Published DateBy Lloyd Jones
BARTLETT — Peter Ostroski is ready to ride with the best in the world.
Ostroski, 24, of Intervale, will head to Europe on Monday where he'll spend the next two weeks representing the United States in a pair of mountain bike World Cup races. It will be his first races of the 2013 season, but he's eager to test his skills and his new bike against the best the sport can offer.
"It'll be my first European races," Ostroski said Tuesday afternoon. "From what I hear it's a pretty high level of competition. There will probably be 175 guys in each race. I'd like to finish in the top 100, but we'll have to play it by ear. I think those guys are much further along in their training than I am at this point. I'm definitely psyched for this season. Last year I had some momentum and hopefully it carries over to this season."
Flying to Zurich, Switzerland with friend Parker Haynes, who will serve as his support crew, on Monday, Ostroski will spend two days there getting adjusted to the altitude and time change and then head to Altstadt, Germany, site of the first World Cup races May 18-19. The following weekend he'll race in a World Cup in Nove Mesto in the Czech Republic.
"These two World Cups paired up really well for me," Ostroski said. "Because they're so close to one another I was able to group up, which definitely helps with the finances."
Ostroski, the son of Ann and Phil Ostroski of Intervale, was ranked 104th in the world in Men's Elite Cross Country mountain bike racing at the end of last season, but 10th overall for U.S. men in the sport, which is usually a 16- to 24-mile multiple lap race on a mountain bike contested over trails, bush or forest roads, tracks, etc.
Last year, Ostroski competed in World Cups for the United States in Windham, N.Y. and in Canada, but the New York venue is not a stop on the 2013 tour. Ostroski, was the youngest racer in the Men's Elite Division in New York in 2012 finishing 63rd overall and was the 10th fastest American in the race which featured 81 racers from around the world.
Ostroski closed out his 2012 mountain bike racing season by posting a pair of top 15 results in endurance races in Oregon. He was 15th (out of 38 professional racers) in the Oregon Enduro series at Mount Hood and 10th in the 54-mile MTB Marathon Nationals in Bend, Oregon (featured over 6,000 overall feet of climbing). A Enduro mountain bike race is best described as a trail ride with time race sections (or "stages") on the fun downhill-focused sections of trail, encompassing roughly 80 percent of descending and 20 percent of climbing built into the course.
Ostroski spent this past winter in Girdwood, Alaska, and, although there was a ton of snow, the former Kennett High grad was on a pair of bikes training.
"I had a great winter and am feeling good," he said. "I was pretty busy with work but I was able to train well. I got a new snow bike with fat tires that allowed me to ride on groomed trails, plus I also had the indoor bike set up. I think I've also learned how to eat right and train right."
At both World Cups, Ostroski will compete in a new eliminator race the day before his main races. The cross-country eliminator (XCE) is a new mountain bike race format in which four riders compete against each other in each heat. The two fastest riders get to the next round while the two slower riders are eliminated from the race. The format differs from the classic cross-country race both in its sprint character and the separation of the race into heats. The 500 to 1,000 meter short track itself is similar to cross-country tracks, going both uphill and downhill.
"I'm going to give it a try," Ostroski said. "It's basically a 500-meter all-out sprint."
The eliminator races will be a good test for Ostroski's new bike, which he said is the fastest he's been on to date.
"It's pretty unbelievably fast," he said with a wide grin. "It's scary fast."
Ostroski was a nine-time All America skier at Plymouth State University; a two-time Tuckerman Inferno Pentathlon champion; was honored as a sophomore at Plymouth State as its Male Athlete of the Year in 2009; has won a host of mountain bike races including the 24-Hours of Great Glen and the popular Porky Gulch; and was a two-time New Hampshire state skimeister while at Kennett High.
Ostroski is looking forward to the World Cups and believes the course should match his strengths.
"The race in Germany is in the Black Forest, which is similar to conditions here in the Northeast," he said. "In the Czech Republic the course is pretty technical, which suits me. I think the more technical the better for me. I know a lot more racers now and have an idea where I should be (in the sport)."
Ostroski is grateful to have Haynes, who plans to shoot video of trip, making the trek to Europe with him.
"Let's hope we can get to every race on time," Ostroski said, laughing. "It's fun to travel with a friend and to know you have that support there for you."
"The support I've gotten from the community has been great," Ostroski said. "I really appreciate the support from our community, local businesses, and individuals who have made an effort to help out. I hope I can continue to represent the valley well."
After the World Cups, Ostroski has a busy racing schedule ahead.
"I'll come back home, but not for long because I'm going to head out West to race a summer circuit," he said. "There are a bunch of races in Oregon, Colorado and Utah. I hope to make it home a couple of times. There's no U.S. World Cup this year due to funding, which is unfortunate. I may do the World Cup in Canada (Aug. 10-11 in Mont-Sainte-Anne, Quebec), but there's also another big race that same weekend in Whistler (British Columbia, Canada). I'm also thinking about a World Cup at the end of the season (Sept. 14-15) in (Hafjell) Norway."
Ostroski is convinced good results will come if can stay healthy and continue his ascent up the world ladder.
"I've still got to get my race legs (for this season)," he said. "I've gotten in lots of training, but you always wonder could I have done more. I'll probably race my way into shape. These two races coming up will definitely be a good test, I'm looking forward to them."