Tim Rutledge (on left in photo above) has been on the cycling scene for over thirty years, was one of the first Americans to race the Giro dItalia and is a pioneer of American cyclo-cross. Today Tim oversees the development of Redline cyclo-cross bikes as well as directing the companys racing team.
How did you discover Cyclo-cross and what drew you to it as a cycling discipline?
My friend Alan Hills, who was my running partner, told me about it and invited me out to try it. I loved ridding trails in my neighborhood park, so it seemed like a good fit. I did my first race, and it was traumatic, hurt like hell, and I suckedI was hooked!
I am drawn to the sport because it is pure and simple. By this I mean anyone can come and race on any bike and your ability wins the race. Thats not to say there are not tactics, but the smartest and strongest individual will likely win. Lastly, no one gets dropped, and everyone deals with the weather, and course, a shared experience. This misery loves company is a great unifying force that brings cross racers together more than other cycling disciplines.
You were one of the first people to organize and promote cyclocross races in the States. What were those first races like?
I can speak about Oregon in 1973-81. I was crazy enough to organize a 7 race seriesThe Portland Metro Series with Robert Bragg. Others promoted separate raceslike Trip Allen, Jerry Baker, Ernie Drapella, and clubs like the Rose City Wheelman, Salem bike Club, Eugene and Corvallis clubs.
It was a lot of work, but satisfying to see people embrace the sport. I had the best courses ever because I had help from the Portland Cycling and Pedestrian programs and they helped me secure gorgeous Portland Parks. Sure only 50 people were racing, but it was a blast. Everyone really helped and was super. Robert Bragg really had a great passion for the sport and shared my vision for what the sport could be like.
You have been key in the development of the Redline cross bikes. What was different about the first Redlines compared to other bikes on the market at the time?
Our lightweight TIG welded 7005 aluminum fork was critical, along with a geometry that was not as steep in the headtube angle, allowing better handling when descending. The existing top Cross bikes in 1990-93 had issues with the forks toobeing constructed of cromoly steel, (too heavy) or were bonded aluminum (very prone to brake chatter.)
What about todays Redlines?
Between our racing and design team we constantly strive to make a better frameset. This year we have some of our best framesets ever the best mud clearances, bottom bracket height, rear end length, these are all areas we feel strongly about and where we have made meaningful progress. We evolve our designs with the changes (UCI rules, tire widths, courses) in the sport of Cyclo-cross.
What is on the horizon for Redline bikes?
Disc brakes, DI2, new gearing combos, exploring new materials, we see all of these as exciting developments in the sport and we are geared to stay current.
You have been witness to over 30-years of Cyclo-cross in the states. What does the future hold?
I see High School Cross racinggreat for kids riding, out on a cross circuit having fun racing. I see the United States becoming the dominant force in the sport by shear numbers and quality that we have grown for years. Beyond Worlds in Louisville, I see a World Cup race or two, and Cross racing televised live here becoming bigger than NASCAR. When average Americans really see how terrific the sport is, they will go crazy for it. For sheer mud, blood, speed, drama, and excitement, there is nothing like the sport of Cyclo-cross.