HSU Cyclists Gear Up for Nationals in New Mexico

Group, Both a Club and Class, Exposes Students to Rigors of Competitive Circuit

Imagine your heart race as your front tire skids through the muddy terrain. You keep a tight grip onto your handlebars and release the brakes as you peddle faster through the dirt and around the ferns. As the cycler behind you gains momentum, you focus on the finish line and peddle faster than you’ve ever peddled.

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A member of the HSU Cycling Club speeds through the forest.

For HSU’s Cycling Club, this is far from just a fantasy. For members Matt Schiff, Justin Graves, Nate Abel, Dylan Wright, Alex Deich, Jake Hinlicky and Kaydee Raths, that includes competing in the Collegiate Mountain Bike National Championships in Angel Fire, N.M., Oct. 28-30.

The team leaves next week for New Mexico to compete in cross country, short-track, downhill and four-cross events. Last year, HSU’s Graves won the Div. II Downhill National Championships and brought home the championship red, white and blue striped jersey—an award bestowed only to the champion.

To add to the excitement, HSU is now ranked second among all teams in the WCCC, both Division I and II, (second only to Cal Poly in the Team Omnium). The team’s men, Schiff, Hinlicky and Graves are ranked first, second and third among all men in the conference.

Locally, the team is active as well. Earlier this month, HSU hosted The Race for the Ridge Trail Festival. Over 100 people from as far away as San Luis Obispo and UC Santa Barbara competed in the race. “Our turnout was very large in relation to last year,” said club president and junior business administration major, Graves.

Last year was the first year the team was able to host a race for the Western Collegiate Cycling Conference and they were able to host again this year at the Ridge Trial.

The festival was very beneficial to the community and gathered together cyclers from 8 different universities. “Last year we raised $3,000,” Graves said. “All the money goes to the $25,000 escrow account to connect the trail.”

HSU’s cycling team won races in a number of categories and placed in many more this year.

The team has been recognized nationally and, according to Graves, has been competing as early as 2005. “We’ve grown in numbers and organization,” he said. “I believe the team, this year, is the strongest it’s been.”

The cycling club is not just a team, but also a class with Professor Victoria Sama. Members receive two credits and learn about administrative issues, organization, training, dieting, preparation and bicycle maintenance. “Bikes are wear and tear items and require a lot of maintenance and that is something we try and instill in our new members,” Graves said.

The team gets to participate in a variety of races while gaining experience on new terrain. Graves’ favorite experience was riding in Tahoe. “Traveling has been the coolest thing,” he said. For the last two years, he was able to represent HSU in Tahoe.

“I encourage anyone who hasn’t tried cycling to try it this semester,” he said. Endurance, jumping and road cyclers make up the club. “The club is a great place for people who are interested in any range of cycling.”