Plotting the course with Payson McElveen

A mountain biker's dream ride

When Payson McElveen was 14, he set up for the ride of a lifetime: to be a professional cyclist and travel the world. Ten years later, we catch up with the star-bound McElveen on his home turf of Durango, Colorado, to see how things are panning out.

Can you really plan a dream and make it come true? If you're McElveen, the answer is a definitive yes.

“I'm a professional mountain bike racer,” McElveen said right off the bat. “Which was the dream all along.”

Of course, there were some bumps along the way, but he was determined, carefully crafting a strategy and sticking to it.

“I kind of had this vision and a blueprint in my mind,” he said. “I knew what I wanted to do and had some different steps along the way. It most certainly wasn't smooth sailing all the time.”

So far, it's working, he's earned the following honors:

  • 6x Member USA Cycling National Team

  • Member Pan American Championships team 2014
  • 7x USA Cycling National Championship Podium
  • 6x National Champion with Fort Lewis College
  • 1st Mongolia Bike Challenge 2016 (two stage wins)
  • 1st Iron Horse Bicycle Classic 2016
  • 1st Grand Traverse 2015
  • 5th Angel Fire ProXCT 2016
  • 6th Carson City Off-Road 2016
  • 3rd Iron Horse XC 2016
  • 7th Marathon National Championships 2016
  • 3rd Angel Fire Pro XCT STXC
  • 7th Elite STXC National Championships 2015
  • Trans-Sylvania Epic 2015: Best Young Rider, 2nd overall, 3 stage wins
  • 6th 2014 US Cup No. 1 Texas
  • 1st 100 Millas a Punta a Punta, Puerto Rico

But that's not to say the dream hasn't shifted.

“When I was a younger rider I had these grand aspirations of being on a factory team and racing a full World Cup-schedule. But that's kind of evolved to a more wholesome, organic career of mountain biking. Just a more all-inclusive program.”

All inclusive means all kinds of racing: gravel grinders, long road races, huge off-road marathon races and more. It also often means living out of a suitcase.

“I'm really enjoying the travel and all the stuff that goes on outside of the racecourse too. Getting to see the world.”

McElveen is living the dream.

“I think one of the secrets of success, regardless of what your job, is loving what you do. Maybe not always loving what you do, but maybe at least the majority of the time, which I can say for what I'm doing right now.”

Even though he's living the room, those dreams have room to grow.

“For 2018 through 2020 I definitely have one eye on trying to make that Olympic long team, take a stab at that long-term dream. It's really fun to be back on that conversation.”

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