It wasn’t a speech a lot of people heard.In the roar of the X Games crowd, Alan Foster announced that he was ending his more than 10-year professional career and will now focus on Felt’s team management duties and raising his family. Does that mean he’s not riding anymore? Hardly. It just means that his days of racing for a paycheck are behind him. We gave Alan a call and ended up reminiscing about what double-A was like when he first turned, and what life will be like after his pro career. We also let him write about what was going on in each of these photos, so enjoy the captions and the trip down memory lane.

Full uniform including goggles at the Hidden Valley Trails—that doesn’t happenanymore. I will guess 97 or 98; it was my first year off of the full-blown Schwinn team. I put the whole deal together all the way down to getting the jerseys made. Team Airwalk, XS/Schwinn, Odyssey, Lizard, Club Roost, Smith… I think I actually made more money and had a lot more freedom.  credit: Keith Mulligan

When did you first turn pro, and when did you make the move to double-A?
I turned single-A in 1988; I was double-A by the end of 1989.

Who was in your “graduating class”?
Jeff Donnell (Jason’s brother), Eric Carter, Ronnie Walker, Sean Riblet, maybe Darwin Griffin and Cecil Johns, Billy Au, Danny Milwee, guys like that…

Where those the Elf days?
I was actually on Wheel Power bike shop back then (Wheel Power was a shop in Maryland where Alan’s from), and I want to say by ’89 or ’90 I was on Elf; by the time I was double-A I was on Elf.

Are there any races that stick out in your memory?
Del Mar, maybe in February in 1993; that was my first double-A win, and that was POW days: riding everyday, living with six other guys who rode everyday. Going to that race and beating all these guys who were kicking my ass ruled.

Third berm at Sheep Hills is the first thing that comes to mind. Schwinn made two prototype aluminum frames for Brian and me. Those were our first frames with A-Headsets. We only rode those for a few months. This was the beginning of the aluminum bike craze. That’s Brian taking off, and lean racing machine Robbie Morales behind me. It was 1994 and it was also the first photo shoot I did with Steve Buddendeck, who was the Editor of SNAP at the time. All three of us have open-face racing helmets on, before the Pro-Tec era.  credit: Keith Mulligan

Name some of the things you’ve seen come and go.
Weightlifting; from the Mike King, Hans Nissen, Gary Ellis, Pete Loncarevich era, to the skills era of Dave Clymer, Eric Carter and Brian Foster. There weren’t rhythm sections before, then when they added those, that’s when Brian and the guys who could ride started doing well; like around 1994. Now I think it’s gotten back to how much you can squat versus how fast you can take the rhythm section. Also, when I first turned pro, everybody was on a chromoly bike and flat pedals—everybody. Then the aluminum thing hit. I was flat pedals until 2001; that was the first time I put clips on my bike. I’ve raced for 20 years on flat pedals; no one used clips back then. I was at that Burbank race where Brian Lopes and Mike King raced clipped in for the first time. I’ve seen Pro Forks come and go, you name it.

When were some of your most enjoyable times?
When Brian and I were on Airwalk, in the beginning, like ’94 o’95, and we were racing together every weekend and both doing good. We were both single-digit in both sanctions racing every weekend and loving it, riding our bikes absolutely every single day and not going to the gym — just riding our bikes and traveling every weekend and making a good living. That was probably the best era.

I think this was at the NBL Christmas Classic in 1996. It could be the ABA Grandsbut I have a Haro “Joffa” and that was usually NBL. If you know what that is then you are old like me. Flame paint job on the frame… Schwinn did some cool stuff back then.  credit: Keith Mulligan

How do you want to be remembered?
How do I want to be remembered or how do I think I’ll be remembered? I think I’ll be remembered as a come-from-behind, make-it-a-little-more-exciting-for-the-crowd type of rider. I think I had a pretty good fan base because I was cool to kids in an era when everybody was too high on their horse, sitting in their rental car, and Brian and I kind of came in and were cool to some kids and could ride in the pack pretty good. Kind of what Mike Day and Bubba (Harris) are doing now; they aren’t as strong, but they’re making moves on the track and that’s what the crowds want to see. They like to see the new kids coming up. When I was the young guy coming up, that’s when I thought I was probably the most popular and doing my best. I guess I just want to be remembered as a cool guy who rode his bike… Just a down-to-earth, approachable guy, not so much of a superstar.

What do you think you’ll miss the most? The least?
It’s sad to say, but I don’t think I’m going to miss a lot because I’ve been doing it for so long. I’ve experienced it from the standpoint of you kind of get tired of it, where you get burned out, so right now I don’t miss it. Maybe a couple of years from now I’ll miss the fact that I made pretty good money and made my own schedule; I rode my bike and went to races on someone else’s dime and they paid you to do it. I don’t think you can replace that—that’s a dream. And I don’t think I ever planned it in the beginning, that this was going to be my career, it just kept going and going, and that’s the insane part to me. In 1993 when Airwalk called, and asked if I wanted to make a living riding bikes, I was thinking that even one year of that would have been cool, and it lasted 10. I made a good income for 10 years and got to see the world in the process; New Zealand, Australia, Germany, Brazil… I wasn’t too big on the trips because there were always so many races here, and back then, I thought it was more important to go to an ABA Minnesota race than New Zealand. Now looking back on that, I’m like, “What was I thinking?” (laughter).

What kinds of things do you think you’ll pass down to Paul (Lange, Felt’s freshly-turned double-A Pro).
Right now he’s young and he’s just running it; he has donuts for breakfast and he gets by on his talent. I think as he gets a little older I might be able to help him out with being disciplined about it… It’s a tough thing; if the kid’s already shredding and killing everybody, doing way better than I ever did as an A Pro, who am I to say that you should be eating this for breakfast or drinking this much water between motos? If I see something, then maybe I’ll say, “This is what worked for me,” but until that time comes, I’m going to let him learn on his own, and just make sure that the sponsorship situation stays right; someone might offer him a lot of money now, but think about the big picture.

