Student of the Sport - Stephen Hyde Interview
Stephen Hyde is adaptable. The U.S.'s current top UCI ranked rider (13th) takes an incredibly open-minded approach to the sport of cyclocross. His steady rise up the ranks is testimony to his dedication. As a pure student of the sport Hyde admits he takes something from every race. Hyde explains that his consistent marginal gains are the building blocks of his success.
This week’s U.S. National Championships in Hartford, CT, conclude Sunday with Hyde’s best ever chance to take the Men’s Elite title, which he notes as his season’s main objective. We spent a few minutes and got to know him a little better.
Where do the US Cyclocross Nationals rank on your list of racing priorities?
The Championships are my number one priority. We’ve had a good year and my goal was to come here fully prepared. I was 2nd last year; I was so close, that gave me a renewed sense of drive and motivation.
2016 was a breakthrough year. Tell us what made that happen.
I made step-by-step progress, really marginal gains in every area of my training and racing. Plus, I’ve gotten into a groove with this team; we work well together, and I know my training program better. Last year I was doing many races for the first time, this is my second year on a national program, and it’s just easier knowing what to expect.
Would a National Championship win be your greatest professional achievement?
I’ve had some really good races this year, including a top 10 at Iowa (World Cup #2), but this would definitely be a career highlight. A National Championship is prestigious.
Given this year’s course, will you make any different equipment choices?
It’s a pretty climbing heavy course so I’ll probably go with small front chainring, 40 or 42, and stick with the 32 cassette. Tire choice will be critical, but that will be a race day decision. I will also consider different toe spike combinations, I just have to find what works for me.
Are there different styles of cyclocross racer? What are they? What are you?
I’ve been asked this question a lot, and I no longer try to define myself by a certain style. I feel I’m a very adaptable rider, balanced. I’m a good starter but in the U.S. you have to play that by ear. On a technical course I may start faster, be more aggressive. I don’t always want to go hard right away, and it may depend on the amount of pedaling.
Is tire pressure a day of decision or do you always run similar pressures?
Tire pressure is definitely a day of race decision, even an hour or 20 minutes before race decision. I generally run 17 – 22psi. I run as low a pressure as possible to get as much tire on the ground and not risk flatting.
What occupies the majority of your time ahead of a race?
Often times it’s interviews (like this one), or events (appearances) around the races. I always like to find food, a really good spot to eat, and a nice coffee shop to hang out at. I also like to get on the course as much as possible. What’s unique about Hartford is that I live 40 minutes from here and I’m going home every night, which is so nice.
What will you absolutely not eat ahead of any big race?
I will not eat anything heavy. No fiber or red meat. I stick with pasta or rice. Just before races I go pretty plain.
Name one race day tradition.
Race day music musts?
I don’t listen to music. I like to hear everything, I want to be present and know what’s going on.
What’s next for you?
We go to Hoogerheide, then World’s, then three races after World’s.
Thanks again to Stephen for taking the time to sit down with us. Hyde’s Cannondale Super X bike is equipped with SRAM’s Force 1 HRD (hydraulic road disc), Zipp 303 Tubular Disc Brake wheels, Zipp Service Course handlebars, stem and seatpost.
Images courtesy of wil matthews photos