Go ahead, ask Curtis White about his tire pressure.
Come on and shoot the wind, maybe share a New York Curtiss cyclocross pilsner, named this year by a brewery in the Finger Lakes region.
“Like, you can’t go up to Tom Brady and shake your hand and say, ‘Hey, tell me about the game. How many PSIs do you have in football today?'” the Duensburg High and Union College graduate said last week said with a laugh.
“You can do that with cyclists. You can come up to our Cannondale trailer, give us a high-five, ask for an autograph, you can get our opinion of the course, you can ask that What tire pressure are we running today?
White, who turns 27 this week and lives in Beverly, Massachusetts, has rapidly become the face of his sport in America, moving up to his second race on the current pro circuit at No. 1 in the country and No. 17 in the world. Used to be. last weekend. He’s a charming presence who started a podcast called “In the Raid” in November, and represents everything that’s fun about cyclocross.
That means he represents everything that isn’t fun about his sport, requiring grueling training to race that forces cyclists to tackle courses built to their discomfort. It is usually in public parks.
Pro season runs well into winter, so cyclocross racers will face mud, snow, ice, sand and gravel pits, soul-sucking steep grassy slopes, hairpin turns, and railroad-tie stairs that only need to be taken from your side. It can be crossed only by carrying the bike on the shoulder. .
The 2021–22 home race calendar started two weeks earlier in Roanoke, Virginia, and White won both days of competition, but suffered a setback last weekend in Rochester when an equipment failure forced her to return to the podium. hampered their prospects. But the grind continues, as White aspires to elevate his position not only in North America, but while serving as an active voice for his game.
“I want to be the national champion and the best American, but my eyes are a little high,” he said. “I want to be one of the best in the world.”
For the past three years, White has been ranked in the top 20 by the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI), the world governing body of cycling, finishing the 2019-20 season on 15, and most of those beyond countries like. Belgium and the Netherlands. He has twice finished second at the US National Championships (2018-19) and was the 2018 Pan-American Champion.
The sport is huge in Europe, but relatively obscure in the US, certainly in the long, dark shadow of mainstream pro and college sports.
As White’s father, Tom, a longtime crew coach at Union, explains, “The issue is the competition. The Bills were playing [last weekend during the Rochester race], Jets, Patriots. there ain’t no nfl [in Europe]No baseball. It’s Formula 1, bike racing and soccer.”
So races in Europe, a circuit with which Curtis White is well acquainted, can draw as many as 50,000 spectators to cyclocross races, which are contested on courses the size of an 18-hole golf course and host huge food and beer tents. Can accommodate and put spectators within reach of athletes when they are running.
Tom White estimated that last weekend’s race at Genesee Valley Park in Rochester drew a few thousand fans, including he and his wife Chris, who have four other children, Emma – in pursuit of the track cycling team. Fresh off the bronze medal for America at the Tokyo Olympics – Sarah, Anna and Harrison.
What fans experienced was a generally fun cycling race that the cyclocross version brings, but there was also a rare equipment meltdown for Curtis, which cost him Saturday’s race and impacted Sunday’s race, as He had tried for a lost placement, Tom said.
“He had three rolled tires on Saturday, which should not have happened; The tires came off the wheels,” he said. “He kept going, it almost put him back in 10th, he got a new bike, he made it to seventh, it happened again, he went back to 12th, then it happened for the third time. It was heart breaking.
“He has six bikes, 24 sets of wheels, and everything was glued fresh. You shouldn’t be able to pull it off with your hands, and half the tires came off the wheels. It was just a bad batch of glue.” .
“It probably happened once or twice when he was 10 or 11 and I was polishing the tyres. It was kind of an embarrassment. I think it was a matter of pride, but he went too deep and got himself in seventh place, but I think he lit a lot of matches on Saturday.
As unusual as that particular circumstance was, it showed how important a good equipment set-up is in cyclocross.
Curtis White compared a cyclocross athlete’s race-day camp to something seen on Pitt Road in a Formula I race, with an attached tent for RV campers and mechanics for pre-race meals and preparation.
For example, the bike overtakes the eight 3.2-kilometer laps that the Roanoke Race was involved in, and you need to be able to repair or replace on the fly to maintain position.
“Sometimes the conditions are so bad that we have to get a fresh bike every lap or sometimes every half lap just to get clean equipment,” he said. “So there’s a lot that goes into the tools and components side of it where we have a full service course of tools, parts, bikes, mechanics, etc.”
