by Pete Webber
Allen Krughoff of Boulder, Colorado, is one of the “Working Men” of pro cyclocross who’s racked up a solid string of results this season. In addition to stomping stacked fields in Colorado, he finished fifth at the CXLA UCI weekend and has been knocking on the top 10 door at the USGPs. Allen’s teammate and Boulder neighbor Pete Webber sat down with Allen to share training tips and learn a bit more about this up-and-comer.
Cyclocross Magazine: Tell us about Allen. What is your background?
Allen Krughoff: I moved to Colorado with my family at 13 and did a mountain bike race at Keystone called ‘Snake River.’ Thought I was going to die, but I’ve been racing ever since. I went from the Specialized Junior Factory MTB Team, to local club teams in Colorado and University of Colorado, to the regional NRC stage racing team of Rio Grande Cycling. Now I’m dedicated 100% to cyclocross riding with the Boulder Cycle Sport Ambassador Team. This year, I just did a handful of road races to get ready for the season.
CXM: What are your nicknames?
AK: Oh man, I’ve picked up a few over the years. Most notorious was ‘The Bod’ which came off a joke during a stage race from one of those ‘Bod’ body spray commercials. Then there’s Krughphoto or Krughphoto.com which is the old name for my photography business; Kruger, Der Krug, Jughead … you get the idea.
CXM: What is the deal with this “Ambassador” team thing?
AK: It’s actually pretty cool. We’ve come up with a team that gives back to the community and the sponsors in more ways than just racing fast. Every member of the team is involved in extra outreach. Whether it’s running a local shop and hosting a series of free clinics (Brandon Dwight); acting junior coach and author of the popular blog MudandCowbells.com (Greg Keller); being a longtime advocate, local course designer and general leader of the free cross world (Pete Webber); being a women’s clinics coach (Kristin Weber); or what I do: I’m helping coach the Boulder Junior Cycling cross team for the second year in a row.
CXM: What bike are you riding?
AK: I’m on two Ridley X-Fires fitted with SRAM drivetrains, Clement tires, Avid brakes, Ritchey components, and Easton wheels. In addition to the equipment suppliers, our sponsors are: Apikol, mix1, Harshman Wealth Management, and Strava.
CXM: What made you decide to scale back on road and focus on cyclocross?
AK: I wanted to be home more (we were traveled nearly 60 days a year on the Rio team) and my photography business was starting to grow. ’Cross training involves fewer hours in general so I can run my own business and still accomplish the training needed. Most importantly, I’ve had more fun racing ’cross than I’ve ever had racing before.
CXM: What is your day job and how much time do you spend working each week?
AK: I’m a commercial photographer in Boulder and my business is Hardcastle Photography — a name that’s a tribute to my Mom, who got me started back when I was 13. It’s definitely a full time job but I have a flexible schedule and can get out and train when I need to, unless I have a big shoot. I’m my own marketing team, accountant, and CEO — pretty much the same challenges any small business owner faces.
CXM: How do you juggle being a working man and a pro ass-kicker?
AK: Ha! Pro ass-kicker, that’s quite the title, I won’t turn it down, as that’s the big goal. Right now I’m just taking it day by day. I recently started a big photo project for a sizable Colorado business. There’s a lot of planning before the shoots and editing afterwards — so I can take that kind of work on the road with me. My daily routine is getting up early, jumping on emails and calls and then getting out to ride while I wait for those contacts to return my messages. When I get home, I get right back on it. Sometimes I have to shelve training for a day or two when we’re on a full-day shoot. There’s not much you can do productively on the bike after days like those — but that’s when stretching and core strength work get done.
CXM: What’s your season looking like: USGP, Nationals, Europe?
AK: The remaining season is the State Champs in Colorado, and then Nationals. I’ll have gone to three of four of the USGP’s this year and both weekends of UCI racing in LA. I received an invite to Euro ’Cross Camp in Belgium, but I just couldn’t make it work on short notice both logistically and financially so I had to turn it down this year. Maybe next year I can get over and race a World Cup, that’d be an incredible experience.
CXM: What are your goals for Nationals? How are your preparing?
