Team photoCycling team finishes first season of racing, shares goals for upcoming months

by Grace Moody, ’14

Last April, shortly after junior Andrew Lee brought his love of cycling to the high school, five students who expressed interest in competitive cycling came together to make a junior cycling team. Golden Bear jerseys, a club adviser, two USA Cycling coaches, many races, hundreds of miles and five months later the cycling club has successfully completed its first racing season together.

After much research on many types of cycling, Lee, the team captain, decided to pursue road racing competitively. This was Lee’s way of bringing junior cycling to his own community in more than just a recreational way.

“Instead of focusing on all of cycling, like mountain biking and cyclocross, I just decided to stick with road cycling,” Lee said. “So this was my first season of hardcore cycling and competing.”

With one season underway, Lee reflects on the team’s first racing season and looks at the upcoming training and racing months with optimism.

“My goal is to get as many people involved as possible, whether they’re brand new to cycling or have experience,” Lee said. “Long term, my goal would be to spread our model of this club to different schools in central Ohio and then have an inter-Ohio league which would be awesome in increasing the size and popularity of junior cycling.”

Another member of the cycling club, junior Megan Amling, shares similar goals with Lee for the team as they prepare for their next season of racing. Amling is currently the only girl in the cycling club; therefore, she usually competes with the boys in the races. While she said competing with the boys is fun because it pushes her to her limit, she hopes she can find more girls with interest in competitive cycling for this next season.

“I would really like to try and focus on getting more women cyclers,” Amling said. “Most of the races I go to, there may be only one or two other girls, so it would be nice to get some more females.”

Aside from gaining more girls and spreading junior cycling throughout central Ohio, the cycling club will continue to work during their training months on strategies for their next racing season.

One cycling strategy that Lee explained and is vital to receive positive results in a team race is energy conservation.

“The whole idea is conserving energy, so drafting someone is better,” Lee said. “You never want to be in the front of the big group because that is using the most energy and then you can’t sprint for the finish.”

Amling, who began competitive cycling when she joined the club last spring, experienced involvement in the strategic plans behind competitive racing. She said the team would practice different bike handling strategies and techniques during their practices to plan for certain race scenarios.

Lee, who also understands the strategy involved in road racing, said, “It’s a lot more than just riding your bike fast.”

Working as a team and combining everyone’s various skills is a strength that the teams uses to their advantage during races. Lee described how some members are better at sprinting, while others’ strengths lie in the area of hills or distance.

“It’s that mixture of sprinting, maintaining speed, and hills where you have to play off of each other’s strengths to stay with the group and then hope for the best at the end,” he said.

Time trials, criteriums and road races are the three types of road racing that the club competes in. The team participated in each of these races throughout their season.

“A time trial is you against the clock. You aren’t allowed to be with anybody else, you can’t draft, and it’s pure speed, usually in a straight line,” Lee said. “Road races are usually pretty hilly and the roads are not closed down but you have a pace car and a tail car so that the cars can’t mess with the riders. And then lastly there’s criterium, which is a short track where laps are usually less than two miles and…it’s super fast and technical.”

The club is affiliated with USA Cycling, the organization that the team’s two coaches are from. Both coaches, Mark Farmer and Alan Martin are full time cyclists through USA Cycling.

Although the team’s racing season is over, individual members of the team will continue to compete in races throughout the school year.

To prepare for their upcoming season, the team will continue to hold practices throughout the year. Practices consist of development rides each Tuesday, which, according to Lee, are geared towards bike handling and learning tactics. Thursday’s practices are distance rides where the team will usually cycle anywhere between 30 and 65 miles.

Lee said the greatest part about road cycling is that, “you can go out on your driveway and just go anywhere. We usually try to go down the Olentangy or Heritage bike trail and we go out onto the back country roads which are really nice for training and there’s not much traffic.”

After an enjoyable first season, Amling plans to continue on the cycling team this year.

“As good as it is for exercise, cycling is also a really awesome thing to do when you’re overwhelmed with everything,” Amling said. “You can just go out and think and it takes your mind off of everything.”