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Outside promotes Alan Crisp to Cycling Group VP/GM

Published August 29, 2022

BOULDER, Colo. (BRAIN) — The new Outside Interactive vice president and general manager of its Cycling Group realized early on that the gap between being a strong junior downhill racer and an elite one was a bit too wide.

But Alan Crisp's subsequent pivot led to a diverse industry career that has spanned managing bike shops to starting a distribution company to working with a boutique bike brand in R&D, as well as leading four consecutive years of ad revenue growth for Pinkbike. And now to his new role in succeeding Karl Burkat, who has led Pinkbike. Burkat is stepping aside following the transition period Outside Interactive established after acquiring Pinkbike in July 2021.

Crisp, formerly the Cycling Group's senior sales director, will oversee business and editorial operations of all of Outside Interactive's cycling properties, including BRAIN. The Cycling Group reaches 62 million unique readers each year.

A Sydney, Australia, native, Crisp, who raced downhill as a junior and tried his hand at World Cups, moved to Vancouver, British Columbia, in 2008 and turned pro, winning a national race at age 23.

"I've been in the cycling industry for over 20 years," Crisp told BRAIN. "I've worked in just about every part of the industry, and to have this opportunity presented to me, it is an extremely exciting time to say the least. Big job. Big pressure. But with the team we have and the support from Robin and (Chief Content Officer) Amy Barnett, we're in a great position to provide real value to the global cycling community."

In addition to BRAIN and Pinkbike, Cycling Group titles include CyclingTips, VeloNews, and the GPS app Trailforks.

"We're delighted to elevate one of our most talented leaders at a moment of tremendous growth in the sport," said Robin Thurston, Outside Interactive CEO. "Alan is respected in the industry as a creative and collaborative business partner whose relentless drive for innovation has led to the launch of such initiatives as the Pinkbike Academy television series and the Pinkbike Racing UCI World Cup junior development team. ... We are very grateful to Karl for leading these brands through the transition, not to mention COVID and endless supply-chain disruptions."

Interests beyond downhill racing

Crisp, 37, worked at Sydney bike shops in the late 1990s and early 2000s as a teen and full-time as service manager and store manager. While downhill was his speciality, he developed an interest in road cycling and triathlon.

"The store I worked at was one of Shimano's leading accounts in all of Australia," Crisp said. "I worked tech support for Shimano Australia at the Ironman triathlon races there. I've been around road cycling and triathlon most of my life despite being a downhiller. I've always been a super fan of road cycling. I'm a terrible road cyclist, but I love doing it."

At age 19, he started Empire Imports, distributing and importing bikes from the U.S. and Asia and setting up a network in Australia. "It was really a one-man band, an ambitious undertaking for a 19-year-old who had no real background in doing this," said Crisp, who ran the business for five years. "I had a desire to do things differently in the Australian bike industry because it was so isolated. I felt like we didn't have great products available at the time. The market was dominated by the big players, and I wanted to bring in some more boutique brands."

As a side business, he also started a race team. "And for someone who realized that their pro career wasn't going to turn out, I wanted to support young riders and racers as well. Two riders that I had on my team were selected to represent Australia in the junior world championships in downhill. Supporting them and helping them reach their goals like that made me immensely happy. I always tried to look for ways to give back to the sport where I could."

His R&D experience came at Knolly Bikes, working with its founder and lead engineer to co-develop new models, and it's also where he got his first sales and marketing experience, what Crisp called a "turning point for me within cycling."

He returned to Australia to pursue a bachelor's of commerce and marketing, "I wanted to get further into the industry, and I wanted to have the qualifications and education that would allow me to achieve what I felt I was capable of."

Pinkbike brings him back to the industry

Returning to Vancouver, he worked at some media agencies before feeling the tug of the bike industry and was introduced to Burkat, who was looking for a sales manager at Pinkbike. Burkat also was looking to add a road bike title, and CyclingTips was acquired in 2019. With Crisp's help, CyclingTips revenue grew 500% in 2 ½ years.

"That was something that professionally I was very proud of," Crisp said. "We were able to integrate CyclingTips into the Pinkbike business and have the industry take CyclingTips as seriously as they do Pinkbike, and revenue is the perfect indicator for how much an industry respects a title."

While at Pinkbike, Crisp became more involved in content and the title launched the reality-TV series Pinkbike Academy, which features 10 aspiring professional riders battle it out for $30,000 and a one-year pro contract to launch their career. Season 2 winner of Pinkbike Academy recently placed third at the Enduro World Series pro event in Whistler.

Now in charge of all the Outside cycling titles, Crisp wants to unify "the Outside cycling story" and emphasize video.

"At Outside, we are in a very unique position and have a portfolio full of the strongest and most influential brands in cycling media. Each of our brands speak to cyclists in different ways. I want to build on what we've created so far, double down on video, as well as creating more content and programs geared toward women's cycling, e-bikes and enthusiast riders."

Alan Crisp.
Topics associated with this article: Media/Publishing, BRAIN News

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