Cycling is important to Portland State. The university, set in an urban environment, has attracted cyclists interested in both sports and practicality. At the junction between winter and spring, both of these types of riders can find something to meet their interests at PSU. While winter cycling and bike maintenance events are winding down at the Bike Hub, the PSU cycling club is just beginning its 2012 racing season.
The club is set to compete in the first road races of the season next weekend in Corvallis and Eugene. The roster has a full range of cyclists both novice and experienced and a near-even split of male and female members. The team is ending its off-season training and gearing up for an intensive eight-week, 24-race season.
Club President James Ramey said the team is about more than just winning races and is a way for the athletes to truly understand the world of collegiate cycling.
“It’s a rather complicated sport to begin with,“ Ramey said. “And it’s really community oriented, so having a team that helps you grow and teaches you the rights and the wrongs and the ins and outs about the sport is really beneficial.“
The Viking cycling club is part of the Northwest Collegiate Cycling Conference. The team competes against universities in Oregon, Washington, Idaho and Montana including big name schools like University of Oregon, Oregon State and University of Washington.
On March 10–11, the Vikings head to their first races hosted by Oregon and Oregon State. Ramey said the team competes in three races per weekend and that the races are divided into lengths. The men compete in either in 20-, 30-, 40- or 50-mile races and the women in 20-, 30- and 40-mile races.
While the cycling club gears up for its spring season, the Bike Hub is winding down its winter events.
This quarter the Bike Hub offered maintenance training events and fix clinics. Membership to the Bike Hub costs $15 per quarter, and these events are free for members. Their advanced maintenance clinics were a five-week series of events designed to introduce students to the ins and outs of maintaining their bikes.
Although the advanced maintenance series is finished, the Bike Hub will be hosting a new slate of events and tutorials in the spring. The Bike Hub also debuted a new bike-lending program called VikeBikes. For a fee of $40 per quarter, students can rent bikes for commuting. The bikes are refurbished by Bike Hub experts from bikes that have been abandoned on campus or donated.
Partially due to an influx of new riders, the cycling club is expecting big things this year. Ramey said the goal for the season is a podium finish in the conference season.
“So we consistently do pretty well,“ Ramey said. “We almost always get fourth place in the team competition. This year we are really emphasizing teamwork and learning a lot about how to race as a team. I am hoping to see a podium finish.“
The team now consists of 28 riders, up 16 from the beginning of the off-season in September. Ramey said that of the 28 riders, around 15 are new to the racing scene and that a few had never even ridden bikes before.
Ramey said that the influx is a great success for the team and he is excited to see how these new racers compete. He said that the other success of membership is the increase in women athletes.
“We’re actually really proud of our team [roster] right now,“ Ramey said. “We have almost a 50-50 split of men and women. Cycling is kind of an old-boys-club, so it’s always a big deal to get women to join. This year we had about 10 women join, which is great.“
Freshman club-novice Abby Noon said that Ramey and the rest of the team have made training for the first race a positive experience for all the team members who are new to the sport.
“I am most excited to see what racing is like and experiencing the races,“ Noon said. “Everyone is so supportive and helpful. It makes it so much less intimidating going into the first race.”
In addition to the change in roster, the team has also brought in an official coach, Chris Swan. Swan previously coached at Oregon, and he races in Portland. Ramsey said that Swan has been a great addition to the team.
Swan, Ramey and the rest of the Portland State cycling club train together three times a week for about four hours a ride. Ramey said that with the commuter style of Portland State, sometimes it is difficult to find times that work for all riders, but that the team is open to adjusting the practice schedule.
With one week left before the first meet, Ramey said the team is excited to get into the racing schedule. The first two races, the individual men’s and women’s races, as well as the team time trial, will be held in Corvallis on Saturday, March 10, starting at 9 a.m.. The third race is scheduled for the following day in Eugene. The time is yet-to-be-determined for the races in Eugene; information can be found at www.usacycling.org.