The future looks bright for 21-year-old Payson McElveen (Richard's Rainwater), who finished in the top three among the elite men during stage 2 of the Trans-Sylvania Epic mountain bike stage race on Monday. McElveen was an impressive third after race leader Jeremiah Bishop (Sho-Air/Cannondale) and Nick Waite (ProTested).
"I'm enjoying racing these guys even though I don't get scored with them," said McElveen, who while racing under his own privateer program, got his 2014 season off to a good start at the Mellow Johnny's Classic with a sixth place finish
"The privateer program is working out well," he said. "I have incredible support and it's more than I could have asked for. I have 15 sponsors and it's motivation. I know there are some good racers out there who are struggling so I feel very lucky."
Unfortunately, his luck changed at the Fontana Pro XCT in March, when broke his wrist and had to miss the next few major domestic races.
"This is my first race back," said McElveen. "It might have been a blessing in disguise as it was a forced mid-season break. Then I did my work to come back prepared."
The rising star splits his time between Durango, Colorado and Austin, Texas, where his girlfriend lives. He is working on a degree in exercise science with a minor in English writing, but is taking the approach of doing one semester per year - in the fall. That lets him spend winter and spring in the warmer climate of Austin.
"I'm living a charmed life and am enjoying it while I can," he said.
When asked how he is liking stage racing vs. cross country racing, McElveen said, "There's more room for error in the stage races compared to the cross country races. You can have one or two little mishaps and still do well. There are obviously more tactics and it's more fun. The suffering is prolonged."
He'll head next to the two Pro XCTs in Missoula, Montana and Colorado Springs, Colorado in June. Then it's US Nationals in July and the two North American World Cups in Windham, New York and Mont-Sainte-Anne, Quebec. He's hoping to qualify for the Worlds team and then do some more stage racing.
"I hope to do another stage race after Worlds - one with a UCI designation so I can get some points going into 2015," he said.