Get to Know Obed's Jay Prasuhn
Many cyclists identify as part of a subsector. Roadie. Cyclo-cross racer. IRONMAN triathlete. Cross country mountain bike racer. Heck, a lot of folks are so dyed in the wool, they get tattoos to confirm their allegiance to their specialty of choice.
For Obed marketing content specialist Jay Prasuhn, he’s just… a rider.
Sometimes in Lycra. Sometimes baggies. Yeah, he’s done all the above things; lined up for a 100-miles on a mountain bike, slogged through a 50-mile trail ultramarathon, finished an IRONMAN. Been there, got the t-shirt. But these days, his attire is maybe a t-shirt celebrating a NASCAR driver’s recent win—with the sleeves cut off. In late March, he joined Gravelstoke’s Great Western Reroute ride. As the ride organizer gathered up the gravel riders kitted to the nines in some spiff MAAP, Rapha and Eliel kit to explain the route, Prasuhn was the only rider wearing a plaid flannel shirt and baggy shorts over his bibs for what would be a 40-miler through the mountains just southeast of San Diego, and just a few miles north of the border with Mexico.
“It’s so weird; I used to sweat whether I had the newest thing, where I would line up on a start line to get the best start I could, what my pasta carb load would be like. I'll still wear good kit now and then, but for the most part now, I couldn’t care less,” Prasuhn says. “I only care where I’m going, what wildlife I might see, what’s playing in my ear on XM Radio, and where I’m getting carne asada afterward. How fast I go is so far in the rear view mirror now. I’ll line up for a race, but the “race” part isn’t really my deal anymore. I’m just out to skid a little and have fun.”
When he was a kid, make no mistake, Prasuhn was a racer. At age eight, he zip tied a plate to his handlebars and found his first start line racing BMX in Tucson, Arizona. “My younger brother Jon and I were chaos in the house, so mom sent us outside to burn off our fuel,” Prasuhn says. “If we weren’t riding our bikes out of the boundaries our parents set for us to head to U-Totem for candy, we were stealing particle board from neighborhood home constructions and hammering together ramps to jump our bikes or skateboards. It was just pandemonium.”
BMX racing segued into recreational mountain biking on an old steel mountain bike through the rocky, cactus-laden desert of Tucson’s westside mountains. It wasn’t until the early 1990s when as a sportswriter for the Arizona Daily Star he saw true a rekindling for the bike, lit fully aflame while covering the annual El Tour de Tucson, a 111-mile circumnavigation of the Southwestern Arizona city. Weekend rides during The Shootout weekend group ride with pro triathlete Jimmy Riccitello led to a recommendation about a work opportunity in San Diego.
“I’d been looking for sportswriting job for a while and told Jimmy to give me a heads up if he heard anything,” Prasuhn said. “I got a call; his friend was publisher of Triathlete magazine, and wanted to chat.”
The rest is history. In 1999, Prasuhn joined Triathlete magazine as senior editor, a place he’d work for over 15 years. He tested and wrote about bikes, penned athlete features and reported on races, then wrote for another four years as senior editor of LAVA Magazine. For nearly 20 years, racing was his game.
And he got to race too. Apart from covering races from Dubai to Brazil, Germany to Thailand, Australia to the U.K., he had some exquisite ride experiences; a half Ironman triathlon on the Monaco Formula 1 race course, another through the snow-capped Alps in Austria. Road training in the Swiss Alps, summiting the famed Stelvio climb in Italy, Mon Chasseral in Switzerland and running in the heat in the Philippines, he’s gotten to play bikes in more places than he could have dreamed.
“That was an opportunity that I had no idea would manifest in the way it did,” Prasuhn says. “The most insane assignment I had was in Cairns, Australia I flew in, raced the half Ironman, ran behind a stage, took off my race kit and put on moto pants and a helmet, and went back out on course to cover the full Ironman race. After editing photos and writing a web report, I packed my bike and was in bed for two hours before I was up again for my flight home. I was wrecked.”
The job also entailed media test events, which provided the unique opportunity to test the tri bike he was writing about—as well as the occasional cross country mountain bike, trail bike, gravel bike or fat bike. His taste for the trail reinvigorated, he took on Leadville and the famed Breck Epic six-day stage race. That led to more bike tests, and more events, especially in the gravel category. Suddenly, he found himself attracted to the challenge of the course, but also lack of raciness that gravel represented.
“Gravel is so nebulous now, there’s really nothing to define it,” Prasuhn says. “Some races are full-on gravel, but on dirt roads like SBT GRVL or Unbound. Others are diabolically technical, like Belgian Waffle Ride. Others like Grinduro are in a super-fun endure format. And the post-race vibe at them all is just so cool and unique, it’s an eclectic crew that I’m drawn to for sure. It’s hard to call some of these events races at all.”
What’s next for Prasuhn? More wild gravel events, may a few exploration rides in Central California, perhaps a multinational ride across the border into Tijuana with friends. “Anything to get a good authentic street taco,” he says. Gravel has his attention. He’ll just keep the fashion police out of it all.
“If you’d have told me four years ago I’d own not just one fanny pack, but several as a tactical ride item, I’d have told you to check your head.” Prasuhn says with a laugh. “Good thing flannel never goes out of style.”