As cycling fans, we tend to gravitate to the action right in front of us, the here and now. In the spring we’re glued to the cobbles, as July rolls around we’re Francophiles, then when the road season and temperatures cool, it’s time for gritty cyclocross racing.

The sport of cyclocross is acute. The season is short and the racing is some of the most aggressive on two wheels. What happens, though, immediately after the season ends? What actually goes on the other seven months of the year?

We were curiously seeking answers to these questions and plenty more, so we caught up with our favorite ‘crosser, Stephen Hyde. At last check, we chatted with this Floridian-turned-New Englander, in early January on the eve of the US national championships. He’s been on a globetrotting tear since then.

Stephen ripping up the MTB in May.

Stephen, welcome you back to the homeland! Where are we catching up with you right now?

I am at home in Easthamton, Massachusetts with my new fiancé and cats! I’ve been on the road a lot and it feels pretty freaking good to be home.

At last check, you were just a few days away from Reno and the national championships. Not letting the cat out of the bag, you’re proudly sporting the red, white, and blue for another year — congratulations on the victory! Tell us about the lead up and how the race went.

The last time we chatted lots was still up in the air. The end of my Euro block kind of fell apart. I had some tendonitis in my left knee, which is why my knee was all taped at nationals. I had to take some races off and pay attention to get it taken care of. With all the travel and moving around before the race I was worried. I was off the bike for almost a week with two weeks to go. Yikes! But I addressed it and was able to get a few days of training in Marin with my friend Jack before heading to Reno. Once I got to Reno I was then worried about the amount of time I was spending at altitude before the race. I was trying to cut it close without having to be there for a long time. I think I did it right though and I got some good work riding around there.

I have a great time there too. I stayed with some friends for the first part and then got an AirBNB with my mom just outside of town. We had some beautiful views and some pretty good riding. It was nice to have some family time before the event took over my life.

Stephen winning back to back national championships, taped knee and all. Photo: Wil Matthews

The team did their best to make everything smooth and effortless and the course conditions stayed mostly the same through out the week. The weather even warmed up a bit, a little warm for cross nat’s, but we get what we get. The race itself was totally up in the air. I had NO IDEA of what was going to happen. (Jeremy) Powers had been at altitude for more than a month getting ready and I know some others that went that route too. I was the only one of the male riders to be racing in Europe for a build instead of staying home and training, so I had literally no idea who was capable of what. However, the race played out almost exactly like I thought it would. The field ripped itself apart and I did my best to stay back and watch it all unfold until I felt it time to pounce. Everything just went right. I made my two moves at the right time and made them count. Making it two for two was unreal!

We were cheering! It’s rare there’s a perfect lead up to a big event, so to execute like that was a testament to your professionalism. Next you put on your globetrotting boots and hightailed it to Europe. Give us the lowdown on what you’ve been up to the past few months — the highlights, the lowlights, and how many passport stamps you’ve received.

Right after nationals I went home for a few days. Had some good down time with my lady and friends and repacked my bags. Luckily I didn’t have to put the red, white, and blue kit away! I headed back to Europe for the last World Cups and the world championships. I had some good rides at the World Cups and felt like I had some good vibes going. I set a goal for a top ten at Worlds. By the time the race rolled around and the conditions were at an all time CRAZY, I was excited to meet that goal. I did what I could and made it a career best and just behind my goal in 15th. I think the best placing male since Page was on the podium and I was the only US guy to finish. It was the most intense, wet, cold and wild experience of my life. The course was a monster and really pushed me.

After that I made my way to Spain and met up with some friends and my then-girlfriend (drumroll please…). I took my break there, got engaged, rented a camper van and drove around Spain and Portugal and we ate our weight in seafood and cured meets. Then I did another month of training there and headed home just in time to catch the last few snow storms!

Yeah, that’s a full gas schedule. Congratulations on all of it Stephen. Sooo how’s your Spanish?

Terrible. Actually, embarrassing seeing as much time I have spent there over the last three years. Well, it’s better than my Dutch I guess.

Red, white, and blue actually does pair well with the lush green of Andalucia, Spain. Photo: a Hyde selfie

Cyclocross racing is hard. Really really hard. Unlike road racing, there’s no neutral roll out, no time for friendly chatter within the confines of the race, and every second counts. How do you come down after such a high?

