The 21-year-old Milford resident has ridden trails from New Jersey to Quebec, and he uses highend equipment — not surprising given that he works in the bike department at the Ski Rack in Bangor.

He’s also part of the Greater Bangor biking community that gets a chance on occasion to ride through the Bangor City Forest or on other rocky and rooty trails throughout Eastern Maine with current U.S. Olympian Adam Craig.

Like Mount Waldo in Frankfort.

“I was climbing up the mountain with him and I was struggling just to hold on,” said Boyington. “He was riding up beside me and holding a conversation and just talking like it was no big deal to him at all.

“I was out of breath, I could barely talk. I was just letting him talk away.”

That was two years ago. Two years later, little has changed.

“We went and rode there a few weeks ago, and he did the same thing,” said Boyington. “He’s just an absolutely amazing rider.”

Craig’s forays into the Maine woods with his riding compatriots from the region are less frequent than they used to be, as the 27-year-old Exeter native now lives in Bend, Ore., and has developed into one of the world’s top mountain bikers.

The reigning two-time U.S. men’s national cross country champion and Pan American Games gold medalist, he currently is ranked ninth in this year’s International Cycling World Cup point standings,

And on Saturday Craig will ride on the biggest stage of all — the Olympics.

“I think everyone’s very well aware of how successful he is and how far he’s gone, but nobody seems to batter him with it when he’s here, or asking him a bunch of questions and flattering him,” said Boyington. “I think when he comes here he comes to get away from that, and we don’t really put any pressure on him. We just kind of keep it chill and ride with him and have a good time.”

Craig’s reunions with the locals usually come at midsummer, when the World Cup circuit hits Quebec or the U.S. nationals come East, and he uses those opportunities to get back to his racing roots.

Craig credits much of his success in the sport — including his national titles at Mount Snow in Vermont and World Cup podium finishes in Canada — to growing up riding the trails of Eastern Maine.

And those who ride with him when he visits understand not only where Craig has come from, but where he’s coming from when he talks about the benefits of that background.

“My experience has been that I go to other places where people say there are tough mountain bike trails, and they just don’t compare to around here,” said Kent Tableman, an orthodontist who lives in Veazie. “Rocks, roots and reggae, the only thing that’s lacking here is steep hill climbs. Everything else is here.”

“The terrain changes at other places,” added Boyington, “but it’s never quite as demanding as here, so having his roots here in Maine has definitely given him a huge advantage in terms of technical riding.”

And while that terrain remains the same, so, too, has Craig’s demeanor, which just makes those who ride with him looking even more forward to his Olympic opportunity — even at 3 a.m. Bangor time.

“When he shows up here he’s like one of us,” said Jeremy Porter of Bradley, the bike shop manager at the Ski Rack. “He has zero attitude. You’d never know anything if he wasn’t decked out in all of his team clothing and he just showed up for a bike ride.

“He’s just one of the guys.”

eclark@bangordailynews.net

990-8045

Ernie Clark

Ernie Clark

Ernie Clark is a veteran sportswriter who has worked with the Bangor Daily News for more than a decade. A four-time Maine Sportswriter of the Year as selected by the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters...