Even at 24 years old, even after multiple years as a pro cyclocross racer with the Elite Team Clif Bar Program, after trips to Europe with the US team and multiple top-ten finishes at the US Mountain Bike National Championships, Colorado rider Mitch Hoke, hasn’t lost his childlike giddiness from discovering cycling, “At first I just loved riding my mountain bike and having fun.”
“Fun”, for Mitch Hoke, has been a decade of jean shorts, impressive forays into elite racing and bad mustaches. In mid-September, Mitch flew to Germany, then traveled to Austria for the World Mountain Bike Championships finishing in the top fifty after a 90th place starting position, a finish he’s pleased with, though he doesn’t use the word “fun.”
Photo courtesy of Mitch Hoke.
“It takes a little bit more than fun to get out and motor pace for an hour and I do that. As hard as that is, I do enjoy training hard. But it’s a good thing that in cross is not everyone is taking it super seriously, which brings a good atmosphere to the races. Even if you are super serious, you can’t help but smile at beer and dollars bills hand ups.” Despite an inclination to be a racer, Mitch has left the obsessive out of compulsive. He’s compelled by a lighter feel, a looser atmosphere in racing.
It is that atmosphere that Mitchell hopes to share. Hoping to reach developing riders, Mitch helps administer the Clif Bar Development Cross Team a squad that can boast a list of alumni riders like Troy Wells, Danny Summerhill, Pete Stetina and Tejay Van Garderen. Of the current development program, Mitch explains his role, “We have six juniors and three U23s. I do everything from contacting sponsors to picking the kids up at the airport to get them to race. Our goal for the devo squad is get the kids experience racing and traveling and growing as cyclists. I owe everything to people that got me into racing, so because of that I want to make sure younger riders get that opportunity.”
Photo Credit: Leslie McShane
It’s impressive to hear Mitch wax philosophically about the need to give back at his advanced age of 24. Equally impressive is that the space between racing and the rest of the world is a place that Mitch ponders, “Most people who race realize how much bikes have changed their lives for the better so they are pretty excited to help out an organization trying to change peoples lives with bicycles.” To that end, Mitch is a member of Bikes Belong and works with the Boulder Mountain Bike Alliance Through his sponsors Clif Bar & SRAM, he’s raised money for World Bicycle Relief.
“Those are organizations that tie so nicely into racing. I have a real identity crisis with two parts of my life that are at odds with each other: On the one side I love bike racing, the challenge of traveling and racing the best people in the country and the world keeps me motivated and moving forward. But i have this other large part of me that wants to live simply and have a smaller footprint. Logging 50,000 frequent flyer miles in a year isn’t exactly living simply.”
For the coming season, Mitch Hoke does have a fairly simple focus. In addition to doing his advocacy thing, his hopes are set on taking another jump up the national cyclocross rankings.
“I would really love to be a part of the Worlds Team for Louisville. So to that end I would like to race consistently in the top 10 at the USGPs the other C1 race weekends.”
Photo courtesy of Mitch Hoke.
This goal seems wildly possible for Hoke given his low key approach and general easy going manner. Take, as closing evidence of his relaxed demeanor his response when asked about a race he rode as a junior when he unintentionally rode with his shorts on backwards.
“That happened. I burned them out of shame. I can send you the urn.”