It’s been a great start of summer for the cycling community here in Fairfax, California.18284146131_a07d6dd5cb_k

The Bear Development Team held their annual Mt. Tam Fondo on May 30th, which kicked off from the new Marin Museum of Bicycling at 1966 Sir Francis Drake Blvd in Fairfax. The Fondo cyclists rode 60 scenic miles and climbed 3,000 feet around the beautiful Mt. Tamalpais. The riders’ investment in Bear brought in over $4,000 for the boys and girls of our junior cycling team! With their support, the Bear Development Team will continue to give hard-working, committed, bright, good kids a great experience racing bikes. Last year, we traveled all over America and sent several kids to Europe where they were able to compete at the highest levels of competition. This year, our expanded team roster includes 1 junior woman, and 17 junior men riding road, mountain and cyclocross.

For those of you who missed the Bear Tam Fondo, here’s some amazing footage from Elliot Jaramillo’s GoPro cam mounted to a drone helicopter. Stunning views of the Mt. Tamalpais, Pacific Ocean, San Francisco Bay, and the Bear Development Team.

Come ride with us next time. ➼➼➼

Stop by Marin Museum of Bicycling, open this summer Thursday – Sunday, 11:00 – 5:00 or by appointment. You can also find out more information online at

Meet Bear Team Director Chris Burnham

Chris Burnham has been the Bear Development Team Performance Director since our initial season in 2012.  This year he moves into the role of Road Team Director as well.  Chris is one of the brightest, most knowledgeable, best communicating, best listening, most experienced coaches we’ve ever met.  He is able to keep it fun while developing riders who continue to improve year after year.  His work with Bear Team Riders Bryan Duke and Tim Aiken has been nothing short of awesome.  These two continue to blow the doors off of what we thought was possible.  We are stoked to have Chris as a member of the Bear family and are looking forward to seeing him grow both the performance level and the stoke level on the road team this season.


What are your basic stats: hometown, job, family, etc?
I live in Monterey CA, am a full time coach and bike fit practioner, husband, and father to an awesome 5 year old girl.

What is the Bear Development Team, to you?
Bear Development represents a chance to give back to a sport that has given me so much, as well as have an impact on future generations of cyclists and cycling culture. Creating a fun team atmosphere with a focus on confidence,team work, and professionalism helps these kids build good character that not only makes them good cyclists, but also good people. If we create athletes with strong character and ethics, than we can affect much more than the riders that are on our team. We can make a change in the sport itself.

How did you come to be involved with Bear?
I have coached Bryan Duke (one of the original riders with Bear Development) for several years before he started riding with Bear. Once Bryan was on the team I met Stu Bone who gave me the opportunity to be more involved with the program. I officially started working with the team at the Cascade Classic in 2012.

What do you like about the program?
We keep things fun. Everyone involved in the program is 100% professional and committed to athlete development, but that doesn’t mean we can’t have some fun activities and make long lasting friendships at the same time.

How would you characterize Bear’s philosophies in terms of rider development?
Instill confidence, work ethic, and professionalism in their training and racing while keeping the sport fun. The reality is that not all of these cyclists are going to become Professional cyclists, but they can grow as people through this sport. I think we can make a positive impact on whatever they decide to do in life.

How would you characterize Bear’s philosophies in terms of helping young riders develop in other areas of their lives, away from the bike?
Bear has a strong history of helping our athletes get over the awkwardness of talking to girls through the development of games like heat seeker, a game where riders have to say hi to person of the opposite sex. I am pretty sure that Tim Aiken is the reining Heat Seeker champion after our trip to Nationals in Madison Wisconsin.

What is your background in the sport?
I began mountain bike racing at 18 years old and raced up to the elite level on the road and mountain bike for next 15 years. After racing for close to ten years, I started coaching a few athletes on the team I was racing for. I really enjoyed the process, and what originally started as helping a few friends become more of a passion. Slowly my racing started taking a back seat to coaching and working with athletes until I became a full time coach over 10 years ago. This year will be my 15th year coaching and 11th full time.

How would you characterize your fitness coaching and race day coaching philosophies with development riders?
My philosophy with coaching development riders is that effective coaching is a combination of exercise prescription based science to meet their unique goals and physiology, and a continuous conversation between athlete and coach that addresses all aspects of fitness. I make myself very accessible to my riders to make sure they are getting the information and guidance they need to excel.

With all your experience helping to develop and coach some really strong riders, what would you like to all tell young, developing riders?
Be patient! Not every rider develops along the same pathway and there isn’t a set timeline that athletes need to follow to get to the top of the sport. Trust in the process, stay committed to your goals, and put in the work. You can achieve more than you think.

What are your goals for the Bear Team in the years to come?
I would love to see the program continue to grow and be able to offer amazing experiences and challenges to these junior athletes. Even more so, I would like to see the philosophy of the Bear Development Team continue to grow to give as many young cyclists as possible the same opportunities to grow as athletes and people as our riders.

You generously give a massive amount of time and energy to the help these kids. What are you trying to accomplish through your involvement with the Bear Team?
To give back to the sport, and give awesome kids the support that I wish I had when I was racing at their age.

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.