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A Racer’s View: Inside the L39ION of Los Angeles team camp

What to do after the Olympics? Scoring a spot on L39ion was my next goal.

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Gavin Hoover is a Tokyo Olympian with USA Cycling who won the UCI’s new Track Champions League series, which had rounds in Mallorca, Lithuania, and London. He has been sharing his experiences here in A Racer’s View.

I reached out to Justin and Cory Williams the day after the Olympics. I didn’t really know what I wanted out of my cycling career immediately after achieving a goal I’d been single mindedly focused on for the last five years, but I knew I wanted to be somewhere I could have fun.

I made it pretty clear to them that I was either going to be at L39ION, or I wouldn’t be on a team. Reaching the Olympics required giving away so much of myself, every day was spoken for, eight people checked in on what I’d done and made adjustments hourly. It was the only way to actually be able to compete at an event like the Olympics, but no part of me wanted to continue cycling in a way where I had to routinely give up complete autonomy over my own life.

Luckily for me, I grew up racing and riding in Southern California with Justin and Cory. I’ve known them since I was 14 or 15. They’d regularly do training sessions at the track while I was coming up through the junior categories. So I just happened to have an “in” with the hottest team in cycling, coming off an Olympic Games. It still took a lot of pushing, and some of the results I put up on the track while we were going back and forth definitely helped. But when Cory called me to finalize a contract it felt like coming home.

Walking into team camp immediately confirmed that I’d made the right choice, and been lucky enough to have them see what I could bring. Cycling environments, or any elite sport environment, are typically not the most welcoming. You’re normally in competition with the people around you, for roster spots, race days and a contract next year. It makes it a hard place to be an authentic version of yourself, you’re always keeping something close to your chest.

I was meeting most of the guys on the team for the first time, but everyone was extremely welcoming. You could feel the genuine enthusiasm for the sport and an understanding that everyone involved knew what the negatives of cycling can be and wanted this environment to be different, along the mission that L39ION is bringing to American cycling. It’s been a welcome change of pace for me.