MARCH 2016 / MOUNTAIN BIKE ACTION 133
Howard Grotts is not your average mountain biker. Now 22, he’s been riding bikes since he was 3 years
old. He grew up in Durango, Colorado,
and started racing when he was 7. He
earned his first national title while racing
cross-country in the 15–16 Junior ranks.
He kept winning titles all the way through
Durango’s famous Fort Lewis College,
where he raced in the intercollegiate division. Last summer Grotts earned his 10th
national title, but his first in the pro ranks,
winning USA Cycling’s Elite Men’s Cross-Country National Championship.
Though Grotts is only 5-foot- 7 and 128
pounds, he is a powerhouse on a bike. Last
spring he raced the Pro Men’s cross-country race at the Sea Otter Classic against a
field of international talent. He sprinted to
the finish line of the 34-mile race about a
quarter of a second behind Switzerland’s
Nino Schurter, the three-time world champion, earning second place in one of the
biggest events of the year.
Grotts is far from lazy in his approach to
anything. He graduated summa cum laude
(highest honors) from Fort Lewis College,
with a 4.0 grade-point average. Despite
his academic accomplishments, Grotts
lives more like a lumberjack than what you
might expect from a math wizard. Howard
and his mom live in a 1200-square-foot log
cabin in the woods of Durango. When the
racing season ends, Howard starts sawing
down trees and turning them into firewood
to heat their cabin through the long, cold
winter. They need three to four cords of
wood to get through the winter. That works
out to be a pile of wood that is 4 feet wide,
32 feet long and 3–4 feet high.
It might be early to make predictions,
but we expect we’ll be seeing a lot more of
Howard Grotts in the years to come. Next
summer, when the National Championships
roll around again, Howard will likely be at
the front, sporting the big number one on
his plate. If he wins next year, he’ll have
a total of 11 national titles to his name.
Grotts does not like to lose when a national
championship is at stake. The way things
Where did you grow up?
Born and raised in Durango, Colorado.
What kind of work do your
When did you first learn to ride
I was 3 years old.
Who taught you?
Gravity. I fell more than once learning
to ride, like everyone does. But the actual
moment of learning to ride a bike was on
a very slight decline on the lane by our
house, and, just like that, I was balancing
and knew how to ride!
When did you get your first
I was 7 years old; [it was] a bright pink
and yellow Schwinn with gears!
When did you start competing on
My dad, brother and I would drive to
local Four Corners Cup races. I started
doing the kid’s races when I was about 7.
How did you finish in your first race?
I probably got lost.
Did you win any titles as an
amateur? If so, which ones?
National Championships: 2009 15–16
Junior XC; 2010 15–18 Junior STXC; 2011
17–18 Junior XC; 2011 15–18 Junior
STXC; 2010 NCAA Division II XC/STXC;
2011 NCAA Division I, XC; 2012 NCAA
Division I XC; 2013 NCAA Division I Road
What have been your best results
as a pro?
2014 U23 World Championships, 3rd;
2015 U23 World Cup Overall, 3rd; 2015
Elite National Champion.
What awards did you win in school,
FLC Cycling Team MVP.
What other sports have you done?
I haven’t really competed in other sports,
but I like running and hiking adventures in
Name: Howard Grotts
Birthdate: January 12th, 1993
Birthplace: Durango, Colorado
Height: 5-foot- 7
Weight: 128 pounds
Shoe size: 41
Helmet size: Small
Waist: 28 inches
Marital status: Single
Current home: Durango, Colorado
House: Log cabin in the woods
Cars: 1996 Toyota Tacoma
Started racing: Four Corners Cup kids’
races, around 8 years old
Turned pro: 2012
Racing specialty: High altitude and/or races
with lots of climbing
Favorite course (North America): Missoula
Favorite course (Europe): Nove Mesto
World Cup, Czech Republic
Favorite food: Chocolate anything
Goals: Earn a spot with Team USA on the
2016 Olympic XC-MTB team and otherwise
just keep seeing where a bike can take me
Heroes: People who have a passion
Favorite authors and books: As a kid, and
even now, J.K.Rowling would be my favorite
fiction author, and I enjoy the nonfiction that
Jon Krakauer writes. Most recently, I’ve read
A River Runs Through It by Norman Maclean
and This Blinding Absence of Light by Tahar
Favorite hobbies: Hiking and adventures in
Jobs held (other than racer): Volunteer
with the Durango DEVO MTB development
Embarrassing moment: Electrically shorting
a hotel floor when my USA/European plug
adapter came apart.
Always takes on a trip: A good book
What you would be if you were not a
racer: Math teacher or, more romantically,
traveling around the world having grand
The Grotts Q&A
Is there some other interesting fact
or trivia that people might
like to know about you?
After training rides, I like hiking down
the creek by my house and building rock
sculptures. One was around 8 feet tall
before it toppled spectacularly. Rosie, my
Chihuahua, knows to keep her distance
when I do dumb things like that.
In the winter, most of the heat comes
from a wood stove. So, as soon as racing stops, I start sawing down trees and
splitting them up for a firewood supply. It
takes something like 3–4 cords of wood,
depending on how bad the winter is.” ❏
are going, he’ll probably be in the Olympics
next summer. Maybe he can pass Nino
Schurter there. We’ll have to wait and see.