Thompson to compete in USA Cycling Cross-Country Nationals

Published 6:07 pm Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Ethan Thompson is comfortable on bicycles, especially those on which the 16-year-old Green Creek resident is training for the USA Cycling Cross-Country Mountain Bike National Championships, July 18-21.

That he’s finished second and third while competing in the 19-29 year-old age class events, and has recently placed first in several regional competitions has been a confidence builder. In fact he noted softly, “I’m leading the (Southern Classic) series in the 15-18 age class.” This series holds races in the Carolinas, Tennessee and Virginia.

His entry into the 19-29 age bracket was a product of confidence and a “why not?” desire to see how he would fare against older and more experienced riders.

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Cross-country bicycle racing typically involves trails with a lot of hill climbing, but with less severe grades than some forms of off-road cycling competition. The race in which Thompson will compete is about seven or eight miles long (His most recent race was 12 miles) with lots of climbing. “We’ll probably hit the course several times (before the race, to get accustomed),” he said. The event is part of the schedule at Bear Creek Mountain Resort near Allentown, Pa. Ethan will compete in the Junior (age 15-18) Cat. 3 bracket.

Advancing from being a recreational rider, to a focused competitor has occurred quickly. “I went from an hour a day of riding, to lifting (weights), running and riding,” Thompson stated. He now trains four hours per day, Mondays through Fridays. Each day involves an hour and a half of weight lifting, thirty minutes of running, and two hours of cycling. The switch was not easy, even for the already active young man.

“I was tired for a while,” he said. “Now, I feel good.”

Weekend riding is reserved for sharing time with friends who ride for fun.

Thompson’s passion for cross-country bicycle racing began quietly. About one and one-half years ago,” he recalled, “I rode with my dad (Cory Thompson, who formerly raced motorcycles).” Shortly after, when visiting a bicycle shop he spotted a mountain bike.

“I had to have one,” he remembers. Soon, he entered short track racing in the winter. As his experience broadened, so did his bikes improve, to better handle the punishment dished out by rough terrain, and to be more responsive on the trails.

Ethan currently trains on two mountain bikes and two road bikes. He’ll be riding a Specialized (brand) Hard Rock bike during the Pennsylvania event.

Thompson trains heavily on his road bikes, especially since he can find challenging ascents on paved roads in this region.