Looking ahead to the 2016 Cyclocross National Championships in Asheville, North Carolina, has us thinking about past champions and future prospects. Someone that fits both bills, is 20-year old Logan Owen (California Giant/Specialized). The ten-time National Champion and reigning U23 title holder has elected to race the Elite Men’s race at this year’s championships.

We spoke briefly with Logan Owen on New Year’s Eve on his decision and what the future holds.

The phone rings and it’s Logan Owen. “Sorry I missed your call just a second ago. I was out washing my bike.” “Don’t worry about it, when a bike needs to be cleaned, it needs to be cleaned.”

Cyclocross Magazine:  The decision to race the Elite Men’s race at Nationals, when did that come about?

Logan Owen:  It was the beginning of the season, or really the beginning of 2015 after Worlds, when I was re-signing with Cal Giant-Specialized. It just seemed that it was time for a change. This would have been my third year racing the U23 championship race, against the same folks I’ve been racing for quite some time. Obviously the level of competition is higher in the Elite race, and I want to challenge myself.  And I think I have good shot!

CXM:  But not the move to the Men’s Elite race at the World Championships?

LO:  [Laughing] It’s different. I’ve won a lot of U23 race in the States. The U23 field in Europe is another level. It’s completely different than racing here at home. For the Europeans, the guys that were top 10 last year in U23 are all now right at the top of the Elite field. For me, in that setting, I’m still getting there.

CXM:  What about the streak? Does it matter?

LO:  It’s a big deal, of course. To win 10 championships in a row in any sport is difficult. It also shows consistency. But when I look at it, if I were to win another U23 title, there’s also the thought that what’s the difference between 10 and 11? This is about challenging and pushing myself. I don’t have less of a shot in the Elite race. So the streak can continue.

Logan Owen runs three flights of stairs to his 10th title - but the this trees still soars above him. © Cyclocross Magazine

Logan Owen en route to his 10th title in Austin last year. Can he make it 11 in a row in the Elite race? © Cyclocross Magazine

CXM:  What will it take to beat the reigning national champion?

LO:  A clean start and making sure I’m really in the race from the beginning. I also have to control what I can. Once we’re midway through the race it’s going to be who has the legs. From what I’ve seen, the course looks hilly, which I think is better for me than Jeremy [Powers] and [Stephen] Hyde. But once we’re in it, it’ll be about going all out. Total effort.

CXM:  You mention Stephen Hyde in there. Who are the other contenders?

LO:  Hyde for sure. [Jamey] Driscoll has been riding well. And [Jonathan] Page is coming into a better form too lately.

CXM:  Does the move to the Elite Men’s at Nationals mean a change in cyclocross teams?

LO:  Cal Giant-Specialized is a U23 team. When I went to the road and started racing with them I was, I think, the first junior on the squad. For 2016 there’s been the merger with Axeon, my current road team. It’s a great team and I really like what Axel [Merckx] is doing and working with him and everyone else there. California Giant will become a sponsor of Axeon. And there are likely some other changes as far as the road goes. We’ll see what happens for cyclocross with me next year.

CXM:  Where do you see your career going? Focusing on cyclocross? Heading for the road?

LO:  I’ve been 50-50 for the most part, splitting time equally. I never chose one over the other. I’m not sure where I’ll end up and it depends in part on the how the coming seasons for both disciplines go. I could make a good career in cyclocross, for sure. But I think slowly, in the future, the road may be more of an option in terms of earning a living.