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Q&A with our friend (and coworker) Ben

Q&A with our friend (and coworker) Ben

 

Meet our friend (and coworker) Ben, Ornot

Over the years, we've had the pleasure of getting to know Ben pretty well. Okay, very well. We first met him in 2016 during a ride at the Sea Otter Classic with Tom Ritchey, and he couldn't stop doing wheelies, joking around, and skidding. We followed him during his traumatic brain injury (TBI) journey and his subsequent path back to racing at an elite level. During that time, we not only added him as a sponsored athlete, but he also accepted a job here at Ornot, which eventually brought him out to San Francisco. Not to worry, he's still doing wheelies, cracking jokes, and skidding everywhere. Plus, he's running a nonprofit, racing cyclocross at some of the biggest races in the world, and responding to your emails, Ornot. - Matt

 

For those who don’t know you, can you give a quick introduction?

My name is Ben and there’s a good chance if you’ve emailed or called Ornot, I’ve been the one you’ve talked to. Outside of work, I’m a stereotypical and unapologetic cat dad, partner to a lovely human, a bike racer and Non-Profit Director. 

Your program, The Small Monsters Project, had some pretty big news recently. Can you catch folks up?

Big news! I started The Small Monsters Project in 2021 as a way to raise awareness about Mental Health and TBI. Since its inception, it’s raised over $55,000 for charitable causes. For 2023, I’ve turned TSMP into a Non-Profit!! The mission is to provide educational resources and support for Concussion and TBI as well as destigmatize Mental Health struggles. 

What do the next 6 months look like for The Small Monsters Project?

In August we will be opening up the Pre-Order for the Small Monsters 2023 jersey, which in my opinion is the coolest design yet. I’ve been pushing hard to build the foundation for The Small Monsters Project Grant. This grant will provide Baseline Concussion tests for youth teams, as well as a return-to-sport training for the coaches and testing if there is a head injury on the team. There will also be a fundraising ride on August 19th in SF. Busy busy busy!

How do people get involved in and/or donate to The Small Monsters Project?

The easiest way to follow along is to follow @thesmallmonstersproject on Instagram and to check out our website, where you can learn more about the program, my story, and how you can support. I’m in the process of building a Board of Directors, so if this interests you, reach out!

Tell us about your race schedule this year. What do you have planned?

I’ll be following the USCX calendar up and down the East Coast for the early cyclocross season and making a bid for the World Cup team for the Trek Cup. Then races in New England will sharpen me up for the National Championships in Louisville followed by my favorite time of year, the Kerstperiode in Belgium. It's a festival of all things cyclocross, with races every other day between Christmas and New Years, attracting the best racers in the world on the hardest and most iconic courses in cyclocross. Crowds four deep along the whole course, music so loud it hurts, and a party that goes well into the night, even though the races end at 4:30pm. 

Word has it, you’re a pretty good cook. What’s your favorite dish to make right now?

I’ve been having a blast with my new waffle maker! I’ve been going down an amazing rabbit hole of “can you waffle it”? So far, my favorite creation has to be waffling a bunch of tater tots, topping those with pesto and a, wait for it, waffled omelet on top of that! Yes, you can pour eggs into a waffle maker and it makes a puffy amazing omelet. A little avocado, pepper and salt on top? Yeah, so good.  

Ornot recently launched a “Hidden Monsters” UV Trail Shirt. Can you tell us about it?

For the past 2 years, we’ve made a Small Monsters Project fundraiser jersey. We took the pattern that we used for the jersey and used that across the whole shirt. We also decided to keep the monsters hidden from the shirt, but if you look really hard, you could find some, Ornot.

Aside from the Hidden Monsters UV Trail Shirt, what other Ornot gear are you riding in these days?

A piece that’s underrated in our line is the Micro Grid Jersey. It’s perfect for our San Francisco Summers where it's chilly to start, but a micro climate jacket or vest, combined with the lofted fabric keeps you warm. As soon as the temp heats up, you dump the jacket and the jersey dumps the heat and dries quickly and can handle up to 80 degrees (or more). It’s a hyper versatile piece that’s my go-to.