Lane Maher (JAM Fund/NCC) hasn’t been on the beginning line at a US Cyclocross Nationwide Championship race since December 2019, the place he completed fifteenth as a 19-year-old within the U23 division, received by Eric Brunner. For the subsequent three years, he didn’t race a motorcycle in any respect.
The 23-year-old New Englander took time away from racing his bike to concentrate on his ardour for trains. He was completely satisfied for a yr as a railroad conductor, his most important journey on the rails alongside the Hudson River between Albany to New York Metropolis, after which labored towards a level in civil engineering at Central Connecticut State College.
This yr, he determined to make a comeback to aggressive cyclocross racing. He’ll take the beginning in Sunday’s elite males’s championship race for USA Biking Cyclocross Nationwide Championships at Joe Creason Park in Louisville, Kentucky.
“Within the spring, I made a decision I used to be gonna do a season once more. I wasn’t actually positive how significantly I might take the primary season. I did not need to rush again into it, nevertheless it’s undoubtedly was a full-on comeback,” Maher informed Cyclingnews from his airport layover on the way in which to Kentucky.
“So this yr was reduce quick slightly bit. I used to be planning on doing a full UCI season, however I broke my collarbone coaching the primary week of September. That delayed it additional. I solely bought the final two UCI races in, actually. So Nationals is type of much less stress now, and extra simply expertise for subsequent yr.
“It’s the primary massive race I’ve finished since I’ve come again to racing, so I am actually excited to see the way it goes. I preserve my objectives fairly excessive. Even when I do know I am not at that stage but, I am capturing for the highest 5, which I do know is extraordinarily formidable. My outcomes immediately do not actually help that, however I gotta preserve them excessive in order that I can get them.”
Maher has simply 4 C2 races within the books this season, together with a weekend at Nash Sprint CX in Georgia, the place he took a pair of prime 10s, the second third place. It was WTB Pivot’s Brunner, the 2021 elite ‘cross champion and three-time Pan Am winner, who received each of the Nash Sprint clashes. The pair will once more face off at Nationals and attempt to unseat defending elite males’s nationwide titlist Curtis White (Steve Tilford Basis Racing).
“I undoubtedly see Curtis White and Eric Bruner as the 2 to beat. I feel Curtis has quite a lot of motivation to maintain that jersey, and I feel Eric is in superb type, and he desires it again. I feel the highest 10 has some fairly prime names, together with Gage [Hecht],” mentioned Maher, noting Hecht, who received the 2019 elite males’s title in Tacoma. “I truthfully assume it may very well be anyone’s race. I do not assume Eric’s raced as a lot because the others this yr, however he is undoubtedly recent and he’s on good type.”
About that point off to be a railroad conductor, he mentioned he was like quite a lot of younger boys and was captivated by trains. However he took it a step additional and determined to strive a profession on the rails, however the lengthy shifts had been a grind.
“The job itself was actually enjoyable, one thing that I at all times needed to do. The schedule I did not take pleasure in in any respect. I suppose it wasn’t actually my cup of tea. However the job itself and attending to see completely different components of the world, simply from the railroad, is fairly cool. So I actually loved that facet of it. And quite a lot of lengthy nights,” he admitted.
In 2017, Maher competed in Louisville on the Pan American Cyclocross Championships and earned the silver medal as an 18-year-old junior. He went to Cyclocross Worlds at Valkenburg later that very same season and completed fifth within the males’s junior race, one spot forward of Pim Ronhaar and the highest-placed US rider.
However when CX Nats had been held in Louisville in December 2018, he was sidelined with a damaged collarbone and couldn’t compete.
“That was my first yr as a U23. I used to be in Louisville for Nationals, however I went to assist my staff and spectate,” he recalled. “I bought to race the elite races, and I had a very good begin to the season, together with Gloucester [Massachusetts]. However then I broke my collarbone a few days after, that was fairly irritating.
“So it has been 5 years since I have been [to Louisville]. I am excited to see what it is like. I hope however I do not assume it will be the mudder that it was earlier than. However I feel it may very well be slightly slick on Sunday.”
He mentioned he didn’t plan to journey to Europe and prolong his cyclocross season. As an alternative, he would look to compete in mountain bike and gravel races in 2024. The US Mountain Bike Nationwide Championships are in Pennsylvania, which caught his eye, and he may very well be talked into the Leadville MTB 100.
“Final summer time, I did the run and the bike at Leadville with my pal as a result of we needed to do each and get a belt for each. In order that’s what we ended up doing. Leadville is on my calendar, probably king of 50-50 proper now. But when I do it, I’ll be all in.”