So what are your plans now?
It’s not like I’m going to stop riding my bike; all I’m stopping is getting in the gate with seven other double-A’s. I might go a week without riding my bike, but when Sheep Hills is good in the winter time, I think I’m probably going to be there two or three days a week. I think I’m going to go to Orange once in a while. The UCI Supercross race is in Woodward and I’m definitely taking my bike. I’m not going to be on the track, but I sure as heck am going to be all over that skatepark all weekend.

Do you think it’s going to be hard leaving that competitive part of you behind?
I don’t think so. Maybe a little bit, but just how I’ve felt in the last year is what’s in my memory now. Like at the X Games a few weeks ago; I was going down the hill, I wasn’t chasing the guy in front of me. I wasn’t on the gate thinking, “I’m beating this guy, or I’m doing this in the first turn.” I was just going down the hill. That’s even how I was at the last few races I was at; you get to the first turn, and whatever place you’re in then is cool. In the past I would have been looking at the guy in front of me thinking, okay, where am I going to pass him? That’s what the Mike Day’s and the Paul Lange’s and the Donny Robinson’s have; they’re just like, “Who’s next?” (laughter). I don’t know where I lost that desire. I loved training and going to the gym during the week and doing sprints, but when I got to the race, I just didn’t have the desire to stick my nose in like you need to. So riding wise, I still see myself riding a lot, but it might be a lot of different things. I’d love to go on a road trip; trail road trips, stuff like that are super fun, so I’d like to revisit that stuff.

Other ways you’re going to be spending your time?
The three biggest things in my life now are my kids and family, the pre-school, and working at Felt. And I really like doing all three; I have a hard time leaving Felt at the end of the day; it’s hard just to work there on a part-time basis. With this being my first “retirement week,” that’s what I’ve been having a hard time with; I want to put more work into Felt. It’s a big juggling act.

First thing that comes to mind is, “Damn that Thor stuff looks good!” August of2003, X-Games, my last race.  credit: Keith Mulligan

If you get invited to the downhill X Games race again, are you going to race it?
Nope…well, I say that now (laughter). I guess it’s just going to depend on how much I get to ride beforehand. They’ve already said that the jumps are getting bigger; like the 45-foot step-up is going to be 10 feet farther next year, which might actually make it easier. But if I’m squirrelly on my bike, do I want to be jumping a 55 or 60-foot step up? I’m not sure I do (laughter). But I had more fun riding that track in practice than I have in a long time. I wasn’t too keen on being elbow-to-elbow with somebody, but… (laughs)… Like Nathan Fons dove on Prokop in that first turn — that’s that 20-year-old mentality that I don’t have anymore.

“I still love the thrill of watching Paul or Bubba motor down the first straight, I just don’t feel like I’m the guy to be on the gate” —Alan F.

ble-A’s. I might go a week without riding my bike, but when Sheep Hills is good in the winter time, I think I’m probably going to be there two or three days a week. I think I’m going to go to Orange once in a while. The UCI Supercross race is in Woodward and I’m definitely taking my bike. I’m not going to be on the track, but I sure as heck am going to be all over that skatepark all weekend.

Do you think it’s going to be hard leaving that competitive part of you behind?
I don’t think so. Maybe a little bit, but just how I’ve felt in the last year is what’s in my memory now. Like at the X Games a few weeks ago; I was going down the hill, I wasn’t chasing the guy in front of me. I wasn’t on the gate thinking, “I’m beating this guy, or I’m doing this in the first turn.” I was just going down the hill. That’s even how I was at the last few races I was at; you get to the first turn, and whatever place you’re in then is cool. In the past I would have been looking at the guy in front of me thinking, okay, where am I going to pass him? That’s what the Mike Day’s and the Paul Lange’s and the Donny Robinson’s have; they’re just like, “Who’s next?” (laughter). I don’t know where I lost that desire. I loved training and going to the gym during the week and doing sprints, but when I got to the race, I just didn’t have the desire to stick my nose in like you need to. So riding wise, I still see myself riding a lot, but it might be a lot of different things. I’d love to go on a road trip; trail road trips, stuff like that are super fun, so I’d like to revisit that stuff.

Other ways you’re going to be spending your time?
The three biggest things in my life now are my kids and family, the pre-school, and working at Felt. And I really like doing all three; I have a hard time leaving Felt at the end of the day; it’s hard just to work there on a part-time basis. With this being my first “retirement week,” that’s what I’ve been having a hard time with; I want to put more work into Felt. It’s a big juggling act.

First thing that comes to mind is, “Damn that Thor stuff looks good!” August of2003, X-Games, my last race.  credit: Keith Mulligan

If you get invited to the downhill X Games race again, are you going to race it?
Nope…well, I say that now (laughter). I guess it’s just going to depend on how much I get to ride beforehand. They’ve already said that the jumps are getting bigger; like the 45-foot step-up is going to be 10 feet farther next year, which might actually make it easier. But if I’m squirrelly on my bike, do I want to be jumping a 55 or 60-foot step up? I’m not sure I do (laughter). But I had more fun riding that track in practice than I have in a long time. I wasn’t too keen on being elbow-to-elbow with somebody, but… (laughs)… Like Nathan Fons dove on Prokop in that first turn — that’s that 20-year-old mentality that I don’t have anymore.

“I still love the thrill of watching Paul or Bubba motor down the first straight, I just don’t feel like I’m the guy to be on the gate” —Alan F.