Raylyn Makes CX worlds Debut
Team USA
Athlete's Corner

Raylyn Nuss Makes Cyclocross World Championships Debut

By: Julie Goldsticker  January 26, 2022

This also marks the Steve Tilford Foundation Racing Team's World Championships debut.

As reigning Pan American champion Raylyn Nuss finalizes preparations for her first World Championships, she can’t help but reflect on what she and her Steve Tilford Foundation racing team have accomplished to get her to this major, international stage.

When the Steve Tilford Foundation racing team was created in 2020, they set a significant competitive marker - qualify for the 2022 Cyclocross World Championships taking place on American soil for only the second time in the event’s history. Nuss, the team’s first member, accomplished the mission for her inspiring team. This was our goal when we launched. We were all focused on the 2022 World Championships being our target because it’s going to be here in the United States and three hours from Lawrence (the location of the foundation’s headquarters). Our focus was to be in the race and the fact that I’ve been selected and have met that goal, it really brings everything home. I know we are on the right trajectory,” Nuss said.

Her World Championships selection is the culmination of months of hard work by Nuss and the entire STF racing team. Nuss entered this year unsure of how the season would play out as she and her teammate, cyclocross veteran Stephen Hyde tackled their first competitive season as representatives of the Steve Tilford Foundation racing team. Due to the challenges from COVID-19 and the logistics of getting the team up and running, they didn’t compete in their first race until August of 2021. “At the start of the season, I had no idea how it was going to go because I had taken a whole year off from racing. I told myself before the season even started that this year is going to be an accomplishment no matter what because we are getting the foundation out there,” she said.

From the time that the team was created, each member knew that the task at hand would be about more than simply results. They wanted to epitomize Steve Tilford and what he meant to the sport of cycling. “The main objective was to keep Steve Tilford’s passion for cycling alive,” she said.

No one can question Nuss’ passion for cyclocross. Although she’s only been racing since 2017, she’s fully dedicated her life to the sport and the Steve Tilford Foundation. A former Pfizer scientist from St. Louis, Nuss relocated to Lawrence, Kansas and quit her full-time job to focus on her cycling career.

“I went to one race, and I was like I’m either going to hate this or I’m going to love it. I was instantly hooked because it’s more of an athletic based cycling sport and it really tied in a lot of the aspects of my basketball career. I thought how have I been missing this my whole life. I was just hooked, and I’m still hooked. I want to continue to see the sport of cyclocross grow because I think there’s so much potential there,” recalls Nuss.

Nuss was fortunate to find the perfect teammate to compete by her side in the STF racing team’s first competitive season - three-time national champion and multi-time world championships participant Hyde. A cyclocross veteran, she credits Hyde’s genuine friendship and mentorship for the success that she’s had this season. “I was able to bring on an athlete like Stephen Hyde who was absolutely perfect for the role and exudes so much of what Steve Tilford brought to the cycling scene. He is willing to help anybody and everybody out so it was the perfect piece to come in and really add to the team,” Nuss said.

While Nuss views the Pan American Championship she won in December, her first UCI elite victory, as the squad’s biggest competitive accomplishment to this point, she and Hyde are both extremely proud of the unique family atmosphere that they have created for their team. “It was our first season as a team so that was a success in its own right and right off the bat, both Stephen and I were having really good results. I won Pan Ams so that was a highlight of the year for sure,” Nuss said. “I also think the family vibe. It’s really hard with cycling teams. Especially for cyclocross which is such an individual sport, people are focused on themselves. With our team, Stephen so had my back and was that mentor to me that I was missing in my career as an athlete.”

Hyde recently announced his retirement so Nuss and the Steve Tilford Foundation are currently determining what the team will look like for next season. While Nuss believes Hyde is irreplaceable, she still has high hopes for the future of the team and growing the roster. “We will definitely have a presence in a full calendar season, but what that other athlete or who those other athletes are is yet to be determined. We would like to bolster our devo squad. I really want more women involved. We are working on all of that structure right now,” Nuss said.

Before moving on to plans for next year, Nuss has unfinished business as the World Championships in Fayetteville. Although Hyde will not be racing in the event, he has been selected as a USA Cycling coach for the event so she will once again have his guidance as she prepares for the biggest event of her cyclocross career and the foundation will have two representatives. Her coach and STF racing team mechanic, Chris McGovern, will be at the event as well, giving Nuss her full squad.

“It’s all eyes on World Championships and it will be my first World championships on home soil. Being from St. Louis and based out of Lawrence, I’m essentially going to have home crowd. I know so many people from St. Louis and Lawrence who are coming in so it’s going to be really special and I am fired up for it,” Nuss said.

Nuss will compete in UCI Women Elite competition on Saturday, January 29 at Centennial Park in Fayetteville, Ark.

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