At the men’s 2017 Montana Cross Camp, Cyclocross Magazine’s Andrew Yee sat down with each of the 21 camp attendees for a quick interview. On the camp’s final evening and morning, he kept them up late and woke them up early to shine CXM’s proverbial light in their sleepy eyes and give them their time in the sun. We’re finally rolling out these interviews now.
First up is Nicholas Petrov of Lionheart Junior Racing. Petrov, just 14, was one of the youngest attendees at the camp, but that doesn’t make him a stranger to media attention. He’s already won a stars and stripes jersey, watched his mom and brother become Internet famous, and already has his own Cyclocross Magazine website tag.
At the 2015 Cyclocross National Championships, Petrov slid around a muddy Austin course to take a dominant win in the Junior Men’s 11-12 category.
After crossing the line, Petrov jumped into his brother Spencer’s arms for a Kodak moment and then graced our cameras with his first Cyclocross Magazine interview.
Petrov has remained a contender at Nationals since his 2015 win, placing fifth in the Junior Men’s 13-14 race at the 2017 Nationals in Hartford.
This summer, Geoff Proctor’s Montana Cross Camp offered racers heading into the Junior 15-16 category a chance to train and rub shoulders with some of the top Junior 17-18 and U23 racers in the country, but Petrov felt right at home, after having to chase his brother Spencer around their Ohio training grounds for many years.
After hearing all the stories from Spencer’s Cross Camp experiences, this summer, Petrov followed his brother’s tire tracks all the way to Helena, Montana to experience Geoff Proctor’s Montana Cross Camp for himself. Once he arrived, however, he was determined to follow his own path and leave his own legacy.
“I’m all packed!” Petrov exclaimed to the camp’s coaches on the final night of camp, much to their amazement. His older brother Spencer had a reputation for being a late packer, and Proctor and his team expected much of the same from this year’s Petrov.
“Yeah, I’m different,” he proudly proclaimed.
On the final night of camp, after he was all packed up, we sat down with the young Ohio racer to find out if the five hard days of morning workouts, afternoon rides and evening lectures lived up to the lore and his expectations.
What we found is that despite his rising stardom, he’s still focused on enjoying his childhood—a choice that’s wise beyond his years.
See the transcribed interview and the full video below.
Cyclocross Magazine: First camp?
Nicholas Petrov: Yeah.
CXM: How did it go?
NP: It’s been an amazing experience. I’ve definitely had a lot of fun. It’s definitely been challenging. A lot of these climbs are pretty big.
CXM: What motivated you to come?
NP: My brother has come here before and he’s had such a great experience before. I felt like I needed to try this now. So I stepped up and had an amazing time.
CXM: Did he warn you or prepare you? Do you feel like you came here with a little edge compared to other people who have never been?
NP: I think he told me a little bit, but I think he left a lot of it to discover at the camp. I’m glad he did because the kind of unknown made it a lot more fun.
CXM: What was the biggest takeaway?
NP: I’d say definitely the training I need to do to prepare myself for the upcoming season. Kind of focus on running and barriers and stuff.
CXM: Was the hope to come here to kick start your training or was it to learn how to train?
NP: Learn how to train, definitely. I am getting to the level where I need to learn the higher training level I need to be at.
CXM: What was the highlight for you?
NP: I’d definitely say it was the climbing. It was definitely the most challenging part, but it was so worth it. The challenge of it made it so much more fun.
CXM: You’re from Mason, Ohio, right? No big climbs around there?
NP: Not really. They’re gradual and not as long. There are some punchy ones there.
CXM: You guys had some big climbs on the gravel ride, right?
NP: They were pretty big, but they were amazing.
CXM: Plus you’re at altitude, so it’s even harder?
NP: It’s just all in the training and just learning so much.
CXM: When you’re approaching those big KOM climbs and you’re with top U23 talent, what’s your approach? Are you like, let me hang on as long as I can, or just go at my own pace?
NP: Since it’s my first year, I am going to try to take my own pace up some of these climbs and not just murder myself. Just kind of take my own pace and push myself, but not to the destroy point.
CXM: After those four days, how are you feeling?
NP: Definitely feeling tired, but it’s a good tired. Just happy with how the camp went, happy how I did and just expecting more.
CXM: How much of these drills and workouts are you going to incorporate into your training for the season?
NP: I am going to incorporate a lot of it. The core workouts and the running stuff. A lot of the fun drills on the bike and off the bike. Incorporate all of that. And then use the training to help me move forward in the season.
CXM: What’s your big goal for the season?
NP: I think for this season since I’m a first-year 15-16, I am going to try to do my best and see how it works out, and based off that, plan for the next season.
CXM: Besides cyclocross, which you seem really passionate about, what else keeps you busy?
NP: School, definitely focusing on school. That’s really important, getting a good education. Have friends, I’m growing up still, so definitely need to have friends around. And just enjoying childhood.
“I’m definitely going to try some baseball. Sometimes, just have some fun while I’m still in my childhood. I still have some time left.”
CXM: Is there any time for other sports at school?
NP: I’m definitely going to try some baseball. Sometimes, just have some fun while I’m still in my childhood. I still have some time left.
CXM: How would you describe Geoff Proctor?
NP: He’s an awesome man. He gives so much to the sport, and he’s done so much for cyclocross. I don’t think anyone could ask for more.
CXM: Does his career as an English teacher benefit the attendees of this camp?
NP: I think it does. He incorporates the language and the characters and stuff into cycling.
CXM: Also the way he leads classroom sessions?
NP: He definitely brings in teacher stuff into the classroom. It’s an amazing experience.
CXM: Do you hope to come back to another camp?
NP: Oh yeah, definitely. This is an amazing experience. And I’ll say I think it can only get better from here.
CXM: Awesome. Thanks so much for your time. Good luck this season.
NP: Thank you.
Check back regularly as we post all 21 interviews from the 2017 men’s Montana Cross Camp and continue our camp coverage here. (We regretfully could not attend the women’s camp due to budget and scheduling constraints, but have coverage of the inaugural women’s camp here).
Nicholas Petrov Interview, 2017 Montana Cross Camp: