Powless shows prowess at mountain bike race

Finishes 16 seconds ahead of second-place rider
By: Robbie Enos, Press Tribune correspondent
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The race started out as one giant clump, every racer trying to gain separation. Eventually, there were four racers that led the pack. Then there were just three. And by the final lap, there was only one. One rider who had proven himself the superior.

“I was hoping to break everybody by the first lap,” Nielson Powless said. “But that didn’t happen. All three of us were just running the pace line, but then on the third lap it was just me and Lucas (Newcomb) on the final lap.”

Powless was that one rider, finishing a full 16 seconds ahead of Newcomb, the second-place finisher. It came as no surprise, given his pedigree as a national triathlon competitor.

He placed first in the varsity boys division at the All League Nor Cal Mountain Biking race at Folsom Lake on Sunday.

“He’s a once-in-a-generation kind of talent,” Woodcreek cycling head coach Jim Winne said. “He’s a pretty special kid.”

Just a sophomore at Roseville High School, Powless rides as an independent but trains with the Woodcreek High School cycling team. Roseville has no cycling program, but Powless competes on their cross country team. As opposed to also competing on the track team, he says he finds more joy in mountain biking.

“I honestly have more fun on the bike,” Powless said. “I think I want to make cycling a career, and I just don’t think I would have as much fun doing running for a career.”

Powless grew up in a great environment for becoming an endurance athlete. His older sister, Shayna, was also a triathlete and track competitor at Roseville High. His dad, Jack, is a triathlon and cycling coach.

Because he does not attend Woodcreek, Powless competes as an independent. However, he has a good connection with the Woodcreek team, having known Winne since he was a young boy.

“I’ve known Nielson since he was 9 years old,” Winne said. “It was pretty evident by the time he was 12 years old that he was going to be a special kind of rider. He is every bit a member of our team as any other kid. He’s an amazing example for the other kids. He’s an amazing physical specimen. But probably even more important is his maturity and leadership.”

Powless says his goal is to become a professional road cyclist.

Woodcreek cycling placed fifth out of 17 Division I cycling teams. Granite Bay placed seventh in Division II.