In a recent interview with TASCO MTB rider Jeff Lenosky, TASCO Founder Nate Miller sat down and discussed Jeff's 30+ year career in mountain biking, from racing BMX and trials, to exploring trails all over the world as a professional lifestyle athlete. He shared insights into his journey, including how he started in the sport and his evolution as an athlete, coach, and brand rider. Lenosky's experience has earned him the title "Trail Boss," and he has continued to make an impact on the mountain bike community through his coaching group. The interview will dive deeper into who Lenosky is as an athlete and as a person, exploring his contributions to the sport and the community.
Nate: So Jeff, how many years have you been riding, and what was your first bike?
Jeff: I have been riding bikes for a really really long time... I think I've actually been mountain biking probably for over 30 years. I grew up riding BMX and skating, so when mountain bikes first got popular, they just looked like a big BMX bike to me.
In my Junior/Senior years of high school, I was way into skating but always into individual action types of sports. I got my first mountain bike and it was pretty much like a dumpster dive mountain bike that my friend gave me. And from there I started to fall in love with the sport and got a summer job at my local bike shop and used that money to buy my first mountain bike, which was a GT Karakoram.
Nate: When did you begin your professional career as a rider?
Jeff: I'm going on a 25-year professional career.
Nate: So let’s shift over to trials riding, what launched that part of your professional career? Because I know that's where I know you from back in the day in the New World Disorder movies.
Jeff: Yeah, when I first started out, I did everything, and pretty much throughout my whole career, I've done all types of riding. But I was just known as a trial guy. So I used to race downhill, cross country, and do trials. Those were like the three disciplines when you go to an event back then, but I was always just best at trials. So, actually, I first got sponsored by Schwinn. Schwinn sponsored me for both trials and downhill racing. But then I'd go to these races and I'd place 20th or 30th in downhill and be on the podium consistently in trials. And basically, it got to the point where I just didn't feel like traveling with two bikes to get 30th place.
So, I started having the dialogue discussing me focusing my efforts more on trials. They were at opposite ends of disciplines, one is going super slow and riding over technical stuff and the other one is going super fast. So I just decided to focus more on trials. But throughout the 30+ years of riding, I've always been trail riding, downhill riding, all types of riding...it's just that I just have been, you know, as more of a trials guy.
Nate: How did you start riding for the different video series you were apart of?
Jeff: I've watched myself evolve as a mountain bike guy through being in videos. The first one I ever did was pretty trials focused and then it started to evolve into things like mountain biking, street trials, urban trials, street trials, all that kind of stuff.
3 Main Video Series:
- Started in 2000. First Series: Trials video series. Working with a local videographer called “Keeping it Real.”
- Chain Reaction Series. It was a CR film. The first was an East Coast Series.
- New World Disorder Video Series. It was a global production and I filmed for Alan Schwinn, probably in 2000. I filmed for eight of those, I went from 2000 to 2007/2008.
- Created my own series “Trail Boss” focused on enduro racing and trail riding. Traveling around riding trails and doing demos. I started recording, the trails became the story. That was the reason why I decided to do a series of riding those technical trails. So that's how that came about.
Nate: Trail Boss - where did that name come from?
Jeff: The name for the series “Trail Boss” was brought up by the guys from Giant. I was thinking “Trail Tamers” or something lame in hindsight. But I wanted the video series to be kind of about shredding a little bit. But also like intel like “Hey if you ever go ride this trail, here is what to expect.” I wanted something that was aspirational, but also showcased how to do it. And the videos were like 4-5 minutes back then, because I was thinking more in terms of just having the good stuff there right away without the fluff.
Nate: We are stoked on how the Trail Boss gloves came out!
Jeff: Yes sir. So fun to do our first glove collab together, they came out great!
TASCO: So that's been going for a few years and now it's spun into more, right? The Trail Boss Academy. Tell me a little bit about that.
