Inside the Pro’s Bikes – Christopher Blevins’ Specialized Epic
The hardtail option: Like many pros, Blevins splits his time between a hardtail and a full-suspension bike. This is his 19.3-pound Specialized Epic Hardtail World Cup.
Christopher Blevins scored his first national win in the pro ranks last year while still in high school. It was at the Bonelli Park National, and Blevins out-sprinted the top pros in America to win the men’s short-track event. His 18th birthday came the next day.
If anyone thought Blevins’ win at Bonelli Park in 2016 was a fluke, he proved otherwise this spring. At this year’s Fontana City National, Blevins won the Pro Men’s Cross-Country event and then followed it up the next day with the win in the short track, too. To be fair, the lineup was not as tough as it might have been, since some of America’s top riders (including cross-country national champion Howard Grotts) were in South America at the Pan-American Championships.
The next weekend, Blevins was back to take on the pro ranks at Bonelli Park again. This time he won the short-track event in the pro class, beating a veritable army of national champions, including Todd Wells, Stephen Ettinger, Russell Finsterwald and Howard Grotts. Among Blevins’ many victims this time was Anton Cooper of New Zealand, who had won the cross-country race the day before. Cooper had also won the junior men’s cross-country title at the UCI World Championships last year.
Blevins may have only finished high school last year, but he’s already won four major pro races in mountain biking, a sport where even a single win is a major accomplishment. After his Bonelli Park races were over, we had a chance to talk with Blevins about his background. “I began BMX racing when I was 5,” he told us. “I won my national age group for nearly 10 years straight. I started racing mountain bikes at 10. I won the National Championship at age 10 and took second the next year at 11. I’ve taken first every year since I was 12.” Blevins didn’t say it like he was bragging, either. We practically had to pry the information out of him.
Christopher has also done well in his international races. “I got fourth at the Worlds in the Juniors in 2016,” he told us, “and I won the Albstadt World Cup [in the Juniors] in May of 2016. I think it was the best finish at Worlds since 2000.”
Blevins is versatile too. “I started road racing when I was 12,” said Blevins. “This is my first road season with the Axeon Hagens Berman team. Eddy Merckx’s son Axel runs the team.” How good is Blevins on the road? Well, he won the Peace Race event in the Czech Republic last year, one of Europe’s top junior road biking races.
If Blevins can resist the temptation to switch to racing road full-time, he could become a serious contender on the World Cup cross-country circuit in the years ahead. No American male has won an elite-level World Cup cross-country race since 1994. Could Blevins be the first American man to do it again? We’ll have to wait and see.
The MBA Q&A:
MBA: Where did you grow up?
Blevins: Durango, Colorado.
MBA: What kind of work do your father and mother do?
Blevins: My mom was a nurse up until she had me and my sister, and now she teaches pilates classes. My dad is an orthopedic surgeon and a sports medicine specialist.
MBA: When did you first start riding a bicycle?
Blevins: My first time without training wheels was 3 years old.
MBA: When did you first start competing in events on a bike?
Blevins: My first BMX race was right after my 5th birthday. I got second, and I was hooked right away.
MBA: How long did you do that, and what made you switch to mountain bikes?
Blevins: For years I was really serious about BMX. When I started mountain bik- ing at age 10, I began the slow transition over to road and mountain. My last BMX National Championship was when I was 16, but by then I was almost completely focused on road and mountain.
MBA: What were your best competition results on non-mountain bikes?
Blevins: I won the national age group title for BMX nine times growing up, and my best result on the road is the overall win at the Peace Race in the Czech Republic.
MBA: When did you start competing on mountain bikes?
Blevins: I think I started with some local races in Durango, but the first race I remember on the mountain bike was nationals at age 10.
MBA: How did you do in your first event?
Blevins: I won, although there were only a couple other little guys in my category.
MBA: What have been your best national and international results?
Blevins: I think starting this season off with a win in Fontana and a third in the UCI HC at Bonelli were my best national results. My best international results as a junior last year include a win at the Albstadt World Cup and fourth at XC worlds.
MBA: What titles have you won (or come close to winning)? What years did you win them?
photo by PB Creative
Blevins: I have won the National Cross-Country Championships in my age group every year since I was 12.
MBA: Are you going to college?
Blevins: I’m just starting off as a freshman at Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo. I’m a business administration major, and I’ll likely concentrate in marketing with a possible sociology degree.
MBA: Do you have any other kind of career training?
Blevins: Not yet!
MBA: Did you earn any awards in sports or academics while in school?
Blevins: The proudest non-sports-related award I’ve received was first at my high school poetry slam in 2016.
MBA: What other sports do you like to do now?
Blevins: I am a huge basketball fan. I played JV for the first two years of high school, and I might play in the intramural league at school during the offseason. I also grew up playing soccer and competing in freestyle skiing.
MBA: Can you tell us something interesting or unusual about yourself or your family that is not widely known?
Blevins: My passion for bikes is matched by my passion for music and poetry. I actually just released my first full album, and I’m excited to write more in the future. If you want to check it out, go to www.milemarkersproject.com.
