Felt Bicycles is a proud supporter of US Military Endurance Sports, a registered 501 (c)3 non-profit amateur sports organization whose mission is “to promote endurance sports as part of a healthy lifestyle to active and Veteran members of the US Armed Forces.” USMES members are some of the most passionate cyclists and triathletes anywhere, and they’re as dedicated to promoting bike riding as part of a healthy lifestyle as they are serving the people of the United States and its allies. This blog series showcases a few USMES athletes who exemplify the spirit that all cyclists share, one of perseverance in the face of adversity and relishing the unique freedom that a bicycle can provide all individuals. (Photo: Pactimo / Adam Pawlikiewicz Mesa)
Tristan Manderfeld has always been an athlete. Growing up, was a 126-pound high school wrestling star, and was recruited to wrestle at West Point. But a career-ending injury forced him to switch sports, so Tristan began bike racing because he was attracted to the mental and physical demands of competitive cycling. He eventually became captain of the West Point cycling team, and he also upgraded from Category 5 to UCI Pro in cyclocross within only two and a half years. Tristan then competed in his first USA Cycling Elite Track Nationals in 2018, where he finished fourth in the Team Pursuit and made the Finals in the Points Race. In December 2018, Tristan was accepted into the Army’s World Class Athlete Program, allowing him to train and race non-stop in 2019, and also aim for the Olympic Games.
“I have always been eager to compete with the best talent available,” said Tristan. “This allows me to focus on pushing myself to become a better rider at the risk of not getting a ‘great result.’ This led to my motto of, ‘Take the risk or lose the chance.’”
Tristan experienced a very busy competitive season in 2019, racing in events across the world from Trinidad and Tobago to China, as well as plenty of racing in the United States. As best he can in the face of the global COVID-19 pandemic, Tristan will continue focusing on international UCI events with the long-term goal of competing in the Olympics. Read on to learn a bit more about Tristan.
(Photo: Bruce Buckley)
FELT: Tell us how you first got into cycling.
Tristan: I started cycling after an injury while wrestling at West Point. I was unable to keep wrestling, and so I tried out for our cycling team, which I became a part of for the next three years.
FELT: In which branch of the military do you serve? Tell us about your service experience.
Tristan: I serve in the Army as an Engineer Officer. I am currently assigned to the World Class Athlete Program as a track cyclist. I have had the opportunity to race all over the United States as well as some international track races.
FELT: Tell us about your experience training and competing with USMES.
Tristan: USMES is an awesome organization that fosters a sense of community for servicemembers of all branches of the military regardless of whether you're active or retired. This community is incredible because it seems no matter the event there is someone who is either curious about the organization, or already a part of it cheering you on. The majority of members are extremely selfless, and always willing to help out other members. For example, I was looking for housing for an extended period of time while racing at Trexlertown and a couple who are members helped to house me through the duration of racing.
FELT: What are some interesting facts about yourself that you’d like to share
Tristan: I am an avid photographer. I enjoy shooting all types of activities, and it is an awesome outlet forn when I’m off the bike in order to avoid sitting around all day. I enjoy meeting people through photography, and helping other athletes create content for their sponsors and teams.
FELT: Tell us about your short-term and long-term competitive goals.
Tristan: With racing paused [due to the global pandemic], my short-term goals are to just take this down time to become as fit as possible, and enjoy the process of becoming better. As far as a longer term goal, I want to represent the United States at International track events as they return to the calendar.
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