What the Pros Ride

By Payson McElveen – April 1, 2015
photography by Ben Kuhns

Back in 2007, I did my first mountain bike race on a rocky, muddy course just outside of Fredericksburg, Texas. I finished many minutes behind the winner, but that didn’t matter. I was hooked. After a season of getting beat soundly every weekend, I spent the fall training, training, and—on the side—doing some more training. I was 14 years old when I decided I wanted to be a pro mountain bike racer. Eight years later, and that dream hasn’t faltered for a second. In 2012, I earned my pro license and signed my first paid contract. Since then, I’ve steadily progressed as a racer and have competed all over the world with the U.S. National team. I enjoy the ride this sport takes me on more and more every year. 

The 2015 season will be my fourth professional racing season, and I’m excited to have signed a contract with Competitive Cyclist, an all-new mountain bike team that has strong ties to Austin. Comprised of five riders from all over the country, our team will target the biggest cross-country, marathon, and stage race events throughout North America in addition to competing at select international races. 

With the mountain bike season switching into high gear, let’s take a sneak peek at some of the equipment team Competitive Cyclist will be piloting this year. 


Yeti ASR C Frame

Yeti has a cross-country race heritage few can boast, carrying riders such as John Tomac and Juli Furtado to many of their iconic victories. In more recent years, Yeti has focused on the gravity side of racing. That is, until now. The all-new Yeti ASR C is a featherweight XC race machine, with a touch of enduro-inspired geometry to make sure it descends just as fast as it climbs. 


Fizik Saddles

Fizik has a unique approach to creating saddles, optimizing design based on a rider’s individual flexibility and riding style. As such, the Competitive Cyclist riders were given a choice of which saddles to use, based on their personal preferences.


SRAM XX1 Drivetrain

SRAM’s revolutionary 1×11 drivetrain has brought incredible simplicity and effectiveness to a part of the bike that is often the most complicated. With a large rear cassette that offers a broad range of gears, SRAM has eliminated the need for a front derailleur altogether


RaceFace Cockpit

Race Face is a Vancouver, Canada-based company with a long heritage of racing. The team will be utilizing carbon fiber Race Face handlebars, stems, and seat posts. 


Fox Float CTD Rear Shock and 32 Float Fork

Fox suspension has long been considered the smoothest and most precise in the industry. Competitive Cyclist riders will get to choose between 120 and 100 mm of travel in the front, and either “Trail Adjust” or “Remote” lockouts for on-the-trail adjustments. 


Magura MT8 Brakes 

In keeping with the trend of reliable yet lightweight componentry, the team will be running Magura’s lightest hydraulic disc brakes, the MT8s. 


Reynolds BlackLabel 29 XC/Chris King ISO Wheels

In a sport where having light equipment is vital to winning races, the constantly rotating weight of the wheels is of utmost importance. Competitive Cyclist will be running the featherweight Reynolds BlackLabel carbon fiber rims laced to Chris King ISO hubs, resulting in some of the most responsive wheels on the circuit. 


Vittoria Tires

Vittoria (formerly Geax) has a wide range of new tread patterns for 2015, all designed to find the perfect balance of speed and traction for whatever the trail conditions might be. Competitive Cyclist riders will be riding the Peyote, Barzo, and several other tires throughout the year, including the prototype Mezcal III.


McElveen, left. Uhl, Right.

The Team 

Despite none of the team’s sponsors being based in Austin, the Competitive Cyclist team will have strong ties to the Live Music Capital of the World.  

Although home for me is now in Durango, Colorado, I will always consider myself an Austinite, and enjoy its mild winter temperatures during early season training. Tristan Uhl will also be a team member, and is widely considered Austin’s best all-around cyclist. Even rider and manager Jason Sager called Austin home for many years and remains a well-known and respected name in the Austin cycling community. Ellen Noble, hailing from Kennebunkport, Maine, most recently made her mark in the cycling world by winning the U23 cyclocross National Championship in Zilker Park in January of this year. Justin Lindine of Ogden, Utah, also found success in the frigid mud of Zilker Park, winning the Singlespeed National Championships. 

Payson McElveen, 22, has been a member of the U.S. National team for the past five seasons, won the best young rider jersey and Stage 4 at the 2014 Trans-Sylvania Epic, and placed 6th at the 2014 US Cup #1.  

Tristan Uhl, 26, won Stage 2 of the 2014 BC Bike Race and finished 3rd overall. He also won the Gila Monster stage of Tour of the Gila in 2014, and finished 10th in the pro XC Mountain Bike National Championships in 2013. 


Hit the Trail Hands Free 

When Austin’s new hands-free ordinance went into effect, banning the use of electronic hand-held devices while operating a car or bicycle, cyclists were left wondering how they could commute to unknown areas of town without the help of GPS. 

 AFM’s creative director, Weston Carls, tested a hands-free device called Rokform, which comes with a phone case, bike mount, and a car mount (sold separately) to easily transition from one transportation mode to another hands-free. 

 What he loved most about the hands-free device? “It was easy to install on my bike and there are a lot of accessories that can be added—like a battery case for those really long rides where you're using an activity tracker. There are also different bike mounts to fit all kinds of bikes,” Carls said. 

 What he was a little bummed about? “When the phone was mounted on my bike, it covered up my cycle computer. But I guess I could just use my phone to track my progress.”

*Keep an eye out on AFM’s social media accounts for a Rockform giveaway later this month. 


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