Name: Christopher Blevins
Birthdate: March 14, 1998
Birthplace: Durango, Colorado
Weight: 150 pounds
Shoe size: 44
Helmet size: Medium
Marital status: Not married
Current home: Durango, Colorado/San Luis Obispo, California
Cars: 2005 Toyota 4Runner
Started racing: BMX at age 5, MTB at 10, road at 12.
Turned pro: 2017
Racing specialty: Climbing, short track
Favorite course (North America): Crested Butte, Colorado
Favorite course (Europe): Albstadt World Cup
Favorite food: Chocolate chip cookies
Goals: 2020 Olympics, World Cups, Tour of Colorado
Heroes: Todd Wells, Kobe Bryant, Rudy Francisco
Favorite recording artist: Dylan Owen
Favorite movie: The Dark Knight
Favorite hobbies: Poetry, rap, basket-ball, camping
Jobs held (other than racer): Durango BMX instructor
Most embarrassing moment: My first time on Nordic skis was a rough one.
Always takes on a trip: Headphones and a journal
What you would be if you were not a racer: I’d have more time to be a normal college student at Cal Poly SLO, and I’d probably need to find another thing to pour my energy into.
INSIDE THE PROS’ BIKES
Christopher Blevins and his Specialized Epic FSR World Cup
Estimated value: $11,000
1. Frame: “I ride a Specialized S-Works Epic FSR World Cup edition. It’s a large, full-carbon frame.”
2. Fork: “The fork is the RockShox RS1 with 100 millimeters of travel. I always like the Brain turned up to 3/4 of its max.”
3. Tires: “My trusty tires are Specialized Fast Traks, 2.2 inches and 2.0 inches, with 22 and 23 pounds front and rear.”
4. Inner tubes or tubeless system: “I use Stan’s in a tubeless system. This always limits flats.”
5. Rims: “The rims are Specialized Roval Control SL rims. They are stiff, durable and incredibly light.”
6. Spokes: “DT Swiss Revolution straight-pull, 2.0/1.5/2.0 gauge (stainless steel, alloy nipples).”
7. Front hub: “Roval Control SL with sealed-cartridge bearings. The stiffness while cornering is awesome.”
8. Rear hub: “Roval Control SL fea- turing DT Swiss internals with the same bearings as the DT Swiss 240 hub and star-ratchet freehub system. It runs super smooth over anything.”
9. Brakes: “I am using the Magura MT8 and standard rotors on the Roval wheels.”
10. Handlebars: “I like the Specialized S-Works Prowess XC Carbon Flat bar with an 8-degree sweep, 0-degree rise and 700-millimeter width. I’ve always liked flatter bars to give better control while handling.”
11. Bottom bracket: “On the bike is the SRAM PF30, and for the bigger races coming up I’ll run the impressively designed CeramicSpeed PF30 bottom bracket.”
12. Grips: “I use foam Supacaz grips with TOGS on the inside to help me get a better grip while climbing.”
13. Cranks: “Racing and training with a power meter comes with a lot of benefits, so I use a 175-size Quarq power meter.”
14. Chainring: “The normal setup is a 34-tooth chainring with the SRAM Eagle XX1.”
15. Pedals: “Speedplay SYZR, because of the direct-drive power transfer.”
16. Chain: “I use the SRAM XX1 drivetrain. I switch it every three months or so, and also a little while before
17. Rear derailleur: “I’ve got the SRAM XX1 Eagle rear derailleur. It shifts super smoothly.”
18. Shifters: “SRAM Eagle shifter. Having a 1x, but the full range of gears makes this a lot more streamlined while racing.”
19. Brake levers: “I use the Magura MT8. The feel of them is great, and this allows for a lot of control while descending.”
20. Rear cassette: “I’m lucky to be on the SRAM XX1 Eagle, 10-50 cassette. It has definitely revolutionized XC racing and gives you a full arsenal of gears to choose from.”
21. Saddle: “I use the Specialized Phenom saddle, and it’s a nice bright red to match the decals on the frame.”
22. Seatpost: “Coming from a BMX background, I’m used to riding lower with- out a seat getting in the way. For XC racing, the 50-millimeter Specialized Command dropper post is perfect.”
23. Headset: “I run a TH Industries hybrid, alloy, sealed cartridge; 1 1/8-inch upper, stainless 1.5-inch lower”
24. Water-bottle cage: “The Specialized side-loading bottle cage is super light and makes it easy to throw the bottle back in.”
25. Shock: “The Epic comes with a Fox rear shock with Brain technology. I have the Brain turned 3/4 of the way up, and the stiffness is noticeable while climbing.”
26. Stem: “I run a pretty standard stem: Specialized S-Works SL, 100 millimeters and -6-degree rise.”
27. Special touches: “The best subtle touch on the bike are the crimps on the ends of wires that say ‘BRAD.’ Brad Copeland, my mechanic, is responsible for the bike looking and running as nicely as it does.”
28. Extras: “Garmin 520 and TOGS.”
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