Pro biker Adam Craig has retired, but won’t quit being an athlete
written by McKenzie Wilson | photography by Joseph Staub
Adam Craig’s first bike didn’t have brakes. His uncle, Neil Craig gave him a red, fixed-gear BMX bike. “It was hard to ride down and back up our nearly flat 100-foot long driveway,” Craig, 35, said. Eventually, he conquered it and hasn’t stopped riding bikes since. When he was 12 years old, Craig bought a Giant mountain bike with chore money and started racing in Maine, where he grew up. After a couple years of “getting my butt kicked,” Craig made his mark at a National Series race in Vermont, taking second place. A week later, he was training at the Olympic Center in Lake Placid, New York.
Straight out of high school, Craig continued his training at an Olympic Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado. That year, the world championships were in Europe. “I was 18 years old racing in Sweden during a snowstorm in September,” Craig said. “It was awesome.” In 2002, Giant offered him a job as a professional mountain bike race. Since then, he’s traveled 200 days a year for competitions. In 2008, he rode for Team USA in the Olympics in Beijing, China.
Three years ago, Craig transitioned from cross-country racing in the World Cup circuit to multi-stage downhill racing called Enduro. The switch gave him a new direction in his training—he needed to focus on more than just his aerobic fitness. Racing downhill at high speed through rugged terrain required polished bike-handling skills and intense focus. “Going and doing a twenty-minute interval workout was never my passion, and I’ve always found it was pretty hard on my soul,” Craig said.
Going into his fifteenth year with Giant, he retired from racing and took on a new title: ambassador. His magic age for re-evaluating what he was willing to give up to continue racing was 35. “I’m interested in growing old and being fit and able to do what I want to do,” he said. “I just didn’t want to engage in that risk anymore.”
The end of his competitive career won’t mark the beginning of bad diet and exercise choices. “There’s a bunch of professional cyclists that, as soon as they stop racing, they’re like, ‘French fries, tequila, burgers, I’m never exercising again!’” Craig joked. “It’s never been about that for me. I’ve always been fit because I like to have fun.”
Born: Bangor, Maine 1981
Depending on the season, Craig may be mountain biking, doing trail work, riding off-road motorcycles or doing yoga. A combination of activities keeps his body balanced in a way he never could at a gym.
Craig eats on the go a lot, but instead of bars and other “sports food,” he keeps fresh food with him on the hill. He eats eggs and veggies for breakfast and puts together a sandwich, fruits and nuts for the day along with liter jugs of water. Cobb salad or meat and veggies on the grill make for a typical dinner.
The fluidity of motion inspires Craig, whose mom was an art teacher—that gave him an appreciation of nice lines, whether a piece of trail, a ski track or the clouds above it all. Any athlete who embraces style inspires him, including Yoann Barelli (mountain biker) and Sage Cattabriga-Alosa (skier).
Giant Bicycles Demo | Bend | May 27-28
Giant is hosting a demo on Memorial Day weekend at Phil’s Trailhead in Bend on Saturday and at Blazin’ Saddles in Sisters on Sunday.
Mountain Bike Oregon | Oakridge | July 14-16