10 Questions with Walton Brush on Bonedeth

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10 Questions for Walton Brush the 3rd. 

1. When was the first time we met? I’ve been trying to figure this out and I feel like maybe it was around 2012? Probably at an RHC? But maybe the first time we talked was at HPCX in New Jersey. Anyway I feel like this was one of those things where we both sort of knew about each other but we didn’t actually know each other. Isn’t the internet great? (This counts as one question.)

Officially the first time we met in person was at HPCX. I was in new york visiting family and had brought my cross bike, so my dad drove me down to NJ to race. I was ooglin your Sachs while you were somewhere else, then you came back and we met! Though, at this point, I had already known you for a couple “web years”.

2. You went to high school with Evan and Kyle Murphy in Portland, right? What were you guys into in high school? When did you guys start riding bikes?

Oooh yeah! We all attended NWA in Portland, OR. I think my friendship with Evan revolved around his PS2, specifically that Star Wars game Battlefront. NWA is a little art school and we were/still are pretty into all that. When I was a Junior, Evan bought a Chrome Bianchi Pista. We would take turns riding it at lunch, sprinting around for 5 minutes or trying really hard to skid. Eventually we all got track bikes and started riding and raced together. Truthfully, it took Evan graduating for Kyle and I to get to know each other. From then on out we have all motivated and pushed each other, both in riding, racing, and creative stuff. I remember a couple winters, most likely when Evan and I were home from college, where we did insane winter fixed gear rides. Stuff that was way over our head. On one ride everything was ice and we kept sliding out and trading gloves because Evan’s hands were getting too cold.  Another time, we were riding through the snow down saltzman (a fireroad) on the way home from doing some mtb trails, mid road ride, on fixed gears and skidded by some friends in full on winter gear on mountain bikes spinning up the dirt. I remember thinking “what are we doing out here in the middle of the woods on these bikes in December?” Now it’s obvious and, even though we’re serious road racers, it’s still true, that we just do it on our terms and in our own way.

3. I have this perception that you got into racing through the whole track bike thing. Is this correct? What do you think of this path in general? I feel like it’s kind of this weird new path into bike racing that didn’t exist prior to like 2000-ish (maybe even later then that)?

Here is my bikin’ story. My dad (Walton Brush Jr.) raised me riding mountain bikes in New Hampshire. When we moved to Portland for high school, I got a little confused as what to ride and where to ride it.  Eventually, I found fixed gears.  This was quickly followed by alleycats, and then organized racing. My friend snuck me into a bar to do some Rapha roller races one weekend and the next weekend I showed up at an alleycat Chas was throwing.  This must have been around 2006/07? This path was easy and accepting because I could show up to race in jean shorts on a track bike with little riser bars or whatever i thought was cool and there weren’t any regulations or expectations. This wasn’t as true with organized racing where you need certain gear which has to be up to standards and then you follow all these rules which was off putting… until the same friend dragged me to my first road race.

4. I think you raced allycats. Do you still? Why or why not?

I raced some alleycats. I loved alleycats! If i didn’t get lost, I normally did pretty well, but in most races i got super lost. I stopped racing them last summer, this was when I decided to see how far I could take road/cx racing.  Alleycats are still appealing to me, but I put racing in front of most things in my life, and along with junk food, and unstructured fun rides, alleycats are out!

5. You just got your Cat 1 upgrade on the road a little while ago. Then you go and podium at Elite Road Nationals. That’s a huge level of progression. How long did it take you to move through the categories? What’s the one thing you wish you had known when you first started?

I got my cat 1 upgrade in june. I really wanted to finish my season by doing some bigger races than the local calendar i had done thus far, but I had to get my upgrade in order to do them.  My road team, Mike’s Bike’s, has a full calendar of important races, as well as two road captains that give everybody a specific role to fill every race. For me this meant my season was full of working for the team leaders at the races on the team’s calendar. This didn’t leave me many open weekends to go point hunting. Luckily I was able to scrape close to enough points for my cat 1 upgrade in time to register and get expensive last minute flights for AMA Nats.

