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Search for Speed Athlete Profile: Elliot Davis

By: Jim Rutberg, TORRE  March 04, 2024

Get to know Search for Speed finalist, Elliot Davis

Search for Speed is a new talent identification program designed to introduce track cycling to diverse and underrepresented communities in Los Angeles, providing youth and young adults with a dedicated pathway to the U.S. National Team. Funded by a generous grant from the Rapha Foundation and support from LOOK Cycle and Wattbike, Search for Speed utilizes a multi-stage screening process to identify key talent markers and introduce participants to track cycling. In January 2024, five finalists earned selection to the US National Team Program. Elliott Davis is one of the finalists.

In a roundabout way, having his bicycle stolen set Elliott Davis on a journey that could take him to the Olympic Games.

After concluding his collegiate Track & Field career at the University of Minnesota, Elliott bought an inexpensive bicycle because his roommates rode bikes and it looked like a good way to stay in shape. By the time his bike was stolen, his interest in cycling had grown, so he replaced it with a newer, more capable bicycle. But modern bicycles come with modern mechanical problems, and Elliott decided he needed to learn how to fix his own equipment. That led him to Behind Bars Bicycle Shop in Minneapolis, MN. Despite having little experience, the shop hired him with the promise of on-the-job training. “At that point I didn't even know how to cut a steerer tube. And the boss said, ‘I'll just hire you and teach you.’ I worked there for about two months, and it was one of the best times I've ever worked. They were just very welcoming, and I didn't realize how deep the cycling community was back then.”

The community at Behind Bars also introduced Elliott to bike racing, including his first foray into fixed-gear racing with “tracklocross”. With the closure of the National Sports Center Velodrome in Blain, MN, fixed gear enthusiasts found new uses for their track bikes. According to The Radavist, tracklocross is a mashup of track and cyclocross, with riders equipping fixed-gear track bikes with higher-volume, knobby tires and riding them, well… everywhere except a velodrome.

From Tracklocross to Track Racing

As serendipity would have it, Elliott Davis decided to move from Minnesota to San Diego, California in the summer of 2021. Friends from the fixed gear scene in Minneapolis connected him with folks in the track scene at the San Diego Velodrome, and Elliott was literally off to the races. He started with a “Ride the Velodrome” class and progressed to community racing events, but soon recognized that endurance events like the scratch race and miss-n-out weren’t his favorites. After a successful high school and collegiate career in Track & Field as a 400-meter competitor, he was drawn more to the sprint events on the velodrome.

“The director of the San Diego Velodrome hooked me up with a local sprint coach, Roger Ainsley. I started training with him and gradually made progress over about two and a half years. Then I found out my Water Line Racing teammate was trying out for the Search for Speed program and decided to check it out.”

The Search for Speed Program

In early 2023, Search for Speed hosted open testing opportunities throughout Southern California. Athletes who achieved specific performance standards were invited to the second round, which featured more extensive testing that included reaction time, a vertical jump test, a 40-yard dash, and a Wingate test. Based on his performances Elliott was invited to the Talent Integration phase, which consisted of three 10-day training camps, about six weeks apart, in early September, late October, and early December of 2023.

“As we got into the Talent Integration camps, I realized the workouts I was used to were more “sprint endurance” and this was all about explosiveness,” Elliott explained. “The workouts between camps were higher intensity efforts, high-intensity lifting, explosive lifting. So, everything I had been doing felt kind of null and void. I felt like I was restarting at that point.”

Over the course of three Talent Integration Camps and the training periods between them, Elliott watched as different aspects of his fitness and performance increased and decreased. Highly attuned to the technical nature of sprint training from his years in Track & Field, he took the highs and lows in stride. “I ran the 400. It took time for me to drop from 50 seconds to 47 seconds. Like, it didn't take a day. You have to trust the training and that the coaches know what’s best. You have to trust that process. The same is true with track cycling; you have to just be patient because it'll come if you accept it.”

Elliott also sees parallels in the team environments between Track & Field and Track Cycling. “I was on a tight-knit collegiate team, and I feel like the track cycling community has followed suit. From the experience in Los Angeles recently, I feel like the team is close. We’re helping each other through the hard training, and some of the US National Team riders are even teaching the newer guys how to lift correctly.”

Elliott and the four other finalists (Sterling Reneau, Reid Myers, Hayley Yoslov, and Catherine Hamilton) have been offered spots in the Sprint Development Pool training group as Talent Integration athletes. Although they are not yet National Team Athletes, they have been invited to receive further coaching and instruction in Los Angeles and are gaining access to the Sprint Development Pool Daily Training Environment. At the same time, Search for Speed continues.

For information about how to participate in the 2024 Open Combine format, visit SearchforSpeed.com.