Imagine traveling more than 150 miles per week – on a bike.
This is nothing new to the members of the CSU cycling club team. These students dedicate their time and money to train throughout the week in order to prepare for weekend competitions against riders in their conference – which include schools in Colorado, Utah, Wyoming and New Mexico.
“This year in particular was ground-breaking because we’ve been growing the last four years, and it was this year that we’ve really reached out,” said club president John Parks. “This is what Ram cycling is about. It’s about getting people out on a bike and having fun.”
Their motto, “Take it to the Next Level,” means exactly what it says. Both men and women compete in three different categories. Although all are very difficult, the least experienced riders are in the C category. B riders compete at an intermediate level, and A riders are the most advanced.
“Riders actually place themselves in the category they think fits them best,” Parks said. “Then they can move up when they feel like they are ready.”
The Ram cycling team hosts several fundraisers and social events throughout the year to raise money for the club and advertise their program to sponsors. The team is notorious for the Oval Criterion, which takes place at the Oval every March. One of the most well-known races in Northern Colorado, the Oval Criterion attracts hundreds of cyclists from all over the Rocky Mountain region.
“This was the 20th annual Oval Criterion, and we won in almost every single category. There was huge participation and it attracts even professional racers,” Parks said. “There are five collegiate races in the morning and then five advanced races in the afternoon.”
The cycling club is run by student volunteers with elected officer positions. This not only maintains a structured system, but also keeps the program running. The team has one paid employee who oversees the whole club and offers his expertise to the students whenever they need it.
“Andy Clark is an ex-professional rider who gives us pointers and offers suggestions when we need them,” said Brett Tack, a junior health and exercise science major on the team. “He gives us motivational messages before and after competitions and rides with us every once in awhile.”
The team gathers on Mondays in the Lory Student Center for their weekly club meeting where finances, upcoming events, officer elections and the most current race results are discussed, among other things. Each week, a rider for both the men’s and women’s team is acknowledged for their outstanding performance in the competition the weekend before.
Anna Harper, an atmospheric science graduate student at CSU was awarded with a “Rider of the Week” certificate for her win in the women’s B category against the School of Mines last weekend in Golden.
“It’s cool for me because when I won on Sunday it was all because of the team. They were really supportive and helped me out a lot. I am a B rider, but now I will be moving up to an A rider,” Harper said.
While the spring season brings the road bikers out, the cycling team also competes in the fall with mountain bikers. Kevin Sudderth, sophomore business finance major, competes against mountain bikers from all over the nation.
“We compete against some of the top schools in the nation so the level of competition is extremely high. We have a phenomenal team who work really well together and were ranked third nationally,” Sudderth said.
While the level of competition can be extremely high for experienced bikers, the club welcomes a variety of students at all levels and experience.
“This club has both the beginners and the elite riders,” said Parks. “It is a great training ground for new cyclists as well as pros.”
Stacey Zynen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.