Meet The Riders And Their Rides: Cole Paton

Meet The Riders And Their Rides

Cole Paton is shaping up to be a rising star in American cross-country racing. Don’t worry if you haven’t heard too much about him before. We are pretty sure that you will in the years ahead. Cole has been racing mainly at the collegiate level so far, where he’s the top XC rider at Fort Lewis College in Colorado, the top mountain bike school in the U.S. for most of the last 20 years.

As a matter of fact, Cole was the top collegiate cross-country racer in America this past season, even though he still has one more year of schooling ahead of him before he graduates. Despite the fact that Cole is still in college, he is already racing against the top pros in America when he’s not racing collegiate events, and he’s doing well at that, too. At Vail Lake in Southern California this spring, Cole hung with the lead group of pros all the way through the last lap. We expect Cole could be one of the top pros in America in another couple of years. You can read more about him and his bike on the next few pages.


MBA: Where did you grow up?

Cole: I grew up in a little town called Cashmere in Washington state. About 3200 people live in this town. There is one elementary school, one middle school and one high school. It’s an agricultural community where apples, pears and cherries are grown.

MBA: What kind of work do (or did) your father and mother do?

Cole: My family is deeply rooted in the outdoor industry. My grandparents started Arlberg Sports when they were 19 years old. Initially, the family business was only open during the winter, and skiing equipment and apparel were the staple goods sold. Then, in 2008, my parents bought the business from my grandparents. Today, Arlberg Sports is a year-round sporting goods store that services and sells sporting goods equipment and apparel revolving around lifestyle sports, such as biking, skiing, snowboarding, running and camping.

MBA: When did you first start riding a bicycle?

Cole: I first started riding when I was 4 years old. My older sister played a huge role in motivating my earlier years of cycling. She was better than I was at everything; however, on a bike I was able to keep up with her. In every other sport, she dominated me! Maybe that’s why I love biking so much.

MBA: When did you first start competing in events on a bike, and what kind of bike was it?

Cole: I finished my first bike race when I was 8 years old. I remember my dad drove me about an hour away from where we lived. We knew nothing about racing at the time, and I lined up on a hand-me-down, purple-and-white Specialized Hotrock that was originally my sister’s bike.

MBA: How did you finish?

Cole: To my surprise (and my parents’ as well), I won my first race! I raced in the Junior Category 3 with a bunch of older intimidating kids. I had a few dramatic crashes, but quickly learned that was all part of the process.

MBA: When did you start competing regularly on mountain bikes?

Cole: I did a fair number of local races, all within a couple of hours’ drive of my house. Growing up in a very small town, team sports were the emphasis and pride of the community. I was expected to play football, basketball and baseball. It wasn’t until my Junior year in high school that I finally accepted mountain bike racing was the only sport I wanted to do. There wasn’t a team or any other kids to train with, so I rode solo most of the time. Fortunately, I had a great coach, Jason Jablonski of Set Coaching, who steered me in the right direction. He’s still my coach to this day.

MBA: How did you do in your first event?

Cole: My first pro-level race was USA Cycling Nationals in Sun Valley. I got absolutely slaughtered, lapped and embarrassed. I was amazed that there were so many kids my age who could shred on two wheels!

MBA: What have been your best national and international results?

Cole: Collegiate National XC Champion Collegiate National STXC Champion 2nd at Missoula Pro XCT 2nd at Julbo Eastern Grind Pro XCT 7th at Vail Lake Pro XCT 8th at Sea Otter Classic 15th at Nove Mesto World Cup 15th at Mont-Sainte-Anne World Cup 22nd at Albstadt World Cup

MBA: What titles have you won (or come close to winning)? What years did you win them?

Cole: Along with my collegiate cycling team of Fort Lewis College, I have won a few collegiate titles over the past few years.

2017 Team Omnium National Champions

2017 Team Relay National Champions

2018 Team Omnium National Champions

2018 Team Omnium National Champions

2018 Collegiate National XC Champion

2018 Collegiate National STXC Champion

2018 4th Overall Pro XCT

MBA: What are you taking in college?

Cole: Once this fall starts, I’ll be a senior at Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colorado. My major is business administration. As long as I’m in college and maintaining a good GPA, my parents agreed to support my endeavors on the bike.

MBA: Do you have any other kind of career training? If so, what was it?

Cole: I have been involved in my family’s retail sporting goods store, Arlberg Sports, since I was a little kid. I have experience in retail sales and bike and ski repairs. I’m also an expert grunt worker.

MBA: Did you earn any awards in sports or academics while in school?

Cole: In the last three years, while attending college in Durango, Colorado, I’ve competed on the Fort Lewis Cycling Team. Together with my teammates, I won the National Collegiate Championship title in 2017 and 2018. I was able to contribute by winning the XC and Short Track. I also was named Top Performer of the Cycling Team in 2018. Collegiate cycling has been an important part of my cycling career. I have gained lifelong friends racing for FLC. Collegiate racing is a refreshing change from the pro circuit because it is all about the team. Go, Skyhawks!

MBA: What other sports do you like to do now?

Cole: If I weren’t a professional bike racer, I’d love to be a beach bum and kite board every day. On top of that, I enjoy backpacking, fishing, and backcountry skiing.

MBA: Have you competed in them?

Cole: I grew up downhill ski racing. I credit a lot of my discipline and focus today to the numerous ski coaches who were forced to keep me on task (and out of trouble) when I was a kid.

MBA: How did you do?

Cole: In ski racing, I was pretty mediocre. I was a lot more interested in hitting jumps and skiing powder than restricting myself to a race course. My last few years, I buckled down a bit and got a few top-10 performances at regional level races but was still much more focused on air time than race time.

MBA: If possible, please tell us something interesting or unusual about yourself or your family that is not widely known.

