Meet the two-wheeled monkey

As one of the youngest cyclists on the 2012 pro tour circuit, Jacob Lee Rathe is earning a reputation as one of the up-and-comers to keep an eye on. Jacob was born on March 13, 1991, in Portland, Ore., where he lived the first 20 years of his life until moving to Girona, Spain, in Jan. 2012, to pursue a full-time cycling career. He is described as an all-around rider with particular prowess as a sprinter and opportunist in breakaways.

Jacob with some fans in Belgium, 2012

Beyond being a rider of bikes, Jacob is a coffee and tea enthusiast, a rather competent ping-pong player, and an avid reader. He also enjoys skiing and mountain biking. Activities he’s less fond of include eating cheese of any variety and walking. (His legs are better trained to pedal.)

Jacob’s story really begins when he was three and a half and had seemingly outgrown the thrill of cruising on training wheels. His parents, mildly skeptical but amused, humored his pleas, and away went the superfluous wheels on his hand-me-down kiddy bike. The next day, they were shocked to witness little Jacob – unassisted and without hesitation – mount his two-wheeler for the first time and take off without as much as a wobble.

He pedaled endlessly, with more ease and confidence than most riders twice his age. And he hasn’t stopped since.

Cyclocross race, 2004

Jacob’s interest in cycling outlived other hobbies and athletic pursuits, at which he was reasonably talented. Though his infatuation with riding on two wheels was evident even as a preschooler, it was really nurtured in Forest Park, where he and his dad spent years mountain-biking the muddy trails, in spite of the unrelenting Oregon drizzle. Sharing their love of mountain biking, he and his dad began racing when Jacob was 10 years old (in different age categories, of course). When Jacob was 13 years old, he passed his dad for the first time during a mountain bike race – after starting 10 minutes later. “Hi, Dad,” he casually remarked as he passed his dad by. The following year Jacob competed in his first cyclocross race.

Things got more serious when Jacob was 14 and joined his first team, the Beaverton Bicycle Club, with Phil Sanders as his coach. Since then, he has quickly advanced from one level to the next. He has since then moved away from mountain biking (except recreationally) and now concentrates on road racing. In 2007 at the age of 16, he made his first trip across the pond to race in Belgium with the US National Team, appearing on the podium with two wins and two second place finishes. A year later, he joined CMG/Hammer Nutrition Cycling Team and met coach Butch Martin, who still coaches him today. Jacob joined the Jelly Belly Pro Cycling Team in 2010 and spent much of the year racing for the US National Team.

Jacob's Tour of Portugal win

The following year, at the age of 20, Jacob joined the Chipotle Development Team. He won his first European race that year in Portugal and pulled off several other impressive podium finishes. Just as three-year-old Jacob became a skilled cyclist before most of his peers, he’s found himself in an analogous situation today as a 21-year-old with a World Tour pro racing contract. In 2012, he began racing for Team Garmin-Barracuda, beginning his career as a bona fide professional athlete.

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