NICA Alumni Carson Beckett now rides with Brevard College and the Bear Development Team
Carson Beckett is a 2016 NICA graduate from Marshall County High School in Tennessee who has been making his mark on the national and international mountain bike racing circuits. We recently caught up with the recipient of NICA’s 2014 Trek All-Star Student-Athlete Award to see how NICA and mountain biking has played a role in his cycling career.
Currently, Carson is pursuing a degree in Exercise Science Brevard College in Brevard, NC and is racing for the Bear Development Team.
Where did you get your start in cycling and where are you racing now?
I got my start in cycling through my father. Of course it started off with fun trail rides and campground trips, but then I moved into local racing here and there. After that it must have really taken off because it evolved into weekend race trips, riding everyday after school, and then NICA. Since, I have been blessed to have this passion take me to several European trips and even a couple world championships. I am currently racing the ProXCT schedule and looking to make some World Cups!
We understand that your father coaches in the NICA Tennessee League. What role did he play in helping you get going with cycling and at what age did you start waiting for him at the top of climbs?
My father led me into the sport by keeping things super fun when I was younger. We did local races, rides, and bike events together and with our local bike shop. I guess I started taking things a bit more seriously, and he eventually went from trail running behind me as a young kid to cheering in the woods with an infamous cowbell once I was around 11 or 12 years.
How did you first get involved with the Marshall County High School Mountain Bike Team?
I actually helped initiate the Marshal County team! My father, a few friends and I were all avid bikers and helped get the team started. The team has definitely sparked the high school mountain biking movement around my hometown.
What is your favorite NICA race or team practice memory, and what made it special?
I definitely had some characters that came from my high school, making everyday pretty special. However, my best memory is probably just from getting to travel and stay in hotels with some of my buddies when the race season got underway. It was a little more relaxed and fun than the highly competitive summer races I had always been doing.
Carson racing in the Leader’s Jersey for the Tennessee High School Interscholastic Cycling League.
Do you still ride with any of your old NICA teammates OR have you been able to develop relationships with other elite-level athletes where you’ve found you have NICA-roots in common?
I have some buddies I still try to get together with to ride or hang out when I am home from school. I even have a previous younger teammate that has gotten a spot on Bear Development Team with me. It is super cool to see friends like this come up through the ranks from NICA and exhibit stellar skill and drive for cycling, especially from my home town. AND it is becoming more and more prevalent to see kids like this at an elite level now.
Do you think being part of NICA has helped you get to the level you’re at today?
Yes! NICA was no doubt a stepping stone in my progress to the elite-level. Although I may have already been racing National and Internationally, NICA helped stoke my fire for cycling and most importantly allowed me to develop many valuable relationships within the cycling world that have remained ever since.
How is collegiate racing different from high school competition
Collegiate is different in the sense that there are many disciplines you can do. That has been one of my favorite parts because it has been super fun to expand on what I race, allowing me to both try new things (like downhill and slalom) and work on some skills. However, it is all the same in the atmosphere of the racing.
Who do you admire in the pro mountain bike field and why?
I probably most admire Todd Wells. He exhibits awesome attitude and character at the races and is a stellar example of a pro mountain biker. He stays in touch with the roots of cycling as well by helping out with those of us coming up. Not only does he have beyond years of experience, but he still shows us young guns how it is done.
What are your goals now that you are an elite racer?
My biggest current goals are to make the podium at U23 Nats in Snowshoe and to make the selection to a World Cup trip as a U23 racer. Of course I have some other similar race season goals, but overall as an elite I just hope to make a pro/factory team to race professionally. In a more broad sense, I hope to make an impact on American mountain bike racing and to be a quality example of professionalism, a ‘Todd Wells’ so to speak.
Carson racing the ProXCT this spring in Southern California for Bear Development
In addition to racing at the elite level, what are your plans for the future?
I plan on continuing to pursue my degree in Exercise Science at Brevard College in North Carolina. I am also hoping to help with some USAC Development Camps to learn the trade of coaching that I plan on getting into and to begin networking within the cycling world.
Do you do anything with your old high school to promote NICA and work with the next generation of racers?
I try to come help my father with practices when I am home, which I like because it gives me a chance to see some old friends and just kind of play around while sharing some wisdom. I also have helped a little with trail building, and I hope to stay involved with NICA camps and other things down the road.
What advice would you give current NICA student-athletes?
Enjoy the ride! You’ll find yourself loving all the little things along the way if you have fun with it. Things like training and racing are important, but they become much better if you love the process. Don’t forget to take in the scenes that only a bike can show you.
Thanks Carson for taking the time to catch up with us! Best wishes for a successful rest of your season!