Hottubes for the win

Hottubes for the win

One of the best Junior programs in the world still going strong

Hottubes has been around for 28 years, with team owner Toby Stanton selflessly bringing up Junior after Junior, teaching them about cycling and life on their way to adulthood, academia and often the WorldTour.

I don’t often write about Hottubes, but I think I should. I met Toby Stanton 20 years ago, I’m not sure where or how but I suspect it was via the Saturn pro cycling team in the USA. And the fact that mentioning Saturn will cause many of you to go “What?” or “Oh, I remember them from way back when” shows you just how incredible a job Toby has done.

Not just the Saturn cycling team is long gone, the whole car company has retired into oblivion! As of course have dozens and dozens of high profile teams, but this little Hottubes engine is still rolling.

Back in those days, Hottubes was the Saturn Junior team, and while the pros were on LeMond bikes, the Juniors were on Cervélo (and some pros were also on Cervélo TT and track bikes). And then sometimes Juniors would be invited to race with the pros, so their bikes wouldn’t match and people would ask if we sponsored the Saturn pro team. It was the sort of confusion we reveled in as a small company :-).

Running a Junior program is tough. Funding is precarious every year because no company “needs” to sponsor a Junior team. Exposure is limited, and when sponsors live for the now without regard for the long-term health of the sport, Juniors simply won’t register. So it is by no means a “get rich quick” scheme, more something like a “stay poor slowly” approach. Only somebody with an insatiable love for the sport and for helping kids develop could start such a project and keep it going.

In 2002, Toby introduced me to Tyler Hamilton, and I approached him to ride a Cervélo TT bike (continuing the theme of confusing team sponsors). In the end, this led to Laurent Jalabert using a Cervélo P3 with Look stickers at the prologue of the Tour, and placing second! Anyway, the point is that as a result, I promised Toby he would get a lifetime sponsorship from me.

It’s been one of the most satisfying sponsorships I have ever done, as you can see how much it means to these kids. The new crop of riders usually swing by at our booth at the SeaOtter season-opener, always very polite and professional (unlike of course, most professionals). And earlier this year I was sitting at a café in Santa Monica when out of the blue came a rider in an Hagen Berman Axeon kit (Liam Holowesko) to thank me for the support over the years he was at Hottubes.

So teaching them about life is the number one goal, and if that leads to Ben King, Nate Brown, Lawson Craddock and Ian Boswell currently riding in the WorldTour, so much the better. Not to forget Emma White at Rally UHC, US Pro champion Jonny Brown and many others at Continental Pro teams.

The latest crop of riders is another talented one, racing their Stradas hard throughout the US race scene, both in Junior and senior races. Here are two photos and a video for your enjoyment. The first shows that classic finish line moment, where you definitely want to be the guy with his hands still on the bars:

And of course a Hottubes rider regularly makes it onto the National team, in this case for a trip to Paris-Roubaix:

And here is quite an amazing victory, with this video showing how a rider with Junior gears can outspin a senior in a downhill sprint finish: Yarmouth_Clam_Festival_Gabe_s_Win

If you want to learn more or support this wonderful organization, please visit them here.