Then there’s the physical and physical toll.
White provided a GoPro ride-along view of the course ahead of the Roanoke race on YouTube and how it can put a distorting strain on your knees.
White said, “Usually in cyclocross, you have to be prepared for anything, whether it’s obstacles you run or jump over, or a ladder, or sometimes a hill that’s too much to ride. Standing,” White said. “There are all kinds of variations, and that’s the beauty of cyclocross. It’s a real honest effort.
“You need to compete as a complete athlete, you can’t just focus on your climbing or just your sprinting, you need to be a complete athlete who can run, sprint, well. Speed, good thresholds … and when you can catch yourself sometimes fall.”
White and his younger sister Emma, who is also a Duensburg and Union graduate, had been cycling to Curtis from an early age so that he could sign a pro contract before dropping out of high school.
Instead, he went to Union and settled on classics as a major with a minor in law and humanities. His senior thesis, for which he missed the 2018 World Championships, focused on the relationship between ancient Roman law and the US Constitution, specifically the Sixth Amendment and due process.
Three days after receiving his diploma in 2019, he was competing at the Cyclocross World Championships in Bogens, Denmark.
Tom White said, “He certainly didn’t start college thinking he was going to study Latin and Greek, and he also dabbled in Arabic.”
“When he was in 11th grade, I think it was right around Christmastime, he was on the podium in some big international races, and he was offered a contract on a professional team. He was 17 years old. Its For that he would have to drop out of high school, go there, they would set him up with housing, a meal plan, a salary, a whole lot.
“And they gave him 10 days to think about it.”
Curtis White’s next run was in Rome on the Feast of the Epiphany, appropriately enough.
He turned down the offer.
And in line with his habit of “training on weaknesses” – that is, targeting them to do better rather than leaning on his strengths – he later chose a major when he came to the union that would eventually help him read better and do public speaking. . skill.
“Cycling was my passion,” he said. “My family valued education and wanted me to pursue a degree. This was an opportunity we had, and they pushed me in that direction, and I’m very grateful for that.
“I always loved learning something rather than learning something. What the classics and those areas taught me was more about training a weakness than anything else. … thinking about how it got me to cycling.” Helps with giving interviews, public speaking, coaching in clinics, I have my own podcast series and being able to express with it clearly, it doesn’t translate directly, but a lot of skills were I was able to pick up from those areas.”
Those skills have served him well as he has gained exposure through his podcast, which he started last year as a platform for audiences in the US to chronicle his journey to Belgium, while Most of the cyclists were stuck in neutral due to the pandemic.
“It was nice to try something new,” he said. “And I’m not a journalist, I’m not in the media, I’m not trying to interview people, but I love teaching people about cyclocross and sharing my passion, and if it’s results or strategy or Whether it’s through talking to them about teaching devices or having fun conversations with people who inspired me, that’s what the podcast was about.”
“He’s totally going to play a major role there,” Tom White said. “I think Curtis has taken a serious approach to peeling back the layers of the game. I know it’s work and it’s attracted some sponsors for what he’s doing and he doesn’t necessarily have to pay that bike.” But what is he doing?
What he’s doing on the bike this fall is races in the US from October 23-24, which also includes events in Waterloo, Wisconsin; Fayetteville, Arkansas; and Iowa City, Iowa which have also been named as part of the World Cup Series.
The world championships are back on the Fayetteville course at the end of January, and White hopes to be there and make her presence felt. For her, this means not just competing, but being approachable to fans and having a positive impact on the little guys. Even – specifically? – If it’s a brother.
“If you look at them now, they do nothing but butt heads and criticize each other,” Tom White said with Curtis and Emma laughing. “But the fact of the matter is that his footsteps are followed strictly through various development channels. I do not know. I think as much as Emma likes to think that she made it all up on her own, I think Curtis was a big influence on her when she was younger. “
Curtis White said, “The way we grew up was to never forget our roots and always give back whenever we could.” “I know Emma has a picture on Instagram where she did a mountain bike ride with a youth mountain bike team from the capital region. [after the Olympics].
“But that’s the nature of cycling, and cyclocross takes it to another level, where you’re in a park setting, you can bring your whole family to run, interact with all the athletes. Right in front of all the athletes because they’re competing, you’re face to face, you can see the struggle, the drive, the commitment and the energy.”
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