Friday, November 4, 2011

Cycling club prepares to ride

Bikers host rides until season begins, raise funds for events 

By Sam Horn, Sports Reporter

Four years ago, a new club began with just four people with bikes. The cycling club soon had members pouring in from all corners of Pacific Lutheran University to join. In 2011, the cycling club has 40 members, 25 of whom are avid racers.

Cycling Club President senior Brandon
DeJong races in a criterium race
last year. Criterium races are based
on distance covered by a rider
during a set time while
standard races are timed over a set distance.
Photo by  Amara Edwards
Training for the cycling club will begin in J-Term, but the club offers fall rides every weekend at 10 a.m. starting in Red Square. When the cycling season does get under way in March, PLU will compete with Division I, II and III schools from around the Pacific Northwest such as the University of Washington, Western Washington and Willamette University.

Cycling Club President senior Brandon DeJong, who grew up riding bikes with his dad, has biked in the Seattle to Portland Race for the past 14 years.

“I race because I love the exercise and the atmosphere of racing. I like the aspect of being challenged,” DeJong said. “I think cycling is becoming a more popular sport in America. It’s a fan-friendly activity.”

DeJong said the Cycling Club is accepting members who want to join. Last year, the club had about 10 members. This year, club has 40. One of those members is sophomore Blair Troudt, who is also the club vice president.

“I was looking to get active and I like that the cycling club was really inclusive. It was nice to bike around my town so I decided to join the club,” Troudt said. “This year there was a huge jump [in members]. It looks like there a lot more girls and we actually have a girls’ team this year.”

The Cycling Club received more than $1,000 this year for custom apparel from local sponsors. Last year, the Cycling Club partnered with the Bike Loop. The Cycling Club partnered with the bike co-op and the fire department, who sold helmets for bikers. Representatives from Pierce County Transit showed people how to load bikes on buses for easy access.

“We hope to do the Bike Loop again this year,” DeJong said. “We’re going to also provide maps of places to bike so people know where to go.”

The club will cover race fees for its members, while members must pay for their bikes, jerseys and food.

First-year Sebastian Hernandez joined the cycling club because it was “very welcoming and you get to do what you love,” he said.

Hernandez received his first bike in 10th grade and he said it motivated him to get exercise. Hernandez said another one of his goals is to ride in the Seattle to Portland bike race with some fellow PLU cyclists.

Sophomore Kyle Curtin started racing his junior year of high school.

“I got involved with a club in Olympia and I raced mountain bikes with them,” Curtin said. “Mountain biking has given me the ability to rehabilitate my body because I have broken lots of bones since I used to race dirt bikes.”

Curtin races Category 1, which is the highest level of cycle racing before professional. This highly competitive category is reserved for elite riders with national caliber experience.

For information about how to sign up, email DeJong at plucycle@plu.edu.