Jeff: Well, I have a degree in Movement and Sport Studies. From the YouTube channel, people started asking for private coaching and lessons, and then people were interested in working with me… so I started Trail Boss Academy, which is a higher-end, boutique-type coaching business. It's Intermediate to Advanced coaching, so we don't do a lot of beginner stuff. I love riding with beginners, but there are tons and tons and tons of coaches that can do that. I usually try to work with intermediate to advanced riders.
Nate: You're across the country with Trail Boss Academy, right? You've got a few different people working with you now?
Jeff: Yes, I have my friend Lance Trappe, who is one of my oldest riding buddies, he's from Florida. We have Max Mitchell who is also a TASCO rider and he's in California. I post my schedule so people can see where I'm at. It's not uncommon for me to be traveling and do a private lesson and then we do the big group clinics as well.
Nate: What would you say yourfavorite place is that you've ever ridden?
Jeff: I think easily at the top are Sedona and Moab, these are my clear two favorite places to ride just because it's first of all, it's so scenic, but mainly it's a lot of feature riding which I love doing.
My other favorite place is Pisgah National Forest down in North Carolina. This is really similar to where I live in New Jersey, it's just bigger. But it doesn't compare visually to Sedona or Moab and you don't get big, giant rock slabs. You can't compare Sedona and Moab for all that kind of stuff with insane traction and beautiful views, and everything.
Nate: What’s on your bucket list? A location that you haven’t done yet?
Jeff: Yeah, I want to spend extensive time in the Pacific Northwest. I've only scratched the surface of Bellingham, Washington. Squamish area, I rode there a tiny bit but only scratched the surface.
Nate: Where do you see Jeff, and Trail Boss Academy in the next 5 years?
Jeff: I'm trying to grow the Trail Boss Academy. I have two really good coaches right now. It would be cool to have maybe half a dozen. I don't want to grow too big because I do want it to be a high-quality coaching experience for people. As I said, there are tons and tons of coaches out there that do lots of clinics and stuff.
I really want to try to keep them small and intimate so that the riders get a certain level of care when they come to the event and they know that they're riding with coaches that are really good and can communicate to them what they need to do to improve their riding, but also are capable of demonstrating that high-level of riding.
Nate: Flash forward to today, tell me about the bikes you are riding now?
Jeff: So I started on a GT, then moved on to Schwinn Bikes. After that I rode for Giant Bikes. I am currently riding for Reeb Cycles based out in Colorado. I have three bikes in my quiver at the moment, The Redikyelous (designed by me!), the Steezl, and the SST.
Nate: We’ve been talking for a few years about you riding for TASCO, and it has finally happened!!! We are stoked to have you onboard, what are you most excited about in our partnership?
Jeff: TASCO felt like a family. Nate, you and I had a friendship before my sponsorship at TASCO. I really enjoy the fact that TASCO is a smaller brand and is willing to hear my feedback and also work with me on color-ways and design. Your products are good and at a good price… the product speaks for itself.
Nate: OK, let's dig in a little bit and have some fun with this questions...What is the least known, most interesting thing about Jeff Lenosky?
Jeff: Oh… I love singing in the car. I've never sung live but I love singing in the car. I like to think that I'm a good singer. I'm definitely that guy if a song comes on and I'm singing and somebody starts talking like, I either have to start the song over or, you just wait… I'm not stopping in the song.
So, to my friends that drive in the car with me that's very well known, but to somebody that doesn't know me... it's very unknown.
Nate: Haha, remind me not to do any long road trips with you!! What kind of songs do you like? What's your favorite genre?
Jeff: It could be, it could be anything from, I mean, the number one thing would be counting crows or Radiohead. something depressing, but it runs a gamut from Lana del Rey to old-school rap to anything. It could be anything.
Nate: Awesome Jeff, this has been super fun getting to know you a little better. Thanks for taking the time to sit down with me today. Have a great evening, and I look forward to catching up with you again next month at the Bentonville Bike Festival over Memorial day weekend.
Follow Jeff on his social platforms!