The Transylvania Times -

Hendersonville And National Champs, A Season Recap


January 22, 2018

Courtesy photo

Tristan Cowie will represent the U.S. in Holland next month.

While cyclocross is all about preparation, there comes a time to execute the plan and race your heart out. In November I

was half-way through

my cyclocross season. Cyclocross is a sport that takes place during the fall and winter months, as the seasons generally starts in September and lasts until January or February

for international races. Thanksgiving was great place to ease off on the racing and traveling, and recharge the batteries for the second half of the season.

The number of races decreases in the winter months, but the priority does not. My two biggest races of the year were in the latter half of the season: the Hendersonville NCGP and the National Championships in Reno, Nev. Hendersonville, or Hendo for short, is my favorite race. It's the one cross race a year where I can sleep in my own bed, take a short drive and see all my friends and family there. It's also the biggest pressure of the year. There's a different nervousness when I am racing in front of my home crowd. However, I put all of that pressure on myself, because I want to ride a clean race and perform as best I can.

Hendo can have tricky conditions; it has been short sleeves and sunny skies and also 40 degrees and pouring rain. It's always a guess until you show up. This year, Mother Nature threw a curveball over Jackson Park. Snow, and lots of it.

Racing in snow is peculiar. The snow grabs your wheels and steers opposite of what is directed. The snow at the NCGP was deep and fluffy, making steering and controlling the bike a problem. Upper body strength was going to be as important as having powerful legs and lungs.

I started right at the front, leading into the first corner. Perfect, I made it through cleanly and safely. I defended my position throughout the first lap, but struggled with the running sections of the race. The snow and ice packed into my shoes and cleats, preventing me from clipping into my pedals and gaining control. While I struggled with my pedals and forward movement in the deep snow, I watched the lead riders slip away from me. Alas, not a win today but I could still salvage a top-three or top-five position.

I was determined to make up for the first day's racing on day two. Taking the hole shot, or first-place rider in the first corner, I stayed on the gas and hung with the leaders. Still, the conditions clogged my shoes and prevented me from staying with the front two riders. After another frozen hour, I managed to land in third place.

After a few more weeks of training and anxiously waiting, it was

off to the National Championships in Reno. The course and conditions were vastly different from Hendersonville. Dry, hard packed ground and loose stones crunched under my wheels. The temperatures were in the 50s, a long way from the frozen tundra back home.

I decided to play it safe and ride steady throughout the race. Even though the National Championships is the premier event in my sport, I wanted to hold a little in reserve. I avoided the chaos of the first lap and settled into a steady pace. Finishing the first lap I saw that I wasn't too far behind the leading group. I was tempted to jump across and start trading blows with the leaders, but I stuck to the plan and rode my own race. After the halfway point, the leading group of riders started to splinter. Two competitors flatted their tires and drifted back to me. With just a few laps remaining in the race, I was in fifth place at the National Championships, my best result to date. Unfortunately, the two riders who flatted caught me. Soon dispatching me with one lap to go. That elusive top five slipped out of my fingers but I hung on for seventh, my best result at the professional level.

Courtesy photo

Cowie placed seventh overall in the men's pro class recently in Reno, Nev.

That seventh place earned me a place to represent the United States at

the World Cyclocross Championships in Feb-ruary. Racing for the national team is a tremendous honor and has been a big personal goal of mine. When I first moved to Brevard I competed as a junior in the

World Mountain Bike Championships in Scot-land. It was always a dream of mine to make the Professional team at a World Championship event ever since. Over 10 years since my debut, I made it back. A big thanks to all my family, friends and's going to be a great ride.

Cowie is a Brevard College graduate and

senior level coach at Carmichael Training Systems in Pisgah Forest.


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