Trebon takes the barriers at the Raleigh cyclocross race at Sea Otter. © Cyclocross Magazine

Trebon takes the barriers at the Raleigh cyclocross race at Sea Otter. © Cyclocross Magazine

by Molly Hurford

When we were out at Bear Creek for Mountain Bike Nationals, we couldn’t help but notice a familiar face was missing in the crowd. Ryan Trebon wasn’t at the start line, and not just because his home in Bend, Oregon, is a continent away. Trebon was home with a minor back injury, one that kept him off his feet and out of the running for the win in the cross country race. We checked in with him a week later to see how his summer had gone, and to find out if the rumors of a back injury were true, and if so, how serious it was.

“I’ve done a handful of mountain bike races this summer,” Trebon explained, after I apologized for the sounds of seagulls and Jersey Shore wannabes in the background on my side of the phone. “I was going to go out to Wisconsin and Nationals, but then twisted my back a bit before the weekend before Wisconsin.”

“I was doing cross-training stuff, lifting weights,” ha said. When I asked why a bike racer found himself in the gym during the summer, he explained, “I think you need a lot of shoulder strength in ’cross. Partway into the races, I feel like my upper body gets a little more fatigued and it’s harder to do dynamic movements towards the end of the race. So I’ve been trying to work on it but did something wrong.”

It wasn’t one motion that sent his back into spasms, rather, “I woke up one morning and my back hurt so bad I couldn’t walk. It’s fine now. I think I just did something weird, but it feels OK now. I had to miss mountain bike Nationals and that was a bummer. It would have been fun to be out there, I like that kind of riding.”

And then, the slight frustration kicked in. “So I’ve just been home. I’ll be here the next few weeks until ’cross season, pretty much. Nothing too exciting, just home.”

“I like being home. I get kind of bored,” he continued. “It’s more normal being gone so it’s different being home more often than not. It’s been fine but I’m used to racing until August. It’s sort of strange.”

For someone like Trebon, spending a lot of time at home isn’t something he’s used to. “I’m just training, there’s not a lot of time to do anything else,” he said. “I had wanted to do more mountain biking. But I’ve just been home, riding motorcycles, mostly dirt bikes, stuff like that, hanging out. Nothing crazy.”

But with ’cross season coming closer and closer, with only five weeks until the start of the season at Nittany in Pennsylvania, does he have a clear plan for fall? “I don’t really know,” he confessed, surprising me. “We’re discussing it now. We’ll see!”

When pressed though, he admitted he had some plans worked out: “Holy week? Oh yeah, for sure. It’ll be pretty much the same schedule as last year. Vegas to Madison, Gloucester to Providence.”

It’s not about just the Cannondale/CyclocrossWorld team though. Trebon believes that, “The riders need to talk and make sure that we’re all on the same page about what races we want to support. I’d like to see increased exposure for the races.”

He further explained, “There’s this expectation that people will just come to races. Promoters need to make people want to be there, to want to spend money to come to the event: To have a good amateur race that they want to race and a good professional race that they want to watch. I have no idea how challenging it is to put on a race, because I’ve never put one on.”

And at the end of the day, he wondered, “Do we need 35 or 60 UCI events in the US?” His response to his own question surprised me, since I assumed that racers were happy to have any chance to score points. “I don’t think so,” he said. “If we could have 15 or 20 awesome events that were awesome and that the majority of us could go to and that were really well run that we could all go to, that’s better than a ton of races. If there’s a UCI race in Pennsylvania and one in Washington, if the racers are split, and not everyone is going to either, it’s not as fun.”

“There can only be so many C2s,” he furthered. “And you don’t need a C1 to draw more racers. Why not take a C2 and invest the money you’d spend on C1 status on more infrastructure and more media: I think that would draw more racers. If you could guarantee publicity for an event, a lot of us would be happy to race a C2.”

And as for internationals travel this year, “We’ll play it by ear. We’ll go in January. It depends on the year, how I’m going… We’ll see whatever we feel is best.”

Trebon also has a new teammate, Curtis White from New England. I asked what he thought about the new addition, who joins the lineup as the new youngest male member of the team. “I think it’s pretty awesome to get another young rider in there,” he said. “We need a lot of younger kids. There’s a pretty big void, between people that are my and Powers’ age to the young guys who are 23. There aren’t that many 25-year-olds right now who’s racing well. It’s avoid where, if we stop racing, there won’t be much. Guys like Yannick Eckmann and Curtis White are those guys.”

He continued, “Curtis has a good attitude about it. Some younger kids are pretty entitled about what they should be getting. They don’t realize that eight years ago, the level of support wasn’t there. They kind of think that this is normal. The level of racing where it is now, it’s normal. But it’s actually pretty abnormal, it’s come a long way. People like me and Jeremy [Powers] and Tim [Johnson] really appreciate what’s happening in ’cross versus someone who just got into it. It’s great now.”