It’s actually not easy for me. Some years I come off the season smoked and ready for a break. This year I wasn’t actually ready. I was still having fun racing and seemingly getting into better shape. So, I knew it was time to relax and put some off season weight on. I like to travel in that time and keep my mind occupied. It’s really important to take a real break from all of it. A break from the training, the emailing, the interviews and the traveling. Being an athlete at this level is the same as being a small business owner. There are a lot of day to day things that keep it all rolling and it’s important for me to get refreshed from that.

Home is where the espresso machine and waffle maker are on full tilt” and “Post ride maple latte. Good to be home” were very honest recent instagram posts. You followed those immediately with a post chock full of Coffee UnTapped and Coffee Waffles. Please explore with us your coffee consumption, maple syrup consumption, waffle consumption, and general UnTapped consumption.

It’s pretty amazing how much maple is incorporated into my daily life. Before I was a casual pancake eater and that provided a standard level of syrup consumption. These days I put UnTapped in my waffle and pancake mix, maple syrup is in my oatmeal, I take UnTapped waffles and packets with me on rides, I use maple as the carbohydrate base for my recovery drink (editor’s note: Mapleaid + milk is a delicious carbohydrate and protein rich recovery drink!) and often glaze or brine foods with maple or make salad dressing with it. Plus I always have an UnTapped packet, coffee or maple, in my bag! And on the bike or off, I love sipping Mapleaid.

On a related note, at our maple headquarters, we embrace “sugaring season”. In late winter and spring, New England weather provides cold nights and warm days that allows maple sap to run from maple trees, from which we produce UnTapped maple syrup. Seasons are everything. As a cyclocross racer, quickly break down what you consider “in season”, “off season”, and “early season” and any other references to “season” that you have.

This actually gets pretty complicated for me. Some racers have only one real season and some have a few smattered races all of the time. I like to have two very concentrated seasons. My ‘cross season starts in September and ends in February. I take a small off season and start training for cross-country mountain biking. That season starts in May and ends around July or August. I am pushing the limits a bit this season and the one following. I am making a big step toward making an Olympic spot in XC for 2020 in Tokyo. So I need to move some scheduling around and make some extra races fit in and take breaks in weird places. I am excited about some change in that respect. Although it makes nailing down a wedding date impossible! (sorry Hayley).

That segues nicely to our next question. Cyclocross falls at a strange time because it kicks off in blazing hot late summer and wraps up in the deep of winter. It’s rumored that cyclocross is not currently in the Olympics because there’s confusion whether it’s a winter or summer sport. There was the rumor that you’re in pursuit of an Olympic spot for the United States in mountain biking, but it sounds like that’s a go! Please unpack that a bit.

That’s interesting since cyclocross is really supposed to be a winter sport. But now we see all these weather patterns change and our season is ever expanding. We keep adding races instead of making the ones we have better and for that we stretch the season way too far. I mean, that’s my feeling on it. The other is that I like racing cross, so give me more of it! I am divided. It would be nice to push the season to start in October and end in March.

Having traded in his narrow knobbies for the fat tires of a mountain bike, Stephen goes top step on stage one of the Epic Rides Grand Junction. Photo: Rob Rigg

I am making a push for the XC portion of the 2020 Olympics! I am super excited for the challenge and the undertaking. I need something to push me farther out of my comfort zone. Cannondale has been such a huge help with that and I’m excited to have that under way!

We’ve seen you ripping around on the bike in New England and now quite a ways beyond. With no sign of slowing down, take us through the next few months.

I am about to board a plane to Utah to start my first “real” cross-country mountain bike season as a professional. It’s something I started out wanting to be an mountain bike pro and getting back to that is super important to me.

Here’s my schedule:

May 5-6 SH Proxct Midway, UT C1

May 18-20 Grand Junction Offroad Epic Rides

May 26 Mont Tremblant Canada Cup C2

June 10 Horseshoe Canada Cup C2

June 17 Oro Station C2 Canada Cup C2

July 7 Gnar Weasels VT (in the maple heartland!)

July 23 Nationals SnowShoe, WV

July 28 Eastern Grind, Vermont C2

Aug 12 Mont St. Anne, QC, Canada WC

That’s a full schedule for sure, we’ll let you get back after it. Thanks Stephen!