Close-knit team of cyclists
Published: Thursday, March 17, 2011
Updated: Thursday, March 17, 2011 00:03
"If you're worried about falling off the bike, you'd never get on." Lance Armstrong, the author of this quote, is possibly the most famous cyclist to ever live. His dedication and love for the sport of cycling has inspired millions, including the members of the UConn cycling team. The 13 or so members of this club sport on campus aren't just enthusiastic bike riders, but athletes in a difficult sport. Most people learn to ride a bicycle in childhood, but the level of cycling that these athletes indulge in is much greater than your ride around the block. As anyone who's taken a spinning class will tell you, cycling requires extreme endurance, lots of willpower and strong legs. For some it can be a way of life. "Cycling is my passion," says team president William Czaja, a sophomore. "Cycling is 24-7."
The UConn club cycling team races in the Eastern Collegiate Cycling Conference, and is classified as Division 1. The team mostly competes in mountain bike and road racing events, against teams like Rutgers, Yale, Columbia, Stevens and more. It is one of 10 regional conferences making up USA Cycling Collegiate. It spans from Delaware to Maine and encompasses almost a thousand athletes who compete in the events of track, mountain bike, cyclocross and road racing.
Track racing occurs on a banked circular track similar to one used for NASCAR. These races are usually separated into sprint and endurance events. The endurance races can be as long as 200 laps, seen in World Championships and the Olympic games. Mountain bike racing occurs along a dirt track, usually in the woods. Sometimes there are length races associated with mountain biking, but there are also "free ride" events in which the rider is judged on tricks and style in addition to the time it takes to complete the course. Cyclocross races occur on tracks that require the rider to dismount and carry his or her bike up portions of the trail before continuing on bike. Road races are the most familiar to the average sports fan. They involve long protracted races, either at once or in stages across great distances on a paved road or track.
At UConn, the cycling club participates in a race almost every weekend during the school year. The mountain bike season is in the fall, while the road racing season picks up in the spring. While no race is more important than any other to the team, nationals has been a consistent source of success for the cycling team. Last year the squad finished 13th in the nation. Last semester the team sent four racers to nationals. While there are no current plans to send any team members to nationals this year, the team is optimistic in their outlook. "We're always very competitive," says Czaja. Life on the cycling team can be tough, but fun. "We're a close- knit community of cyclists."