Rocket Scientist, Olympian, and Bonk Breaker Athlete–Meet Scott Evans

At Bonk Breaker, we’re fortunate to work with so many incredible athletes from a number of sports, and there’s one such person that’s been with us since the beginning and truly bleeds orange. Team Bonk Breaker member Scott Evans has accomplished more on the bike than most could even dream of, but that’s not even the half of it.

In addition to being a two-time Paralympian in tandem track cycling, having piloted the tandem to silver and bronze medals in the Atlanta games with blind stoker Cara Dunne, and earning a national championship medal in the team pursuit, Scott’s 9 to 5 is just as impressive as his on-the-bike exploits. For his day job, Scott is a tried and true rocket scientist. As a Ph.D. astrophysicist working for NASA at JPL, Scott leads the team that develops the navigation software system for JPL missions. Read Scott’s story.

One of the perks of working at JPL is that you have your own Mars rover to play with. Photo: John Ker

So, what exactly is your day job?
I work for NASA at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena. I lead a team that develops the software system that computes trajectories pre-flight and then navigates the spacecraft once in space. So I spend my days managing a few million taxpayer dollars per year while making sure that the flight project and operations needs are met as well as the needs of the analysts who are always looking for new and innovative ways to do space missions. I’ve been involved in all the Mars missions since the Phoenix lander in 2008, the Cassini mission at Saturn, the planet-hunting Kepler mission, the New Horizons mission to Pluto, and the upcoming Europa mission to Jupiter.

While not doing rocket science (pun intended) you’re also an accomplished cyclist, having made your way from the track to road and criterium racing to now enjoying Gran Fondos and gravel events. How have your interests changed over the years?
I always loved track cycling but it takes a lot of time. When I was 25 the thought of driving 90 minutes each way in traffic for a track ride didn’t deter me at all. Now that I have a job and a family it just doesn’t appeal to me as much anymore. I much prefer to just roll out my door, get my ride in, and then be home with my family. I still have that desire to challenge myself, though, and that includes pinning on a number from time to time. Over the last several years I started riding Gran Fondos because just racing crits and track I never did any true endurance events. Things like Rock Cobbler, the Belgian Waffle Ride, the Santa Clarita Gran Fondo, and the Mammoth Gran Fondo became ways I could do events that were true tests of the athlete as well as equipment. Each ride is truly epic and I remember every one of them. I can’t say the same for each parking lot I raced in over the last 30 years.

Having already experienced so much on a bike, what would your dream cycling trip be?
I’ve watched every Tour de France on tv since 1985 so I feel like I “know” every climb in France but I’ve never ridden any of them. I’d love to just disappear into the Alps or Pyrenees and bag those big climbs. I’ve also heard about a company in Colorado that offers a chance to ride from yurt to yurt in the mountains of Colorado. That sounds amazing! Or maybe visit my cycling hero Andy Hampsten in Tuscany and ride the roads there. There’s so much!

Scott traded the track and criterium races for Gran Fondos and gravel rides.

You understand the laws of physics better than just about anyone out there, has that ever been an advantage to you on the bike?
I think it’s given me an edge because physics has allowed me to have bike setups that were ahead of the curve. For example, after thinking about it for a while some years ago I decided that I needed a lot less pressure in my tires to optimize the rolling resistance for the type of riding I was doing. Physics exposed me to ideas like “hoop stress” so I knew that when I got bigger tires I needed to run lower pressures and by exactly how much.

If you’re going into an all-day adventure ride with some of your buddies, what would you have in your pockets and what would your fueling strategy be?
I like to approach my fueling from a few ways, starting with sucking on one or two Energy Chews at a time which gives me some quick energy and also keeps my mouth from getting too dry. When we take a quick break then I can get a Bonk Breaker bar into the system and keep my energy stores topped off. Finally, I like a little flavor and electrolytes in one of my bottles along with water in the other or in a Camelbak. Bonk Breaker Wolfberry is my favorite!

You can only eat one flavor of Bonk Breaker bars for the rest of your life, what’s it going to be?
That’s a toughie…it would either be the Peanut Butter and Chocolate Chip or Cookies and Cream. I really can’t decide!

Follow Scott’s cycling exploits on Strava.

by bonkbreaker

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