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Adam Craig didn’t have the season he wanted on the 2009 U.S. Pro Cross-Country Tour, but the two-time national champion and Olympian is still looking forward to the remaining World Cup races in Europe.
That said, all-mountain riding is where Craig is getting his kicks, and a dominating performance at this year’s Downieville Classic in California proved just that.
Singletrack.com caught up with Craig as he prepares for the UCI Mountain Bike World Championships in Canberra, Australia.
ST: What is the difference in your mindset between one stop in the Pro XC Tour or a World Cup stop versus a one-day shot at the Rainbow Jersey?
AC: On one hand it’s just another bike race. On the other it’s the biggest one of the year. I usually have a unique mindset each year depending on how things are unfolding. This year I’m stoked to have just spent 10 whole days at home riding my face off and getting ready for a race that has both a climate and track that suit me to a ‘T’. It’s gonna be rad to toe the line knowing I’m ready(ish) and will have a damn good time racing either way. The focus level is uncharacteristically high this week for sure and things are coming together.
ST: Take that another step and what is the vibe at the Worlds or a World Cup event, particularly a Euro event, versus a ProXCT race on U.S. dirt? How far apart, figuratively, is, say a race like Downieville, compared to a World Cup race in Schladming, Austria?
AC: I both love and hate to say it, but the Euro events are SO much stronger. There are people everywhere fired up on racing – both the riders and spectators. And it’s impossible to call the outcome of the race (other than Absalon). Any of a dozen dudes could be in contention for the win, even more for the podium spots. The energy that comes out of that is rad to be a part of.
That said, events like Downieville are such pure RIDERS events that it’s hard to have a better time anywhere else. Every single person who’s shown up is there because they’re going to shred top-notch singletrack all weekend, regardless of if it’s for a time or just for the love. I’m really into all-mountain events these days, even to the point to setting my XC bike up on that end of the spectrum. Fun stuff.
Then again, somewhere in the middle lies the Pro XCT, events that are totally worth going to. Often they’re fairly easy to access for John Q Mountain Biker and a great opportunity to get out and do some good, old-fashioned racing on the same track as the pros. We have a great time racing at places like Mount Snow for sure. Basically it’s all good, just whatever you’re into.
ST: On paper it looks glamorous to jet around the globe and race your bike. But what are the realities, like living out of a suitcase and keeping the training/nutritional regimes going as you would at home?
AC: It’s still glamorous. Who could complain about the minute struggles of this lifestyle with a straight face? It rules. And the minute challenges are just that; things that are easily solved if you can just take a step back and make whatever solution is available work for you, since it’s the option.
Training is the most challenging part. Having just raced every weekend since Downieville your body just gets worn down and there’s neither time nor energy to train. But it’s amazing how fast fitness comes back with just a week at home. Sam Schultz and I coined the 1:1 ratio in SFO airport the other day: We only need a week at home to survive another month on the road. When it gets old I’ll stop, then start traveling for some other reason (like POWDER) almost immediately.
ST: What are your must-haves on the road?
AC: Whatever magazines showed up at my house in the last month and a toothbrush are the only constants. I’ll bring movies or videos if I remember and a laptop, but really it’s easy to entertain yourself with whatever’s around. The weeks always seem to fly by.
ST: After Canberra, your calendar lists World Cup races Champery, France, and then Schladming, Austria. How do you choose your bikes in advance for that many races?
AC: I’m kind of pissed about the decision I had to make on this topic actually. I’m stoked on my Anthem X Advanced SL and don’t really want to ride anything else these days. But I know that Schladming is a hardtail course through and through. So I brought both. Boring. Good thing I’ve got a USA Cycling supplied SRM powermeter on the hardtail to make it a good training tool for the first three weeks of this trip instead of just taking up space and making airport terminal navigation more difficult. In a perfect world I’d just bring the full-suspension bike everywhere. Way more fun for shredding.
ST: As far as the 2009 Pro XCT, you finished eighth overall on the season.What are your thoughts on that result? Thoughts on 2010?
AC: Ah, it’s 2009. The year of taking it easy and having a fun summer, which it has been. I was pretty amused, as always, with going from 10th and 12th at the Québec world cups to 6th and flat tire/legs 23rd at the last two Pro XCT rounds, which were the next two weekends. I just race better internationally. Here’s hoping I finish better than my Pro XCT overall at world champs this weekend. That’d be hilarious. It is kind of annoying to not ride better at those events though, I’m always trying to figure out what it is about my mind and body that makes it so. It must just be my knowledge, deep down, that you only have so many matches to burn so they might as well be to light a BIG fire. Maybe next year.
I guess that’s it, I’m stoked that it’s September, time to finish the season off RIGHT!