Bend's Adam Craig has traveled the world competing in cross country mountain biking, including 2008 Olympics
BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- For more than half of his life, Adam Craig has done three things: eat, sleep and ride mountain bikes.
Craig began competing in cross-country mountain biking as a teenager in his home state of Maine. He rose up the ranks at the junior level, winning a junior national championship in 1999, which earned him an invitation to the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs.
"I was just a kid racing bikes, and I was happy to be doing it," Craig told NewsChannel 21 .
A couple years later, Craig captured his first United States National Championship. A year later, he become a full-time professional rider for Giant Bicycles.
In 2002, Craig moved to Bend, citing the city's milder winters compared to Maine and its altitude. That altitude training helped propel Adam to a World Cup Finals podium finish in 2004, the first in a decade for an American male.
“That was an honor, and kind of a surprise, and established my status as a competitive international racer,” Craig said.
Craig would capture multiple national championships -- 18 to be exact -- throughout his career. The pinnacle of that career was in back-to-back years in 2007 and 2008, when Craig won two national championships, a Pan-American Games gold medal and was selected to represent the United States at the Beijing Summer Games in '08.
A top 10 world raking at the time of the race gave Craig a front-row start at the Games, but a crucial mistake at the start saw him finish outside the top 20.
"It just was not my day," Craig said. "I kind of made a mistake at the start line. I took my front-row position and surrendered it immediately, and it was just one of those days."
Craig finished 29th in a field of 50 riders that day. He admits he was a long shot for a medal and that his finish was disappointing, but he did not take the result as hard as you might think.
“With all due respect, I never had a real overarching Olympic dream," Craig said. "I just always really had a love for mountain biking, and a love for competition, and was really fortunate to be good at it and be able to do it as a career. And the Olympics were the pinnacle of that career that I am honored to have participated in."
Craig would just miss out on the 2012 Olympics in London, and the following year, he switched mountain biking disciplines, from cross-country to enduro. Four years after that, Craig retired from international competition altogether.
“It’s a lot of fun to race at that level week in and week out for your job,” Craig told NewsChannel 21.
Craig now works on improving trail access for mountain bikers in Oregon and Maine. He's worked with the Central Oregon Trail Alliance and the U.S. Forest Service.
“Every day that I wake up and I am involved in the world of mountain biking is kind of a dream for me," Craig said. "I always embraced the reality of traveling the world to race my bike, and having a bike with me as I traveled around the world, and being able to ride in these beautiful places.”