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L39ION Of Los Angeles’ 2022 Roster

In 2019, brothers Justin & Cory Williams founded L39ION to, in Justin’s words, “eliminate the boundaries we faced and promote diversity in the sport of cycling.” In its short history, the team has garnered global attention for its unapologetic style and emphasis on athletes building spaces that spark authenticity, not conformity. Today, the team of 20 specializes in criterium racing. Justin describes crits as “the last, most exciting and fast hour of any road race around the world, placed in a downtown circuit for fans to watch from every corner.” With every win, the bedrock of the team’s mission to “change everything” is amplified. 

 

Justin Williams, L39ION co-founder and rider

justin williams, in belize national jersey

Hometown: Los Angeles, CA

Favorite places to ride: Thousand Oaks, CA and Mallorca in Spain’s Balearic Islands

His Story:

Growing up on 39th Street in Los Angeles, cycling wasn’t the most obvious sport of choice. But Justin’s Belizean family roots stemmed from a deep cycling background, and he quickly found his natural talent for two-wheels.

As quickly as he could sprint to the finish line, he began to pick up his first of many national titles. But as one of the only Black cyclists in the sport, he quickly realized how the system wasn’t designed for riders who didn’t look the same, act the same, and read off the same script. 

Along the way, he took mental notes on all the barriers he faced and thought of new ways to create more equitable opportunities. As his race resume grew, he took every opportunity to use newfound resources and meetings with decision-makers to reinvest into a team of his own design—one that destroyed the barriers he faced growing up. 

After recruiting his brother, Cory as his first teammate, the resumes began to pile up from athletes around the world in search of something different. Before he knew it, L39ION was born.

His tips for new riders: “Sit at the back for a couple of races. Don’t overdo it, don’t overextend yourself. Racing is about understanding. You can find somebody that looks like they know what to do, and follow what they do. But it’s all about being patient, being very patient, and really learning the tactics of racing.”

Favorite song on replay: “Hold on, Hold on” by Neko Case

The races L39ION fans shouldn’t miss: Tulsa Tough, Harlem Skyscraper, and Into The Lion’s Den

Cory Williams, L39ION co-founder and rider

Hometown: Los Angeles, CA

Favorite place to ride: Malibu, CA

His story:  It didn’t happen overnight, but through “a lot of hard work,” Cory has found a place where he could stay true to himself and excel on the bike. “A lot of just putting my head down and making sure I kept going,” he says. His first-hand experience echoes in his guidance for new riders. “If you’re getting into racing, the best thing you can do is show up. It’s hard to start something, but once you start it, you’ll find your way. That’s what it’s all about, just finding your way and building a support system,” he says.

Favorite song on replay: “Having Your Way” by Migos (feat. Drake)

The race L39ION fans shouldn’t miss: Tulsa Tough & Into The Lion’s Den

Alec Cowan

Hometown: Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Favorite place to ride: Santa Monica Mountains in CA

His story: As a junior, Alec raced road and track with the Canadian National Team before moving onto the North American continental circuit and chasing World Tour results. Striving for the upper echelon didn’t come without challenges: “I had some difficulty dealing with the stress of bike racing. So I took a break and came back into the sport with a different mindset.” Alec says his tenure on L39ION began when “the stars aligned.”

His tips for new riders: “You don’t have to fit into this cookie-cutter system. You can be yourself on the bike just like another sport. There’s no judgment. It’s okay to be unique and to be a cyclist, it’s not just trying to fit into this perfect norm.”

Favorite song on replay: “War” by Drake

The race L39ION fans shouldn’t miss: Tulsa Tough

 

Alexis Ryan

Hometown: Ventura, CA

Favorite place to ride: Santa Monica Mountains in CA

Her story: After racing in Europe for six years, Alexis began feeling the distance from her home. She decided to return to the U.S. on her own terms “because I felt like I wasn’t where I wanted to be as far as contributing to my community.” With L39ION, Alexis is thrilled to be teammates with her sister, Kendall, and racing on roads across the country.

Her tips for new riders: “Learn how to race before you focus on being strong, because racing is an art form, and that art form is being lost.”

Her ultimate goal with L39ION: “To inspire young women to get on bikes, and people of color to get into the sport of cycling and feel welcome.”

