By Stephen Baldwin, RealWV
On the day of his junior prom, Cam Little (Lewisburg, WV) competed in a road race in Virginia with two parts. A 100-mile race called Agony in the Alleghenies, and a 7-mile steep climb called King of the Mountain. Little won both races, becoming “King of the Mountain.”
“I went pretty hard,” says Little. “I caught the leader and passed him near the top of the climb and was by myself descending back down to Clifton Forge. From where I passed him to the finish line was about 12 miles and I was all alone the whole time.”
This is Little’s second year competing in the races. Last year, he completed the 100-mile race in six hours. This year, he shaved an entire hour off his time and finished the race in just over five hours. He averaged 20 miles per hour, including the steep 7-mile climb. That climb alone took 35 minutes.
Little says even he was surprised at his improvement from last year to this year. “It felt amazing! But also it felt weird because I’d done it so much quicker than I did it last year. I was blown away that I was able to do it that quickly.”
‘Harder than you think’
Little is 17 years old and has only been cycling a short time. He joined a club called the West Virginia Hellbenders in 2019. “Honestly, I didn’t like it at first,” he confides. “But then during COVID I gave cycling another shot, and I loved it.”
Cycling is an umbrella term that covers various types of biking including road racing, gravel racing, and mountain biking. Little does all three types of cycling.
He says what drives him is the joy of riding. “I have some natural talents, but my coaches and teammates pushed me to new levels of hard work, and I found joy in doing it.”
Last weekend was only his third time ever riding 100 miles at once. “Riding a bike for five hours is harder than you think,” he jokes.
Little recognizes that cycling is not a well-known sport in West Virginia, but he says it’s growing. And one of his goals is to help it grow even more.
“I take a lot of pride in it,” he says. “I put a lot of work into it, I want to do well with it, and I want to grow the sport.”
Little said he wasn’t too tired for the prom the night of his 100-mile race, but, “I was hungry.”
Not just for nourishment after such an intense athletic feat, but also hungry for more competition.
In early June, Little will travel to Asheville, NC, for a 72-mile race on a gravel road. In early July, he’s racing in White Sulphur Springs on his home turf. Then in August, he’s traveling to Steamboat Springs, CO, for a major race. He hopes to bring home more hardware by summer’s end.
“I plan to ride during college,” he tells The Real WV. “I also plan to study engineering. If cycling becomes a professional opportunity I will consider it, but if not it will be a hobby and I will get my engineering degree regardless.”
While it may be an individual sport, Little is quick to spread the love to his coaches and teammates, saying, “I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for the Hellbenders and WV NICA and for all the community support that I get from Hammer Cycles and Max Hammer, our NICA coach.”
Stay tuned to The Real WV for updates on Little’s summer competition schedule.