November 10, 2020

Steve Tilford Foundation Racing

Words - Mitch Wells Photography - Meg McMahon
November 10, 2020
Steve Tilford Foundation Racing
Words - Mitch Wells Photography - Meg McMahon

It could be said that the blood that runs through the veins of MAAP contains equal parts dirt as it does red blood cells, such is our passion for the sport of cyclocross. Supporting teams in their performance pursuits at all levels of racing has been part of our ethos from the start and each season we look for opportunities to make a larger and wider impact.

The Steve Tilford Foundation was created to honour the life and legacy of cyclist Steve Tilford and exists to pay Steve’s passion for cycling forward. A group of riders have banded together to encompass the foundations mission.


While all still being extremely capable of stringing together impressive results on the bike throughout the upcoming mixed terrain racing schedule.

Introducing Steve Tilford Foundation Racing.

Steve Tilford was a pioneer in American cycling, among the early wave of American cyclists to race internationally throughout Europe and South America. Steve was the first U.S. national mountain biking champion in 1983 and went on to win the U.S. National Cyclocross Championships 4 times. He represented the U.S. three times at the UCI World Road Championships and was a seven-time UCI Masters World Champion across multiple disciplines.

The Steve Tilford Foundation was created to honour the life and legacy of cyclist Steve Tilford and exists to pay Steve’s passion for cycling forward.

Steve’s legacy as a brilliant bike racer was perhaps eclipsed by his passion for the sport and his work helping young cyclists improve as both racers and teammates. He gave freely his time at speaking engagements with youth groups, at skills camps with junior cycling teams, at events advocating safety and continuously encouraged the participation of young riders throughout the city of Kansas in the United States.

STF’s mission is to help young people find and chase their passion through the sport of cycling by promoting education and mentorship as well as access to quality cycling opportunities throughout the Midwest.
RACING FOR A PURPOSE.

Steve Tilford
Foundation
Racing Team.

Steve Tilford
Foundation
Racing Team.

Professional Team.

Centred around a multi-surface race schedule throughout the United States and Europe with an emphasis on cyclocross.

Stephen Hyde
Joe Schmalz
Raylyn Nuss

Professional Team.

Centred around a multi-surface race schedule throughout the United States and Europe with an emphasis on cyclocross.

Stephen Hyde
Joe Schmalz
Raylyn Nuss

Development Team.

Two young promising riders, ages 13 and 14 who are looking forward to the years of racing ahead, with the expert guidance from their mentors on both the Elite Masters and Pro teams.

Finn Smith
Liam Ellis

Development Team.

Two young promising riders, ages 13 and 14 who are looking forward to the years of racing ahead, with the expert guidance from their mentors on both the Elite Masters and Pro teams.

Finn Smith
Liam Ellis

Elite Masters Team.

Seven of Steve Tilford’s former teammates and friends, all of which have raced professionally in the past, and are still capable of racing at a professional level. The Elite Masters team will be representing the team on the national master’s level and will be essential in cultivating the next generation of riders on the development team.

Elite Masters Team.

Seven of Steve Tilford’s former teammates and friends, all of which have raced professionally in the past, and are still capable of racing at a professional level. The Elite Masters team will be representing the team on the national master’s level and will be essential in cultivating the next generation of riders on the development team.

To get to know the new team riders and better understand the STF we had a candid chat with the team at their first training camp together.

Joe Schmalz

Tell us about your history with Steve Tilford and the influence you witnessed on the larger cycling community.

Steve was a Friend, Teammate, and Mentor. I first met Steve at a local cyclocross race here in Kansas when I was about 12. It was the first Cyclocross event I had ever attended and after watching him that afternoon I was hooked. I could not think of a better way to be introduced to Cyclocross.

Later that same year Steve came to my junior team banquet as the guest speaker. And boy did he speak! Anyone that knows Steve knows that the man could tell a story. Steve spent the better part of two hours telling stories from all his years in the sport. To say the least, I was fascinated to learn more. The next year I begin to do the occasional group ride with Steve and his “Topeka Crew”. That is when Steve started to see my potential and quickly became one of my biggest advocates.

Fast forward a few years to the age of 17, after many training rides and races together, Steve asked me to join his team which consisted of many of the midwest’s best talent. It was an honour to be asked. To this day, joining that team is one of the best decisions I have made. Without a doubt, I learned 99% of what I know about racing a bike in that time training, racing and travelling across the nation. He taught us not only the tactical components of racing but the mental toughness the sport requires. Steve treated every race like the world championships no matter how big or small the race was.

Now, I’m looking to pay it forward with the same passion and energy Steve had. By developing young athletes and giving them the skills to be successful on and off the bike. By advocating for our sport and creating awareness of the opportunities our sport has to offer for all ages and genders.

