Nov 29, 2022

Alexey and Willie at Iceman

Pay Attention!

Most cyclists have an origin story for why they ride. Who got them into it, who inspired them to try harder, what the freedom of two wheels means to them. Alexey Vermeulen is no different than the rest of us. Even elite athletes needed a helping hand when starting out. 

“I started racing because of my Opa who had raced bikes in Holland before immigrating to Canada after WWII. I vividly remember rides with him and my dad where I was completely exhausted, barely pedaling anymore, and he would ‘motivate’ me home.” We’ve all felt the reassuring hand of one of our riding buddies on our backs at some point in our cycling. Those times when you just can’t pedal anymore; that’s when friendship and community in cycling really shines through.

Photo @avery_stumm

Sense of community

Being part of something that is bigger than yourself. It’s the sort of thing that has guided Alexey while navigating his pro career, first in Europe with Team LottoNL-Jumbo and now as a multi-discipline rider in America mountain bike racing on his Factor LANDO. He’s raced the big events on a big team in Europe. But he’s gravitated back to racing for the joy of it, as well as the results. 

Something that is hard to maintain in the European professional peloton is a sense of identity and a feeling that you are making a difference. Working for your teammates is fine but being a cog in an invisible machine doesn’t leave much space to inspire and encourage others outside the sport, or even the team. “In a WorldTour team, there’s not much room to be an individual, you are part of a team. After two years in the WorldTour there were so many things that I aspired to do, but a lot of my dreams weren’t on the bike.” Alexey explained. “At the end of the day, I felt that I had to move back to the US and work on making that positive impact.”

One of his major recent contributions is the From the Ground Up project that he and fellow pro-mountain biker Ryan Petry initiated. They invite three people who are new to cycling and help to get them ready to ride the Leadville 100. The goal is not to turn the riders into racing machines, but rather to introduce them to the joy of riding bikes with a welcoming community around you. 

Photo @avery_stumm

With the influx of new people riding bikes thanks to the pandemic, it’s important to Alexey that everyone feels welcome and able to set goals and targets that will help them grow as cyclists and as people. Conquering big days on the bike, whether in a race or a self-supported multi-day ride, speaks to his deep love of the freedom of being on the bike, and pride at being able to power himself to the top of the world on his mountain bike. 


Winning his home race

“Iceman is special to me for a couple of reasons; namely because I would consider it a hometown race even though I grew up 3 hours south,” Alexey said, “but also because I think it is one of the coolest races in the US. With approx. 5500 riders annually, Iceman Cometh is the largest one-day bike race in the country, and you feel that when you come into the finish venue! It’s 33 years of history and counting.”

Photo @avery_stumm

Alexey has known success at the Iceman Cometh and has tasted defeat. He knows both sides of the coin. Even this year, the final result was uncertain, in his mind at least, until just meters before he crossed the line in first place: 

“To fully understand my elation post-win this year you have to go back to 2021 as Cole (Paton) and then Kerry (Werner) and lastly Brian (Matter) edged me out over the top of Icebreaker with about 30 secs left to race…I thought I had that year won. I told myself I did,” he explained. “{This year} solo off the front with a couple guys chasing with less than 5km to go. I use “Let Op” as my constant in these moments – which means “pay attention” in Dutch (an ode to my Opa who got me into the sport). Pay attention to line choice, gearing, and above all how hard you are going at a given time.”


Believing in yourself and your equipment

Finding success off road when he had been a dedicated Euro roadie for several years was not always going to be obvious. But when you have a big engine and a true love of being on the bike, you can do wonders. “Taking chances isn’t just about betting on yourself, it’s about believing in yourself too; and being able to risk it again after what felt like a failure a year earlier. This year at Iceman, unlike ‘18, ‘19 and ‘21, I had no plan, I wanted to race by gut feelings and instinct,” Alexey revealed. “I also got to race on a special Willie Edition LANDO HT which some would say is the reason I won!”

Photo @avery_stumm

Willie’s LANDO

As a regular training partner for Alexey, Sir Willie the Wiener, has laser sharp focus on taking the best lines and picking up speed coming out of the berm. The special Iceman Cometh-winning LANDO HT colorway pays tribute to these two great friends who bring joy and inspiration to each other, and everyone around them. Thefluoro gradient fade represents Willie’s adventurous and brave spirit while celebrating the loving and loyal companionship he offers. Always has a smile for everyone on the race circuit or on the trails alike.

Riding the LANDO HT means that Alexey and Willie can enjoy the snappy acceleration that all Factor racing bikes offer while providing the level of durability and capability that the toughest XC mountain races in the world require. 

Photo @avery_stumm

After his victory at the 2022 Bell Iceman Cometh, we will all be hoping he can carry these good vibes and Willie Watts into 2023!


LANDO HT

Whether you want to rip along flowy trails, destroy your rivals between the tape, or feel the joy of a lightweight hardtail mountain bike, the Factor LANDO HT can set all your rides alight. Made from high quality materials and a carbon fiber layup utilizing different carbon types to optimize efficiency requirements, the LANDO HT offers exceptional stiffness-to-weight in a minimalist package. It is the hardtail mountain bike of choice for discerning XC riders looking to maximize their speed and race times.

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