The past two cyclocross seasons have been a re-birth of sorts for Hudson, Wisconsin's Bjørn Selander (Donkey Label / Bingham Built).
Now 30, Selander was one of the top young cycling talents in the U.S. a decade ago. Selander won Junior Cyclocross Nationals in 2005 and U23 Nationals in 2007 and then went on to race for the Radioshack WorldTour team in 2010 and 2011. His time with Radioshack included a start in the 2011 Giro d'Italia.
Beginning in 2012, Selander's promising young career was interrupted by a leg injury that he then struggled with for years. He was eventually diagnosed with iliac artery endofibrosis, which caused pain and numbness in his leg, especially during intense efforts. Selander had surgery to repair the artery in 2015 and was soon without a professional racing contract.
Selander went from being part of the future of the sport in the U.S. to a laregely forgotten athlete quietly suffering back at his home in Wisconsin.
"It took from 2013 until this year to where I feel comfortable racing my bike at a high level again," Selander said. "Don’t let these dreams die because of an injury. It's easier for me to talk about this now but during the rough years, a larger part of me just wanted to hide and not let anyone know how much I was suffering. The remedy was to open myself up and tap into my support system."
Given everything Selander has been through, it is hard not to cheer for him to succeed. And despite his suffering, Selander maintained a postivity and sense of optimism he carries with him to cyclocross races today.
"Never ever give up when you love something and want to do it," Selander said. "I know it is very easy to say but seriously. I went through a lot and I just truly believed that there were better days coming."
With his return to cyclocross, Selander becamse a bit unique in that he was a talented Junior who went to the road, only to come back to cyclocross, kind of like Tim Johnson when he sampled road pro life in Europe with Saunier Duval only to come back to the U.S. and race cyclocross professionally.
Like many young stars who start racing cyclocross, the discipline is still Selander's favorite.
"Cyclocross invigorates my heart," he said. "I love the intensity, I love the fear, I love the adrenaline waiting at the start. The crazy fans. I love how there is no hiding, everyone goes out and gives what they have mentally and physically."
Selander quietly returned to ’cross in 2016, racing in UCI events in the Midwest and Colorado as well in the Minnesota cyclocross scene near his Hudson, Wisconsin home.
His breakout ride came at CrossVegas in 2017, where he finished fourth, just seconds behind Jeremy Powers and the podium after boldly telling Cyclocross Magazine an hour before his race that his goal was to win. He also scored top fives at the KMC Cross Fest and DCCX during his first season officially being back.
The 2018 season has been an eventful one for Selander. He built on his CrossVegas finish by taking third at RenoCross in the desert just a few days after racing the Chequamegon 40 on a cyclocross bike—where he flatted while nearly a minute off the front. He also finished ninth at the Iceman Cometh mountain bike race the weekend the rest of the peers were at Pan-Ams in Midland.
More important than any bike race, Selander also became a father at the start of the season. Selander's partner Sarah gave birth to their baby boy Kolbjørn on August 29.
Following in his unorthodox approach to the 2018 season, this past weekend Selander decided to eschew the 10+ hour drive to Oklahoma for Ruts n' Guts and race closer to home at the Midwest Regional Cyclocross Championships in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin as his pre-Nats tune-up. Selander won the race, holding off tough challenges from both Junior star Nick Carter (KCCX Elite) and mountain bike standout Cole House (Pete's Garage).
One symbol of Selander's Bjørn-again cyclocross career is his Bingham Built custom titanium cyclocross bike. For Selander, it is a bike born out of his family's history in cycling and folks' willingness to help him give professional cycling another shot.
"Bjørn really is a special guy in the racing scene," the bike's builder Brad Bingham said. "He brings genuine kindness and passion for sport to any event he is at. All of us are lucky to have him back in the field putting everything he has into his racing."
Today's pre-Nats bike profile looks at Selander's Bingham Built bike after his Midwest Regionals win in Wisconsin.
Bjørn Selander's Bingham Built Titanium Cyclocross Bike
Following his 2016 return season, Selander was looking for a bike sponsor. Selander's father Dag—a professional cyclist himself in the 1980s—is friends with Leonard Zinn, who put the family in touch with Eriksen Cycles founder Kent Eriksen.
Eriksen then connected Dag with current Eriksen owner Brad Bingham, who builds his own bikes under his brand Bingham Built. Bingham was looking for an athlete to ride his titanium cyclocross frame.
"I did not know Dag personally, but he and I have a mutual friend in the late Steve Tilford," Bingham said. "As the saying goes, 'If they’re a friend of Steve’s, they’re a friend of mine.' In an early phone call with Dag he explained to me about Bjorn’s recovery from Iliac artery endofibrosis and it struck a chord with me as I had two significant hip surgeries in 2013 and after that, I raced with more focus and fun than any other time of my life. I immediately jumped at the opportunity to have someone as talented and driven as Bjørn put my bikes to the test."
Selander had three custom cyclocross bikes from Bingham Built with him in Sun Prairie. The bike I looked at was his new A bike with blue decals. Selander also has a second Di2 shifting A bike and a mechanical shifting training/B bike.
Selander rode his first A bike at CrossVegas last year.
Bingham builds every one of his bikes completely custom. To design a bike for Selander, he did some research. "I spent a lot of time looking at old photos of Bjørn racing cyclocross in his Junior days to solidify a vision of his style as we designed the geometry," Bingham said. "He has a very high bar position and likes the frame to feel a bit small under him with a fairly long stem."
Bingham described the newest bike built for the 2018 season. "Bjørn wanted to try and shave as much weight as possible. I built with a T47 shell to keep all routing internal and selected some of the very lightest large diameter tubes available."
The frame has 55cm top tube length and 71.6-degree head tube angle. The rear is post mount disc and 12mm thru-axle.
The fork is a carbon ENVE Cross Disc fork that is post mount disc and has 12mm thru-axles. The fork is connected to the frame with a Cane Creek 110 Classic headset.
Selander ran a mix of Shimano products for his drivetrain. In the front he paired a 44t Wolf Tooth with a four-bolt Dura-Ace R9100 crankset with 175mm crankarms. In the rear, he ran the Ultegra RX805 Di2 clutch-based derailleur with an 11-32t Dura-Ace cassette.
His post mount calipers were Shimano RS785 Hydraulic Disc. He paired them with Dura-Ace R9170 Dual Control shift/brake levers. His rotors were 140mm IceTech Freeza SM-RT900 140mm models.
Selander's wheels were the Dura-Ace WH-9170-C40-TU carbon tubulars we have seen other riders such as Mathieu van der Poel and Kerry Werner run. The frozen ground at Angell Park in Sun Prairie was hard and bumpy, and Selander opted for Challenge Baby Limus tubulars front and rear to tackle the terrain.
Contact points on Selander's Bingham Built were a Pro Vibe Alloy handlebar, Shimano PD-M8000 XT pedals and a Specialized Romin saddle. His seatpost is a custom-order Kent Eriksen Cycles titanium "Sweetpost," and his stem was a 120mm titanium Bingham Built model.
Selander traveled to Sun Praire with his father Dag, who worked the pit for him during the race. He helped with this profile and posed with the author's dogs—three dags in one photo—and the Bingham Built bike.
For more on Selander's Bingham Built cyclocross bike, see the photo gallery and specs below.