Bruce Klein (17) of Altadena, California, isn’t your typical high school student. Instead of playing in football games and going to dances, he spends his time pedaling his way to podium finishes on the downhill race circuit. As a racer, he has laser-sharp focus and a strong work ethic, and his “have fun at all costs” attitude seems to be a mix of a seasoned veteran and a 5-year-old kid on Christmas morning. His intense love for the sport, combined with discipline and hard work, has propelled him from a mid-pack finisher at local races to an international podium threat in just a few short years.
Mach speed at Mammoth: Klein often clocks downhill runs that would rank him among the top pros in SoCal.
Bruce started riding bikes at a young age. At 2 years old he was inspired by his older sisters who were just learning to ride. Next thing his parents knew, he was ripping around on his sisters’ pink Huffy, jumping off every curb or bump he could find.
Attitude counts: His friends call Klein “The Stoke Master,” for his ever-present good attitude.
Bruce also played soccer and rapidly progressed in the sport. After playing in the community soccer league, he was selected to play on a regional club team, I really got a feel for how hard work and determination pay off.” This is a lesson he says that has helped him find success in mountain bike racing. Bruce entered his first mountain bike race in 2011 when he had a rare soccer-free weekend. Despite the fact that it was an absolute mudfest, where the racers did more hiking than riding, he was instantly hooked. As middle school came to a close, so did his soccer career.
Learning how to “Whip” is one of the staple moves a pro downhiller has to have in his arsenal of tricks and It looks like Bruce has got it down.
Now solely committed to mountain biking, it didn’t take long for Bruce to make the transition from avid rider to successful down-hill racer. After purchasing his first downhill bike from a friend, he took his downhill racing ambitions to the local race scene at Fontana, California. The Southridge races in Fontana have been the launching pad for some of the biggest names in mountain biking, such as Aaron Gwin, Kyle Strait, Cam Zink and many more. In 2012, Bruce looked to follow in their footsteps when he took the 18-Under Sport class by storm. He found a coach with Sierra Cycling Training and Coaching and quickly worked his way up to Junior Expert for 2013. He was able to land on the top step of the podium by the end of the season. This earned him a position on the Incycle race team, which would give him the platform and support to take the American race scene by storm.
After signing with the Incycle Bicycle Race team, Bruce now had financial support and the mentorship of several experienced teammates. He made full use of this during the 2014 season and instantly saw his hard work pay off. He started the year by taking several wins in the Southridge Downhill and Super-D Winter series. He also won or finished on the podium at nearly every other race he entered. He capped off his already-successful year with a win at the Winter Park Enduro World Series U18 race. Coming into the 2015 season, he chose to focus on downhill racing and place all other disciplines on hold. This turned out to be a very fruitful decision. Bruce dominated the local race scene before going on to win two out of the three Pro GRT national rounds.
Bruce melts the course with his final run and secures the top of the podium.
Although Bruce does have an impressive ability to rail a downhill course at speeds most would consider suicidal, the story the race results won’t tell you is about his uncanny talent for getting stoked. Riding with Bruce, you are almost guaranteed to end the ride more stoked than when you started. For this reason, his teammates have aptly branded him “The Stoke Master.” All too often racers lose sight of this pure love for the sport while chasing sponsors and results. It is refreshing to see a rider maintain such an outwardly expressed passion for the sport that we all love. When asked what he likes to do outside of racing, he responded, “I ride different bikes. I absolutely love riding bikes, and I will never get tired of it. The adrenaline and adventure of exploring new places or ripping my favorite trail that I know like the back of my hand will never get old.” Bruce proves that mixing a little hard work with something you love can only produce good results.
Outside of racing Bruce finds enjoyment in giving back to the sport. Through friends, he began to branch out and meet people who were organizing trail repair/building events. One of the riders he befriended was local IMBA chapter leader Stephen Messer, who introduced him to all things trail advocacy. In no time, Bruce was following the example set by his friend, repairing trails, volunteering at fundraisers, and helping to plan a new trail. According to Bruce, all the time spent giving back has been made worthwhile by the pure joy riding trails brings others as well as himself.
Last but not least, Bruce wanted to say thank you. “I definitely want to thank my family for sacrificing so much for me so that I could pursue my dream of becoming a professional mountain biker. I also want to thank everyone who I ride with for making me a faster rider. In addition, I would like to thank Incycle Bicycles for keeping my bike in the best shape possible.”
Dropping into the plaza for some tacos and some fans, helped keep the stoke alive down in Mexico at the City’s Downhill World Tour Finals.
Looking to the future, Bruce is hoping to place well at the upcoming North American World Cups at Mont-Saint-Anne, Canada, and Windham, New York. He was recently named as a junior to the World Championship national team. In the next few years, he is hoping to make a professional career out of racing. He says, “It would be a dream come true to make a career out of my passion.” For now, he is simply stoked to be traveling the world riding his bike.
For more about the story contact Cody Phillips
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