Kelton Williams of Ashton, Idaho attended his first Montana Cross Camp this year. Williams raced an extended cyclocross schedule for the first time during the 2016 season and improved his finish at Nationals in his 15-16 age group from 48th in Asheville to 12th earlier this year in Hartford.
At the camp earlier this summer, the Kelson/DNA Rouler rider received a special visit that could best be described as Christmas in July.
His dad, Brian Williams owns and runs Kelson Bikes, located in Rexburg, Idaho. On Thursday night, with just one “light” day of running and cyclocross drills left in the camp, Brian drove from Ashton, Idaho to Bozeman, Montana to play Santa in July for his son. After more than a few late nights in the shop, Brian delivered a brand new, handcrafted carbon cyclocross bike for his son.
Needless to say Kelton was quite touched and appreciative. “Should I ride it tomorrow?” he asked his dad.
“Of course!” the elder Williams replied.
“But it’s going to get sandy,” Kelton worried.
With a shrug of his shoulders, his father gave his blessing.
Luckily for other campers, the next morning shouldering drills were on the schedule, and many got their turn throwing the new featherweight machine on their shoulder while the proud builder watched from the Montana High School bleachers.
Cyclocross Magazine‘s Andrew Yee sat down with Kelton to ask him about his surprise new bike and why he came to Montana Cross Camp this year.
Interview with Kelton Williams at the 2017 Montana Cross Camp
Cyclocross Magazine: This is your first camp?
Kelton Williams: Yes sir.
CXM: What motivated you to come?
KW: The combination of how hard these kids can push me, and I knew coming into this camp I need to be prepared. I knew all these kids would motivate me to do better at ’cross. I needed that little extra motivation because I was lacking that a little bit. This definitely motivated me to go on to bigger and better things.
CXM: Were you familiar with any of these guys in your same age group? Maybe from having raced against them?
KW: My roommate, I knew him from a race, but I’ve only seen him around, but not really talked to him.
CXM: Does this camp turn competitors at Nationals into friends?
KW: Oh yeah, of course. When I see them in their kits and helmets, they’re so focused, but once I really get to know them and see their personalities, they become great friends.
CXM: What was your biggest takeaway from this camp?
KW: How hard they work, and the different types of things they do. Before I came I wouldn’t ride nearly as much as I did here. This hurt me. Seeing how motivated they are and how hard they work at it, it’s really going to push me to do better.
CXM: What age group are you?
KW: I will be a 17-18 this year.
CXM: Are any of the U23s or Tobin like idols, people you looked up to?
KW: Gage [Hecht], of course. Lance [Haidet] when he won Nationals. I saw him and craved that. And Tobin [Ortenblad], yeah, of course.
CXM: What was the highlight of the camp for you?
KW: I liked the barriers and the cyclocross-focused stuff. I didn’t love the long rides, but they helped me. I also learned different styles of cyclocross.
CXM: You come from an area where there’s, I imagine, a lot of long gravel climbs.
KW: Of course. They’re all over. The most beautiful roads you could ever imagine are like right outside my backyard. I can even make my own cyclocross course in my backyard, so that’s a plus.
CXM: This is Ashton, Idaho?
KW: Yes sir.
CXM: You’re also a little different than most attendees in that your dad custom-made your own bike and also coaches you?
KW: Yeah. Kelson Bikes. I have so much respect for him. What he does for me and everybody else. He works so hard for us.
CXM: Is that how you got into the sport? He was a racer and just brought you along as a little kid?
KW: Basically, yeah.
CXM: How long have you been doing this?
KW: I was about 10 or 11 and he built my first bike. It was called the “bumblebee” because it was black and yellow. I got on it and just loved it. Competing with my brother on our backyard course. My dad built that too. It motivated me.
CXM: He showed up on Thursday night?
KW: He was actually bringing me the new prototype of the bike and let me try it out. He was coming to watch me and see what these kids are capable of and to see my progression. He’s going to come pick me up too.
CXM: Do you think that has inspired some of the workouts he’s going to have you do?
KW: A lot, yeah.
CXM: That bike he delivered, did you ride that today?
CXM: How did it compare to what you were riding before?
KW: It’s a lot better. It was so much lighter and it felt like there was nothing on my shoulder. I was just gliding across the grass.
CXM: And he just started building that on Monday, out of carbon?
KW: Full carbon. All himself.
CXM: What are your big goals for the season?
KW: I want to win a couple bigger races. I’d be ok winning some smaller races, but I also want to become a better cyclist. All around better. Mentally. Physically.
CXM: Do you do other types of bike racing or other sports?
KW: I do a couple mountain bike races, but no road. I train on the road occasionally, but I focus on ’cross.
CXM: Any other sports in school?
KW: No. I want to start running cross country this year, but other than that, no.
CXM: How would you describe Geoff Proctor?
KW: Really motivating. When my dad first told me about him, I thought of him as a really big inspiration. Then when I met him, it was even more of an inspiration. He’s such an amazing, nice guy. We should all have more respect for what he does. He deserves a lot of credit.
CXM: Do you hope to come back?
KW: Yeah, there were parts where I was thinking, no I’m never coming back, but yeah, I want to come back.
CXM: What would your motivation be to come back?
KW: There’s a lot more to learn, and they can all help me. Even my teammates and especially Geoff.
CXM: Thanks so much for your time.
KW: Thanks so much.