Last year, the Murray State cycling club had only two members. It entered this season looking to rebuild its numbers as well as compete successfully. So far, the club managed both.
Their current leadership’s main focus is competition. Club President Michael Agnew and returning cyclist Eric Chandler have split their time between recruiting new members and training for races.
“We’re re-starting the program, essentially,” Agnew said. “Eric and I were the only two members last year and we started to get our numbers back up and started to place at races and really improve our attendance and just get people aware that we have a cycling club.”
The process has been a slow one, and because cycling is not a varsity sport at Murray State, the club is limited in what it can do to help cyclists who don’t have all the equipment they need.
“We just finished our mountain bike season and we went to regionals over at Lindsey Wilson (College) and four of our members competed in regionals,” Agnew said. “I competed in men’s Taxi cross country and I got second place in that category and my friend Eric Chandler competed in men’s B cross country and got third place. I also competed in men’s downhill category C and got third place in that.”
Though the team, as it stands now, is compromised almost entirely of experienced bikers, they welcome beginners and have group rides every week for cyclists of any fitness level.
“The group rides are rides we’ve been doing out of the local bike shop here, Gear Up Cycles, and it had been Tuesday and Thursday nights and we also have rides set up for Saturday morning,” Timothy Martell, cycling club faculty adviser, said. “This would provide people with an opportunity to come out and ride their bikes with others on a course that most of us are familiar with and is relatively safe and interesting.”
The group rides tend to attract anywhere between a dozen and two-dozen people, with paces available for those on par with the cycling club and those who don’t have much experience on a bike.
“Generally there’s an A (pace), a B and even a C,” Martell said. “We’ve got one group that goes around 22 miles an hour, another group that goes around 18 and a third group that will also take a shorter route that will go closer to 15 or 16 miles an hour. There’s definitely a group to ride with if you’re just a beginner. You won’t get lost and there are other people who are going pretty much the same speed. And 15 or 16 miles an hour, around here, given that the roads are pretty flat, that’s a manageable goal, particularly when you’re riding with other cyclists.”
In addition to organizing group rides, the cycling club also has organized events in which both collegiate and non-collegiate amateurs can compete. The most recent beginner event was the Barkley Bootlegger Cyclocross which attracted around 40 cyclists.
“We hosted a race on this past Saturday and it involved both collegiate athletes and professional and amateur cycling athletes and we had races going on from about 9:30 in the morning until two in the afternoon,” Martell said. “Murray State was represented by at least two or three riders in what was called the B race for the collegiate athletes.”
Collegiate athletes race in two different categories, A and B and Eric Chandler won the B race outright. He was competing against other college athletes and a number of other non-collegiate amateurs.
The cycling club wants to host a similar event in the spring, with information forthcoming. For more information visit the Gear Up Cycles website at gearupcycles.com.
Story by Kyra Ledbetter, Staff writer.