Meet Mac’s national cycling champion, Eli Husted

Steven Tibbetts

Eli Husted stands on top of the podium after winning the 2017 Amateur Road National Championships last summer. Husted beat 68 other 15-16 year old boys to win his second straight title. “[It was] a great relief,” Husted said. “I had won the year before too, and I just kind of wanted to defend the title.”

Only a short time after completing a national cycling race this summer in Louisville, Ky., sophomore Eli Husted stood on the podium staring at the cameras. On that podium, Husted held up both hands, signaling what place he had finished: first.

What thoughts go through someone’s mind when they beat out the top cyclists from across the country for the second straight year?

“[I wondered] if I could do it again next year,” Husted said.

Husted’s cycling career started four years ago, when he was 11. He had just decided to quit playing soccer and wanted to start a new activity. Husted says he chose cycling in order to get closer to his dad, Michael Husted, who is also a cyclist. The two started riding together, and still do to this day. Not only was it a good way to hang out with his dad, but Husted soon learned that he loved the sport.

“The first time I got on my bike, it was really fun,” Husted said.

As Husted started to train with other cyclists besides his dad, he noticed there was even more that he enjoyed about cycling.

“I like all the supportive people,” Husted said. “I get a huge amount of joy [from] riding my bike and getting to spend time with people I wouldn’t normally spend time with.”

Husted practiced and improved at cycling, and soon he was good enough to compete against, and even beat, some of the top cyclists in the country.

In the 2016 Amateur Road National Championships, Husted crossed the finish line in first place, beating out more than 75 other 13-to-14-year-old boys who competed. The credit for his success, Husted’s dad says, goes to both his raw talent and his ability to stay focused throughout a race.

“Eli knows that he enters the game with a lot of natural ability, but he understands that every kid at his level does too,” the elder Husted said through email. “What sets him apart is his ability to remain focused … and he’s a merciless assassin on the bike.”

The win only motivated Husted to get ready for the next year, when he would have to compete against better cyclists in the 15-to-16-year-old age division.

“I prepared really well,” Husted said.

A year later, Husted went back to Louisville for the 2017 Amateur Road National Championships trying to defend his title. At the start, Husted decided to stay with the main group of riders.

“I didn’t do anything until halfway through [the race], because I didn’t need to,” Husted said.

Then Husted went to work on opening up a gap between him and most of his competition.

“About halfway through [the race] I attacked the field and brought one other kid with me,” Husted said. “We worked together to stay away from everybody until about one kilometer to go.”

Then Husted broke away from his one remaining competitor, Jared Scott from Boulder, CO., in order to finish in first and reclaim his title. Husted says he felt relieved after winning for a second time in a row.

“I just wanted to defend the title,” Husted said.

That is also Husted’s goal for next year’s race. Additionally, to go along with that difficult short-term goal, Husted also has a lofty long term goal he would like to achieve during his cycling career.

“I would like to end up [on the] World Tour,” he said.

Husted says he knows that his aspirations to be a professional cyclist is a risky thing to depend on, but he also believes he has the ability to achieve that goal. Just ask the other 68 kids he beat this summer.