Maineville, Ohio, native Lucas Stierwalt attended his first Montana Cross Camp this year. The 15-year old Lionhearts Junior Racing team rider competed in his third U.S. Cyclocross Nationals in Hartford in the Junior 15-16 category, where he finished just outside the top ten. The trip to Hartford was Stierwalt’s third trip to Nationals, with the first occurring when he went to Verona in 2013. He also has a fourth-place finish at U.S. Junior Criterium Nationals in his palmares.
At Montana Cross Camp, Stierwalt got the chance to put in some work on the gravel KOM climb, despite having few big hills to climb back home at Ohio.
He also got a chance to turn his trip to Montana into an exotic vacation by spending some time at the beach.
Cyclocross Magazine took the time to sit down with Lucas to ask him how camp went and what his plans and goals for the upcoming cyclocross season are.
Interview with Lucas Stierwalt
Cyclocross Magazine: After four hard days of workouts, how are you feeling?
Lucas Stierwalt: A bit sore. It’s a hard camp, it’s to be expected.
CXM: What motivated you to come to this camp?
LS: I wanted to learn so I can get to next level.
CXM: What is that next level for you? Do you have a big goal for this next season?
LS: Try and podium at Cyclocross Nationals in Nevada.
CXM: How many Nationals have you raced?
LS: Two Road Nationals, two Crit Nationals and then three Cyclocross Nationals.
CXM: What’s been your best result?
LS: Fourth place at Criterium Nationals for last year, 13-14 [age group].
CXM: How about ’cross?
LS: I believe it was last year, I got 13th.
CXM: And you’re in the same age group this year? You’re 15?
CXM: This is your first ’Cross Camp?
LS: Indeed it is.
CXM: What have the highlights been?
LS: Running was a big, fun…
LS: Fun, but challenging. I haven’t really been running, but now I know some exercises I can do to help improve that. But also, the climbs were fun as well. Challenging.
CXM: That seems to be a common theme when I talk to attendees. There’s so much running. And for some it’s been the highlight as well. Do you feel like running is important in all races? Or only when it’s muddy? Only if you aspire to go to Europe? Do you do a lot of running at your local races?
LS: I really don’t, unless if I’m pitting. I think it is good to run, just in case you do need to use it for muddy races. To get up climbs or stairs or barriers.
CXM: Especially later in the season like Nationals?
CXM: Did you run a lot at Hartford?
LS: I did, especially on Bonk Breaker Hill. That was interesting, all frozen. It was good.
CXM: What’s the biggest takeaway?
LS: Probably the running. I’ve never really been the greatest runner, especially for cyclocross. Now I can hopefully get better.
CXM: You’ve mentioned all these other Road Nationals you’ve raced, do you have a specialty in terms of bike racing?
LS: ’Cross is my love, to be honest. It’s fun to train for. It’s something to do.
CXM: Where are you from?
LS: Maineville, Ohio. That’s right next to Cincy, about a ten-minute drive.
CXM: So you’ve got a great scene there.
CXM: Besides cyclocross what keeps you busy?
LS: Probably building stuff. For recent projects I made a slingshot and two light sabers.
CXM: School keeps you busy too?
LS: Yeah, I have lots of summer reading to do.
CXM: When does school start?
LS: August 14, I believe.
CXM: You’ve spent a lot of time with Geoff Proctor during this camp, how would you describe him?
LS: Very enthusiastic for the sport and how to continue it. I think he’s a really good guy, helping us Juniors to try and achieve and do better.
CXM: All of this stuff you learned and did during this camp, will any of that impact how you train this season?
LS: For sure. Another thing I had difficulty with was hopping barriers. When I get home, I am going to try and practice that. Maybe build some barriers. That, and also climbing. Climbing I need work on.
CXM: Thankfully there aren’t that many long, long climbs like you did on the gravel ride in ’cross.
CXM: There were more applicants than spots for this camp, so not everyone was fortunate enough to come to this camp. For the kids who want to, or want to virtually experience it through you, what words of advice would you have for them?
LS: Words of advice? I’d strive for the best. Do well in school. Those are things I try to do as well. Training hard, as well. That helps.
CXM: As a young guy, was it kind of surreal to rub shoulders with Gage [Hecht] and Lance [Haidet] and Tobin [Ortenblad]?
LS: It was pretty cool riding with these super-fast U23 riders. I think it was a great experience.
CXM: Did you learn stuff from them? Did you try to hit them up for advice or tips?
LS: I did with Ben Gomez. He helped me a lot, especially with bike handling. But also on the hills, saying I should do my own pace.
CXM: Thank you so much for your time.
LS: You’re welcome.
Want to hear more from the future stars of U.S. cyclocross? Check out all our coverage from the 2017 Montana Cross Camp.