Gavin Hoover QA
Team USA

Get to Know Track Olympian Gavin Hoover

By: Angelina Palermo  September 30, 2021

We recently sat down with 24-year-old Tokyo 2020 Olympian Gavin Hoover to talk about his racing history, the Olympic journey, and what's next for his future in cycling.

How did you get into track racing?

In 2006 the UCI World Championships took place at the Velo Sports Center in Carson, CA. I’d never been to a velodrome, but my Dad was interested in cycling and happened to see a billboard for it driving down the 405 Freeway. I was wandering around the concourse and was approached by a woman asking if I wanted to ride the track. We’d been watching the races for a couple hours, there’d been some crashes and the speed looked crazy… so of course I said I’d love to ride the track! That woman was Olympic Medalist Connie Paraskevin. Through Connie and the Connie Cycling Foundation, the track quickly became a big part of my life and was where I really learned to race and ride a bike. From there it was just a slow progression of racing a little bit more every year, first just racing locally, then traveling for Nationals, and then towards the end of my time as a junior, starting to race internationally with the National Team.

How did it feel to be nominated to the U.S. Olympic Team?

In the moment it was a bit underwhelming, I was out riding when I got the call and rushed through the call pretty quickly so I could get back to my session. It took a while to set in. Once it did, I’d say the primary feeling was gratitude. It took so many people helping and supporting the dream I’ve had since I was a kid to make it happen. Personally, it was the culmination of so much time and effort put in training and working and it felt pretty special to have that all pay off. But it really felt like more of a testament to everyone that helped me make my dream a reality.

How was the Olympic experience for you?

The Olympics were crazy. There’s really just no other way to describe it. Obviously with COVID, the Games experience was a little limited, and in many ways it felt like just another bike race. It did feel a little more intimate and focused. Really getting to experience it with everyone on the team that I’d spent the better part of a year working with is something that felt a little unique to this cycle and was super special. But seeing the work everyone else put in to be there and knowing what I did in the build-up to be ready really made it feel like it was the best in the world, at their best, gathered in one place and ready to compete. It felt like the ultimate celebration of sport. I loved that aspect of it and just having the opportunity to go out on the track and compete was by far my favorite part.

You seem to vary your training between the road, track, and dirt. Why is variety in your training important?

I’ve found a good mix really helps everything come together on the track. On the endurance side of track racing the road is so necessary to build a good endurance base and then use the track to sharpen up with some high intensity work right before racing. The dirt has been a relatively new thing for me but I’ve found it’s a great way to practice skills and the technical side when there hasn’t been a lot of racing. Especially after the Games, a little bit of variety has also helped me to keep having fun on my bike and enjoying getting out everyday. The build up was so focused and we spent so much time riding on ergos and doing very specific track sessions. It’s been a nice change of pace to be able to get out and ride around in the Colorado mountains on some thicker tires.

What are your plans for the rest of the year and 2022?

The World Championships is a big goal and I’m excited to get to race some of the other mass start events besides the Omnium. I’ve been keen to have a crack at a World title in the stand alone Scratch and Points races for a couple years so to have the opportunity now is super motivating. With my crash in the Madison at the Olympics and the problems that caused with my wrist, the build-up has been tricky to manage. I think we’re in a good place and I can’t wait to go racing again.

After that I’m hoping to race the new UCI Champions League in Europe this winter and rack up as much high level race experience as I can with some Grand Prixs and hopefully a couple 6 Days depending on the COVID situation. As far as 2022 goes, I’m not too sure. I’d like to get back to racing on the road in a meaningful way, whether that’s in Europe or in the US. I’m talking to a few people about what that might look like, but it’s still very up in the air. Off the bike I’m excited to finish up the undergrad I put on hold for the Olympics.

What are your major goals for the next few years? Is Paris 2024 on your radar?

Having the last two seasons taken away with COVID has made me realize how much I love racing my bike and how much I’ve missed it. So honestly the biggest goal for the next couple years is to race as much as possible. Also being in a training group with the women’s endurance track squad and realizing you’re the only one without a world title starts to sting a little, so I’d really like to target the World Championships for the next few seasons and give myself as many opportunities to earn some rainbow bands. Paris 2024 is definitely the event that’s guiding a lot of my thinking on the next few years. Having just done Tokyo 2020 and realizing how special the Olympics are, I’d love to go back feeling like I have real potential to get a medal in the Omnium. That’s where everything is focused for me moving forward.