Favorite song on replay: “The Life You Chose” by Jason Isbell

The race L39ION fans shouldn’t miss: Athens Twilight

 

Amber Joseph

Hometown: Barbados

Favorite place to ride: Home roads of Barbados

Her story: The Barbadian National Champion puts in the work to get the pay off. “I got to this point in my cycling career after a lot of hard work, determination, and persistence, that I was no longer chasing goals, but following my dreams,” she says.

Her tips for new riders: “Dream big, have fun with it. And yeah, just enjoy it as much as you can because it’ll change your life.”

Her ultimate goal with L39ION: “I want to inspire the younger generations. Because when I was coming through the ranks, I always looked up to other cyclists and felt like I could be one of them one day. That helped keep me motivated. I just want to inspire future generations and help girls get into sports and follow their dreams.”

The race L39ION fans shouldn’t miss: Tulsa Tough

 

Eder Frayre

Hometown: Ensenada, California, Mexico

Favorite place to ride: San Diego, CA

His story: The Mexican National Champion and competitor at the 2021 Tokyo Games started riding when he was a kid and feels like now he’s at the best point in his cycling career: “Now it’s the moment to enjoy and keep working hard because it’s a big responsibility being [on] this team. [I’m] proud to be here.”

His ultimate goal with L39ION: “To show to people, to the world, [that] if we give opportunity to people from other countries, from other situations, we can have successful results.”

The race L39ION fans shouldn’t miss: Redlands Bicycle Classic

Freddy Ovett

Hometown: Girona, Spain

His story:  With endless natural athletic ability, it’s no surprise why Freddy excels in so many disciplines both on and off the bike. Whether competing as one of the best Zwift racers in the world or running the occasional marathon, Freddy does it all.

Favorite pieces of cycling gear: Wahoo Kickr, Specialized S-Works 7, Specialized S-Works Vent

Favorite song on replay: All Odeza

His favorite criterium type: Anything hilly

Gavin Hoover

gavin hooverHometown: Los Angeles, CA

Favorite place to ride: Santa Monica Mountains in CA

His story:

Gavin’s cycling story is all about persistence. He says he puts “one foot in front of the next.” After kicking off his cycling journey at a Los Angeles velodrome youth program, Gavin gradually began racing nationally, then around the world. His persistence eventually granted him a spot at the 2021 Tokyo Games for Team USA.

His ultimate goal with L39ION: “L39ION is giving us this incredible platform to be more than just an athlete. I’ve spent a lot of the last two years in a high-pressure environment, focused around [medaling] and it’s very myopic. Coming here and seeing all these different perspectives … it’s about showing people that you don’t necessarily have to fit into this really rigid box to be successful.”

His tips for new riders:  “Keep it fun, just enjoy it.”

Favorite song on replay: More of a playlist guy

The race L39ION fans shouldn’t miss: Tulsa Tough

 

Hunter Grove

hunter groveHometown: Houston, TX

Favorite place to ride: San Diego County, CA

His story:

Hunter’s cycling journey started on the back of a Burley Rock ‘n Roll tandem with his dad, with whom he shared countless training rides on his way to becoming a pro. “Every single ride I did with him, I would sprint to the speed bump at the end of my street. When I began to beat him, he told me it was time to go find better people to ride with.”

His ultimate goal with L39ION: “Fill the world with bikes. If there are more bikes in the world, bicycles will be taken more seriously because they would just literally be everywhere.”

His tips for new riders:  “I wouldn’t enter a race until you’ve ridden for about a year and done some group rides because I think you can just accelerate the process and make it safer in the time being.”

Favorite song on replay: “Back in Blood” by Pooh Shiesty (feat. Lil Durk)

The race L39ION fans shouldn’t miss: Tulsa Tough

Ian Garrison

Hometown: Atlanta, GA

Favorite place to ride: Mountains in north GA

His story: At only 24 years old, Ian is one of the most decorated time-trialists in the world, earning a medal at the Junior World Championships, U23 World Championships, and the coveted title as US Pro Time-Trial champion. If you’re in a breakaway, he’s the last person you want chasing you down.

His ultimate goal with L39ION: “Get more people involved [in the cycling community], especially in the Atlanta region. It’s really personal to me, and so to bring that community in … there’s a lot of people that would enjoy that.”

