PRESCOTT — As Rio-bound mountain biker Chloe Woodruff prepares for the Olympics she’s preparing to ride on locally engineered equipment custom-painted and fit just for her.
Woodruff, 29, who was selected to compete in mountain biking for Team USA, is sponsored by Tempe-based Pivot Cycles who sends her frames and bike parts fit for an Olympian, including a frame just for Rio.
“We are super excited about supporting an Arizona athlete as our first Olympian,” Pivot’s marketing manager Carla McCord said. “She’s a local girl and we’re psyched to support a local racer.”
Long-time mountain bike designer and rider Chris Cocalis founded Pivot in 2007 with the idea of creating a bike company that was technologically driven. Cocalis left his former brand of Titus to start up Pivot, which manufactures its bikes in Tempe and ships all over the state.
“He’s one of the secret leaders in the industry,” McCord said.
Cocalis was one of the first engineers to make Pivot mountain bikes with fully integrated electronic shifting.
“We’re driven by pursuing whatever it takes to make a bike the very best bike it can be,” McCord said. “The best bikes are the most fun, and if we can make it so that you have more fun on a trail, then that is how we measure our success.”
Woodruff rides with the dual partnership sponsor Stan’s NoTubes-Pivot to ensure the best equipment is being used before major races, she said. Stan’s NoTubes, based in New York, makes mountain bike wheels, tires and tubeless accessories.
Woodruff, at 5-feet-2-inches tall, said she is comfortable on a Pivot bike that is made specifically for someone of her stature. Their engineers design frames ranging from extra small to extra large so riders don’t have to compromise their equipment.
“Pivot has a really great line of bikes and on all of those bikes, they have really great sizing options,” said TJ Woodruff, Chloe’s husband and coach. “There was no struggle with getting the right fit for Chloe. It’s pretty unique, and that’s not always the case with every bike manufacturer.”
In the mountain biking world, mechanics of the bike are just as important as the riding itself.
“The equipment is a major part of it,” Chloe said. “Almost every rider knows how to build her own bike.”
The company offers bikes similar to Chloe’s ranging from $3,499 to $8,199, with hers meeting the top of that range.
Pivot’s high-quality engineering was not the only reason Chloe joined with the company. She also said she appreciated Pivot’s engagement in the closely-knit racing community, especially in Prescott.
“Pivot has been a great fit because they’ve got a big interest in what we are doing in the racing front and we have a big interest in what they’re doing in the engineering, the research and development and how they give back to the community,” she said.
As mountain biking grows in northern Arizona, racers and companies are looking for ways to reach out to young riders eager to get their racing careers in gear.
“So much of what motivates us is seeing a future in the sport and seeing people discover mountain biking,” said TJ, who runs an under-23 development team up north to motivate young people to race.
“We’ve gained a lot from this sport and it’s a lifestyle that we are fortunate to be a part of and to make the most of,” he said.
Pivot is one of several founding sponsors of the Arizona High School Cycling League and also sponsors local racing series such as Epic Rides’ Whiskey Off-Road in Prescott, a race Chloe competes in every year.
“Chloe is really methodical and thoughtful in her approach to racing and we really believe that she is a big part of the future of women’s mountain biking in the U.S.,” McCord said.
Woodruff will be the first U.S. Olympian to use a Pivot bike in the Olympics.
As TJ builds the custom-painted Pivot bike, he is focusing on tuning the suspension, the position and tires of the bike to make sure it is fit for the Rio track.
“When I’m putting together a new bike, I want to be meticulous on all the little details to set it up,” he said. “So when she goes from the previous bike she was racing on to the new one, it’ll be a seamless transition for her so she will be well prepared and ready to do her thing without the bike getting in the way.”
Chloe’s bike, the Pivot LES, is designed to do everything she will be doing on the Rio race course, which was man made for the games in August.
Chloe was able to see the track during the World Cup and get a close look at the terrain, which she said is similar to the dirt she rides on in Prescott.
USA Cycling staffs and supports riders, which creates an opportunity for TJ to support Chloe in her first games.
The International Olympic Committee and United States Olympic Committee have specific regulations on company logos on sports equipment, so Pivot’s designers felt it would be important to send Woodruff to Rio with a custom paint job that has fewer graphics, McCord said.
Woodruff’s bike is black and blue with a matte finish, a look that matches Woodruff’s red, white and blue Team USA kit.
“We are incredibly proud to be sending an Arizona bike with an Arizona athlete to Rio,” Cocalis said. “What could be better?”
Photos by Alexander Caprariello/Cronkite News