When you talk about cycling and Central Oregon, Ian Boswell’s name often comes up in the conversation. While his success as a road racing pro and his recent transition to gravel racing is well documented, we had a chance to catch up and hear more about who he is, and why he rides.
Tour des Chutes (TdC): The competitive aspect of cycling aside, what inspires you to get on your bike?
Ian Boswell (IB): I love the freedom that I feel when riding my bike. I initially fell in love with that ability to explore when I would ride around my neighborhood. Then I’d ride around town, then out to places like Prineville, Tumalo, Redmond. It broadened my horizon as to what was out there, both in the world and in my local community. I still love exploring and experiencing my community on my bike. I received a lot of support from riders in Central Oregon growing up and now I really enjoy giving back in similar ways.
TdC: What has been one of the most surprising or fun things about your transition from road racing to gravel?
IB: One of the biggest surprises for me has been finding how much I still love riding my bike. I still approach it from a competitive perspective, and interestingly the postponements this season haven’t discouraged me at all. In fact, the canceled events have helped me realize again just how much I enjoy even a simple 30 to 45 ride after dinner. To get out and feel the wind on my face is a treat. I think that when you are completely focused on training it sometimes makes you take for granted the freedom of just going for a ride.
Having walked away from road racing, I can see how influential a lot of people were as I grew up, and realize how huge the impact can be on someone. Now I have an opportunity and a platform to help kids and young athletes reach their goals.
TdC: You have recently helped promote and establish the Peacham Fall Fondo, and I know you’ve been involved with TdC in the past, and I’m sure a host of other fundraising rides. What makes these kinds of events important to you, and the cycling community at large?
IB: My wife and I founded Peachem as a way to give back to the community. I came into the first event (the first Peachem was held in 2018) having raced all year, so it was a chance to get out and ride and have actual conversations with people. I found it was really important for me to connect to the community. I think events like this are important for the community because often a competitive event can be discouraging for some people, so creating this non-competitive even helped get rid of that barrier for entry, and engage a strong, non-competitive cycling community.
TdC: A lot of our participants train for TdC to challenge themselves to ride a new distance. What would you say to someone who was training for a ride at a distance they’d never gone before, on a morning when they didn’t feel like riding?
IB: I would say that in all my years of training, I’ve never come back from a bike ride and regretted it. It could be raining and windy, I could have crashed, it doesn’t matter. I always come back in a better mood. I think that cycling gives people the opportunity to challenge themselves, your mind and body are more capable of achieving things that you realize. And that is true of recreational rides and competitive rides.
And the people out there who are facing major challenges in their life, they are a real inspiration. I think of Gary (Bonacker) and all that he’s gone through, and he still gets out to ride.
TdC: I saw the log lean-to shelter you built on Facebook. Is that complete? Did you find it more difficult to remain motivated to do that than to get out and ride in the cold?
IB: I spent so much time riding, and really mastering riding to such a high level, that applying that same kind of focus to other things has been a struggle. It is definitely easier to get out and ride in the cold! At the same time, it has been a positive challenge to be humbled and to learn new things.
TdC: Any Final thoughts?
IB: Embrace the challenge. Every day is an opportunity to pave a new path. Don’t put any mental barriers on what you can accomplish, and what you can achieve.