I started racing in Oregon in 2007-08 and eventually got my cat 3 up there. Oregon’s racing is sanctioned by a different association (OBRA) than the rest of the country and last summer when I went to start racing in Cali, I had to start over as a Cat 5. I was super determined and started making my own training plan and went from cat 5 to cat 2 in a few months. The season was only about half way over, but I hit a wall and burned out hard. This would be  the one thing i wish i knew when I started, which was to enjoy the journey. That season I was purely focused on getting all my points ASAP. I don’t think I would have kept racing positive no matter what goals i had set or achieved. There wasn’t any enjoyment in deciding how to train, in the training itself, or racing. I was doing every race on the calendar, most of which were terrible parking lot crits, and then going home and counting how many more points I needed. I should have just done much less, gone with friends, and only done the fun races. This is the approach i’ve come to take since.

Third at nats was surprising, both to myself and others. It wasn’t as simple as my USAC page makes it look which would be cat 5-1 and then a bronze at nats in 2 seasons, since i had a few prior years of racing in Oregon.

6. What made you decide to take up road racing in the first place? Can you tell me about your first road race? I’m really hoping for a hilarious story here.

My first race was a road race.  I worked at a bike shop (River City Bicycles) and one Friday, at the end of the night a co-worker (Ryan Weaver) told me I should try road racing. He gave me his address and told me to be at his place at some point super early the next morning with like $40. I did and he drove me out, took my money, registered me and showed me which group to start in. It was an uneventful race. I just remember being really bored the whole time.  I didn’t know what I was doing at the finish, but took 10th in the final sprint. A couple days later I was disqualified and got a phone call from an official. Ryan had registered me for the cat 3 race, but since I was a cat 5 I was DQ’d. I remember being angry because the official was in the race and I had beat him. Didn’t that say enough!?! At this point I already hooked. I thought it was sick that I could do so many different disciplines. I loved that I could do a MTB race, road race, and a track race all in one week.

7. When are you going to move to New England for the fall months and really give cross racing a go?

not this season… but NEXT season.  MASH is down to help me get out there to spend two or three weekends on the east coast this season, depending on the UCI race schedule. I realize that UCI points are the rare gems in cross that everyone is after, and it is time that i get after those gems too!

8. How was your Cascade experience? What did you expect going into it? What did you take away?

Cascade was awesome, I had pretty bad luck though; a weird cramp the first road race stage and flatting at the base of the final climb of the second road race.  As expected I had a terrible crit, prologue, and time trial, but a blast going to a different part of the Deschutes River every day. I assumed we would be up and down and back up mountains and getting my face totally crushed in every day. I also thought the race had way more road race stages. It turned out every other day was a road race and the in-between days were easy and shorter races. Also, in each road race the team of the GC leader would just let an early break go up the road and then ride the front all day and bring it back at the end, making it easy to sit in.  There was also much less climbing than I expected on the routes. All this made it a little easier than I had expected… but still super hard. On the last stage I had a good race, I got 23rd that day, which  was pretty cool to go as hard as i could and not be top 20 lol. The race gave me a goal for next season, which is just to focus my road season around, and make sure I get to, a few of the big NRC stage races.

9. I know you work with a coach. That’s generally considered pretty serious. You definitely don’t strike me as the super serious type. How do you balance intense focus necessary for success in bike racing with being a goof ball?

I’m totally split, I take every thing Coach Bruce says, and do it exactly as prescribed, and during races I am very competitive, push myself, and take the racing very seriously. I decided I wanted to see how far I could take cycling, and I approached it as seriously as possible,  I try not to let my attitude be effected though. If my attitude did reflect my preparation and dedication to racing, and I was that serious and boring, I would definitely be single, with no friends and totally burned out on racing.

10. How’s the fixie famous thing working out for you?

Oh man, I don’t even really know what that means.  I think really good, I think it is letting me see some parts of the world that I wouldn’t otherwise see, with my friends, and I have the sickest track bike ever.