Inside the Pro’s Bikes – Adam Craig
Adam Craig was not the kid anyone expected to become a professional mountain biker. While the top American racers were coming from Colorado and California, Adam was born in Bangor, Maine, in August of 1981, and grew up in the nearby town of Exeter in the center of the state.
“My parents, while incredibly supportive, weren’t really into sports themselves,” says Adam. “My dad was a tradesman, and Mom was a high school art teacher.”
Adam’s dad and uncle taught Adam how to ride a bike at age 4. “My first proper mountain bike was a 24-inch-wheeled Giant Awesome at age 11,” Adam recalls. “I’d been riding my BMX bike down ATV trails through the woods in front of my house since I was 7 or 8 years old, mostly because they were the logical run-outs to the jumps through my mom’s flower garden.”
Adam was 12 years old the first time he raced his mountain bike. “I entered the Junior Beginner Downhill class at Hermon Mountain, Maine, and finished something like seventh place out of 15 kids,” he recalls.
Adam competed in track and field in high school, along with soccer and skiing. He won a state title in his junior and senior years in the Skimeister, an omnium event that combined both alpine and Nordic skiing.
Although Adam entered the University of Maine to study geology, he was already proving to be one of the fastest cross-country riders in the country. He won the Junior National Championship in 1999, the year he turned 18. When Giant offered him a sponsorship in 2002, Adam left college to pursue a career as a pro racer.
Career Highlights: Top North American and ninth overall at 2013 Enduro World Series; 2008 U.S. Olympian; four World Cup top-five cross-country finishes and “about a dozen” top-10 finishes; two U.S. Cross-Country National Championships in the pro ranks; seven-time Super D National Champion; three-time Single-Speed Cyclocross World Champion; 2007 Single-Speed Mountain Bike World Champion (a non-UCI event; the prize was a commemorative tattoo); 1999 Junior National Cross-Country Champion.
Craig quickly climbed the men’s cross-country ladder, winning three national titles in the U23 division, two more in the Pro class (2007 and 2008) and seven more in Super D. Add in cyclocross and everything else he’s won, and he can count a total of 18 national titles.
In the international ranks he won the gold medal in the 2007 Pan American Games and competed in the Olympics in 2008. Craig cracked the top five at four World Cup races and made the top 10 almost a dozen times.
As the enduro scene exploded in popularity, Adam became one of the first top pros to take up enduro racing. He now concentrates on the Enduro World Series, where he recently finished ninth overall and top rider from North America.
Craig is never one to shy away from a challenge. At this year’s Sea Otter Classic, he raced enduro, short track, dual slalom and downhill, all in the Pro class.
“What was that like?” we asked him. “It was tiring! I’m getting old,” joked Adam, who turns 34 this summer. “It
took about 10 days to recover! I think the short-track XC on Friday pushed me over the edge. Next year I’m focusing on slalom only! That’s such a great event. We need more slalom in the world!”
Craig enjoys other sports too. As a whitewater kayaker, Craig once paddled over the brink of a 33-foot-high waterfall. A few years ago he traveled to Asia as part of a nine-man kayaking team that did the first whitewater descent of a raging river in China—in winter no less, with water temperatures barely above the freezing point.
Craig also races rally cars with his Giant teammate Carl Decker in the Pacific Northwest. Adam rides shotgun in those events, flipping through the thick map book and calling out directions to Carl as he hits 100 mph on the dirt and gravel roads.
Adam’s main interest continues to be bikes, though. “Over the years I’ve gotten more and more involved in product development with Giant,” he says. “The more diverse skill set I’ve been focusing on for the last few seasons of enduro racing has broadened this scope nicely. Now I’m able to provide feedback from cyclocross bikes up through the 160-millimeter-travel segment. So far this Reign is the project I’m most proud of. We worked hard with our Factory Off-Road Team mechanics and Silas Hesterberg (Giant’s global product manager), testing and brainstorming for an entire season to make this a reality. It’s an amazingly capable bike for riding just about any terrain at speed. I can’t wait to start the next development cycle—or has it already begun?”
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