Catching Up with Olympic Cyclist Zach Bell

Photo Credit: Jonathan Devich

Zack Bell hit the brakes for long enough to talk to us about his cycling career and some of the new gear that he is running.

Josh Campbell: What has been the biggest moment in your career?
Zach Bell: Definitely doing the Olympics is something that is unlike anything else and competing in London was probably one of my favorites. Especially since I had the whole country behind me was a highlight and a lowlight for me because I kind of underperformed but I can’t play down the significance of it in my career.

JC: What got you into cycling?
ZB: I was a wrestler through high school and university and my dad was an outdoor ed teacher so we always had bikes around and I always did a little bit of mountain biking and training on them. Once I got to the end of my wrestling career, I decided to start making the transition over to another sport and it just sort of happened to be cycling. I originally just wanted to compete recreationally, and it just grew until I found out that I was actually pretty good at it so I decided to take it a bit further and I ended up where I am now.

JC: Who would you say is your cycling hero?
ZB: One of my friends named Svein Tuft is a pretty epic rider. He races hard and he races with a lot of heart and he trains hard. I just really like that style of riding. I’ve been on teams with him and he’s a friend of mine so he’s not really like a hero that I’ve idolized but he is definitely somebody who approaches the sport in a way that I see as very clean, very pure, and very hard.

JC: Have you used the new electronic shifters on your bike?
ZB: I’ve used the electronic shifters for a couple years now but I don’t use them anymore.

JC: What did you think of the electronic shifters?
ZB: They’re great! It’s a different kind of technology and there are plusses and minuses to both. On our team, we’re running the SRAM Red mechanical stuff right now and it’s definitely a different feel. It’s more utilitarian and it just depends on what you want out of your group set. Electronic shifting is like a really high-end car, it will do really well in certain scenarios and so will just a really basic model just depending on what you’re doing. I think they’re both really dependable and I’m curious to see where it goes next. I like the way they clean up the look of the bike because I believe that bikes are an art form and this is giving designers a whole new way of laying them out.

JC: Since you say that bikes are art, what would be your ideal bike?
ZB: I’m a pretty big fan of the clean high-end track bike. They’re just such pure pieces of machinery. It’s just the one cog, everything is fixed gear, the frame and everything is really clean and it’s all about aerodynamics and efficiency. So everything about them is really minimalist but the technology in them is absurd so it’s a neat balance between the two.

JC: What goals do you have for the rest of your season and the rest of your career?
ZB: I’ve been doing it for 10 years now and I think I’m sort of in the stage of my career where I can use my experience and the engine that I’ve built to get results but also to impart that onto some of the younger riders. I’m more and more finding myself in leadership positions on teams and helping guide teams to success has bean really rewarding so far. But I don’t really have any specific goals in mind in terms of like I want to win this race or get this result. For the most part, I just want to be able to add to the success of the team that I’m on.

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