The idea of Bivo was born when we were living in Portland, OR and the first time we showed our brand to the world was at the Cross Crusade series when we sponsored a bike wash station. My dad did cyclocross in New England while I was finishing up my ski career and he and my mom even had a cyclocross course on their property for the Northampton and JAM riders of Western Massachusetts to practice on. Cross holds a huge spot in Bivo's foundation and we think that cyclocross is going to be popular this fall.
Some of our first customers were Ben and Kim Coleman (thank you Ben and Kim!!) and when we moved up to Vermont they were some of the first cyclists we got connected to. It just so happens that they manage Green Mountain Cyclocross, a race held at Catamount Outdoor Center right down the road from the Bivo office. I asked Ben and Kim a few questions about their race, team and goals for the future. Read below and if you're looking for a good time, come on out to Vermont this fall to participate! - Carina
I went to UVM and my dad used to race what is now Green Mountain Cross when I was there in the 2000s. I used to love going to watch and after I graduated, the race disappeared for a while. Can you give us a history of the race?
I’ve got some great memories of the old Green Mountain Cyclocross as well! GMCX was a long standing stop on the Verge New England Cyclocross Series, usually the season opener. It was two days of racing and the event was a UCI event, meaning it awarded international ranking points to the elite races. It ran for about 8 years, and I believe 2013 was the last year of the former event.
What made you decide to take over Green Mountain Cross?
We moved back to VT in 2015 following a several year stint in Virginia, and GMCX had been disbanded. Catamount Outdoor Center continued to run their Wednesday night cyclocross series in the fall, but no organized weekend event ever made a return. Cyclocross racing has a special place in my heart, and the Catamount Outdoor Center is such an incredible property. So I kicked the idea around for a bit and decided ‘what the heck, if nobody else is going to bring CX racing back to northern VT, why not me?’ and in 2021 we put on a race.
The Green Mountain Cyclocross team; Pictured above (left image, from left to right) Ben Coleman, Kim Coleman, Greta Kilburn, Kristin Sundquist, Griffin Larson. Far right picture; Greta Kilburn took 3rd place at 'cross nationals last year.
Can you tell us about your bike team? What made you want to start this? There are a variety of ages, is there a strategy you have behind this?
Our goal with the GMCX event is to create a place where everyone can feel welcome and has a place to learn the sport and to compete. But, we’re also racers ourselves and love to share that passion. We had some great support from industry sponsors our inaugural year of the event, and approached them about extending some support to a small team that was focused on supporting junior racers and women and gender-diverse racers who want to race at the highest level. We have a combination of Junior (U18) racers and Elite racers, and our Elite racers help to serve mentors to the Junior racers as they navigate and gain experience racing at National-level cyclocross events.
The idea of Bivo started when we lived in Portland, OR. The Cross Crusade was huge and so fun! While cross participation has been down in the last few years, there is something special about cross that pulls people in. We feel like cross is going to make a comeback, do you agree?
We do! Cyclocross made a strong return after events canceled in 2020 due to COVID. Some events didn’t return, but the events that did saw 95% of pre-pandemic numbers. We also know that gravel has brought countless new riders into the sport of cycling, and it turns out a gravel bike can also make a pretty darn good CX bike. We think cyclocross will start pulling in some of these gravel riders/racers.
What do you love about cross?
What is there not to love?! The courses are spectator friendly and you can holler at / heckle your friends throughout the race. There’s often beer and you may find handups being offered somewhere on the course. Because the races are short (~40-50 minutes) and different races go off throughout the day, people often race and then stick around to watch other races. It’s really a great scene.
Your race is one of the most inclusive with regards to gender expansive folks. We love this. How are you able to use your voice as race organizers to make an impact on the cycling community?
We’ve been really intentional about this from the beginning. We love cross and we want everyone to have a place in the sport, and we just recognized that we have the power to proactively create those spaces. For example, we told USA Cycling (USAC) we were going to offer a non-binary category at our race, and we basically said, “do you want to sanction it or should we plan to run it unsanctioned and we’ll look into alternative insurance?” as opposed to asking IF we could have the category. I think that helped raise awareness at USAC. I like to think those conversations contributed to USAC’s decision to have a non-binary race at Cyclocross Nationals last year. Incidentally, one of our racers podiumed that race. Race promoters have a lot of power to show people what’s possible; we’re going to continue to leverage that.
Will the apple cider donuts be back this year at the race? (Just asking for a friend ;))
100% this goes without saying : ), and don’t miss out on the cider donut relay race!
We see cross being a more inclusive form of cycling similar to gravel. Do you agree with this? I saw you lead clinics that are free to folks. This is so great, how are those going?
I think cross is very inclusive. It sometimes gets a rap of being super intense and painful, but honestly everyone can come and enjoy themselves and challenge themselves how they want. You can be an elite racer and take it very seriously, but you can also race in jorts and sneakers. You can be a total beginner and find a place for yourself at a cross race. We really want to see a strong and diverse community in the sport. We run free clinics for junior riders and WGD riders thanks to support from some great partners. The clinics are the evening before our race and help to introduce more riders to the sport. Plus we have really great instructors, like 4x National Champion Jonathan Page. Every year some of those in the clinics come out and race for the first time the next day. We’ll be doing it again this year!
What are some big goals around your team and race for this year and the future?
To take over the world….errr, I mean, our immediate goal is to help our Junior and U23 racers achieve their big goals, which range from securing UCI points to contending for a spot on the Worlds team. Long term, we’d love to build a funding base that would allow us to support a full UCI race season, including racing in Europe.
Cross is huge in Europe. How do you think cross needs to change in the US in order to make it as popular as it is abroad?
Oh geez, that’s a tough one. Geography, culture, and money make Euro CX what it is. This question may be above my paygrade : )