ACTIVIST PROFILE: CHRIS TOLLEY – BOSTON

Name: Chris Tolley
Hometown: Los Angeles, California
Current town: Boston, Massachusetts
instagram / tolleyalways.com

ORONTAS: What’s your day job?

CHRIS TOLLEY: I currently work for Barneys New York in Boston, in the Men’s Designer department. It’s actually a pretty fun gig as I’ve been interested in fashion for six or seven years now. If I could do anything though, I’d want to be behind a camera. I’ve been filming BMX for years and really want to branch out into non-cycling related projects, however I wouldn’t be opposed to making films like the Rapha Continental…

O: What does a typical day consist of?

CT: I wake up around seven a.m. and drink as much coffee as I possibly can. I’ll take the road bike for 20-40 miles if I’m scheduled to work in the afternoon. If I work early in the day, I’ll ride BMX afterward and film short edits I like to make for fun. My days off consist of riding from sunup to sundown. It’s all I want to do.

O: Do you commute by bike?

CT: Everyday. I think I’ve taken public transit to work three times. I hate the transit system here and I’d rather pack my clothes for the work day and get drenched in the rain than take the MBTA. My commute is the only mileage I get to put in some days, so I’ll take it regardless of the weather.

O: What do you ride? What’s your dream bike?

CT: I have five! I ride a 2008 Look 585 for road, 2000 Guerciotti track for commuting, S&M ATF for BMX, EAI Bareknuckle for track racing, and I just bought a Soma Double Cross frame for my first CX season. Dream bike is definitely a custom titanium Firefly with Di2. Firefly’s quality and attention to detail is incredible.

O: How would you describe the bike scene in Boston?

CT: It’s huge! We see more and more people commuting by bike each year, and new bike lanes are popping up everywhere. We have companies like Geekhouse, Firefly, Seven, Royal H and IMSHI (teammate’s frame company) calling Boston their home. Combine that with unparalleled cross and road racing seasons and Boston is one hell of a town for cycling.

O: What is Team Stampede all about? How long have you been riding with them?

CT: Stampede is simply about having fun. We definitely race hard and have a lot of good time doing it. We’ve got a good amount of Boston based companies behind us as well, so we have a lot of local support. I’ve been on the team for about two years but I’ve only recently started racing. I never even thought about seriously racing before I joined Stampede, but a couple passionate teammates saw some potential and pushed me into. Now I can’t get enough of it!

O: What sorts of races are you involved in?

CT: I primarily race road, but I am looking forward to cyclocross season. I started my road season back in May as Cat 5, but fortunately managed to win all my races, which has allowed me to upgrade to Cat 3. I’m hoping to keep my lucky streak alive in 2015, but we’ll see! I raced the Red Hook criterium this past March and I’m looking to participate in similar races, like the Wolfpack Hustle Series, next year.

O: Do you have any goals/dreams for your racing career?

CT: I have my eyes set on upgrading to Cat 1 in cyclo-cross and road by 2016. Completing the full Red Hook Criterium series (Milan, Barcelona, Brooklyn) would be a dream as well, considering I’ve only competed in the Brooklyn race. I ultimately just want to travel with my bike.

O: Where is your favourite place to ride?

CT: I went to the French Alps for two weeks in 2013 with some Stampede teammates for the tour’s 100th anniversary. We stayed on the fifth switchback up Alp D’Huez. I had never ridden a mountain range before, let alone hit 21 hairpins on a decent at +50mph, so it was a completely new cycling experience. The trip opened my eyes to all the places my bike can take me and now I all I want to do is take on a different mountain range each year.

O: How did you first get into cycling?

CT: It was, oddly enough, due to blowing out both my ACLs and four menisci after 10 years of riding BMX. My doctor told me I needed to strengthen my legs after surgery so I picked up a Specialized Langster single speed from a friend. It was a totally different experience than BMX and I found it really calming. 6 years later and I’m still at it, legs stronger than ever!

O: Do you listen to music when you ride? If so, what are some of your favorite bands for cycling?

CT: I’m always perusing the internet for new music to listen to while I ride. I think the best way to listen to a new album or band is to have 75 miles of open road in front of you. That being said, I’m pretty fond of electronic and metal when riding. Justice, Gesaffelstein, Vitalic, Black Dahlia Murder, and Slayer get looped quite a bit.

O: What’s the most challenging cycling experience you’ve had so far?

CT: Ugh! Mt. Evans was by far the most difficult ride I’ve ever endured. I only spent about two day acclimating to the 5,200ft of elevation difference, but it was a jam-packed trip and had to make the most of my time in Denver. Mt. Evans is the highest paved road in the country and I’ve wanted to summit it for a while now, but I didn’t expect the elevation difference to be so taxing. I was about half a mile before the summit and I nearly gave up. I switched into my bail out gear and nearly fainted trying on the last switchback, but the view was worth it!

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