His tips for new riders: “Just have fun. Watch races because you can learn a lot just by watching. Do some group rides and start out. Don’t be scared to sign up for a race and see how it goes.”

The race L39ION fans shouldn’t miss: Athens Twilight

Julyn Aguila

Hometown: Mexico

Favorite place to ride: The older areas found in Mexico

Her story: Coming from a big cycling family, Julyn was inspired to get into the sport by her father, who also rode. Riding continues to permeate every aspect of her life—her husband even proposed to her on a ride! She had incredibly tired legs from racing in Illinois for ten straight days, but saying “yes” at the top of a climb made it the best ride of her life.

Her tips for new riders: “Never give up. Cycling is a sport to be passionate about—just keep going.”

The race L39ION fans shouldn’t miss: Tulsa Tough

Kendall Ryan

Hometown: Ventura, CA

Favorite place to ride: Ventura, CA

Her story: The 2021 U.S. National Criterium Champion has been racing since she was six years old. Similar to a number of her L39ION teammates, she preferred a home base in the United States over racing full-time in Europe. “It wasn’t really aligning with my goals,” she says, “I talked to Justin, and he was going to bring me on board and start a women’s team. And here we are.”

Her ultimate goal with L39ION: “This is a severely male dominated sport, and I would really like to encourage a lot more females to get into it, ride their bikes, have fun, race, and see how awesome cycling is.”

Her tips for new riders:  “Surround yourself with a very supportive group of people.”

Favorite song on replay: “Savage” by Whethan (feat. Flux Pavilion & MAX)

The race L39ION fans shouldn’t miss: Tulsa Tough

 

Lance Haidet

Hometown: San Luis Obispo, CA

Favorite place to ride: San Luis Obispo, CA

His story: Originally a soccer player, Lance began riding mountain bikes and cyclocross after a series of injuries. He naturally gravitated to cyclocross “because it combined his running background with bike racing.” Lance went on to win the U.S. National U-23 Cyclocross Championships, followed by the U.S. National Under-23 Road Championships a few years later.

His ultimate goal with L39ION:  “We do a great job of trying to make the bicycle something that everyone can enjoy. I think the bike is just a powerful tool to show people the world around them.

His tips for new riders:  “Don’t take it too seriously. It’s really easy to get your head stuck in the numbers and focus on results. [But through experience] you learn how to be a better bike racer. Just enjoy the process.”

Favorite song on replay: “Simple Man” by Lynyrd Skynyrd

The race L39ION fans shouldn’t miss: Tulsa Tough

 

Sam Boardman

sam boardman, smiling at cameraHometown: Washington, DC

Favorite place to ride: Malibu Mountains in CA

His story: The competitive drive took hold for Sam in high school with track & field. But running—which we hope all readers here know—is a “pretty brutal sport if you’re not just physically gifted for it,” he says. He was drawn to cycling when he saw that there were “a variety of people who were able to be successful in the same sport.” In 2020, he asked Justin and Cory if he could join L39ION and the team’s cause. “Now we’re here,” he says.

His ultimate goal with L39ION: “Racing is not the end-all-be-all of what a cycling experience can be. Getting on a bike is largely experiential. Cycling should be [about] liberation, education, independence, and freedom.”

His tips for new riders:  “Don’t have any expectations for yourself. Not having expectations leads to actually having more fun and more room to develop in a healthy way rather than holding yourself to goals that you don’t even really know you have until you have raced for a significant amount of time.”

Favorite song on replay: “Mystery” by Turnstile

The race L39ION fans shouldn’t miss: Armed Forces Classic

 

Sam Schneider

sam schneiderHometown: West Allis, WI

Favorite place to ride: West Allis, WI

Her story: Sam has been at the winning end of criterium racing for years. After taking some time away to have her first child, she’s teamed up with her sister Skylar and is ready to return to the podium as a L39ION rider. She’s got the experience and drive to do it: “I’ve always worked as hard as I can and followed my gut to lead me where I want to be.”

Her ultimate goal with L39ION: “I want to inspire people to reach for their dreams, whether it’s on the bike or not. I just want to be that inspiration for people so they can see that no dream is unattainable.”

