The Portland State cycling club is getting ready for a weekend of competition in rural Montana. The races begin with a meet hosted by Montana State on a challenging course that finishes with a rough, five-plus-kilometer climb to the finish line. The Vikings then head into a meet hosted by Montana, which highlights a shorter route—resulting in multiple laps Saturday. The Vikings currently sit in fifth place in the Northwest Collegiate Cycling Conference standings out of the total 12 schools.
Portland State has a young team, with a roster of over half new racers, but club officer and racer Vanessa Ditto said the enthusiasm and energy the racers bring to the team has been a positive change. She said that the combination of experienced riders, new racers, the support of the Portland State Bike Hub and new head coach Chris Swan have allowed Portland State to perform as well as they have been.
“New racers are the blood of the team,” Ditto said. “They provide continuity and longevity and they are an integral part of our mission.”
The Portland State women saw specific successes in the race hosted by Washington on March 24 and 25. Viking racer Shelley Dunlop took the podium both days with back-to-back third place finishes in the women’s B field.
The Washington weekend’s races placed Portland State as a team on the podium in two categories. They placed second in the Women’s C category in team standings and third in the Men’s B standings.
Although the complete results of last weekend’s most recent races in Washington, hosted on March 31 and April 1, were not available as of press time, after the first day of racing Dunlop again found success after winning the Women’s B race.
Despite Portland State performing well in recent races, Ditto said the focus continues to be on the racers performing to the best of their abilities and seeing personal improvements as the season continues.
“As for performance expectations, all we require is that every racer gets to the start line, ride hard, leave it all out on the course and have fun,” Ditto said. “To me, it’s not about how you measure up against them, but success on the bike is measured by comparing your results from previous races and seeing how you have improved in the long term.”
Freshman racer Abby Noon echoed her teammate’s words on expectations.
“My goals for the upcoming meet are to give every race I enter my all,” Noon said. “It’s been exciting to see everyone on the team’s progress each week.”
While the team is halfway through their 2012 season, Ditto said they are always looking forward to next season and getting new racers involved.
“Next season we are once again looking to expand the team. Portland has such a huge pool of untapped talent and has produced great racers,” Ditto said. “The Portland State cycling team is a great way to test the water that is bike racing by providing you with all of the experiences you need to see if bike racing is for you.”
In the meantime, the Portland State team will focus on their upcoming meet in Montana. The results of the weekend’s races can be found by going to www.nwcollegiatecycling.org/results.html.