Countdown to Cross Vegas – Amanda Nauman

It’s less than a week to go until the first UCI World Cup race on the calendar. Originally a sideshow to the industry behemoth that is Interbike, Cross Vegas has rapidly established itself as an unique event. The first ever UCI race to be held outside of Europe, it is held at night, and thrives on the carnival atmosphere generated by Interbike.

It was the special nature of the race that first drew US Elite rider Amanda Nauman to ‘cross. She raced the year after and has had a number of strong performances since. We caught up with her pre-season to hear about her love for Cross Vegas, plans for the year, and bike set up.

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Amanda, can you give us a little bit of your background? What’s your racing history? How did you get into racing cross and gravel?

The quick story on my background is that I’ve been a swimmer for as long as I can remember and my love of competition eventually led me to bike racing. From age group ranks through NCAA’s in college, swimming was my life. I started racing triathlons during the off-season while at Stevens Institute of Technology as a way to maintain fitness and keep myself motivated.

Once I saw success in our collegiate triathlon conference, I started to focus on bigger goals in that discipline when I finished my undergrad. I raced on the Stevens Cycling team as well and developed a love for going fast on the road. That love for riding bikes eventually influenced me to start looking for jobs in the industry. Getting a job at Felt Bicycles is what ultimately opened up many more opportunities for me to get involved in all sorts of racing from cyclocross to mountain biking. 

The affinity for dirt racing came from my father, an ex desert-racing dirt bike enthusiast turned mountain biker after having kids. He got my brother and me a mountain bike for Christmas one year in the late ‘90s and that’s where all the riding began. Because I was riding mountain bike trails on the weekends for fun and in Mammoth Mountain during the summer, my dad was unknowingly honing my bike handling from a young age. Thus, when co-workers started influencing me to get into cyclocross and mountain bike racing, it just came naturally. 

I have a competitive personality. I love a challenge. And I’m not afraid to get dirty. That’s the evolution to my present Cyclocross-Gravel-Mountain-Bike Racer status and I’ve loved every second of the journey to get here!

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You are racing CrossVegas this year. What are your aims for the race? Can you describe what is so special about the event?

Cross Vegas is very near and dear to my heart. I first attended the event in 2012 as a spectator with co-workers after a day of working at Interbike with Felt Bicycles. It was the first time I had ever heard of cyclocross and I was privileged to witness one of the most amazing shows the sport has to offer all in one night. Fast-forward one year and 2013 Cross Vegas was the first time I ever pinned a UCI Elite number to my jersey. I finished 19th and continued to fall in love with the thrill of the sport.

In 2014, I set out to have one of my best cyclocross races ever. I finished 8th in a world-class field and it was the first time I felt like I belonged in the race with the best of the best. That’s a mental achievement I still cherish. My result is absent from the 2015 records because of the event’s upgrade to a World Cup status last year. I was not selected by USA Cycling to represent the United States for the first North American World Cup; I witnessed the historical event from the sidelines just like I did in 2012. As hard as it was to watch the race happen from behind the barricades, it still ended up being an amazing experience. It fueled the fire for what would end up being my most successful cyclocross season with results that slotted me into an overall ranking that guaranteed a starting spot at Cross Vegas this month. 

Needless to say that was a big goal for me this year and it’s going to set the stage for an exciting season ahead.

What does the rest of your season look like?

I will be racing at the next World Cup event, Jingle Cross, in Iowa City a few days after Cross Vegas. Following that I will spend some time racing in the Cincinnati area for much of October. December will include some of the Southern ‘Cross Series UCI events like I attended last year. I do have plans to race in Europe again this season at a few more World Cup events and also make a splash at USA Cycling Cyclocross National Championships in January. Being located on the west coast with a limited travel budget and a full-time job to tend to, I had to structure my events around blocks of time where I’d be able to make the most of air travel.

I had a very productive spring and summer with a focus on being in the best shape for this cyclocross season with the help of Carmichael Training Systems and my coach, Dave Sheek. Now that we have a few years of training together, I think we’re going to be very well prepared for the fast and demanding aspects of the newly revised Cross Vegas course. I’m looking forward to putting on a show in my return to the miracle in the desert!

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Can you talk us through your bike set-up for this year? What is most important to you r.e. set-up? Anything really special on your bike this year?

The simple answer to this is I truly love my bikes! They are great from top to bottom with all the sponsors we have brought together for my builds.

Bike/wheel/tire/drivetrain setup for the 2016-17 Cyclocross Season: 

  • Frame: Niner BSB 9 RDO, 142 x 12mm thru-axle rear
  • Fork: Niner RDO tapered carbon fork, thru axle
  • Headset: Niner spec’d. 1 1/8” to 1 1/4″
  • Stem: Easton EC70 SL
  • Handlebar: Easton EC90 SLX
  • Handlebar Tape: Easton Microfiber *Panda Mix
  • Front brake: Shimano BR-785
  • Rear brake: Shimano BR-785
  • Shift/Brake levers: Shimano R785 Di2
  • Front derailleur: N/A
  • Rear derailleurs: Shimano – Dura-Ace or XTR Di2 11-speed w/ Kogel Aluminum Ceramic Pulleys and CX specific seals on the bearings
  • Cassettes: Shimano CS9000 11-28 or CS6800 11-32
  • Chain: Shimano 11spd
  • Crankset: Easton EC90 SL, 170mm, 42t
  • Bottom bracket: Kogel PF30-386EVO/Easton CINCH
  • Pedals: Crankbrothers – Eggbeater 11’s
  • Wheelset: EC90SL Disc Tubular
  • Tires: FMB Tubular Tires w/ extra #pandapower love
  • Sealant: Orange Seal – Original Formula
  • Saddle: SDG Components Circuit Mtn
  • Seatpost: Easton EC90 Zero

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This will be the first season where everything I’m riding on my bike set-up has been provided through a sponsorship. Each of these companies have invested in and chosen me to promote their products. Albeit a small feat in the larger scheme of the season, this fact is so meaningful to me personally because every piece of this build is what I would chose to ride if I had all the money in the world to buy my own products. Thus, every piece is really special this time around.

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The ride’s foundation is Niner Bikes. The ride is smooth and controlled thanks to Easton Cycling and spins effortlessly with Kogel Bearings. It has fantastic grip, comfort, and play thanks to François Marie – FMB Tires. The ride has peace of mind because of Orange Seal. The ride is shifting smoothly by Shimano and power delivered through Crankbrothers pedals. And, finally, the ride is cushioned by my longest-supporting sponsor, SDG Components.

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Amanda will keep us up to date with how her season is going through out the winter and 2017, giving an inside view of elite racing while working full-time. In the meantime grit.cx wishes her luck for Cross Vegas!

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