Paradise Garage Racing of Columbus, Ohio was named “Best New Club” of 2013 by USA Cycling. What an honor to get to race along side these folks. I wanted to learn a bit more about what inspired them to start racing together, so I interrogated their leader. Taylor Kruse, age 26, is the team manager and helped start the team with David Binkley, and Dan & Emily Monnig, the owners of the Paradise Garage bike shop. I started by asking him about his cycling background…
Taylor Kruse: I did my first cyclocross race in 2008, and did a few seasons of randonneuring (which is a long-distance cycling sport involving checkpoints), including two 1200km events, but didn’t really start taking racing seriously at all until 2012. I did Mohican 100 and Wilderness 101 that year, and then raced road, mtb, and cross this year.
How did the Paradise Garage team get started? Did you have a goal in mind when you started the team?
It was pretty organic, we had a group of riders within our community who had already been riding and competing and were interested in joining a team that was a bit different than what existed at the time. Paradise Garage has sponsored a downhill team in the past, and they were very supportive of moving into support of different disciplines. Once we got the ball rolling the interest and support was much higher than we expected.
The basic goal of the team was to support and grow riders in Columbus, and we try and be very involved in the community with volunteer efforts and event organization. We strive to create a great atmosphere for riders to ride, gain experience, and have a good time. We aren’t an elite team, and have no goals to be, but the atmosphere we’ve been able to create effectively creates a positive and effective venue for riders to grow.
Why do you think that USA Cycling selected you as the “Best New Club” for 2013? What have you accomplished?
USA Cycling likes to see clubs organize events, develop riders (especially new riders or those seeking upgrades), and be involved with their community. We touched on all of those points in our first year; we organized three days of cyclocross racing as a part of the Cap City Cross Series, we helped many of our riders achieve their desired success and development in a variety of races and disciplines, and we helped out at a few community events and needs, from ride support to trail work days.
We had a few helpful sponsors, headlined by Paradise Garage (duh!), Seventh Son Brewing, and Yellow Brick Pizza, who really helped us put on great events in our first year. And, we really put in effort trying to get our riders to races and volunteer opportunities. I think we were selected by USAC due to the volume and quality of events and involvement we achieved as a team. I’m sure the collection of impressive results by our riders couldn’t have hurt either!
What are the advantages of having a cycling team?
Advantages vary greatly depending on the team and the focus of the team or riders, but the biggest benefit Paradise Garage Racing offers is the community we have within our team. We have a great group of riders, from new to experienced, who really “get” cycling and what makes it fun. We do our best to help our riders get to races and do our best to get them what they need to do their best, from training opportunities to race-day support. But, we’re all amateurs, and in most cases having a fun environment to ride in is the best support.
Quickdirt.com is first and foremost a mountain biking website, tell us about the mountain biking aspect of the team.
Many of us are mountain bike riders and racers, and we have the best team performance on mountain bikes. Shannon Tenwalde finished 7th in the NUE Series and crushed 6 hour races state-wide, Jeff Rupnow put in some insane laps in OMBC races, and we amassed five overall podium finishes in 331 and OMBC categories along with tons of race podiums in both series. We swept the Cap City Short track single speed podium, and had three other podiums in other categories. On the extreme side, Chris Arndt and myself finished Tour Divide, a 2,850 mile mountain bike race from Banff, CA to Antelope Wells, NM. As mentioned before, there is also a Paradise Garage downhill team who is competitive in events at Snowshoe and elsewhere. We also host a weekly mountain bike ride with Paradise Garage on Wednesday nights at 6pm, all summer, as conditions allow.
What types of cycling dominate Paradise Garage Racing?
There isn’t really a primary focus of the team. We could do a much better job of tracking it, but I can pretty confidently say that we have more mtb race days than any other discipline. A lot of team members love cyclocross and race the whole season. Josh Direen is the U23 and Cat 3 cyclocross state champion. We also have a squad of riders who compete in category 4 & 5 road races and criteriums, with a few riders being very close to their category 3 upgrade on the road. Most of our riders do more than one discipline, with many racing year round in all types of races. We love to support riders branching out of their primary discipline.
Do you have any plans to build on your success in 2014?
We’re planning on more event organization and involvement. We’ll host cyclocross racing again and hope to move into other events. We also are planning on expanding our support of our community resources and are hoping to devote more time to trail work days and community efforts. As always, many of our riders are very focused on their improvement and training, and we can’t wait to see how they do this year, building upon last year’s successes.
You can learn more about the Paradise Garage bike shop at http://www.paradisegarage.com.
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