Katie Clouse Thrives With a Little Help From Her Friends
Team USA
Athlete's Corner

Katie Clouse Thrives With a Little Help From Her Friends

By: Jim Rutberg  January 21, 2022

Clouse is ready to race in front of her friends, family, and the home crowds.

Twenty-year-old Katie Clouse is wise beyond her years, quietly confident in her capabilities and genuinely excited to see her friends and teammates succeed. With 34 National Championship jerseys in her closet, including the 2021 Collegiate and U23 Cyclocross titles, Clouse is heading to the UCI Cyclocross World Championships in Fayetteville, Arkansas to fight for a podium finish in the U23 race.

The opportunity to compete in front of her family and friends in Fayetteville makes Clouse both excited and a bit nervous. “My family has not been able to watch me race in a long time, so that’s super exciting. I always love it when my family can come and watch. It brings me joy to see everyone there, friends and family. Having everyone there and a home crowd brings some nervousness, too, because you want to perform well for yourself and for those people.”

Years of experience at major domestic and international competitions have taught Clouse to stay grounded and focused on what works for her, rather than getting overwhelmed by possibilities.

“I’ve learned to trust myself. I know how to race my bike; I’ve been doing this a long time. It’s great to be surrounded by people, but it can be hard when you’re getting advice from every direction. At the end of the day, you’ve prepared for it. You’ve trained for it. So, you have to rely on yourself.”

Confidence and self-reliance are important traits for champion athletes, but Katie is quick to acknowledge the value of a strong support system. “As I’ve grown as a rider and a person, I’ve learned to figure out which people are really supporting me and to take their advice to heart. My whole team has been incredibly helpful. I’ve learned the importance of having great people around me – the mechanics, my teammates, my director – and being able to get advice from those people. I wouldn’t even know my tire pressure from last year if I didn’t have my mechanics around!”

Knowing and trusting in what works best for her played a big role in Clouse’s plans for the final month of training leading in to the 2022 UCI Cyclocross World Championships. A self-described home body, she opted for a shorter block of European races after the U.S. National Championships in December so she could return to Grand Junction, Colorado, for a break and a block of training in a familiar environment.

“I got home about a month before Worlds and took that week easy to get a short break and to recover from Europe. Then I ramped up the endurance work because, with all the racing, there wasn’t a ton of time to get long rides in. So, after an endurance block, I’ll back off the volume but add more intensity and speed work to get the snappiness back.”

Katie and her coach, Jim Lehman, decided to incorporate an endurance block to specifically address an opportunity they perceive in the Fayetteville World Championship course. One of the consistent impressions of the course is that it is wider than typical European cyclocross courses, and even most U.S. courses. It features a long climb and a winding, high-speed descent, as well as sweeping corners that allow riders to keep pedaling.

“What you see in Europe is corner after corner, full-gas all the time. You’re coasting and then going as hard as you can. Fayetteville is different. It’s super wide and straightforward. There are only a few places in the back where you can’t pedal much. Fitness is going to be huge because there’s a long climb and a couple of long straights, and even through some of the corners you’re still pedaling. It’s a lot of long efforts; that’s what makes it a hard course, especially if it’s muddy.”

Although muddy conditions will make the course harder, Clouse says she hopes to see a cold and rainy day when she opens the blinds on the morning of world championships. “I would love for it to be muddy. I know the Europeans know how to ride in the mud, but on that course, I think it would play into [the U.S. team’s] favor. If it’s a fast, dry course it might favor the European girls because they race so much and are used to the speed. Mud makes any course more interesting and makes for a better race. If it’s muddy, it’ll be great for Clara [Honsinger], too.”

Clouse lights up when talking about her teammates, whether it’s her professional teammate Clara Honsinger on Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld.com, her collegiate teammates from Colorado Mesa University, or the juniors and U23 riders on Team USA. She is one of six CMU student-athletes who will be competing at the Cyclocross World Championships.

“Four of us are racing in the U23 Women’s race: me, Maddie Munro, Cassidy Hickey, and Ellie Mitchell. When I see Maddie at the front of races it makes me super happy. We push each other like no one else can. I want the U.S. girls to be up at the front like the Dutch girls; it’s awesome to see your teammates and really good friends up there with you.” The other two CMU student-athletes competing at World Championships are Scott Funston and Daxon Mock, both in the Men’s U23 category.

As a rider who came of age in the years before there was a dedicated Junior Women’s category at the UCI Cyclocross World Championships, Katie is also excited for the five young women who will be representing Team USA in Fayetteville. “There was a Junior Men’s category before there was a U23 Women’s race, and the Junior Women’s category debuted just two years ago. It’s pretty awesome. It gives those junior girls an opportunity to race for a world championship. When I was racing as a 16-year-old I was in U23 fields against 22-year-olds. It was very intimidating racing women who were almost winning Elite World Cups when I was just starting out in my first European UCI races. I’m so excited for the U.S. junior girls and I think it’s going to be an exciting and fun race to watch!”

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