Julbo Athlete Chris Mehlman Comes in 99th Place at MTB World Championships

99th-Place and Life Lessons At Marathon MTB World Championships

Even a year ago, the idea of racing the UCI Marathon MTB World Championships would have been a far-fetched fantasy for Julbo ambassador Chris Mehlman, a college student who works and races on the side. The dream, however, became a reality this year when he was selected by USA Cycling to travel to Haderslev, Denmark, for the race in mid-September.

In the days leading up to the event, wearing the Team USA jersey felt surreal. A few days before the race, I encountered a group of Danish junior mountain bikers on a weekend ride with their coach and joined them for a bit.

Their excitement came as a bit of a surprise; I even told them, “Wait a few days until the big hitters are here!” I realized, however, that I would have felt the same excitement at seeing a Danish national team jersey riding in the U.S. when I was a junior—I would have been in awe, and the realization that I was inspiring to them—even slightly—felt very fulfilling. This moment stood out as one of the most memorable of the trip.

Prior to the race, the U.S. team enjoyed rides and laughs together. Riding with the likes of Lea Davison and Lauren Stephens as teammates is something I have dreamed of. All successful teams train together, and as much as helping each other perfect lines is important, the conversations and new connections helped get me in the right mindset for the race. They’ll also stick with me long after the specific memories of the race fade.

The race itself was fast—almost 16 miles per hour. Along with half of the U.S. men, I started on the last row in about 140th position. While such a position might have previously negatively impacted my mental state, it left me with no pressure in this case: I knew I could only move up from that starting spot.

My patience in the hectic city-center start paid off as I began to pick off riders one-by-one. Catching riders in the colors of Great Britain, France, Germany and various other countries was surreal. Even during the race, it felt like a dream. After 4 hours and 49 minutes of racing, I finished in 99th place. The number is nothing special but making it into the top 100 after a last-row start is something I am proud of.

Even more special was getting to enjoy the event with my American teammates and family, as well as experiencing the Danish countryside and connecting with riders from all over the world. Cycling is something that—despite our different cultures—we all have in common.


"I chose the Fury with REACTIV 1-3 Light Amplifier lens because of the forest terrain. It was very dark in the woods in places (even more than where I am from in New England). Because we were switching between bright, open fields and these dark forests, the REACTIV lenses were crucial to see all the roots and intricacies of the trail clearly in the morning light."

"Luckily, I brought a few pairs: one of my teammates only had regular sunglasses and quickly realized he needed something more suited to the lighting. The REACTIV lenses came in handy on race day for him as well!"


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Follow Chris's racing on his Instagram: @cmehlman34