There are few people that can match the raw speed and style of Alchemy racer Cody Kelley. From mani-Mondays to mid race-run Euro-tables, he is a spectacle every time he throws a leg over a bike.
The life of a professional rider like Kelley may seem enviable, but just like every mountain bike race, there are highs and lows. The race season is long, the travel schedule can be grueling, and stealing time away for yourself can be a challenge.
But despite the challenges, Kelley’s love for living his life on two wheels is what gets him out of bed every morning. Here’s a glimpse into the life of Alchemy racer Cody Kelley, according to the man himself.
What do you love most about being a mountain bike racer?
I love racing, but as I am sure most people who follow me on social media know, I just love riding bikes. Most of the footage I post on my Instagram are of me doing manuals, or riding bikes in the desert or Park City with my friends.
Being on the bike is one of my favorite things, in competition or outside of it. I came from BMX and used to spend all day riding bikes with my buddy Mitch Ropeleto, and I haven’t lost that enthusiasm for pedaling.
Racing bicycles has provided me with some amazing opportunities. I’ve travelled the world and ridden in places people would dream to do. I get to ride the newest equipment, and really help bike designers like Alchemy develop the bikes they sell to the public.
Tell us a little about your typical schedule. What’s the world of racing like?
My racing schedule has been pretty crazy this year, as I’ve been chasing some of the EWS Continental Series Races, National Championships and the EWS World Series events.
The way that an EWS works, with practice and then the race back to back, so you’re actually doing the race two times in one weekend. It can be very taxing on your bike and body, especially if it’s a two-day event with high mileage, altitude and technical tracks.
On an average EWS race day, I might be on your bike 6 hours. That means I’m basically getting up, eating breakfast, riding, eating lunch, riding, showering, and having dinner.
Racing makes for a long day without have any issues. But if you have a flat or something during practice, just the time to deal with that can create a situation where you’re on your bike a lot longer than you want to be.
What’s the most challenging part of your career?
Behind the scene, the logistics of my race schedule can be tough. My lodging isn’t typically where the race is, so I usually spending quite a bit of time driving to the venues. And since we’re out in the mountains, simple errands like getting to a grocery store can become burdensome.
For example, at the Chile race in 2018, the grocery store was a 3 ½ hour round trip drive! So it took some thinking to figure out how to fit in simple things, like getting food.
While it may seem glamorous to be traveling the world riding mountain bikes—and don’t get me wrong, it is—there are times when I just want to be home, in my own bed, on a normal training schedule, and eating normal food. I haven’t spent much time in Salt Lake City this year, and it can be tough spending so much time away from home.
I’ve had some girlfriends in Salt Lake in past years, but being on the road so much makes having a normal relationship really hard. I might be home a total of 2 months a year, and then when I am home, I’m usually focused on the next trip I’m making and getting ready for it.
But despite the challenges, I’m so thankful of all that the bicycle has given me. It’s a part of my everyday life, and usually the last thing I think about at night and the first thing I think about in the morning.
How do you spend time at home?
When I’m home, my days tend to be pretty chill. I’m usually trying to recover from an event and plan for next one.
I’m close to my parents, and so I spend quite a bit of time just catching up with them. My dad likes his breakfast, so we usually hit up a diner close to my house first thing each day.
I’m pretty strict with my diet when I am on the road, but there are times when I just need to relax and eat. And when I am home with my dad, I do just that.
Watch a video of Kelley goofing off with his dad:
I also spend quite a bit of home time testing my mountain bikes. For example, I made the decision to switch from Alchemy’s normal Arktos to the nine7five mullet bike on some home trails. I’ve ridden the trails around my house enough to really be able to focus on the bike rather than the terrain, and this just makes it easier to make bike decisions.
What do you love about working with Alchemy?
It’s been a nice situation being involved in the development of new models with Alchemy. After I quit racing, my goal is to be involved in some way with product development.
A lot of people have been asking me why I switched over to the nine7five. I really felt at home on that bike right away. The smaller rear wheel allows me to pivot more quickly around obstacles, and be more precise with the rear wheel in rough terrain.
The 27.5 rear wheel also improves acceleration out of corners. The nine7five is slacker than the Arktos 29 and puts my weight more rearward. The EWS tracks these days are pretty steep, and most of the time you need to be off the back!