Alex Howes rips a berm; Logan Owen races up a rocky dirt road; Tejay van Garderen blurs by on his road bike. Meanwhile, Cannondale mountain bike athlete Josh Bryceland drops 10 feet off an overpass.
Welcome to team camp, EF style.
Always known for doing things differently, EF Education First Pro Cycling took its fresh approach to racing to the concept of team camp. “Camp EF” focuses on fun and celebrating the love of different forms of cycling: road, mountain, and gravel.
For Camp EF, the team brought Howes, Owen and van Garderen to Northwest Arkansas to explore a pocket of the world making a name for itself with its wooded and winding trails, empty gravel roads, renowned culinary and art culture, and charming southern hospitality. To help show the ropes to the team, EF called friends and experts in the freeride and enduro disciplines from Cannondale, including Ella Conolly, Josh Bryceland and Max Nerukar. The crew found adventure, rode together, shared a house, and swapped stories for three days.
The riders traversed the greater Bentonville / Fayetteville area, which includes nearly 1,000 miles of trails in the Oz Trails network, and endless miles of pristine paved and gravel roads. The team also explored downtown Bentonville, including the excellent restaurants and the luminous Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art — all by bike, including Cannondale’s latest quiver: SuperSix Evo, SuperX, Habit, and the Topstone Carbon.
The team will connect over the weekend with more than 100 local cycling fans of all ages with community mountain bike and gravel rides. Special thanks to BikeNWA, Women of Oz, the Thaden School, and Ropeswing Group for hosting.
While in Arkansas, not only did the team wander the endless trails, they gave the world a first-look of the new team kit and apparel for 2020 — pulling from the latest trends, designs, and performance to ensure the team stands out in the peloton, on the trail, and everywhere in between. For 2020, EF Education First looks to the future, blazing new trails and working with apparel experts, Rapha to create the best visuals for any sports team.
Quotes from the team, Cannondale athletes, and our partners:
“Mountain bikes, bonfires, new trails, and learning a few tricks from pro mountain bikers? That’s my kind of team camp. I packed for this thing like I was packing for a camp vacation. Hatchet? Check. Mountain bike? Check. Binoculars? Check. Sense of humor? Check.”
“I’ve visited the Bentonville area a few times now, both for races. It’s cool to come back with my teammates and enjoy what the area has to offer and come together with so many different riders and a truly amazing cycling community. It’s a cool thing to be a part of, for sure.”
Tejay van Garderen
“I’ve been going to team camps for like 10 years. It’s usually the same thing — training ride, photoshoot, road bike, repeat. This is a new vibe for a rider like me, who’s usually training for grand tours. I’m loving it — the trails and the feeling of riding a mountain bike, chasing around… it’s a blast.”
Josh Bryceland, Cannondale
“It’s been a great experience to meet and ride with the guys from a completely different discipline within cycling. Always interesting to see how others operate, and what a down to earth bunch of dudes! It’s been rad times exploring Bentonville with Max and Ella, too.”
Ella Conolly, Cannondale
“It’s been awesome to have the opportunity to hang out with riders from different disciplines and experience the riding scene here in Bentonville together. Sweet to see the EF guys shredding trails and watching Josh and Max sending it. I never thought the first place in the US I’d ride my bike would be Arkansas, but there’s such a huge trail network to explore, it feels like we’ve just scratched the surface!”
Mary Wittenberg, President, EF Education First Pro Cycling
“We’re flipping the script and taking two iconic yet seemingly opposing concepts: summer camp and pro cycling training camp and mixing them together to create a uniquely EF experience. We love opening up the peloton and helping everyone realize they can ride bikes and explore the world. It’s great fun for our WorldTour riders to hit the Northwest Arkansas trails and gravel with Cannondale pro freeriders, local riders and EF ambassadors from around the world. S’mores meets singletrack.”
Jonathan Vaughters, CEO EF Pro Cycling
“This season we went to Kansas, Leadville, and the far reaches of the UK in our quest to check out different ways of cycling and new places. A camp combining different disciplines in a place that’s new to us — a place that has such interesting riding and cultural options — made total sense. Northwest Arkansas has been a perfect fit, from the new trails and beautiful gravel roads to the welcoming community, it’s been great to be here.”
Simon Mottram, CEO, Rapha
“Our partnership with EF Education First has surpassed all our expectations this year. We set out together on a brave new approach to racing that aimed to emphasise the characters in the team by embracing a new calendar of races, from gravel and cyclocross to MTB and endurance challenges. The riders and staff have been brilliant and have attracted a huge audience to view our content. It’s been doubly exciting to see the characters shown in those events translated to strong and winning performances in more traditional races, too. At Rapha, we have all been inspired by team EF this year.”
Nick Larsen, Vice President of Creative, Cannondale
“The evolution of the team, since first partnering with them, was perfectly capped this year as they embarked on new adventures and gritty racing in the world’s toughest road races with an amazing new look and collective motivation. The team has opened themselves up to a much broader audience sharing a personality and vibe that’s unlike anything ever seen in the peloton. The alternative calendar the team participated in, and the bikes they rode, showcases the true sportsmanship of the collective group highlighting that the team can not only win monuments in the WorldTour, but also be a part of the ‘pack’ of adventures around the globe. We look forward with excitement for what the team, partners and fans will do together in the coming seasons.”
Photos by Jordan Clark Haggard