Most people go on scenic bike rides for exercise, socialization, or just to get from point A to point B. Others, however, use pedals that attach to their shoes, wear spandex and slick sunglasses, and whiz by at speeds approaching the legal limit. The Colorado College Cycling Club members are part of the latter group. Instead of watching the birds flying above them, competitive cyclists worry about technical things like cadence, cornering, and drafting.
Going fast isn’t everything, though. Bikers also need to keep their two-wheeled machine under their body.
“I’ve had some nasty spills in the past year of racing, so I am still trying to rebuild that ability to corner and go fast. It is mostly psychological, so it is just taking some time to get over that fear of crashing,” freshman Alex Beutel said.
He admits that his weaknesses are sharp corners and downhills, pointing out that every pair of his shorts is torn in the same way, relics of his summer racing season. Here at Colorado College, he is part of the Cycling Club, one of the oldest club sports on campus. Just coming off the end of mountain bike season, the club is setting its sights on cyclo-cross, a cycling race that involves completing several laps of an obstacle-riddled course that sometimes requires riders to dismount and carry their bikes before continuing.
In the spring, road season will return. The club took six racers to several races this fall. Junior and club captain Adam Miller competed at mountain bike nationals in Angelfire, N. M., where he placed eighth in Short Track, a sprint event, this past October for Division II Men.
With about 30 active members, the club expects racers to practice mostly on their own instead of organizing group rides, although several group rides go out each block. Competitive cyclists usually ride five or more times a week, for ten to eighteen hours total. Miller added that many members of the club only ride occasionally for fun, which the club encourages.
For casual members, or cyclists who are not part of the team, Colorado Springs offers a plethora of trails. Joining the club is a great way to get to know the trails, as both Beutel and Miller pointed out.
“Colorado Springs has by far the best mountain bike trails of any medium-to-large-sized city and the best mountain biking anywhere in Colorado. A lot of students take advantage of this and just like getting out to experience the amazing trails for fun,” Miller explained.
From Garden of the Gods to Gold Camp Road, the Colorado Springs area is streaked with hilly and scenic routes for road bikers. Beutel personally endorsed Cheyenne Canon, a canyon in southern Colorado Springs. The tough climb is paired with spectacular views and an exhilarating downhill. Beutel also expressed enthusiasm for organizing more group rides. He explained that he got into competitive cycling because of his stepfather and enjoyed the camaraderie of the group they rode with together. The social aspect is one of Beutel’s favorite parts of cycling culture. Group rides allow for conversation and tips, aside from the underlying mini-races that usually occur, whether declared or not. From a competitive point of view, practicing in a group gives them an opportunity to practice drafting and pack riding in general.
Miller will be captain next year and is optimistic about the rest of the season.
“We have a great group of freshmen road racers this year, so this spring will be a busy, and I think very successful, season for CC road bikers,” Miller said.
Interested students should contact Adam Miller about joining the club. The cyclo-cross season started in October and will run until January, and road racing will start in March and run through the end of the school year.