Cycling club prepares to regional race Sunday
More than twenty teams from the Northwest Collegiate Cycling Conference begin their road to the National Collegiate Cycling Championships in Asheville, North Carolina, in two weeks with their regional event at 8:25 a.m Sunday in Moscow.
The Idaho cycling club has been preparing for regionals throughout the collegiate season and its hard work comes down to Sunday’s race, which will define both men’s and women’s season.
Matthew Dabbs, the cycling club president, said he is hopeful the team will succeed in several events. These include the Men’s B field, which he hopes for a win in their crit (short for criterium) race and maintain the Women’s A field lead, which they have kept since the start of the season. Criterium racing is a bicycle race held on a short course.
For Sunday’s race, the track remains the same like in years past including riders going downhill from the Hartung Theatre to 6th Street and making an uphill turn, which Dabbs said is physically challenging for the riders. Dabbs said the track also requires riders to think about their competitors and themselves, especially in crit racing.
“You need to really focus on tactics, tactics of other teams, and tactics of your own team,” Dabbs said. “From a spectator’s point of view, sometimes it is hard to see those tactics developing if you’re not familiar with them. But it is exciting to see the guys put it all on the line and the sprint finishes are really fun to watch.”
Races include 30-minute Men’s C and Women’s B races and 40-minute Women’s A and Men’s B races, with the final race being the one-hour men’s A race, starting at 11:25 a.m. Each race will be run on the same course with inter-minute sprint points on the line, which are given out randomly. To advance into the higher class, Dabbs said it’s based on performance and the number of mass start races.
“Once you’re out of the bottom category, it all comes down to how well you finish in races,” Dabbs said. “You need points to upgrade and to get points you need to finish well.”
Dabbs said individual preparation for regionals depends on how much they perform, but requires a lot more for national competition. Riders train 20-30 hours per week on riding their bike but as the race gets near, their workout becomes more intense.
Dabbs said the two riders who stand out from the team are sophomore Phillip Kearns and senior Maryjane Martin. Kearns, an electrical engineering major and national merit scholar, has recently joined the Men’s A field for a few weeks after deciding to focus on cycling instead of track and field. Martin, a business student, has held the leader jersey for each of the five weeks they have competed. Both Kearns and Martin are the two qualifiers to represent Idaho from the NWCCC, which is based on how well riders perform throughout the season and will head to Asheville on the weekend of May 8-10.
Dabbs has been in the program since the fall of 2012 where he began to compete in cycle cross before stepping in a leadership role. However, since joining, the team has significantly decreased in number and it has become a struggle of finding people to join the cycling team, Dabbs said. There are currently six to seven riders, which Dabbs said depends on the weekend and the amount of riders competing in each race. Based on the small numbers, the cycling team has been focusing on individual effort.
“If you can rely on your team to help you out during the races, that’s a huge bonus but because our club is rather small,” Dabs said. “Most times comes down to how smart you can ride as an individual rider and how hard you can push yourself when that time comes.”
Luis Torres can be reached at email@example.com