Oskar Blues Brewery continues its streak of supporting cycling in Transylvania County with their sponsorship of Neko Mulally, a 21-year-old Brevard transplant from Reading, Pa.
Mulally moved to Brevard full-time after spending the past few winters here, trying to escape the cold up north and taking advantage of all that the area has to offer for training in the off season.
Making a splash at the 2014 UCI Downhill World Championships race in Hafjell, Norway, Mulally broke his chain during the first few feet of the course, but to everyone’s surprise he came in fourth place. That may not mean much to people who aren’t familiar with elite downhill mountain bike racing, but in the mountain bike world, breaking your chain and staying in the top ten is phenomenal; landing on the podium is nothing short of legendary.
Mulally recently returned from Switzerland, making arrangements with his new bike sponsor, GSTAAD-Scott. Gstaad is a Swiss ski town in the southwestern part of the country, and Scott is a bike manufacturer based in Switzerland.
“We’re allowed to have our own sponsors aside from the team. One of those categories leaves us a helmet sponsor to pick on our own. Most riders go with Monster or Redbull or Rockstar, but I wanted something different. This partnership with Oskar Blues is something I have been working on for two years,” he said.
Mulally will ride in a custom Dale’s Pale Ale full-face helmet, made by Bell Helmets. Mulally is the only World Cup racer to be sponsored by an American craft beer company.
“My helmet will be a variation of a Dale’s Pale Ale can. The Pale Ale represents America, stars and bars and it’s very patriotic. The helmet is pretty cool, and it will say Oskar Blues down the side. At the races they have camera shots looking down on us, so everyone will be able to see it clearly,” said Mulally.
“I’ve been coming to Brevard in the winter for the past three or four winters, I’ve been here full time since Oct. 2013. The winter before that I spent a couple of months here, I’ve always come down to get out of the cold,” he said.
Mulally said it was really easy to start the conversation with Oskar Blues because most of them are already mountain bikers and they were able to reach an agreement this year.
“They do a lot of media events and promote cycling, and as a brand they’re super into mountain biking and the outdoor lifestyle,” he said. “For them to be into the lifestyle, and for me being an All American kid it’s a great fit,” he said. “With OB having a brewery here it made really easy for me. We’re both here because this area is perfect for the both of us. It’s a great place for their brand, and I moved here to have the best place to train. It’s an awesome place to be.”
Mulally’s favorite trail is the top section of Black Mountain, where the trail turns steep, rutted and rough. This kind of terrain is similar to the ski resorts where the World Cup races are held.
Chad Melis, head of marketing for Oskar Blues, echoes Mulally, and said that Oskar Blues will continue to support the local community and this opportunity is just one more thing they can do that reflects the culture of the company.
“Craft beer in general is part of the social fabric in these communities,” said Melis. “It’s important to be authentic about your passions and incorporate that into what you do. We have a rich history of cycling culture. We started our own bicycle line, REEB, and we want to support someone we think is heavily dedicated. We’re proud and happy to be able to support Neko and realize his goals.”
Melis said that Mulally will be doing some riding at the REEB ranch on Crab Creek Road at the Henderson/Transylvania County line, and that Oskar Blues will be picking his brain for some trail development at the REEB ranch.
Mulally is not the only athlete that Oskar Blues sponsors. BMX rider Zak Earley also flies the Dale’s Pale Ale colors, and he participated at the Redbull Dreamline event earlier this year at the REEB Ranch. “Historically we’ve had some big name athletes that we have supported,” said Melis. “Dellys Starr, an Olympian Australian national mountain bike champion, wore a Dale’s Pale Ale kit and Jennifer Gersbach, 24-hour world champion, rode in a Dale’s kit also.
We want to continue to support what we’re passionate about. “We really want to have Neko be apart of the Oskar Blues culture. We hope he can make it to the Burning Can festival, and when he’s racing stateside, we want him to connect with our customers. There’s no better beer than the after-ride beer.” “We’re excited because it’s the next chapter for Neko. He’s had a great run with his career so far and he’s only 21, and having a home town connection has been really important for him so, seeing that excitement in him gets us excited, and the timing is really great for both of us.”
The UCI World Cup is a multi-round mountain bike race series sanctioned by the Union Cycliste Internationale. The first round was held in 1989, which consisted of only cross country racing events. Downhill was added two years later. The series travels all over the world, with riders accumulating points for each race, resulting in an overall winner at the end of the year.
The 2015 season started April 11 in Lourdes, France. The races are aired live on redbull.tv.