Ellen Noble and the Cycle-Smart Approach

Like most American cyclocross fans, I watched the recent two US World Cups with a lot of pride. So much work has gone into getting the sport to this point, and for us at Cycle-Smart, Ellen Noble’s performance in Waterloo embodies that best. We’ve been involved in growing the sport on all sides, running grassroots races and UCI races, sharing our resources with other organizers, creating clubs and teams focused on ‘cross, and developing riders from local kids to World Championship level through camps and coaching. Ellen has come through that system from start to finish, and is, for us, proof of concept.


If you’ve come to the Cycle-Smart ‘cross camp, you’ve likely heard the story of a 15-year-old Ellen at her first camp, squeezing the cantilever brakes on her new cyclocross bike for the first time, and wondering why they didn’t work. Watching her journey from there, working with Alec Donahue as her coach, incubating on JAM Fund, and then emerging as a national, continental, and perhaps someday, World Cup winner or even World Champion, while still finishing her college degree, processing the loss of her father to cancer, and staying engaged with social justice and advocating for women in sport – all of that has been impactful for us, and a shining example of the kind of work we do at Cycle-Smart with all our athletes, regardless of their talent.


The intangibles Ellen has most are passion and commitment, and those are qualities we’re all capable of embodying, regardless of our natural physical ability or the level we’re racing at. We don’t expect all our riders to eventually be dueling at the front of a World Cup with the greatest rider of all time, the way Ellen did at Waterloo. We do, however, want to magnify all our athletes’ love and enjoyment of the sport, the way Ellen did at Waterloo.


That said, we bring all the very specific approaches we’ve taken with Ellen’s training, as well as Stephen Hyde’s, to all of the Cycle-Smart athletes, and again, those are things all our athletes are capable of. That’s what it means to be part of this family, and how having world-class athletes like Ellen and Stephen in our ranks benefits every Cycle-Smart athlete.