Travis Brown Interview

Local mountain bike Hall of Famer, and DEVO friend Travis Brown is in the house, your house, on your computer screen. Travis is a former mtb Olympian and has been moonlighting on the cross scene ever since it became a scene. Today he wrapped up his season as the series champion for the local Squawker Cup. Its always interesting to here how our heros evolve within their sport, so read on and then go ride. 

Q: What year, and how did you first get involved with the sport of mountain biking?

A:  I messed around with mountain bikes a little bit in high school but I was more into cross country running and skiing then.  I remember watching the Iron Horse MTB race in the mid ’80s but It didn’t get me to try racing then.  While skiing in college I had a coach that had us do a lot of mountain biking for summer training.  Around that time I started riding more with friends in Durango who were into racing.  That was around 1988.  I did my first race in ’89 that was a Sport category race at the Iron Horse Classic.  I raced a few more races as a Sport in the summer of ’89, like Crested Butte FTBW and a couple of other races that were part of the CORPS series (Colorado Off Road Point Series, which has now evolved into the MSC series). I upgraded to Expert (this was pre Semi Pro) that summer at the Colorado State Championships which was the Hermosa Creek trail from the south end to Purg.  I raced for the rest of ’89, ’90  as an expert, riding for the Durango Wheel Club.  At the end of the ’90 season I upgraded to pro and did the qualifying race to get into the first official World Championships which was held here in Durango.  I made the cut in the qualifying race and have been racing as a pro since then.  ’91 and ’92 I raced for Answer Manitou and in ’93 I signed on with Trek and have been with them since.

Q: How about Cyclocross? What was your first cross bike setup?

A:My fist cross bike setup was a mountain bike like a lot of people.  I raced my first cross race in 1990.  I think I went to my first cross Nationals in ’91 or ’92 but I think It was more like ’95 before I had a true cross bike.  That was before Trek was making cross bikes so I had Chris Hurting at 3D build my cross bikes.

Q: What are your 3 bestest cross race results?

A: I was third at the Cross Nationals in Domain Chandon/Napa, CA.  I think that was in 2002. I guess it was second, My best Super Cup (which is now the GP/cross national series) was in Boulder where  I was second (on my single speed).  This was Mark Gullicksons first Super Cup win, I think It was in ’99.  I won one cross race in a sprint with Todd Wells and I think that was in 2003. 

Q: You’ve been dominating the local scene on your singlespeed Trek cross rig, its been several months now, what are the advantages to your set-up.

A: It is a lot easier to clean after the race!  If it is muddy your chain never pops around.  I am never in way to big of a gear after a dismount because I didn’t shift down properly going into the barrier. I end up racing more aggressively on my single because there are only a few places on the course that you can really put the pressure on the other racers so you are more motivated to throw down on those sections. The chain never bounces off. 

compared to a geared ride?

A: Some courses are a bigger disadvantage on the single than others. If the range of speed is very broad that is tough on a single but overall I think that racing a single is a really good idea for cyclocross.

Q: If you were going to design the perfect cross course for you to win, throwing out all rules and regulations, what key features would you include?

A: I like lots of medium speed corners with grass straights after them. Bike set up has a lot to do with different courses.  If things get really muddy and the people on geared bikes aren’t having a pit clean there bike the single is a big advantage.  I like high speed barriers too. Slow uphill corners are really tough on the single.  There were a lot of those in Boulder Cup.

Q: We have the amazing Wells, Trebon, TimJ and Powers on top of the US cross scene at the moment, what was it like when you were in the mix, as compared to now?

A: I raced with all of those guys when I was traveling to a  lot of races, that was only four or five years ago.  The scene has clearly blown up a lot but it is still most of the same guys at the front.The number of quality events and the continued growth is fantastic.  I think If I were in the middle of my racing career now I could justify dedicating a lot more time to cyclocross than I used to.  It was always mostly an off season training and I never really fully committed to cross racing because the upcoming mountain bike season was always more important for me.  That is unfortunate looking back on it because I had at least as much fun racing cross as XC.

Q: What do the race organizers across the US do to please the parks and private owners who lend their turf for cross destruction? On the Durango front, killing the grass seems to be an issue. Is there a realistic future for this sport on America’s lawns?

A: We plant grass to play on!  It gets damaged and then it grows back, it is the reason that it is there. It is totally unnatural.  There is a disconnect between justifying using grass for  football, soccer, baseball ultimate etc and using it for cycling.  I think that will change.  As users we need to be committed to rehab when there is the rare damage that doesn’t repair itself but the paradigm that bikes don’t belong on grass is not defendable with a rational argument.

Q: Who is your favorite cyclocrosser of all-time?

A:  Vintage favorite is Mark Howe, he rocked the boat by making bunny hopping a tactic and won the Nationals in ’92 because of it.  Plus he did it on a mountain bike.  Contemporary favorite would be Tim Johnson.  He has been around focusing on cross for a long time.  He has a broad skills bag, he is a humble champion and someone who is really easy to be happy for when he wins. Really, almost everybody in the cross scene is great.  They are fun people to hang out with.

Travis likes the beach, photo by Rob Odea

Travis likes the beach, photo by Rob Odea

1 Comment

  1. Great interview–thanks for sharing it!
    Ride One or Ride None

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