“Considering cycling is a lifelong sport, I hope to do it until the day I die.”
Michael Agnew, senior from Madisonville, Ky., loves cycling, and he said he hopes to make it a profession.
For now, he has to settle for riding for the club team at Murray, but he said that doesn’t make it any less exciting.
The club has been around since 2001, but Agnew did not really get into the sport until 2011.
He said he enjoys riding for multiple reasons, one of which is the variety of competitions within each discipline of cycling.
For example, two disciplines include mountain biking – his favorite form of competition – and cyclocross. Even within mountain biking, the sport can be broken down into areas such as cross country or short track.
Regardless of the competition, though, Agnew said cycling is a team sport.
“It’s an individual sport as well as a team sport,” he said. “A lot of people think it’s just you on your bike, but there are a lot of team tactics.”
He said teams typically try to protect their strongest player, because other teams might try to eliminate him from the race.
“Teams hold together and you guard one person, and it’s the person you want to win,” Agnew said. “As you’re riding, you’re always guarding that person. Other people are trying to take him out. Crashes aren’t always accidental.”
Cycling is about much more than riding in a race, though. Agnew said after most races, the riders have to break down their bikes for maintenance.
Due to the extreme conditions cyclists put the bikes in, Agnew said they have to have a certain caliber of bike. The club is open to anyone, but it encourages any new members to be serious about riding and have the proper gear.
“In order to be competitive, you have to have a certain caliber of bike,” he said. “We’re micro adjusting within millimeters – saddle height, bar width, bar height. Everything is specific. You’re going to be on that back for 6 hours. A lot can happen in that time.”
Agnew said training for cycling is just like any other sport. Riders have to put in the effort to be good. They are expected to ride 100-200 miles per week, with occasional days during which they push themselves.
The training helps avoid some of the dangers of cycling, which are similar to most other athletic ventures.
“If you go past your comfort level and experience level, and you’re in a race maybe you shouldn’t be, you’re probably going to get hurt,” Agnew said. “Knowing your limits – that’s the big part about anything.”
Agnew said cycling goes beyond the competition, though, especially for him.
“The best thing I like about mountain biking is just being out in nature,” he said. “You’re riding over the trail and all you hear is birds chirping and your tires on the ground. There’s nothing else out there.”
Plus, he said, people of all ages ride bikes. Even when he rides with the club, he has ridden beside people ranging in age from 14 to upper 60s, and they come from a variety of backgrounds.
“All you have to do is have a bike,” Agnew said. “You can ride with people that are super rich or kind of poor. Everyone rides their bikes and nobody cares.”
Story by Ryan Richardson, Sports Editor