Steve Croucher’s first XTERRA race was the 2013 XTERRA Beaver Creek Sprint. “I remember because I was the only one racing in a Speedo and riding a 30 pound mountain bike.”
Since his debut, Croucher has learned a lot about what to wear and even more about how to race. Despite a vicious leg cramp in the run segment of the XTERRA Pan America National Championship, Croucher won his competitive 25-29 age group.
“I had no idea I won until the awards ceremony,” he said. “I didn’t pass anyone on the bike and I had to keep telling my legs to shut up on the run. I just had to hope that decent transitions and my best effort would be enough.”
One would think that earning the Pan Am Championship in his age group would be the highlight of the race, but Croucher remembers something he liked just as much. “Honestly, the highlight of the day was watching the sun rise over the reservoir before the race,” he admits. “It was surreal and a super peaceful way to get mentally dialed to race and be alive.”
If this athletic director from central Vermont seems unusually grounded, he attributes that to his family. “They never believe me, but I always say my family is my biggest inspiration,” Croucher says. “They allow me to train and compete and are always encouraging me.” He also gives a shout out to his “new family,” the Bicycle Express Racing team out of Northfield, Vermont. “I’m lucky to ride with some wicked fast guys and gals this season.”
“I don’t know if I could ever say I have a favorite athlete,” continues Croucher. “I’ve met a lot of solid, life-long friends through XTERRA. But I have a supreme level of respect for the likes of Jukka Valkonen and Rife Hilgartner. They are just good-hearted, morally-fibrous guys with a real sense of responsibility to being strong ambassadors for XTERRA.”
Croucher celebrated his win in Utah with a few weeks of free-riding in the state forest across from his house and a few months of not swimming. Over the winter – which is his favorite season – he spent as much time as he could training and hanging out with his girlfriend, Joanna, and his dog, Kodi. “These are my training and racing companions, so we make it fun with run-to-brunch Sundays and taking the pup on some bigger rides.” He also spent time with his family, fat-tire biking, and skiing in the Vermont mountains.
Croucher does a decent job of fueling up with tons of fruits, seasonal veggies, nut butters, and lean meats. “My go-to snack, hands down, is a raisinutter wrapup.” (Translation: chunky flaxseed peanut butter, raisins, and banana on a pita) “And a simple maple creemee is jackpot food after a big ride.”
We hope to see Steve Croucher in Utah again this year, but he says that he has a few weddings to attend this fall that take first priority. “In a perfect world, I will be there. The XTERRA course in Utah is easily the most scenic, biggest vertical-gaining, truest test of off-road racing I’ve ever experienced.”
XTERRA athlete profile by Reyn Okimoto, Shidler College of Business, class of 2017