Team: L39ion of Los Angeles
Hometown: Los Angeles, California
What was the first bike race you won? What were some highlights on your journey to becoming a pro?
It took me a whole year to actually not get lapped when I started racing, but my first race win was when I was 10 years old. There was a race called the Glendale Grand Prix, and I won in the Junior 10–12 category. After my first win I was hooked, and racing bikes was all I wanted to do.
Growing up, my family watched a lot of bike racing. We would sit down and analyze how races were won and lost, which allowed me to understand racing tactics. My dad and my brothers, Justin and CJ, were important mentors because they helped me break down and understand racing.
A couple of pivotal moments that stand out to me in my career are the first year of bike racing being lapped every race and not giving up. That really taught me about perseverance and that if I work hard I can accomplish what I want. The next year I won almost every race I entered.
Another big moment would be winning the 2009 Junior Criterium National Championship! It feels crazy to be in a jersey that belongs to the best junior in the country. It brought a lot of confidence, which I’ve used to get me to where I am now. This year the cycling team my brothers and I created just got a UCI Continental license.
What’s your goal for your cycling career? What are L39ion of L.A.’s goals? How do you see American racing growing?
My goal for my career is to show people outside of the sport how exciting crit racing is! The goal has never changed. L39ion has set out to showcase American cycling and make it its own thing. Crits are big. We want to show them off and create a sustainable career for our riders!
L339ion wants to influence people outside of our sport. We watched a lot of football and basketball growing up where it didn’t matter if people played the sport. There were still fans, and that’s the direction we want to go in with L39ion.
I believe American racing will grow when everyone embraces crits and lets it be its own thing. It’s not the Tour, but it’s like the last hour of the Tour when everyone turns their TV on, so when we embrace that aspect, I think it will blow up. We are planning to make an event of our own, but I can’t share the details yet!
What did the team do to gain sponsors in a year without racing? What are the best ways our readers can follow you and support the team online?
I believe people are invested in the mission of the team, which is to make the sport more inclusive. We also always had fun with the media side of things, like Instagram and YouTube, so it was a lot easier for us to put our team in front of a lot of eyes even without racing.
Zwift allowed the team to create group rides that anyone can join, which have gathered hundreds of riders. What is your favorite way to train using Zwift?
Zwift is an awesome tool for us. My favorite way to train is to go out for a ride on the road, and then come back and finish with a race on Zwift for the intensity. If I’m riding hard on Zwift, I’m definitely going to be racing! It’s something about the competition that allows me to push harder than I would if I was by myself. Zwift is so hard, it’s tough to execute team tactics when everyone is hanging on for their life. Racing on Zwift is really important for fitness. Especially right now, because it helps keep us sharp since we haven’t raced on the road in a year.
A lot of people love Zwift because it’s the safest way to ride. I use Zwift three to four times a week, especially when the weather is extreme, like when there was bad air quality from the fires last year.
In your experience, what have you found to be the best way to warm up before a crit?
Warming up for a race starts the day before. I make sure I do a couple of efforts so my legs are opened up. Then, the day of the race, a 30-minute easy warm-up does the trick.
Any advice for riders trying to improve their sprint?
I believe that just practicing your sprint is the best way to train it. Understanding how long you can sprint for will help significantly.