Long-time Giant rider Adam Craig has pretty much
done it all when it comes to domestic mountain bike racing. In 2010, he was set
to take his game overseas and challenge riders on the World Cup circuit but an
ACL injury sidelined Craig for much of the season.
Now Adam is back and ready to once again storm the beaches of Europe as part of the Rabobank/Giant squad. Adam shares his plans for 2011
with our man Matt Williams and explains why dopers should be afraid when they
see him coming.
Race News: What have you been up to since your single speed
win at the cyclocross national championships?
Craig: My Dad was in town to heckle at Nationals and we rolled that right
into a week of home improvement. That rolled into a month straight of skiing
Powder every single day and then, blammo, it was Juneuary and time to ride
bikes again. Tons of good riding in the last few weeks in OR, shredding
singletrack and looking at the SRM on the road.
Race News: The recently released Olympic Qualification
Guidelines seem to heavily favor World Cup results. Does riding for a European
based team give you an advantage looking toward London in 2012?
Craig: It'll be great to have the support structure over there and get in
some bonus racing on the continent for sure. I'll be aiming to be at the top of
my game in Champery for Worlds to try and pinch that Top 5 automatic spot...
It's gonna happen!
Race News: You and other Giant sponsored riders have been
showing up at races like the Downieville Classic in recent years. How do you
see racing in the US evolving over the next 5 to 10 years?
Craig: For me it's going to evolve into more and more of the All Mountain
events for sure in the next couple years. I think that's the way John Q
Mountain Biker is going as well, people who don't seriously race XC but are
shredders are starting to look for that competitive outlet, whether it's with
their buddies or at a race. Drop the post on your 6" bike and shred back to
the truck. It's a super fun format and I'm stoked to be able to squeeze a few
events in around the UCI schedule. I think the multi-day stage races and 50-100
mile type events are gaining hold too, John Q can do one or two a year and feel
good about their accomplishments in between "training" which happens
to be doing a bunch of sweet rides.
Race News: Any chance you’ll line up at the US Marathon
Nationals in Bend this summer?
Craig: I'll be lining up at the finish to see how much I won by!
Race News: You were out for much of last season with a knee
injury. Has your approach to dealing with injuries changed over the years? What
were some of your strategies for staying psyched and motivated while having to
sit out part of the season?
Craig: I just made the best of it. It was actually nice mentally to have a
break from the winter training and spring travel chaos. I took the opportunity
to address some other issues I had structurally and rebuild myself a bit
better. That was a big motivator. But, ultimately, I just wanted to be able to
ride again. Mountain Biking is a damn good time!
Race News: Your bike set-up is a little unconventional by
World Cup standards (120mm travel, thru axle fork/single chainring). What are
some of the advantages you see to setting up your race bike that way?
Craig: I'm just spending so much time on my All Mountain bikes (Trance X
Advanced, Reign X) that I've gotten used to the simpler drivetrain and slacker
angles of those bikes. My riding style has changed and I'm loving the new
approach. A lot more front wheel weight can be had with the thru-axle fork,
it's just so much more solid and confidence inspiring. For 2011 I'm actually
pretty pumped to be on M980 XTR with the 2x10 though, the Single Ring is always
a tradeoff for racing XC and now I don't have to shoot myself in the foot as
Race News: I know Carl Decker raced a lot this year on the
Anthem X 29er. Have you tried it? Can you see yourself racing big wheels this
Craig: I've been riding prototypes of the new XTC Composite 29 and will be
racing on that a bit here and there but overall I think 26 will be the call for
me this year, partially because it works great and partially because Rabobank
isn't on the 29 program yet and 2% change either way isn't worth the equipment
Race News: Can you describe riding in a rally car with Carl
Craig: Kids in a candy store. I've got a book of notes that makes me
seem like the navigational prophet and Carl has the skills to apply the info
I'm delivering and turn it into complete, utter, committed radness! Imagine
being on a perfect trail you've never ridden with your best friend whispering
turn radius, jump size and braking points into your ear. It's really
great. Except our Money Tree died so this year is going to be a little lighter
on the Rallying schedule...
Race News: Aside from the Filip Meirhaeghe scandal a number
of years ago, mountain biking has largely avoided high profile doping cases.
What do you see as the big difference between road racing and mountain bike
racing in that regard?
Craig: Dopers know that I'm getting tired of their shit and will do them
personal harm if they cheat. Something snapped in me this winter and my
tolerance for that BS has dropped from extremely low to non-existent. That
said, two things keep MTB racing more pure. One—Money. Even Absalon isn't
making 5 million euros to win the Tour. It's just not worth it. Two, and
more importantly, you can't dope your ability to ride a bike through the woods
efficiently. Fairly badass roadies come over to the MTB World Cup and get
just OWNED. They can't put their 6 watts/kilo down so they can't go anywhere. I
think those who've learned the art of shredding have strong enough morals that
they just kind of don't take the risk. Or I'd like to think so...
Race News: What’s your favorite lunch to bring on an all
Craig: Whatever is at whatever bakery I happen to pass on the way to the
trail. And chocolate. And maybe some tacos. Lunch is a contest that is
meant to be won by surprising your Powerbar eating buddies with something
Race News: If you could be a pro athlete in a sport other
than cycling, which one would you choose and why?
Craig: It's winter so I'd have to go skiing. Whether that'd be in some
mountaineering capacity or in a Freeskiing contest arena remains to be seen...
It could happen. Snow covered mountains are such a dynamic environment.
And it'd leave summers open for Rallying. And Enduro Motorcycle racing.
Or streetbike racing. Hmmm. So much adrenaline out there...