In the Saddle with The Pony Shop’s Ryan Knapp
Last season, we saw Ryan Knapp racing nearly every weekend for Bob’s Red Mill, and he was often snagging at least a few of those all-important UCI points. This year, he’s back and has big plans.
Cyclocross Magazine: Who will you be racing for next season?
Ryan Knapp: Next season I’ll be riding for The Pony Shop out of Chicago. It’s a new team for me, but they’re really organized and I’ll have great support. I’m definitely excited to be riding for them.
CXM: How much time do you spend on your cyclocross bike in the off-season?
RK: Ha, off-season! I don’t get much of an off-season because I race a pretty full road schedule, but I do start to bring the ’cross bike into the rotation in late June in order to try and get back into the swing of things. I also got a mountain bike this year that I’ve been trying to ride to work at least once a week, on the technical side of things.
CXM: How long have you been racing?
RK: This year will be my fourth “real” season of cyclocross.
CXM: How did you get into cyclocross?
RK: I got into ‘cross while I was at Indiana University. There was a group of guys who used to do “underground” races. We would meet at the coffee shop and ride out to a course that one of the regulars had put together that week, and none of the rest of us knew where it was or anything about it. That made for a pretty cool rotation of courses around Bloomington. Also, I was lucky that we have a great series (the OVCX) in the area with plenty of racing to test the skills. The Cincy UCI 3 and Louisville USGP’s are part of the series, so there is great racing that’s part of the OVCX.
CXM: Best part of cyclocross for you?
RK: I obviously love the racing side of things, but for me it’s just the ’cross “scene.” By August, I find myself missing all my cyclocross friends that I don’t bump into during the road season.
CXM: What are you up to in the off-season?
RK: I guess you could call the week or two that I don’t ride in January my off-season, so I really just try to catch up on normal people things, not travel anywhere, and sleep in my own bed.
CXM: Favorite thing to do after a race?
CXM: Best pre and post-race food?
RK: People have given me a hard time for eating ice cream/junk food in the past, and I’ve actually been making some solid strides in terms of my diet this year, but pre-race I like to just eat a sandwich and some fruit if its available. Post-race … all I can think about is pizza.
CXM: Advice for people just getting into the sport?
RK: If you want to be fast on your ’cross bike, actually spend time on your ’cross bike. Don’t just ride your road bike all week then dust off your ’cross bike and head to the race on Saturday. Skills work. Skills work. Skills work.
CXM: Where would you like to see the sport go?
RK: Well, this year it’s already going somewhere very exciting with Worlds an hour down the road from me. But generally speaking, I’d really like to continue to see Americans gaining relevance internationally. Having been at Euro Cross Camp the last two years, I’ve gotten a pretty good look at the guys we’ve got coming up … and they’re really good. Drew Dillman is from my area. He’s got tons of talent, and I think he will do big things in the next few years.
CXM: What are your goals for next season?
RK: I had a bit of a rough year last year, so I’d really like to get back on track and get some more UCI podiums, maybe win a UCI race or two. Just keep getting better.
CXM: Is cyclocross your main focus?
RK: I’d say so. I love racing on the road and think it’s an important part of building for ’cross, but yeah, cyclocross is my focus.
CXM: Do you have another job?
RK: Yes, my family is in the restaurant business, and I work with them. It gives me the flexibility to travel and train as necessary.
CXM: Best pre-race song to listen to?
RK: Depends if I need to get pumped up, or if I’m already too pumped up. If I’m in need of some pumping up, I’ll go into the Zach McDonald music vault. If I need to calm the nerves a bit, I’ll listen to classical music of some sort.
CXM: Little known fact about you?
RK: I used to play golf in college at Appalachian State until I quit after my Sophomore year. All my cycling friends think it’s weird when I watch golf in the hotel room at races.
CXM: Most embarrassing bike moment?
RK: My most embarrassing moment on a ’cross bike was when I was pre-riding at Loenhout and screwed up riding a rut and had to put a foot down right in front of Sven Nys and he ran right into my shoulder. His fan club yelled at me …
CXM: What’s your ideal course?
RK: I’m not really sure what my ideal course would be. Anything that’s not a “tractor-pull” course!
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