Early one morning, a friend and I agreed to meet at Mt. Bachelor for some sweet turns. The roads were clear of snow and it was a beautiful sunny spring day. Commuting to our mountainous destination, I noticed a motorcyclist in my rear view mirror, skis attached to his backpack. He waited until it was safe to pass and politely waved while speeding ahead.
Unbeknownst to me at the time, that motorcyclist was Adam Craig, professional cyclist and avid multi-sport adventurer.
Raised in Exeter, Maine, Craig is no stranger to adventurous outdoor activities. He embraced cycling, skiing, kayaking and motorsports. As a teenager he won a junior national cross country ski championship and earned two state high school ski titles as best all-around skier.
Fresh out of the nest as an 18-year-old, he moved to the Olympic training facility in Colorado Springs to pursue racing mountain bikes full time. He won three NORBA XC titles, impressed the folks at Giant Bicycles, and has been making a living racing bicycles ever since.
The highlights of his career include achieving his first podium at a World Cup race in Italy during 2004 and also competing at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, China. However, his best memories have been off the clock, before or after a race exploring somewhere and finding some hidden gem of a trail that he hadn't known existed.
When I asked the 35-year-old athlete what inspired him to start racing bikes, he replied, "Really, I just liked riding my bike and the fact that it was a good vehicle for adventure. That adventure became going to bike races, traveling around that way and seeing different places to ride."
Looking for an effective location to train year around, Craig moved to Bend in 2003. Ultimately, the combination of Central Oregon's geography, weather and recreational opportunities provided him with the perfect place to call home. Being an avid skier, winters were a welcoming change of pace from the strains of the summer cycling season.
For him, the biggest challenge in being a professional athlete was managing all the factors: traveling, training, racing, staying healthy, staying motivated and staying balanced. Living in Bend provided Craig with what he needed to have a balanced life as an athlete.
"The people are great, we have our community here. It's awesome to see familiar faces around, doing the right thing and appreciating it. And obviously the surroundings. We live in Cascadia, right! There's a lifetime supply of awesome things in the hills or wherever around here. So yeah, I think that the people and the place are what make it right."
After racing professionally for over half his life, 2017 marks his first year of retirement in the world of elite bicycle racing. He will race for fun here and there, but the idea of maintaining a high level of fitness to test that fitness against others doesn't interest him as much as using a bike to get around and adventure.
"I'll be riding as much as ever, but it won't be to demonstrate my dominance," he says.
A big part of what he wants to do going forward in this next phase of his life is to get more involved in trail access, advocacy and construction.
"I'd like to see more urban off-road routes connecting green space to green space and giving people an opportunity to move around town away from the streets as much as they can, whether it's bike paths or walking paths or dirt paths that people can use to get from neighborhood to neighborhood."
"We've got some really great momentum with a lot of projects around the West and around the country these days. So I want to be involved in that. Also getting into custom guiding for folks, riding places that they may not be able to get to on their own. Trying to inspire people that way. Show people a good time, ultimately, whether it's by building trails or telling a story or taking people somewhere."
Follow Adam Craig on Instagram @an_adamcraig
is a professional skier, mountain biking coach, bartender and photographer who grew up in Bend, Oregon thriving off of adventure. Follow him on Instagram @RexShepard to keep up with his latest outdoor experiences!