at my dad, you know, and it was, it was on my side of every race since I was five years old, until pandemic and this was the first race snowshoe he was able to watch in two years. And oh, yeah, that moment when I looked at him and gave him this nod that like, I’m gonna fucking win this like. Yeah, that’s awesome. And that’s when I like locked in. And I knew what I was gonna do that day.

Jeff 34:22
Yeah, that’s really cool. Yeah, I was gonna ask you if having your family there made a difference. I mean, it sounds like it. Were you able to have a lot more like friends and folks from here in the US as well at the race like more than you normally would?

Christopher 34:36
Yeah, for sure. I mean, it’s it’s incredible. And it was overwhelming like doing the short track pre ride in my world champs jersey. And everyone is like crucified. It’s exciting, but it’s like, Oh, wow. Okay, yeah, here we are in the US. I’m not just La La La di Di Di as I do in Europe, so So tons of friends, you know, so many conversations that were like 30 seconds that could have been 30 minutes there. I just didn’t have time. And I really hope we can continue to bring the world to the US for mountain biking.

Jeff 35:12
Yeah, that’s awesome. Yeah, such an inspiration to all these young riders who, like you said, are coming up through programs that they have available to them now like Nika and, and all those kinds of groups. So that’s super awesome to hear. I understand that you’re studying entrepreneurship at Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo. So who are some of the entrepreneurs that you admire?

Christopher 35:37
Yeah. Well, I just I graduated in March. Actually, I’m sticking out as though but congrats. Thank you. It was it was it was underwhelming. It was like a slow trail off, you know, from resume classes. And then, right. Yeah. And then as focusing on the Olympics, and I was like, oh, yeah, by the way. Wow. I haven’t really

Jeff 35:58
a minor accomplishment compared to all the other things that happened in the last 12 months. But yeah,

Christopher 36:03
well, yeah, I mean, it was, it was it took me five years, four and a half. So not as bad as some other schools that could have gone to where I would have had a semester based system. But anyways, I was really I was entrepreneurship with a sociology slant. So I really like social entrepreneurship. Okay. And I think that’s really, you know, how I view creativity in business is like, how can it see a need for society, not just a market, but create a product or a service that can do good and be good? Right? So yeah, there’s there’s quite a few people I learned about the micro lending guy who started this. Yeah, he he’s, I mean, quite impressive, like just something of that scale that you can create and use entrepreneurship. Right, obviously drawn a blank on his name. But

Jeff 36:49
yeah, I know who you’re talking about Yunus or it’s something like that.

Christopher 36:53
Yeah. I like the Cotopaxi model, you know, it’s a, it’s a corp, and they’re able to think that a lot of us get caught thinking of, you know, creating change on a global level. But understanding how we can have local impacts through our companies, or whatever endeavor, it is really powerful. So yeah, you know, like, I’m starting a company now called called Steel spoke, and it’s really a creative platform with a bunch of my best friends, Philip bass, but we have this ecosystem around it. So if you will, we’ve got this hub. That’s, that’s film. And then the spokes are, you know, merchandise, artists, collaborations, magazine, stuff like that. And it’s all about, you know, if we tell a story, something like, lost the launch, or various, how can we partner with local stakeholders to create an initiative, whether it’s raising funds for them, or hosting an event out there? So by the spring, we’re hoping to have an event out in Koyama. And yeah, like I said, maybe raise money for something like a community garden, or it helped create our outdoor recreation based economy out there. So yeah, that’s that’s the lens, I look at what I learned in college from and how via to cycling.

Jeff 38:04
Yeah, that’s really interesting, because the traditional sort of entrepreneur model, you know, people will think of like Bill Gates, or someone who he made a lot of money in business. And then he started like, giving back and doing the social side of it. Whereas, yeah, it sounds like your approach is, is from the beginning, kind of incorporating the two. And being successful, doesn’t just mean like being personally successful, it means like, your community succeeds. And these important things around it are succeeding as well, which is really cool.

Christopher 38:37
Yeah, you know, I think it’s, you know, it’s different for everyone. I’m a bike racer, right? I’m not a computer coder at the height of the internet, boom. But I think that wherever you are, there’s like, so much room to, to just be good in that and use whatever method it is, whether it’s biking, or coding, to not think on a scale based level all the time, right, like, think about, who are the people around me in? How can I, you know, help benefit them? Or how can they benefit me, you know, it’s, it’s a reciprocal relationship. And it’s a sort of a paradox at times thinking of entrepreneurship and scaling things, right. And like creating, raising funds for whatever initiatives or whatever partners you want to get money from, but at the core of it, it’s got to be like, What am I doing right now? How am I doing it? And what qualities to bring into that? Because like that, especially in the, in the sports space, and in the outdoor space, like, we need that approach desperately, you know, with and against the backdrop of the climate crisis.

Jeff 39:39
Yeah, yeah, for sure. Well, you’ve done so many things in just the first 2425 years of your life. So what’s what’s next for you beyond sort of this still spoke because it seems like you kind of are always learning new things and trying new things. Is this something you’re going to be doing like the rest of your life? or, you know, do you think do you see like other interests and things you want to explore later as well?

Christopher 40:06
Yeah, well, you know, my primary goal, you know, until 2024 is, is to try to win a medal at the Paris Olympics. And it’s the journey, not the outcome, you know, I really want to, like stick to my craft, which is riding my bike and playing on my bike, but also training and pushing myself in something like an FK t. So that’s number one goal. And then using that to kind of develop that this like real adult now, right, like, I’m out of college, like I’m in, you know, setting up my life, and being able to use the bike to frame that is really an incredible opportunity. It’s something I’m so grateful for, yeah, like, not many kids my age have the chance to do what they love like this. And it’s not something i i take lightly, it’s, it’s quite amazing, you know, and then being able to mix in something like still spoke, which will be a creative endeavor, and is really supported by a lot of people who are the creatives, right, the filmmaker or designer photographers, and it’s really a collective of sorts, you know, so being able to support human focus media projects, and then that tie into community initiatives. That’s our goal. And, you know, the best thing I can do right now is, is let the people who are able to tell those stories to tell them and keep continue learning in that process. So there’s so much I’m interested in outside of cycling, but right now, I’m a cyclist, and I love it. And this is what I’m doing. And who knows. And three years after Paris, where I’ll be

Jeff 41:39
at, yeah, awesome. Well, Christopher, thanks so much for taking the time to chat. And sharing your story and also the story of others in the cycling world. Really appreciate it.

Christopher 41:50
Yeah, yeah, I mean, last thing I’ll say is, like, I’ve learned, you know, I’ve learned a lot this year, whether it’s from college or this launch reverse project, and I don’t want to be, you know, I never want to be a professor sort of at a whiteboard, or to do. It’s a group project, something we can learn together. And it’s fun. Like it really is, and having fun on your bike is central to it. So I’m going to keep doing that. And I know people listening to this will as well. Yeah.

Jeff 42:15
Well said, well, thanks. Well, you can view the long traverse on November 26. And you can find out more about Christopher’s projects at still We’ll have that link in the notes. So we’ve got this week. We’ll talk to you again next week.

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