As a U.S. Cross-Country, Short Track and Super D National Champion, a Cycloross U23 National Champion, an Olympian, a World Cup Cross-Country racer and a Downieville Classic All-Mountain Champion, Adam Craig is one of the most decorated cross-country riders around.
However, 2013 marks a new chapter in Adam’s racing career as he shifts his primary focus away from cross-country and on to enduro racing, a segment of the sport that is absolutely exploding this year. Along with his Giant Factory Off-Road teammate, Josh Carlson, Adam will compete in the seven round Enduro World Series which begins May 18th in Punta Ala, Italy.
We caught up with Adam for a quick chat about his plans for the upcoming season and what he's been doing to prepare.
“The world of Mountain Biking has endless opportunities to effect change and participate in a lifetime of interesting events. The prospect of embracing new challenges and their resulting good times is intensely exciting.” - adamcraig.net
This year also marks a change in the official team that Adam is riding for. While he has been a Giant rider for decade, unlike last season, he is under the Factory Off-Road Team tent for 2013.
So, Sea Otter is next week. First race of the year?
Umm, not technically. I did a downhill race last weekend up in Port Angeles. It was just to go and hang out with some buddies and get some big bike time in, but it was kind of like, wait a minute, somebody’s going to say ‘go’ here this weekend.
What is your race schedule look like in 2013?
Josh Carlson and I are doing the whole Enduro World Series, which is pretty awesome. I’m excited to be part of that and going to some presumably awesome places and riding proper bikes. That will mix in with a bit of cross-country and some North American enduro stuff here and there where it makes sense.
I’m going to try not to be too terribly busy this summer, but we’ll still be busy. There’s basically a triple-populated enduro race calendar. You could race two or three times a weekend if you wanted to. I’m actually going to do a full cyclocross season too. We haven’t really ever actually committed to that as a season plan with Giant before. It’s usually been, ‘oh, we’ve got some budget left, we’re racing some cross!’
Will this end up being Adam Craig's go-to enduro bike for 2013? Giant was tight-lipped about the specifics of Craig's prototype 27-inch, 6-inch travel trailbike, but it's safe to say some version of this bike will make it to production sooner than later.
Which bike will you be riding for enduro racing?
To be determined. We’ve got all this stuff we’re testing and working through, trying to figure out what makes the most sense. My go-to bike as of now will be the Reign. I’ll probably use that at the first round of the Enduro World Series. We’ll see if this new stuff [Giant’s 27-inch wheel, 6-inch travel prototype] ends up as good as the first versions we tested in the fall, then maybe that will end up getting the nod.
Your year is obviously much more enduro-centric compared to your usual cross-country schedule. Have you done anything different in the off-season to account for this change?
Well, yesterday, Carl [Decker] and I went out and did a four hour road ride with a bunch of hard climbing. Our leg up is always going to be fitness. Even if it’s just a short pedaling section in an enduro stage or it’s just not being exhausted after riding throughout the day, that’s always an advantage for me, so I’ll maintain as much cross-country fitness as I can.
That said, I did a downhill race last weekend and that’s part of me training for enduro. A big part of it is getting used to pushing harder on more capable bikes. Ultimately, I’m used to riding a cross-country bike at it’s limit on a cross-country course. That’s how my brain is programmed from the last 15 years and I need to get used to riding more aggressively on incredibly capable bikes. You can give’r on an enduro bike.
Having Josh [Carlson] around is great. He comes from a supercross racing background, so he has that nth degree of commitment. Whereas I have the ‘this is what’s actually possible on a mountain bike over the course of the day’ mentality. So he’ll be the one breaking stuff and I’ll be the one not pushing quite hard enough and hopefully we’ll help each other come to the middle.
As a multi-time National Super D Champion and Downieville All-Mountain Champion, Adam has always been known for his bike handling skills on the cross-country circuit. 2013 will reveal how well his skillset will stack up against some of the downhill specialists also headed to the Enduro World Series.
Is this the first year you’ve had a downhill bike in the off-season?
I’ve had a downhill bike before, but I’ve never made riding it a priority. I’ve been going to our shuttle spot in Bend and going over to Portland and riding some steep, rooty, wet, awesome stuff. It’s fun to have and now instead of it being just messing around and possibly hurting myself, it’s important part of training. Although, I guess it’s still just messing around and possibly hurting myself, it’s just cool to have a different approach. I’ll take one day of riding the road bike a week and trade it in for one day of riding the downhill bike. We’ll see how it goes.
So, racing downhill at Sea Otter? (expecting a ‘no' and a laugh)
I am actually!
That course has got to play into your strengths a little though, right?
Yeah, there’s a bit of pedaling, but downhillers are fast though man. It’ll be interesting to see how it goes, but Josh [Carlson] and I are both going to do it. It’ll be a long weekend. Maybe downhill practice is warm-up for short track? [laughs] I don’t know if that works, but, yeah, it’ll be fun.