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Carter boys place at National Junior Championships Road Race

Posted on 24 September 2018 by calvin

Nick Carter crosses the finish line to win at the 2018 National Junior Men’s Championships. (Photo provided)

By JAN WILLMS
Fourteen-year-old Jack Carter has joined his brother Nick, 16, in scoring as a championship bicycle rider. Nick recently took first place in National Junior Men’s Championships in his age division, and Jack came in second in his age bracket. The boys were competing in road bike racing at Hagerstown, MD.

They also are on the mountain bike team at South High School, where Jack is a ninth grader, and Nick is in 11th grade. But the sport of cyclocross has them crossing the Midwest every fall to participate in multiple races.

“In cyclocross, you’re on a road bike with wider tires that are shaped a bit differently and have knobs on them,” Nick explained. “The races usually consist of a one-to-two-mile lap, about an hour long. The actual rides depend on how the course is designed.”
He said cyclocross races usually have at least two obstacles that often require the rider to get off his bike, carry it through the obstacle and then jump back on and continue riding.

“Some riders try to find ways to ride their bikes through the barriers, and that makes it more of a spectator sport,” Nick added.

He said cyclocross demands a combination of strength and technical ability. “All the courses are different, and some play well to people who are really strong. Others are suited to people who can ride well.”

The boys come to cycling naturally. Their dad, Doug, has been biking for years and introduced his sons to cyclocross. A state engineer for Minnesota Department of Transportation, he attends all the competitions with them and rides in the master division in many of their races.

Their mom, Katie, a biology teacher at Roosevelt, said she is more of a casual bike rider, cycling around the neighborhood. “For our family, cycling is a big thing,” she said. “But the boys have chosen the sport on their own. Every year we ask them if they want to try soccer or another sport, but they always want to do the cycling.”

“They get zero pressure from us; they do it all themselves,” she noted.

Photo right: (L to R) Jack Carter, coach Sherry Townsend, Nick Carter, and coach Charlie Townsend. Nick came in first in his age division, and Jack came in second in his division. (Photo provided)

For Nick, the cyclocross has provided a series of goals, always working towards advanced levels of cycling. His wins in national championships have led him to be invited two times to the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, CO. “They invite people to what they call Identity Camps,” said Katy. “They identify people who are ready to race at the next level.”

Although mountain biking and road racing are among Olympic sports, cyclocross has not yet been included. “Because it’s a fall sport, one of the questions is whether to place it in the winter or summer Olympics,” Nick said.

“Nick’s next goal is to get to the World Cyclocross in Europe,” noted Katie. She said she thinks Jack does as well as he does by competing with Nick. “They compete in everything they do,” she laughed.

Not so, according to Jack. “Often my older brother is ahead, and it gives me a point to strive toward. I try and catch up with him rather than compete with him.”

Jack said the biggest challenge for him in racing is holding on to the other people in the race. “I should be staying with the pack, instead of just charging in there. That is the hardest for me,” he noted.‘

Jack said a lot of cycling can lead to crashes, but he has never crashed on pavement. “Cyclocross is mostly on dirt and grass, so that’s not so bad. Road cycling is on pavement. I tend to play it more safe than dangerous,” he added.

“We both do multiple types of cycling,” Jack said. “Our championships in July were in road biking, where aerodynamics is important. Each type of cycling has its season,” he continued. “Road biking has ended, and now cyclocross starts. We will be traveling around the Midwest to compete.”

Locally, there are cyclocross races every Wednesday night in the Battle Creek area. “The big season races start in a couple of weeks at Waterloo WI,” Nick said. “The best riders from all over the world will come to Wisconsin, then on to Iowa City.”

Nick said the sport has grown tremendously. “When I started at 9, there were maybe four juniors in races. Now, the junior fields have 70-80 riders,” he said.

For Nick, the atmosphere at the races is his favorite part. “People come to watch, and everybody has a good time, cheering everyone on.”

Jack said he likes the fast speed of the road races the most. “I like just being in the race and enjoying it,” he said.
Nick has been invited to join an elite team out of Kansas, the Kansas City Cyclocross (KCCX), But he still hopes to maintain a balance between school, home, and biking.

“Some kids our age will do online school so they can focus on biking,” Jack said. “Our parents want us not to do that because it can lead to burnout. My dad enjoys cycling today as much as when he was a kid; he didn’t burn out. So we are taking a lighter pace.”

 

 

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