AK: I’m aiming for a top five at Nationals I think. I’ve looked at the guys who finish ahead/near me and a fair number of them won’t be there (ie. Ben Berden, Zach McDonald, Todd Wells, etc.) and I’m racing stronger each weekend throughout this season. My coach, Neal Henderson of Apex Coaching/Boulder Center of Sports Medicine, and I have been working together for probably eight years now and he’s been there while I’ve been moving up the ranks and has me pretty dialed in training now. The biggest challenge for Nationals will be the lack of local races in late December to stay focused and continue getting faster. But we’ve got a great ‘support group’ in Boulder and plenty of strong riders to push each other through January. Our training sessions are full-speed and full-contact with some of the best riders around. There will be a nice break after our States, and then back into serious training through Christmas. Ugh, that just sounded awful saying that out loud. “Serious training through Christmas …”
CXM: You come from Colorado where there is a great ’cross racing scene, but only four UCI races each season, what are your thoughts on that?
AK: Well, it is a little frustrating but I’ve come to terms with it. We simply don’t have the region-wide population from lots of cities or the history of UCI racing that the East Coast does. Plus, all ’cross racing in Colorado has been through our local group ACA, and that has ruled out UCI status except for the USGP and Boulder Cup weekends. I know that other regions have done a lot of work over the years to make UCI racing a reality and the result is some great opportunities for racers. Many Eastern riders were at the Louisville USGP and that put me back in the third or fourth row on callup. The good news is that last month the ACA decided to reintegrate with USA Cycling, so there may be a chance for more UCI races in the future.
CXM: Who are your biggest rivals?
AK: Probably Danny Summerhill as of late. He’s been the guy I’ve been bumping elbows with in Colorado and he’s fun to race against. I also train with Yannick Eckmann as we’re both coached by Neal Henderson, so he’s a friend and a rival. We were running stairs last week and giving each other shit and then talking about plans for training over the summer for next season. He’s a good guy and is crushing it.
CXM: Tell us about your racing tactics.
AK: My right shoe always gets tied first, or BOA’d first in the case of my S-Works shoes (shout out to Andy Pruitt). That comes from my ice hockey days where you squeezed every ounce of available luck out of pre-game routines. I’m also figuring out how to race in the front group — there’s a learning curve for sure. The weekend in LA I was ‘too much in the wind’ as the Belgians would say, riding at the front of the group, and then the next day, I didn’t stay in position within the group. Finding the right mix there is key at USGPs and Nationals.
CXM: Any secret strategies?
AK: I use mind control on my rivals. To quote the great Arnold Schwarzenegger in the documentary Pumping Iron, “Sometimes they ask me for advices … and sometimes I give them the wrong advices.”
CXM: What are your plans for next season?
AK: Go big, crush souls, rip legs off, conquer. USGP, World Cups, Nationals, Worlds.
CXM: Do you have any aspirations to go pro full time and are you seeking more pro support from sponsors?
AK: Definitely. Photography allows me a flexible schedule and low overhead. I’ve chosen that path primarily because I love doing it but also because I have the flexibility to take time away from it if I wanted without having employees to pay or a lease to cover. I’m figuring out the travel routine and am really enjoying it. It’s not like riding six day stage races on the road and being gone for 10 days. These are usually one weekend races and are far more manageable. If the opportunity came to me to do a full schedule, whether as part of one of the established teams or to grow with Boulder Cycle Sport, I’d go for it.
CXM: Tell us about your work as a junior coach.
AK: I coach the Boulder Junior Cycling ’cross team after school twice a week. I’m with the riders aged 13 and up — the baby honey badgers. We do skills, mock races, core workouts and team building. The program has doubled since last year and I expect it to double again next year. That’s gonna be 80 kids. It’s pretty incredible how quick they learn and how much potential they have. I also really enjoy coaching cross because it lends itself to instruction much more than road or MTB. I come up with some great drills I have to say. One of them comes from when I played lacrosse and the goal is to keep the other rider from reaching the end of a field — you’re both on foot, carrying your bikes — kind of like a football blocking drill that helps with agility and sprinting.
CXM: What do you think about riders who dismount on the right?
AK: We all make mistakes. Joey’s OK, isn’t he?
CXM: What is your favorite type of course?
AK: Louisville USGP minus the piece of glass my tire picked up. That course was seriously fun and challenging at the same time. Add some water and it’d be a real test — sign me up for worlds 2013.
CXM: Best part of racing cyclocross?
AK: Community. Hands down.
CXM: Thanks Allen.
AK: Thank you Mr. Webber, it’s been a pleasure speaking with you in your trophy hall. The scent of rich mahogany and leather-bound books won’t leave me anytime soon …