by Molly Hurford
While most of the cyclocross world knows junior racers like Zach McDonald, Logan Owen, Cody Kaiser, or any of the Keoughs, Jeff Bahnson manages to fly under the radar despite some serious results. He not only won the Division II Collegiate Men’s race at Nationals, but he did so with a unique style, rocking a pink wool jersey with a strip of duct tape emblazoned with his school’s name as his only “collegiate kit.” The day before he rode to victory in that race, he took third in the 2012 U23 Cyclocross National Championship race behind McDonald and Kaiser. He’s been 17-18 National Champ before, attended Geoff Proctor’s EuroCrossCamp, and while his mom, Lauri Webber (an amazing elite cyclocross racer herself!) warned me that Bahnson was likely to be shy about being interviewed, I still wanted to find out more about what makes this U23 rider tick.
Cyclocross Magazine: OK, first of all, where are you from?
Jeff Bahnson: I’m from Newark, Delaware, but I’m going to school at Green Mountain College in Poultney, Vermont.
CXM: Best results so far?
JB: In 2010, I was 17-18 Junior national champion in 2010, 26th at World Championships for Juniors 17-18. This year, I was 16th at Nor’Easter, and 12th at Granogue in the UCI elite men category. In 2012, I was third in U23 at Nationals and won the Collegiate DII race.
CXM: When did you get serious about cyclocross?
JB: I started racing ’cross seriously at the beginning of high school, but I have been racing mountain bikes since I was eight. Most of my racing has been as a Junior, I was 11 or 12 for my first cyclocross race, on my mountain bike.
CXM: You’re in college now, how do you balance that with racing?
JB: Balancing college and racing hasn’t been too difficult so far, the only place where I run into trouble is if I have a paper due the Monday after a weekend of racing.
I have enough free time outside of class to train, maintain my bikes, get school work done, and mess around with friends. The only thing that racing gets in the way of is “weekend festivities.” As long as I don’t procrastinate and manage my time wisely, maintaining a good balance is not a problem.
CXM: How do you train?
JB: This season most of my training has been on the road because all of the trails aren’t really in riding distance.
CXM: What was your favorite race this season?
JB: I like any race that does not have excessive straight-aways or running sections. I like more technical courses: twisty, off-camber, elevation change, and mud is always a good thing. Some favorite races on the East Coast have been Granogue, Highland Park and Gloucester.
CXM: Do you race road or mountain bike at all?
JB: I do a little bit of MTB racing in the summer, but right now my main focus is cyclocross.
CXM: Who are you racing for?
JB: Right now I’m racing for the Van Dessel factory team.
CXM: Goals for the season?
JB: To get a UCI point!
CXM: In the elite races, you’re usually one of the youngest in the field. Do you enjoy that?
JB: Being one of the youngest in the field feels good, I have plenty to learn and improve upon.
Keep an eye out for Bahnson in the next couple of years, as he makes his way through the ranks.