He chops firewood and he puts together puzzles. He’s Connor McCutcheon, and if you don’t know who he is now, you’re about to find out. McCutcheon is one of the young guns coming out of Southern California. At 21 years of age, he’s making a name for himself – not just in SoCal, but in major road races all over the U.S. Early in 2012, McCutcheon rode to a Category 2 second place GC finish at the Valley of the Sun Stage Race in Arizona. A couple weeks ago he time trialed to third place in the Pro/1/2 field at the Southern California/Nevada USAC State Time Trial Championships. Cycling Illustrated caught up with Connor in between those two events as he was preparing for the Nature Valley Grand Prix on June 13-17 in Minnesota and Western Wisconsin.
What team are you riding for in 2012, and can you give us a little info on the team, its sponsors, and your teammates?
I am currently riding for Simple Green/Bike Religion. The team is diverse and includes two guys from South Africa, and one from the Isle of Man. Those guys are living with me in my grandparent’s cabin in Big Bear right now.
You just finished up with some impressive race results with a second at Sea Otter Classic Criterium and a second at Devil’s Punch Bowl. Which of those races would you consider a bigger success and why?
I consider Sea Otter a bigger result because there was much more competition and media coverage, although Devil’s Punch Bowl was a much bigger effort, riding solo for 63 miles. I wish that I hadn’t crashed in Stage 2 at Sea Otter and could have been competitive for the GC.
How did it go at the Tour of the Gila?
We won the GC at Gila! My teammate, Louis Meintjes, is an amazing rider. I got caught up in a crash on day one and did some damage to my equipment and body. I finished the stage and raced the next day but stopped after that because it was taking a great toll on my body.
How did you become a bike racer anyway?
I became a biker to cross-train while I was running cross country in high school. Once I started riding, I found that I was a lot better on the bike than I was running.
What are you goals for the next few years?
My goals for the next few years are to race the bike as much as I can. And hopefully get paid for it eventually, and travel as much as I can.
Tell us a little bit about your living and working situation.
I’m currently living in my home town of Big Bear Lake. I worked the winter at Blauer’s Ski Shop, and then as the ski season slowed down I moved off to work at Bear Valley Bikes. Both are great with working around my schedule and getting me hours. I’ve also been cutting a lot of firewood for work.
What do you do when you’re not riding and cutting wood?
In my free time I sleep, eat, and do puzzles. If my roommates and I don’t make it as pro cyclists, we’re planning on becoming pro puzzlers.
Are you planning any mountain bike or cyclocross racing this year?
I’ve already done several mountain bike races this year and will certainly do a few more. I’m planning on doing the USA Cycling Marathon Nationals again this year, after getting third last year. We’ll see about cyclocross. I might be headed to work on my teammate’s farm in South Africa for the winter instead.
Doing base miles in South Africa sounds awesome. Who do you train with on a regular basis?
Well, I obviously train a lot with the guys I live with. Other than that I train a lot with Paul Zamoyta, my former 7th grade science and math teacher, Derek Hermon owner of Bear Valley Bikes, and all the guys from the Tuesday night training ride up in Big Bear.
You can read more about Connor and keep up with his racing accolades here on Cycling Illustrated or at www.connormccutcheon.com.