Cole: My family is old school in that we do traditional family things like eating together each night at the dinner table at home. We also recreate together as a family. My grandparents, who are now in their 80s, still downhill ski and they attend a lot of my bike races. We live in a small town in the middle of a pear orchard, and I learned how to drive a tractor when I was 8.

Inside The Pros’ Bikes

Weight of complete bike: 23.4 pounds
Estimated value of bike: $12,000

1. Frame: Giant, Anthem Advanced Pro 29, medium, 90mm/100mm, advanced-grade composite.

“The Giant Anthem is a cutthroat racing machine. The Maestro suspension design and 69-degree head tube angle maximize efficiency while providing an aggressive weapon for the demands of modern World Cup XC racing.”

2. Shock: Fox Float Factory Live Valve, 147 psi, 11 LSR.

3. Fork: Fox 32 Float SC Factory Live Valve FIT damper, 100mm, two volume spacers, 76 psi, 11 LSR.

“The Fox Live Valve system has been a game-changer this year. It does all the work for me and allows all focus to be directed on the terrain ahead. I’m continuously impressed by the rate at which the system locks and unlocks. It has been a huge advantage on our bikes and allows us to ride much more efficiently, especially over demanding terrain.”

4. Tires: Maxxis, Aspen EXO 2.25×29-inch, 170 tpi, 17.5/19 psi.

“I rarely choose a different tire from the Maxxis Aspen. The Aspens roll incredibly fast, and with the increased tpi count, I can run much lower pressure, which allows for better grip when cornering and over bumpy terrain. The EXO casing protects this tire from sharp rocks, and the tread pattern sheds mud well. There hasn’t been a course yet where I haven’t used this tire.”

5. Inner tubes or tubeless system.

“My tires are protected by Stan’s Race Sealant.”

6. Wheelset: Giant XCR 0 29 WheelSystem, hookless carbon, 25mm inner width.

“The new Giant XCR 0 29 WheelSystem has a hookless design that allows for more durability and less weight. The increased width of 25mm gives our Maxxis Aspens much more volume for increased cornering stability.”

7. Brakes: Shimano XTR BR-M9100, 160mm/160mm.

“The new Shimano XTR brakes are lighter, more responsive and stronger. The best thing about these brakes is how reliable they are from race to race.”

8. Handlebars: Shimano Pro Tharsis XC flat-top handlebar, 720mm, 5mm rise.

“Our Pro components cockpit is lightweight and stiff. I chose the Flat Top handlebar because it was perfectly compatible with my fit.”

9. Grips: ODI Elite Flow.

10. Cranks: Shimano M9100 Hollowtech II, 175mm.

11. Chainring: Shimano FC-M9100-1, 36T.

“The new direct-mount chainring design of Shimano M9100 is easy to swap out and eliminates chain drop.”

12. Pedals: HT, M1T, titanium.

“The titanium HT M1T pedals are lightweight, adjustable and come with multiple cleat options to meet different rider preferences.”

13. Chain: Shimano, CN-M9100 HG.

“The new HG chain from Shimano has redesigned link plates that increase efficiency, engagement and retention.”

14. Rear derailleur: Shimano RD-M9100-GS, short cage.

“The shorter-cage Shimano M9100 rear derailleur is lightweight and has better ground clearance.”

15. Stem: Shimano Pro Tharsis XC, 100mm, -6 degrees.

16. Shifters: Shimano SL-M9100.

“This new M9100 shifter accepts both push and pull movements. The new Rapidfire technology allows us to drop gears extremely fast.”

17. Rear cassette: Shimano CS-M9100-12, 12-speed, 10-45.

“The 10-45 lightweight cassette by Shimano is a perfect match for XC racing.”

18. Saddle: Giant Contact SLR Forward.

19. Seatpost: Shimano Pro Tharsis XC.

20. Water bottle cage: King Cage, titanium, 28 grams.

21. Bottom bracket: Shimano Press-Fit.

22.: Head angle: 69 degrees

23. Bottom bracket height: 12.7 inches (323mm)


Name: Cole Paton

Age: 21

Birthdate: December 5, 1997

Birthplace: Cashmere, Washington

Height: 5-foot-10

Weight: 143 pounds

Shoe size: 42

Helmet size: Medium

Waist: 30

Current home: Durango, Colorado

House: Apartment

Cars: Nissan Frontier

Started racing or competing: 2010

Turned pro: 2018

Racing/riding specialty: XCO

Favorite course or riding area (North America): Mont-Sainte-Anne World Cup (Course) Durango (riding area)

Favorite course or riding area (Europe): Nove Mesto Czech Republic

Favorite food: Chicken nuggets

Goals: U23 National Championship title, top five at a UCI World Cup and to continue to have as much fun as possible!

Heroes: Howard Grotts, Lea Davison, Clint Eastwood, Dwayne Johnson

Favorite recording artist: [Fellow racer] Christopher Blevins

Favorite movie: Free Solo

Favorite hobbies: Downhill skiing, kite boarding, backpacking

Jobs held (other than racer): Grunt for my family’s sporting goods store in Washington, Arlberg Sports.

Most embarrassing moment: My most embarrassing moment on a bike was during the 2014 Nationals at Bear Creek, Pennsylvania. I was racing Super D, and it was my first time starting a gravity-related event. I sat at the start line watching competitors take off one by one. When it came to my start, my hands were sweating, legs shaking. I clenched my brakes as the starter counted me down. As soon as he said “Go,” I put as much force as possible onto the pedals—but forgot to release my front brake… resulting in me flipping OTB in front of a massive crowd just 1 second into my race run. That was one I’ll never live down.

Always takes on a trip: EDC pocket knife

What you would be if you were not a racer: Professional speed eater


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