Her tips for new riders: “Have fun and ask questions. There’s no such thing as a dumb question when you’re starting out. Sport and cycling can be scary so just enjoy it.”

Favorite song on replay: “betty” by Taylor Swift

Shayna Powless

Hometown: Jacksonville, FL

Favorite place to ride: Malibu, CA

Her story: Shayna started riding nearly as soon as she was walking. She rolled up to her first race at the age of four and continued climbing the professional ranks, setting her sights on medaling at the sport’s highest level. 

Beyond riding, she’s determined to help her fellow Native American community through the Dream Catcher Foundation, which she started with her fiance. Their mission is to “empower Native youth to lead active, healthier lifestyles through cycling or other sports.” With L39ION, she has a larger platform to share her message, promote her give-back philosophy, and continue to chase her cycling goals.

Her ultimate goal with L39ION: “I’m really looking forward to doing community work through L39ION this year, doing some junior camps with my teammate Sam, outreach with Outride, and also through my Dream Catcher Foundation.”

Her tips for new riders:  “Have fun first and foremost. And then set goals for yourself. Short-term, long-term goals—that’s always good no matter what level you’re at in cycling, even if you’re just starting out.”

Favorite song on replay: “Intro” by The xx

The race L39ION fans shouldn’t miss: Tulsa Tough & Nationals

 

Skylar Schneider

Hometown: West Allis, WI

Favorite place to ride: West Allis, WI

Her story: Skylar, though just 23 years old, has spent nearly two decades preparing for this point in her career. After her early years shredding BMX, she transitioned to blasting road miles, eventually competing in the World Tour. Her favorite place to ride is at home though, and with L39ION, she can race across the United States and connect with fans. She says she’s “really happy where I am and excited for what’s to come.”

Her ultimate goal with L39ION: “The biggest impact I want to have in the sport is just being someone for the little girls to look up to. Last year alone, it was really humbling how many girls came to me before races to take pictures. They found me after the race and were just so excited. So if I can help nurture that next generation, that would mean a lot.”

Her tips for new riders:  “It’s good to make some friends. It’s kind of lonely to go out training by yourself whether you’re getting into racing to be competitive or pro one day. It doesn’t matter if you’re just having fun, if you have people encouraging and motivating you, it makes all the difference.”

Favorite song on replay: “Vagabond” by Caamp

The race L39ION fans shouldn’t miss: Tulsa Tough & Into The Lion’s Den

Ty Magner

Hometown: Athens, GA

Favorite places to ride: Southeast Georgia & North Carolina

His story: Ty’s picked up a thing or two in his years of racing at home and abroad. But with L39ION, he’s got a real connection to the riders on the squad and is helping the team’s mission of reshaping the U.S. racing scene. As the 2018 U.S. Pro Criterium Champion, Ty is one of the most tactically savvy riders in the peloton. “I’ve always had a real affection for racing criteriums. But I was out of a job at the end of 2020. I called Justin and said, ‘Hey, man, if you have anything awesome going on next year, I’d love to be a part of it.’ And here I am.”

His ultimate goal with L39ION: “Give kids a future in racing in America, not necessarily just in Europe or anywhere else in the world. I’d like to go to an elementary school and say, ‘You can have the dream to be a professional cyclist in America.’”

Favorite song on replay: “Cover Me Up” by Jason Isbell

 

Tyler Williams

Hometown: San Francisco, CA

Favorite places to ride: Sonoma County in CA

His story: Tyler’s work-ethic has earned him spots on some of the biggest stages cycling has to offer. He did two years with the junior national team, then signed with the BMC development team for three years. After one year with Axeon-Hagens Berman, he went on to Israel Cycling Academy. After some time away from the sport, he found L39ION, which he describes as “the place where I was supposed to be, finally.”

His ultimate goal with L39ION: “If we could create something where it’s sustainable to live your dreams as a professional cyclist in the U.S. … if I could give that opportunity to people in the future, that would be a big accomplishment.”

Favorite song on replay: “Send Help” by Doesn’t Have One

The race L39ION fans shouldn’t miss: Tulsa Tough

 

L39ION team riding in a group, standing and pedaling

Stay in touch with L39ION news, the latest gear releases, and community stories in The Lion’s Den.

Loving L39ION’s song picks? Get the playlist here

Photos by Kit Karzen