STF Racing

Racing For a Purpose

By: Julie Goldsticker  January 24, 2022

A look inside the Steve Tilford Foundation Racing Team.

Launched in November of 2020, the Steve Tilford Foundation was created to honor the life and legacy of the late, great cyclist Steve Tilford. A versatile rider and pioneer in the sport of cycling, Tilford represented the United States at the Elite World Championships in cyclocross, mountain bike, and road.

The seven-time Masters World Champion and member of the Mountain Bike Hall of Fame, is remembered for far more than his sheer results and accomplishments. An intense advocate for the sport and its growth in the United States, he is beloved for his work in the cycling community, giving freely of his time to young riders, skills camps and events advocating for safety in cycling.

“Steve had a really large breath of influence. He got into his local communities where he was racing. The energy and commitment that he put into the communities that he raced in were the basis for the foundation itself. The foundation’s mission is to help bolster the cycling community as a whole and in Kansas,” said Steve Tilford Foundation Racing athlete Stephen Hyde.

The Foundation extended their reach by creating the Steve Tilford Foundation (STF) Racing Team. 2021 Pan-American Continental Champion Raylyn Nuss, three-time USA Cycling Cyclocross National Champion Stephen Hyde and former road cyclist Joseph Schmalz make up the elite squad. In addition to the elite riders, the Steve Tilford Foundation added both a development program and a masters team, filled primarily by Tilford’s friends.

Hyde was approached to join the team in 2020 and it came at a perfect time for the experienced cyclocross veteran. His former team didn’t offer a contract renewal for a sixth season and he was left to figure out what was next in his own career while a pandemic enveloped the world. “I was in limbo. I had started a coaching career in lieu of any type of team prospects. They wanted me to join forces with the foundation and create an elite and development program that linked with the foundation,” he said.

When Hyde learned about the full vision of the Steve Tilford Foundation team, it brought him back to why he first started cycling.

“The idea of development and helping to foster cycling communities is what got me in to the sport in the first place. Being part of something bigger than just racing always drove me. When they came to me with the idea that this was a team that not only had high performance goals but was also looking to help benefit the greater community, it was really appealing to me,” said Hyde.

When he looks back on the challenges they faced to even get to the first starting line in August of 2021, he’s so proud of his team. “The first and largest accomplishment is even being here. It’s towing the first start line. It was a long and bumpy road. We started this journey during the pandemic, in a year where we didn’t even race cyclocross, where we couldn’t be present with anybody. It kind of felt like it would never actually come to fruition. It was such a big accomplishment,” Hyde added.

When the STF racing team was created, they targeted the upcoming 2022 Walmart UCI Cyclocross World Championships happening here on American soil as a goal for their elite team. Nuss achieved that goal, qualifying for the elite international event in the culmination of the team’s first competitive season.

As they close out the season with Nuss making her World Championships debut, Hyde is incredibly impressed with what his teammate has accomplished so quickly. “Raylyn has made absolutely tremendous progress. This is a time for a very steep learning curve and she’s been out of the frying pan and into the fire. From her first podiums to her first wins, first World Championships, first World Cups over in Europe. It’s a big year of firsts and certainly a lot to take on,” said the cyclocross veteran.

Hyde has high hopes for next season and they aren’t solely focused on times and podium finishes. “My personal goals for the team would be to do more outreach, to set more plans in to motion. I think the next step is to create more programs. From the beginning, this team has been an elite team with a focus on development. The first step was to get to the races and race ourselves. The next step is to create that environment to develop more riders so that’s going to be a big one on our list,” said Hyde.

There’s still business left in the current season as Nuss finalizes preparations for the World Championships in Fayetteville, Ark. this week. As a multi-time Cyclocross World Championship competitor himself, Hyde is happy to give Nuss the benefit of his extensive experience in the event. My advice to her is to remember to be a participant in the race and not let the race happen to her,” Hyde said.

The three-time national champion completed his final race at the 2021 USA Cycling Cyclocross National Championships in December, proudly representing the Steve Tilford Foundation racing team. Hyde officially announced his retirement on January 24, but his time in cycling and impact on the sport is far from complete. Hyde’s teammate looks forward to seeing what he tackles next. “I have learned so much from him over this past year. I can’t wait to watch Stephen grow in this next chapter of his life,” Nuss said.

He will get the opportunity to support his teammate, as well as the United States team, at the World Championships as a member of USA Cycling’s coaching staff. In addition, the Steve Tilford Foundation racing team will boast two representatives at the 2022 World Championships in their first competitive season.

Hyde is excited to see the continued growth of cyclocross as the United States sends its largest ever delegation, 38 riders, to the World Championships. He and everyone at the Steve Tilford Foundation will continue to work diligently to continue the legacy of their namesake and grow the sport at every level.

At the request of Steve’s family, USA Cycling has created the Steve Tilford Memorial Fund to support USA Cycling’s anti-doping efforts. Programs which encourage juniors to appreciate and respect the benefits and ideals of fair competition, and fully understand the risks and downsides to doping, have been a key area of focus.