Stephen Hyde

3X US Elite National Champ (5 Podiums all in all).

2X Elite Pan American Champion.

2018 US CUP of CX Overall winner.

US Pro CX overall winner.

Stephen Hyde

3X US Elite National Champ (5 Podiums all in all).

2X Elite Pan American Champion.

2018 US CUP of CX Overall winner.

US Pro CX overall winner.

“Stephen can best be described as genuine. He is 100% committed to what he is doing whether it be racing and the sport as a whole or his other passion, “Birding”. Stephen has a passion to see our great sport move forward and help develop and nurture future young athletes.”

- Joe Schmalz

“Stephen can best be described as genuine. He is 100% committed to what he is doing whether it be racing and the sport as a whole or his other passion, “Birding”. Stephen has a passion to see our great sport move forward and help develop and nurture future young athletes.”

- Joe Schmalz

What does racing with the wider Steve Tilford Foundation purpose bring over previous teams where the primary focus is purely on racing and results?

I feel really connected with the calling of the Steve Tilford Foundation. For a long time, I raced for results only. But when I started out racing, it was the opposite. I raced for community and fun, now I have an opportunity to combine all of that. I am lucky in a lot of ways, my experiences have led me here and have prepared me well for the job, I feel. I know what it’s like to race on the world’s stage and I am hungry for more. I am also aware of the human side of the sport and how much of an impact one person can have by making a positive influence on the talent that is coming through the grassroots levels of the sport, which over time has a greater impact on the sport as a whole, more than free product or equipment sponsorship alone.

What makes the STF/MAAP cyclocross team unique?

This team stands out. The first being its namesake and the foundation attached to it. Steve Tilford was a local Kansas man, a bike racer with a huge pedigree but more than that his legacy of compassion and regard for his community tied the area and quite frankly, North America together to some degree. With him gone there’s a void that seems like no one person could fill. So together we try to make an impact. We will be using our racing in all disciplines and at all levels to spread that impact as wide as possible. We aren’t just a racing team, we’re a helping team with a goal to raise the level of not just competition but of cooperation and support.

What does racing with the wider Steve Tilford Foundation purpose bring over previous teams where the primary focus is purely on racing and results?


“I hope that we can change the culture of bike racing. That we can impact the way we all interact on the circuit and build everyone up as we go along instead of taking what we can and moving along. Bike racing, for athletes, doesn’t last forever and it’s important to leave a legacy of respect along with your results.”

- Stephen Hyde

Raylynn Nuss

"Racing for the Steve Tilford Foundation is everything, a true dream. Racing for a purpose. All three of us in the pro team are so passionate about the sport, but we also want the ability to toe the line at races for something more than ourselves. We are able to represent this foundation that means so much to a lot of people and legitimately be able to help nurture the sport of cycling throughout the United States while we chase our dreams. It’s beautiful!"

Raylynn Nuss

"Racing for the Steve Tilford Foundation is everything, a true dream. Racing for a purpose. All three of us in the pro team are so passionate about the sport, but we also want the ability to toe the line at races for something more than ourselves. We are able to represent this foundation that means so much to a lot of people and legitimately be able to help nurture the sport of cycling throughout the United States while we chase our dreams. It’s beautiful!"

Going from a one racer team to the STFR team, what are you most looking forward to this season?

After racing the previous season on my own one rider team, I’m excited to share this new chapter with teammates! Immediately obvious on our first team camp was that we are already more than just teammates and I can tell that having a close-knit family to trust and confide in at races or while on the road will be a huge positive for me.

From day one on the bike with Stephen, he was already giving me tips and tricks to dial certain things in. We knew bringing Stephen on board was going to help with our technical skills and professionalism, but he’s already confirming his other capabilities in both leadership and mentorship. Stephen is just a genuine guy who cares for others more than himself. The guy will literally do anything to help you succeed! As a 3 time U.S. CX National Champion and having spent a ton of time racing in Europe there’s no doubt he’s capable of setting high performance goals and achieving them, but this season he’s setting new personal goals to help accelerate the learning curve for the rest of the team.

Joe also brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the table as he’s raced for some of the top professional road teams here in the U.S. His experience in long events, nutrition, training and overall cycling form will be huge for me and the Devo team to learn from. He has one of the smoothest pedal strokes I’ve ever seen and looks so natural on the bike that just riding with him will make me better. It will be exciting to see Joe that that road experience and focus on the gravel scene and I can’t wait to be there and learn from him.


What performance goals do you have as a team?

This coming CX season has already been disrupted, so we will adapt and get racing as soon as possible with some gravel events thrown in to mix up the race calendar. Long-term our team has its sights set on the 2022 Cyclocross World Championship in Fayetteville, Arkansas. To be able to represent our country on home soil, and show up with a bang on that stage would be the ultimate!

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