With lukewarm air rushing through their helmets, a group of men ride along Interstate 25.
These blurs of green and gold are members of CSU’s club cycling team, one of the largest club sports on campus with an estimated 100 riders, 40 who compete in events.
This year, the team has the honor of hosting the USA Cycling Collegiate Road National Championships May 9-11.
Emily Francis, team member and a senior natural resources recreation and tourism major, bought her first bike in the fall of 2006 and has been riding with the team ever since.
She said the team has been spending hours upon hours of preparation for nationals.
“There are many hours put into training. There are also a lot of races that we have to compete in to have the experience and qualifications to race in nationals,” Francis said.
Fourteen riders will be representing CSU at nationals, where champions are awarded the national jersey – a uniform with an American flag design.
Coach Ainslie MacEachran said he believes CSU to be among the top schools in the nation vying for the title.
“We are on a mission, we want to win nationals this year,” MacEachran said.
T.G. Taylor, president of the team, said the number of riders allowed to compete depends on how many riders the course can hold.
“We are restricted by the geography of the courses and the maximum capacity they can hold safely,” Taylor said.
Taylor and the rest of the team had to prepare for hosting the event by getting permits from the city and businesses.
“We had to go door to door on the course routes and get signatures saying it is okay to have the event take place,” Francis, treasurer of the cycling team, said.
By talking to the city, the team was able to coordinate with emergency services and traffic diversions for race days.
There are an estimated 40 schools from across the nation coming to Fort Collins for the event.
The team had to make plans with hotels to make sure they can accommodate these riders and their bikes.
For competition the team is separated into categories based on experience and skill. Men and women compete at the A, B and C levels.
The “A” level is for pro/semi pro riders; athletes at this level are professional riders or have a lot of experience with cycling competitively.
Riders competing in the “B” level are sport experts, meaning they have cycling experience and are very familiar with racing.
“C” riders are beginners, cyclists who are just starting out and want to race.
Each rider is able to choose which category to compete in.
They are also tested by the coaches to make sure they can handle the competitiveness of each level.
Each cyclist is limited to one level.
While competing plays a pivotal role in the competition, the team strives to create a bigger program that includes riders with all levels of experience.
One of the main things the team focuses on is getting more people involved and excited about cycling.
“We really want to break down the barrier that cyclists are snobs and that you have to have expensive gear and lots of experience,” Francis said. “We want people to come and join the team or support us and see what fun cycling is.”
MacEachran added that the club is an easy way to ease into the sport and develop skills.
“It’s a fun environment,” MacEachran said. “They get to go to top notch events and still have fun and be a college kid.”
Any student taking classes at CSU can join the team.
Prior racing experience is not needed, and members on the team don’t have to race and can simply enjoy riding.
Taylor said he has many goals for the team.
“We want to continue to grow cycling at CSU and in Fort Collins,” said Taylor, a graduate student studying journalism.
Staff writer Ashley Emmons can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.