Inside Eminent – Jeff Paulson
AKA: The (Other) Jeff
Birthplace: Victoria, BC Canada
Determined that I’d skip training wheels, my dad bought me my first two wheel BMX for my 4th birthday. My mom put a hockey helmet on my head and tied big foam chunks around my knees and elbows. Somehow I got it that day. At the risk of sounding cliché, it truly was my first taste of independence and ever since riding has been a required part of a balanced diet. Growing up I raced XC in high school, rode North Shore in Vancouver, while attending university, and spent a season in Whistler. Yes, I’m dual citizen (Canadian/US).
I’ve always lived on the West Coast, starting from Victoria, BC on Vancouver Island, over to the mainland (Vancouver) for school. I landed my first real job in Seattle and decided to take my dual citizenship out for a spin when I was 23. I was there for 3 years. Then I decided to take one year and live the dream in Whistler. The dream ended (it almost didn’t though) so I went back to Seattle, then the Bay Area for 11 years, where I rode SC a ton, and, finally, as of about a year and a half ago, SD. Over that period, I’ve owned all kinds of bikes: DH, XC, everything in-between, including road and gravel.
Favorite Riding Spot:
Whistler is pretty much unbeatable, but if I have to be honest, the Santa Cruz Mountains are where I really am the most at home and where I feel the greatest connection. It and the group of friends I had up there are what I miss most about living in the Bay area. So many things started there and there is a connection you get to the past in those mountains.
What about the riding in SD?
I’m definitely enjoying getting to know it, but I do miss shade, especially in the middle of summer. It takes time to really learn an area though and my free time isn’t as abundant now that I have two kids as it was when I started learning the Bay. I was also out for a decent chunk of last year with a broken knee and then a month in Europe travelling. I have decent riding out my door though which is good because I don’t get “days” to ride as often as I used to. I get 1-2 hour windows. I’ve really enjoyed the local stuff and when I do have time to drive, Greer, Skypark, and Noble are great. I also really enjoy the PCE which conveniently thanks to my dad having a condo in Palm Springs. Regardless of the lack of shade though I do really like the change in scenery. Swimming in the ocean after a ride is a def bonus down here.
How did you get on with Eminent?
Without going way into it, I’ll just say that before moving to SD I spent 18 years (minus my Whis sabbatical) building a decent career for myself outside the bike industry. While in Whis though, I got a job at a ski shop so I had some time in the outdoor industry, before coming back to city life and my “real” career. That career took my to-be-wife and I to the Bay. I found a great network of riding friends in Santa Cruz, many that worked at GoPro, X-Fusion, Fox, Specialized, Giro/Easton/Bell, and various shops. After 11 years in the Bay and starting a family, my wife and I made the decision to look for a better quality of life. SD isn’t exactly cheap, but your money definitely goes further compared to the Bay. The weather doesn’t suck and it’s a great place to raise kids. We moved down for my wife’s job, while I worked on getting us situated and then set out to do something I was truly passionate about. A good industry riding buddy introduced me to Jeff Soncrant and the rest is history. I’m a lucky guy. I get to work at something that my heart is truly in. But it is a real job… and because you are so plugged into it, getting quality riding time is harder than you’d think.
What’s the one quality you have that makes you unique around the office and on the trails?
It’s been said I’m a little obsessive when it comes to anything aesthetic related. Like most of us I’m a sucker for new toys, gear, clothing, etc… I’m like that but probably with a dose of an OCD. My Onset LT is a good example of that. I wanted something that was unique, had a definite color palate but not over the top matchy,matchy. I stole orange dropouts off a pre-production bike and paired it to an orange Fox Grip2. I was pretty stoked with the end result, both visually and performance-wise. I just wants to go faster and faster.
What is your favorite thing about working at Eminent?
This goes along the same lines as the previous answer… I think it’s a bit of an understatement to say that a good chunk of mountain bikers are pretty technologically and aesthetically obsessed, spending way too much time on PB and Vital, Googling spy photos. Being on the inside of that circle and in the know of what is coming and controlling and planning of how and when it is leaked and dropped is pretty awesome. Hearing people’s first time reactions to our bikes is always awesome, whether it’s a blown mind returning from a demo or just chatting with someone trailside who has never seen anything like it. It’s rad to be a part of something that straight up works and is unique from both a design and tech stand point. Reading expressions on people’s faces when they roll back from a first demo is pretty good proof of concept.
What’s your go to bike in the Eminent Line?
My Onset LT. All day long. I got on the 29er bandwagon in 2013, right when a few brands finally started to figure out the geo and how to make them more than XC machines. A few friends gave me crap for it and now they are all on big wheels (you know who you are). The LT was the obvious choice for me when I came onboard, and it’s blown me away. My last bike had 20mm more rear travel than this bike and the LT’s 140mm is def more capable. You just point and shoot. Bike park, epic pedalfest, and everything in between. I colored outside the lines a bit on the build for this one and I think it came out great. I swapped to orange dropouts to match my 36 Grip2 and added few bits of orange here and there, without going too matchy-matchy. If you look hard, there are a few other “tweaks” ... more to come on that later.
What would you like to see next from Eminent?
Exactly what IS coming next from Eminent (wink).
My wife and my kids and family and JV for getting me in.