I’m so jealous of pro mountain bikers. They’re out in the world, living their best cycling lives while I’m stuck at home or work, only riding when time allows. Fortunately, in the age of social media, I can stay stoked and ride vicariously by following my favorite pros as they win races, pull off crazy stunts, and embark on amazing adventures.
Of course, I follow all the big names you’d expect: Greg Minnaar, Sam Hill, Rachel Atherton, Nino Schurter, Kate Courtney, Brandon Semenuk, Danny MacAskill, Fabio Wibmer, and so on. But I also follow plenty of amazing pros that you might not know unless you’re a complete MTB geek.
Here are some lesser-known riders that I consider the most interesting pro mountain bikers in the business.
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If you watch GMBN, You’ll probably recognize Ashton as a regular host. I first saw him riding in his viral “Road Bike Party” videos. He used his trials skills to do jaw-dropping stunts on skinny tires. Unfortunately, he broke his back in 2013 and was paralyzed. Despite this, Ashton hasn’t quit riding. He still shreds trails on all-terrain wheelchairs and custom e-bikes. I can’t help but be inspired by a rider with so much passion and stoke after such a life-changing accident.
I discovered Bell in the summer of 2020 in “Pedal Through” where a trio of black female mountain bikers went on a week-long bikepacking adventure through the Oregon backcountry. Bell mentored two newcomers as they overcame fear and uncertainty during their adventure. I had to know more, and I discovered that Bell no only rides for Juliana Bicycles, but she’s also an avid skier, and an incredible artist. Until I saw Bell's beautiful work, I had never wanted to purchase art from a pro cyclist (sorry Taylor Phinney).
Blevins is straight up fast. He’s the current XCC world champion, and he may be America’s greatest hope to win a World Cup XCO race. He grew up racing in Durango, Colorado, and has excelled in road, cyclocross, and mountain biking. But what’s impressed me the most are his bike handling skills. Top riders like Nino Schurter and Mathieu van der Poel are good, but Blevins is GOOD, and he regularly blows my mind with the control he has on a sketchy XC bike. Plus he’s a slam poet!
I’m personally invested in Fouts after writing her profile, but there’s really no mountain biker like her. She gave up working as a scientist to chase her pro cycling dreams and won a national title her first season racing. And she did it all without a left hand. Her goals are to improve bike design for para-athletes, set the first para-FKT of the White Rim, and bring the sport of para-mountain biking to the Paralympics. Few riders have her level of drive and commitment, and on a bike, she’s unstoppable.
Hoffman is an emerging talent who has shaken up the World Cup downhill scene. She actually started her athletic career as a professional javelin thrower. Then, after racing downhill for only four years, she came out of nowhere to land her first World Cup podium in 2019, and then her first win in 2020. She’s known for gutsy riding and a willingness to send big features that other racers avoid. All this culminated in her nabbing a coveted spot on the Santa Cruz Syndicate race team for 2022.
Mullaly might be best known for his chainless world champs run in 2014 where he nearly medaled, but more recently he’s drawn attention by building his own bike and race program for the 2022 downhill season. He enlisted the help of an industry legend, Frank the Welder, to create custom downhill frames designed to his own specifications. He'll race them against the world’s best riders and document the journey. This endeavor has crowned him as the king of bike nerds, and I can’t wait to watch what happens.
Nash is a certified legend. She raced the first-ever Olympic mountain bike race 1996 and has since become a five-time Olympian, racing in both cross-country mountain biking and cross-country skiing. It rare for athletes to pursue two sports professionally, and even rarer for them to be Olympic-caliber at both. What’s really mind-blowing is that she has continued competing in World Cup cross-country and cyclocross for the last 20 years. Though her pro career is winding down, I don’t think she’s going to hang up the bike any time soon.
Freeride isn’t just “ferda boys.” Follow any of the amazing riders who competed in Red Bull Formation, and you’ll see plenty of women sending big lines and stomping crazy tricks. But my favorite among this new wave of riders has to be Veronique Sandler. I mean, she’s one of my favorite freeriders, period, male or female. Her riding is stylish and full of creativity, and she has the skill and confidence to send some truly nasty lines. Just take a look at the Vision dream line she had built at Revolution Bike Park, which has some of the raddest jumps I’ve ever seen.
I grew up idolizing BMX riders, but most of these riders have unfortunately faded away as BMX simply doesn’t have the money and fanbase that mountain biking does. Simms, however, found a way to reinvent himself and reinvigorate his career in his late 30s by transitioning from BMX to mountain biking. He quickly gained sponsorship from top brands like Canyon, SRAM, and Tory Lee Designs. If there’s one word to describe his riding style, it’s powerful, and I can’t wait to see how he brings BMX attitude and skills to freeride MTB edits.
Tempier is instantly recognizable thanks to his impressively slow cadence. While his competitors frantically spin like they're in a SoulCycle class, he just casually mashes a big gear. Now he’s signed for Rockrider, which are essentially French Walmart bikes. But Rockrider has money. With the Paris 2024 Olympic MTB race coming up, it's a safe bet the brand wants to carry a home rider to victory. Keep your eyes on him, because we might see another Sam Hill + Iron Horse situation where a big box brand pulls out all the stops to beat the established favorites.
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There are plenty more mountain bikers that belong on this list, but I just couldn’t fit them all. I’m always looking for riders to follow, so who did I miss? Let me know in the comments!