Chill + Smooth = Fast. Jumping From U21 to Elite EWS Racing with Myles Morgan of Evil Bikes

NAEC Race. Photo: Patrik Zuest

The path to a professional MTB racing career is often familial. Whose attention and respect you earn can be as important as your results and social media presence. For first-year elite racer Myles Morgan, the family connections couldn’t be stronger. Morgan grew up riding and racing in Grass Valley, California, lining up for his first kid’s event at age five in nearby Downieville. He raced cross-country on the local high school squad, earning some solid varsity podium positions, but when a group of friends dragged him to his first enduro he was hooked and hasn’t looked back since.

Hubbapalooza. Photo: Lindsay Gall

This season Morgan will be racing a full schedule thanks to the support of Evil Bikes, where he’s a regular office employee when he’s not training or racing. Evil Bikes CEO, Jason Moeschler is a former elite XC pro who used to train with Morgan’s father in California. When the young athlete decided to move to Bellingham, Washington, to attend college, Moeschler was quick to hire him on.

Moeschler is intimately familiar with the sponsorship battle athletes endure every year, fighting to keep contracts and manage new ones so they can afford travel to events and keep their bike running smoothly. He decided to cut most of the work out of that equation for Morgan, allowing him to select the components he wants to use for the season instead of having to search and send out countless race resumes.

TDS Enduro. Photo: Brady Nations

The Evil Wreckoning will be Morgan’s race pony for 2022, with its 166mm rear axle path and 170mm of fork travel catching impacts from two of Evil’s Carbon 29″ Loophole wheels. Morgan said that he sets his suspension up fairly soft with loads of volume spacers to deal with the long and rough tracks in most enduro events. He’s also quite tall and mostly legs, so to help keep his weight back on steep descents he likes the bike to squat a bit. He achieves that squat by running 35-40% static sag in the shock, and slightly less up front to keep the fork higher in its travel. While those settings shift for different trails, Morgan’s home slopes in Bellingham are steeper than most, and riding them at speed requires a dialed bike setup.

Morgan had one of his best results recently, winning the TDS Enduro. The race was down the street from where he grew up, and some folks grumbled over his possible homecourt advantage. He then went on to earn second at an EWS qualifier in Kellogg, Idaho, and took the bronze at the EWS race in Crans Montana, Switzerland, proving he can also ride with the fastest on unknown tracks.

NAEC podium. Photo: Patrik Zeust

After suffering a boxer’s break — a fracture in the hand — during Trans Sierra del Norte, Morgan is just now getting back on the bike to prepare for the 2022 season. He says that there’s a bit more gym time involved in enduro compared to his XC days, but that much of his ability to ride fast through messy tread is due to his ability to chill. Morgan has noticed his times getting better over the years as he learns to relax and not push quite so hard on the bike, to laugh with friends between stages, and to generally make the day as low-stress as possible. He says that before he focused on not focusing so much he would be thinking too much about all the little places to go faster and would end up missing breaking points and standing the bike up in corners. So the lesson was something like: chill + smooth = fast.

It hasn’t been just bikes, bikes, bikes for Morgan. He took a couple of years off during junior high and got super serious about freestyle scooter riding. He’s not sure how those other two-wheeled skills will translate to his elite EWS bid for 2022, but we’ll certainly find out.

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