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Payson McElveen is not your traditional professional mountain biker. After cycling at Fort Lewis College and becoming a two-time Marathon National Champion, Payson decided to focus more on longer events, instead of the traditional World Cup racing and pursuit of the Olympics. In 2017, he won his first national title at the 2017 Marathon Championships, and then won again in 2018. He continued his success in 2019, taking third place at the US National Cycling Trials, second at the Whiskey Off-Road race in Arizona and first at the Land Run 100 in Oklahoma.

He’s the son of a mountain bike racer, first started riding a bike at age four and began racing by 14. He’s been a member of USA Cycling’s National Team since he was 17. 

Payson is also known for his podcast “The Adventure Stache”, films, and physical challenges such as FKT’s and his “Trail Town” YouTube series. 

In this week’s episode, Payson and Sonya talk mountain biking, fulfilling potential, patience and perseverance and balance.

“If there’s one thing that I think has really benefited me throughout my career, it’s paying attention to what other people are doing outside the norm and pulling inspiration from that. So I was doing that and I started to notice that there were these people kind of on the fringe of what was traditional a little bit that were really finding success. And honestly, you were one of them, and Rebecca Rusch and some of these other folks who were having this really significant impact on the sport without following that really well-worn, traditional path of World Tour road racing or World Cup mountain bike racing. And it just felt like I need a little change up, a little refresh, a shot of inspiration.”

– Payson McElveen

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Key Takeaways

  • How he got started in MTB
  • What it means to fulfill your potential 
  • Why endurance events
  • How to have more patience and perseverance 
  • Getting into gravel
  • How do you choose what sponsors to work with
  • Experience with his podcast
  • How to balance training and commitments



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