by Pete Webber
Hello Cyclocross Fans!
Today I’m flying from Colorado to Madison for Nats. We’re on Frontier’s once-a-day direct flight, and there’s a cyclist in nearly every row. I’ll bet there are 25 ’crossers on this flight!
I’ll take this opportunity to provide an interview with my teammate and good friend Brandon Dwight. He’s a pretty interesting guy, being both a great cross racer and a full-time bike shop owner. Brandon’s been a mainstay of the Colorado cross community for over a decade, and he’s been on the Master’s podium at Nationals for six years running, including winning twice. His shop, Boulder Cycle Sport, has become one of the leading retailers of cyclocross gear in the nation.
Cyclocross Magazine: To start things off, what year was your first Nationals and how many have you attended?
Brandon Dwight: I did my first Nationals in 1997 in Lakewood, Colorado. I raced on a mountain bike and got lapped with three to go. It was an absolute mudfest. Mark McCormack won. I have been to every Nationals since. In ’98 the race was in Massachusetts, where I grew up, so I was able to see my family and race, too. I started to take cyclocross more seriously and got better results, so then it became a goal to try to race well at Nationals. The funny thing is, my best result in the Elite category at Cyclocross Nats was 14th and that was in 1998.
CXM: Why do you keep going every year?
BD: I always attended Nats to compete against the best guys in the country. In 2007 and 2008 I won my Master’s category, so now I have the goal of trying to win again. But, I still go to Nats every year for the culture. It’s like a reunion. I see all the people I have raced with over the past 15 years. It’s a great culture to be a part of.
CXM: Tell us about some of the biggest changes you’ve seen at Nats over the years?
BD: The biggest change is simply the number of racers. There are so many people racing ’cross now … it is just awesome to see. Also, the level of race organization and professionalism has gone up a bunch. I guess it’s just a natural progression. As rider participation increases, the product the promoters provide needs to continually improve, too.
CXM: Which Nats was the most memorable for you?
BD: They were all memorable, but I would have to say that the 1999 event at the Presidio in San Francisco was the most memorable. It was the first race I’d done where there were thousands of faces screaming and yelling in my face. It was the first time I felt like I was in a true big-time race. The energy of that event was just magical and I think all that were there would agree. I’m not quite sure how to explain it, but it was the perfect storm of an incredible host city with a strong cycling culture, an awesome venue, a great course and die-hard fans.
CXM: It seems like the weather goes crazy at Nats more often than would be statistically expected. Why is that?
BD: I guess it’s just because winter weather can be so unpredictable. The more crappy the weather, the better for me.
CXM: I don’t think I’ve ever seen you have a really bad race, and as far as I remember you’ve never DNF’d. What’s up with that?
BD: Funny, I’ve never really thought about that. I guess it’s a combination of taking care of my equipment (truth is I’m a crappy mechanic and I have always had the help of awesome wrenches), good luck, and riding within my limits. I also don’t win a ton of races, so maybe I need to take more risks!
CXM: What made you decide to open a bike shop in Boulder where there were already nearly 20 shops?
BD: I have some type of entrepenural gene in my body. For as long as I can remember I have always come up with harebrained ideas for businesses. When I came up with the idea for Boulder Cycle Sport I was fortunate enough to have a friend and now business partner who believed in the idea. We went after it with a full head of steam.
CXM: When you opened the shop, did you plan on doing a lot with cyclocross from the very beginning?
BD: Not necessarily. Cyclocross is my favorite genre of cycling and I wanted to keep racing. The sport and the shop were growing at the same time, so we were able to capitalize on good timing.
CXM: What percent of your business today is related to ’cross?
BD: Well, road and mountain biking are still so popular in Colorado, that ’cross is still a very small percentage of our business. But ’cross really fuels our reputation and keeps our shop busy year-round.
CXM: Do you put a sticker in the window that says “’Cross Spoken Here”? What things do you do to make the shop “cyclocross friendly”?
BD: We don’t have that sticker, but I like the idea! I think first and foremost we always have someone who works at the shop who is passionate about the sport. From here we are able to “walk the walk, and talk the talk.” We teach free skills clinics every week in the fall, carry the best products, sponsor races, and do our best to promote the sport in general.
CXM: When you are recruiting staff, do you seek mechanics and sales people who cyclocross experience?
BD: We don’t actively seek this out, but it is definitely part of our hiring decisions. Knowing how to glue tubulars is a plus!
CXM: Tell us about the shop’s ’cross team?
BD: Our team is open to anyone who wants to learn how to race ’cross. There are no obligations other than you have to have a good attitude. We have nearly 100 members and 50 or so who are actively racing ’cross. A majority of our racers are first timers. In addition to the club team we have BCS “Ambassadors” who help with clinics, seminars, and community outreach. The shop and club have grown so much over the past six years that I really could not keep it up without their help.
CXM: I know you’ve got some great stories about racing cross in Belgium … let’s hear a couple snippets …
BD: I could write a whole book about my brief racing career in Belgium. Every experience was special, but racing in Diegem, which was my first big-time Belgium ’cross race, was such an eye opener. I really did not understand just how big cyclocross was in Belgium until that day. It was awesome.
CXM: Why do people call you “Dubba”?
BD: I have no clue! It’s an old college nickname that I got stuck with.
CXM: How many pairs of gloves did you bring to Madison, and which pair are you gonna race in?
BD: I think I packed eight pairs and that is less than half of what I own. There is a glove for every condition. As far as race day goes, I won’t make that decision until a few minutes before the start.
CXM: Tell us the truth: do you work on your own bike?
BD: I can wash it! No, seriously, I am a crappy mechanic, but luckily we have the best mechanics at our shops so I am very fortunate to have them on my team.
Check out Pete’s first column, about his uncertainty when it came to the new Nationals course and date change. And stay tuned for more!