“I raced on dirt in Pequannock, Oakland, North Bergen, West Milford, Howell and names I can’t even remember – but turns and jumps I can’t forget.”
The story of Bill Christman and bikes starts a long time ago in a land far away – specifically 1972 in the cycling mecca of Paterson, New Jersey.
Born into a family of racers (no, not bicycles), Bill’s father was a drag-bike and car racer, his uncle an all-around automobile racer, and his grandfather a midget-car racer. By 5, Bill was riding dirt bikes, well before pedaling a bicycle. In the coming years, Bill upgraded to an 80cc MX and spent hours and hours in the mountains of Hinesburg, Vermont, navigating his way through forested logging roads and hidden mountain peaks.
Bill started riding BMX bikes a few years later and within months was on a track, racing BMX. He spent the majority of his adolescence riding somewhere or going somewhere to race. “I laid it down on the tennis courts in Wayne and the wooden floors of the Jersey City Armory,” Bill says. “BMX became a part of me.”
Bill Christman was in the inaugural class at the Woodward Camp before freestyle existed. In his early teens, Bill secured sponsorship from Jox-Jag (part of the old Thom-McCann shoe line) and began travelling the United States to race – from California to Florida to Michigan to Vermont and everywhere.
At the peak of his amateur career, Bill reached the rank of #4 nationally and scored podiums in multiple national-level events. Prior to high school graduation, he had made the decision to not sign a pro contract and accept a college scholarship from the US Air Force.
“I discovered MTBing in 1986 and haven’t got off yet.”
Bill always considered himself more of an explorer than a racer. “I did some road races and some XC MTB races in the late 80’s and early 90’s,” Bill says, “but the gnarly terrain of NJ was what I loved. I spent the next 15 years just riding.”
In 2007, Bill turned 40 and his aunt passed from cancer. While she was in her last days, she told him to ask myself what he wanted from life. I guess it all becomes clear when you are close to death, Bill remembered thinking, and he returned to competition in 2008 and won the 40-45 group in the local MTB series.
Today, Bill Christman continues to explore pushing the limits on pavement, dirt, and grass. Racing is a benefit – Bill loves to train and ride, enjoying success on many levels.
Bill Christman is the Master Instructor at the Elite Endurance MTB Academy.
Photo Credit: gtluke