Athlete Q & A with Liam Howard (Tam Mountain Biker)


By Franny Kiles and Franny Kiles

Sophomore Liam Howard rides for the mountain bike team, racing in the JV category. He’s also on the Bear Development team. He is an extremely serious, accomplished biker with ambitious goals.

Q: How long have you been biking?

Since preschool. That’s really when I got off the training wheels and such and that was just when I was out riding in parking lots and with my dad. As time progressed we would do longer and longer rides throughout Mill Valley. We live very close to Mt. Tam, so it was really convenient just to head up the mountain from there.

Q:What is the Bear Development team?

Bear Development is a development team pretty much for anyone under the age of 23 to be riding at an advanced level. When you get on the team you get assigned a coach, and you do daily rides with them, and you follow a training plan. It takes a lot of commitment. You have to eat right. You have to stay hydrated constantly. You have to ride, and you have to follow the rules. We have a number of sponsors. I think the number was 11 [sponsors] this year. The team manager is really staying on us so we have to acknowledge them. We have to post Instagram photos of us using the products that they give us because they benefit us a lot. One of our big sponsors is Trek Bikes and they practically give us these $10,000 bikes so we have to treat them with kindness. Part of the mission for the [Bear Development] team is to set a goal and do everything you can to get there. My initial goal was to get top three in the national championships coming up in July, and that’s up in Mammoth, so that’s what I’m aiming for.

Q: How has the Tam team been doing as a whole this year?

We made a huge improvement from last year to this year. Last year we had a lot of really fast riders. This year we have three girls on the team who get podium results pretty much every time and that helps us along the way. We won [in] Petaluma last weekend. We were [the] first place D1 team which was a really big deal.            

Q: What have been some of the highlights from this season?

I think the Sea Otter Classic [was a highlight]. That’s one of the biggest festivals in North America and some people even say it’s the biggest in the world, but pretty much everyone gathers and there’s a ton of racing going on. I raced cross country in that with the [category 1] 15-16 [year olds] and it was a super tight finish with me and [fellow Tam rider and sophomore] Julian [LePelch] and that was a huge highlight. Battling it out with him and doing really well in that race. Top ten. That felt really good.

Q: How do you hope to improve in the next two years at Tam?

I really want to get riding technique down. I want to get faster and stronger. I want to stop growing up and start building more muscle. I’ll be racing varsity categories next year and the year after that so for Tam, for the Norcal series, my goal is to be varsity state champion, and that’s something that I want to chase and with Bear Development. I definitely want to receive my national title and there’s also these opportunities to go race with Team USA at world championships, and that’s another goal I have.

Q: Do you have any favorite places to bike?

Believe it or not, we live in one of the best places in the world to bike. Mt. Tam is a great mountain. There’s prime time trials and if you do it right and you know what you’re doing, it can be a really good time.

Q: What is the best part about biking?

I think it has a really good environment around it. I mean you can’t really say anything bad of it. It’s like, you’re outside getting exercise, and it’s pretty much doing what you love. Racing totally has something to do with it. When I’m racing it’s almost like I hate it. It sucks, but afterward it feels so good to know that you did so well. That’s the feeling I’m really trying to chase.♦