Aaron Gwin has been riding some form of a two-wheeled bike since he was a kid. From his home in southern California, he started racing BMX at age four and then at 12, he switched to motocross racing, which he quit due to injuries at age 17. When he was 20, he picked up downhill mountain biking.
His bike handling and speed awareness skills made him a natural and after just eight months of riding, he broke onto the World Cup circuit. In 2011 and 2012, he won back-to-back UCI Mountain Bike World Cup series titles, the only elite American in a field packed with Europeans and Australians. In 2011, he became the first mountain bike rider to win five World Cup races in a single year.
“I’m definitely a competitive person,” Gwin says. “But more with myself than anyone else. Results are always the ultimate payoff, but that’s not why I do this. Results are secondary to me doing the best I can and having fun while I’m at it.”