Quick Chat with Road Team Rider Director Rob Evans

rob trust

photo alex chiu

When we first started Bear we knew right away that we needed to put some really experienced racers around these kids.  But these Rider Directors had to be more than just fast.  They had to be guys who could #keepitfun, look out for the kids first, do the right thing, travel well and sacrifice their own ambitions to work for the kids out on the road.  Cat 1, 2 bike racers are a lot of things, but unselfish isn’t really the first thing that comes to mind when describing the majority of them.

Ben Jacques-Maynes is local to Santa Cruz and he was a great mentor to the kids long before Bear came into the picture.  But, understandably, with a full time job as a pro bike racer and a loving family, he didn’t have much free time to invest in the kids.   He recommended we reach out to Rob Evans and then introduced me to him on the Saturday ride in Santa Cruz.

Rob joined our team for the last few races of the 2012 season and is now a permanent fixture in our program as a road team Rider Director.  We count on him in so many ways.  Most importantly, the kids know that if they are on his wheel he will be right there in the mix when the race-winning move is made.  And he’ll work like a dog to help launch them forward at exactly the right moment.  He’s also been known to drop back, give young buck an earful and then tow him up to the front where he needs to be.  The kids count on Rob and he’s always looking out for them.

I asked Rob a few questions about the nature of cycling development and this program.  He had some insightful things to say.

Photo Alex Chiu
Photo Alex Chiu

What has it been like working with these kids?

Working with the kids is great, I’m always impressed by the level of professionalism and respect they show to each other, our sponsors and our supporters.  Stu and Julia have made my role very easy, they have the hard talks, manage the sponsors and parents, so I’m free to be a bro.  It’s much like the difference between being a parent vs. an uncle…I can buy them ice-cream and cookies, but it’s Stu and Julia who has to make sure they get to sleep every night.

What kinds of things have you taught them?  What have you been working on with them?

If theres one single lesson I want everyone to learn, it’s the importance of loving to ride your bike.  It can’t be forced by a parent, a coach, a sponsor, a team, it has to come from the rider.  At a certain point, each of our riders will be forced to make difficult life decisions, weighing the opportunity cost between riding, school, relationships and work.  I’ve seen it happen over and over again, big sacrifices, with no payout.  It’s crushing, so much so riders walk away from their bike never to ride again.  The day you give up school or work to “go pro” is the day riding a bike becomes a job, and like most jobs, work sucks…unless you love what you do.  As Steve Jobs said, “our work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle.”

What have they taught you, if anything?

Discipline.  From diet, to intervals, to Strava, to wattage, to remembering your shoes before the race, these kids are dialed.  I’ve always approached racing as a hobby, these guys approach racing as a profession…there’s a big difference.

What does the cycling development culture in the USA need more of?  What does it need less of?

It needs more personality, more emotion.  The entire sport, including our own federation is built upon the omertà.  Do you job, don’t piss anyone off, and you will be rewarded (with contracts, coaching jobs, selection committee positions, grand fondo sponsors, industry positions, etc), it’s created a culture of drones.  Fans want real heroes with real personalities, victory solutes and drama, underdogs and and trash talking, tears of joy and sorrow, above all fans want to feel the emotion.  Until we find a way to bring emotion back into he sport, development will be stifled. Riders dreams will continue to get crushed by those who uphold theomertà, and the cycle will continue.  This sport is ripe for disruption, I’m not quite sure how it will change, but I do know it won’t come from the top.

What makes Bear different from other programs you’ve raced with?

The ethos of the team is unlike any I have encountered before.  The mission of the team is not to win 100 races, not to please sponsors or parents, it’s quite simply to help our riders become better, more well rounded people.  As we achieve that mission, the rest simply falls into place, sponsors love us, parents trust us and results pour in.  Our ability to stick to this approach is rooted in the lack of a title sponsor (or in other words, the generous donations of our private sponsors).  Our objectives can then be set by the riders, not the sponsors.   It’s a subtle, but important difference.

How does the experience these kids are having differ from your experience of developing in the sport?

These guys are under much more pressure than I was.  I knew well before college that I wasn’t pro material…however each of our riders are.  It’s taken me 20 years to develop to the level these guys have achieved in 2-3 years, it’s a mind-blowing level of talent.  Currently the opportunity cost of “going pro” has never been higher, yet the “pro dream” is no less real.  Reconciling those two is extremely difficult for a high school kid.  Throw in the culture of doping (which was something I was completely aloof to at their age), and it’s even harder.

Photo Alex Chiu
Photo Alex Chiu

We’re stoked to have Rob in the program.  Can’t imagine doing this without him.

Thanks for reading, Stu

May 4, 2014 TAM FONDO

WHEN: May 4, 2014
TIME: 9:00 am
STARTING PLACE: Proof Lab Station, Mill Valley, Ca
DISTANCE: 73 miles
COST: $100

The Bear Development Team was created to help talented young athletes grow and develop within the context of bicycle racing. From the beginning, we’ve endeavored to do something different with this program. We have explored various financial models, learning how to best sustain this team and help these kids best develop as bike racers and people. We are fortunate enough to have enjoyed the strong grass roots support of so many generous members of the Nor Cal cycling community thus far. We invite you to join this community of Bear Team supporters by participating in the Bear Tam Fondo.

By riding the Bear Tam Fondo, each of you, in a sense, becomes a team sponsor. If you want to see homegrown Nor Cal riders animating the Tour of California or representing the USA in the Olympic XC race in years to come, this is a great opportunity to invest in these possibilities. Your investment will enable a group of talented, dynamic, committed, bright, resourceful kids to have an amazing experience this season. Their experiences with Bear will help them become tomorrow’s pro cyclists, entrepreneurs and community leaders.

In exchange for your generosity as a sponsor of this program, we offer you a day of:

  • 73 miles of Marin’s most beautiful road riding around Mountain Tamalpais
  • Gourmet coffee, real food aid stations, authentic taco lunch, craft beers
  • CHP motorcycle escorts and follow car support
  • A chance to ride with Bear Development Team & our World Tour Pro Cyclist friends

The Bear Tam Fondo is May 4, 2014, just one week prior to the Tour of California. Ted King, Tayler Wiles, Olivia Dillon and Ben Jacques-Maynes rode the last Bear Tam Fondo in 2013. We’ve lined up even more great pros and personalities to attend this year’s event. Our goal is to create an unforgettable day for you, ourteam sponsors.

BEAR DEVELOPMENT TEAM is stoked to announce the first BEAR TAM FONDO taking place November 2nd in Mill Valley, CA.

Development cycling teams come and go every season.  We’ve all read the story before, cycling team loses corporate sponsor and folds.  BEAR DEVELOPMENT TEAM is establishing a sustainable financial model to provide junior riders with opportunities to develop into better bike racers and people.  Castelli, Trek and Giro generously supply the best training and racing equipment in the world to BEAR DEVELOPMENT TEAM riders.  Additionally, the program raises additional monies every year to fund our travel, registration and other race expenses surrounding events all over North America and even Europe.  In the past, these funds have been raised on a grass roots level as team directors, parents and friends have passed the hat around.   Plenty of you have asked how you can help this program.  The BEAR TAM FONDO represents a great opportunity for you to rally around these kids.

On November 2nd at 9AM we’ll meet at Proof Lab Station in Mill Valley, CA.  BEAR DEVELOPMENT TEAM riders will be present, alongside pro cyclists and friends of the team: BEN JACQUES-MAYNES and TED KING.  The route is a metric century with 4,000 feet of climbing and is designed with avid cyclists in mind.  Many of our team riders have grown up riding on Mount Tam.  Every night after school they are out on the mountain enjoying these roads and trails.  They want to share these roads with you.  They want to meet you, ride with you and support you on November 2nd.

The donation is $100 and participation will be limited to 250 people.  You can sign up to attend here on our web store .  BEAR TAM FONDO will feature CHP escorts, 2 fully stocked aid stations, follow cars, photo opportunities with professional photographers and a catered mexican food lunch.

We really appreciate your support, in all the various forms that you’ve offered up.  We hope to see you on November 2nd as well.

Bear Interview with Tim Aiken

Bear Team Rider Tim Aiken recently returned from the Netherlands after a month-long European campaign with USAC.  Bear sat down to interview Tim about what he learned across the pond.  USAC recently published Bear’s video on their site.  Check it out here:


There’s a fun write up on BEAR at today.  It talks about the strengths of our team riders, our team’s unique culture, the strength of this year’s junior racers and the Northern California racing scene.  Check it out: