Today's talent reshaping North American scene
The North American cross country scene has changed over the years. At one time hosting a nation wide series, with races more similar to World Cup format, North America is now home to an evolving picture. Big distance, point to point, epic style; all these events have demanded a new genre of rider.
Answering the call are Levi Kurlander, Emily Schaldach, and Payson McElveen. Although not ignoring more traditional distance events, these three are part of a wave of younger racers, coming into their own at large scale, long distance events.
Payson was born and raised outside Austin, TX and developed his passion for the sport in the Texas State Championship Series. At 19 he moved to Durango, CO, where he developed as a pro rider while simultaneously earning a degree from Fort Lewis College. Now a full time racer and recently crowned marathon elite national champion, he’s more excited than ever for the trail ahead. What began as dreams of a glamorous pro career has developed into a love for the lifestyle, process, and desire to help others achieve two-wheeled happiness along the way.
Payson has stormed into 2017, winning the US National title for Marathon distance cross country, and wears the stars in stripes in longer XC events. He has also taken the win in the Firecracker 50, sits third overall in the Epic Rides Series, and still finds time to finish on the podium at ProXCT races. Just this weekend, Payson scored a third place at US XC Nationals, showing he still has the legs for traditional disciplines.
Emily was lucky enough to grow up in the trail-packed town of Durango, Colorado. She began aspiring to race after watching the local pros, Olympians, and world champions fly past, heading for the local trails. She raced with Durango DEVO, where the ultimate goal was to have fun and appreciate the opportunity to ride a bike. Even though her training is more structured, she still thinks like a DEVO rider and appreciates the pure joy and luck she experiences, being able to shred trails all over the world. Emily has had a terrific 2017, with a pair of second place finishes at the Fat Tire 40, and the Iron Horse Bicycle Classic.
Levi Kurlander, also based out of Durango, Colorado, specializes in steep terrain, climbs, and high altitude courses. Levi has been a member of the USA Cycling National Team through 2015 and 2016, and has finished in the top five at the USA Cycling National Championships on three separate occasions. More recently, Levi has been preparing for his first attempt at the Breck Epic in Colorado, winning several races in Colorado including Crested Butte’s classic, and the Fat Tire 40. Back home in Durango, Levi recently graduated Summa Cum Laude from Fort Lewis College with a bachelor’s degree in mathematics, where he was a member of their national championship mountain bike team.