UMaine freshman, 22, wins Div. I cycling title at NCCA competition
EXETER - Adam Craig is a national champion but unless he was wearing a sign around his neck proclaiming such, you probably wouldn't know it.
He may be, in fact, the best kept secret this side of Spencer's Ice Cream in Milford.
Not so long ago, the University of Maine freshman went out to the Plattekill Ski Resort in Roxbury, N.Y. When all was said and done, Craig won the National Collegiate Cycling Association men's Division I championship.
The Exeter native returned quietly to Orono. No parades. No rally at the Alfond. No media beating down his door.
"A guy from the campus newspaper got in touch with me before I went out there. I've called him a couple of times since I returned but there's been no interest since," Craig explained.
And he understands the lack of interest — to a degree.
"The college thing was just for fun. It wasn't a big deal to me so it doesn't bother me if no one else thinks it is," Craig said.
Craig, 22, has his eye on a bigger prize. He sees his collegiate racing career as just another step to his ultimate goal.
"Not to be condescending toward the collegiate racing series or scene but I'm a pro category mountain-biker. During the season, I was the under-23 pro national champion," Craig said. Pro is not short for professional. It is a classification. But life as a professional is where Craig sees his future.
"I want to become a professional and support myself as a cyclist. That seems to be close at hand. It may happen in the coming season. The year after, definitely."
In September, Craig finished 13th at the World Mountain Bike Championships at Vail, Colo. Last weekend, the 1999 graduate of Dexter High School competed at the Cyclo-cross National Championships in Baltimore, Md.
"The Cyclo-cross is a weird race. It's a short race, an hour-long time trial around a circuit," Craig explained.
Such tracks are normally flat, set up for speed racing. But in this case, organizers threw obstacles on the track that forced cyclists to dismount and run while carrying their bikes past the barriers.
Craig won the under-23 category championship. Craig says he began racing at Hermon Mountain when he was 12. Although the races there stopped approximately five years ago, it was a good starting point for Craig. Four years ago he began entering races in the New England area.
"I moved up to the expert category, doing well. I started winning some races," Craig said.
With the wins came a sponsor. Team Devo, a conglomeration of sponsors that includes K2 Bikes and RockShox, began footing some of the bill for Craig.
"They support me during the races. They give me equipment and help me with travel and lodging," Craig said.
Bigger support has come from his mother Pat, an art teacher at Hampden Academy, and his father, Harvey, who is a private contractor. "They've been really good about all of this," he said.
In January, Craig and Team USA will compete in several World Cup events in Europe before traveling to the Zolder Grand Prix Circuit in Belgium for the World Championships.
Craig said he plans to return to the NCCA championship next year. "I will go back next year and defend my championship. Hopefully with winning this, I'll get some support [from the university]," Craig said.
In the interim he hopes to develop a road racing cycling team at the university to compete in next year's national championship. For now he'll spend some time doing what students do most — study. "It's nice to turn the brain back on," he said.
"I want to become a professional and support myself as a cyclist. That seems to be close at hand. It may happen in the coming season. The year after, definitely." Exeter cyclist Adam Craig
Don Perryman can be reached at 990-8045, 1-800310-8600 or email@example.com
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