Bowman emerging as one of Steamboat’s best downhill bikers
August 1, 2015
Steamboat Springs — Whether it's on skis or a bike, Nate Bowman likes to go fast. A 2015 Steamboat Springs High School graduate, the 18-year-old never took to road cycling and has backed off competing in traditional cross-country mountain bike events.
But when it comes to downhill races — events in which the intervals are short and the potential for disaster is high — Bowman can't get enough.
"It's high consequence with lots of speed. I ski race in the winter, too, so it's kind of like cross training for that. Just getting used to going fast," Bowman said. "This, to me, is so entertaining, because every time you ride, you can do something different or find a different line that's maybe faster or slower."
Bowman has been biking most of his life, but only got into the world of downhill racing in the past three to four years. Much of his development coincided with his relationship with Trevyn Newpher, manager of the Steamboat Bike Park and organizer of the Captain of the Boat Gravity Fed Race Series.
Newpher, a former professional downhill biker based out of West Virginia, has watched Bowman grow in the sport over the three years they've known each other and isn't surprised to find him leading the men's open class division of the Captain of the Boat series after three races this summer.
"He's definitely stepped up and worked his way through the ranks quickly. It's impressed a lot of riders," Newpher said. "He's proving himself. I think the ski racing helps carry over those skills. If you look at the winter sports world, Alpine ski racing is like the downhill mountain biking of the cycling world."
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Bowman qualified for the 2011 Junior Olympic Alpine ski team and has spent the bulk of his life as part of the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club. With high school now in the background, Bowman plans to take the next year off to train with the SSWSC, including a September training trip to Chile.
But to say skiing is his true love wouldn't be accurate, as biking tugs at the heartstrings as much as anything.
"In the winter, it's skiing," Bowman said. "As soon as it gets to where I can start riding my bike, it's definitely back to biking. It's kind of hard deciding really which way I want to go."
For now, Bowman wants to focus on capping off what has already been an impressive summer on a bike. Outside winning two of the three Captain of the Boat races this summer, including a first-place finish on Thursday, Bowman has a pair of second-place finishes in Winter Park's prestigious Trestle Gravity Series. The highlight of the summer came July 26, when he won the Category 2 men's 19-29 division and was second overall in the state championship downhill race at the Colorado Freeride Festival, also in Winter Park.
"Nate, he's an athlete all around," Newpher said. "He's a ski racer in the winter and a high-level athlete in that regard. Naturally, some of those skills and that experience with competition and especially competing with this short interval style racing — such as downhill mountain bike racing or ski racing — he definitely has a knack for it, and it's allowed him to have a step on the competition."
There are two more Captain of the Boat races — Aug. 13 and 27 — in which Bowman has hopes of taking the series crown in his first season in the men's open division. Last year, he was still competing as a junior because of his age and only competed in a couple of events as summer ski training was then taking precedence.
Bowman also plans to race in a few more Winter Park events, as well as Steamboat's Enduro-X stage race later this month before he turns his attention back to ski racing and his trip to Chile. He has hopes of earning a spot on a college ski team a year from now if he can't find a spot on the U.S. Ski Team.
His long-term goals include becoming an orthopedic surgeon. His mother, Mary Bowman, is a doctor in Steamboat.
"I would like to win the Captain of the Boat, for sure," Bowman said. "These races are just really fun. They are kind of more laid back compared to the Trestle Series. That's a lot more competitive. Everyone is really trying to go and win, and here, we are all just trying to have fun and hang out with your friends and go ride bikes."
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