Cycling Team Looks Forward to New Season

Ellie Huizenga

Oberlin streets are littered with a diverse array of cyclists, ranging from little kids on training wheels, students biking to class and the Oberlin cycling team. The team, founded in the fall of 2010, spends hours biking the roads of Oberlin, and members enjoy the chance to see the many different areas of northeast Ohio on rides with the team. Junior Max Haight noted that he initially joined the team for the chance “to explore the surrounding Oberlin area in order to gain perspective on our geography.” Haight’s devotion to the team has developed since then, and now he competes in races, too.

The cycling team races in the Midwest Collegiate Cycling Conference with other schools in the Ohio area. There are no Division I, II, or III designations in cycling competitions, so all schools race together. But as junior Adrian Bennett described, “There are different categories which get more and more difficult and reflect riders’ experience and prowess — so the first times you race you won’t be thrown into the mix with a bunch of seasoned hardcore racers — you’ll be in the company of fellow beginners.”

Cycling, like other sports, requires more than just physical exertion. “Bicycle racing, despite being a rewarding pursuit, does involve suffering, both physical and mental. Even so, minutes after each race or challenging ride I find myself dreaming of the next one,” Bennett said.

While the team rides together three times a week, not all members are there for the same reason. Some are involved so that they can ride often and stay in shape, while others want to push themselves with a structured training plan so that they can compete in conference races in the spring.

Bennett is looking forward to starting a new season with more competitive racers. Last year only two members of the team traveled to races, but this year looks more promising.

“I am hoping to guide a new, larger group of riders into their first racing season this spring,” he said. One new member of the team is first-year Scott Russell, who commented on the friendly nature of the team.

“The goal is not to go out and win every race and crush the competition, but to have fun and see improvement in your own ability,” he said. Russell has been an avid cyclist for many years and knows the cycling team will provide an excellent opportunity to show off his ability as a cyclist.

Another first-year on the team, Claire Appelmans, is equally excited to see what role she will get to play as the season progress.

“I thought the perfect outlet to learn about and use my bike would be to find a cycling team at Oberlin,” she said, talking about why she joined the team. Appelmans was on the cross country team in high school and understands the euphoria and anticipation that can come before any race. She noted that she was particularly interested in seeing how the “competition plays out and how cyclists treat each other on race day.”

Looking back at prior cycling seasons, Haight commented, “During racing season, we live, eat and sleep bikes. Everything is focused toward getting better. It’s an addiction.” That addiction will continue for the Oberlin cycling team this season, and, led by Bennett and Haight, the team will have more members compete in races than ever before.