In five short weeks, many of us will pack our suitcases and head home to enjoy the long, and probably well-deserved, winter break.
But the DePaul Cycling club has different plans – preparing for their upcoming season, which starts in January, by getting more people interested in the team and competitive racing.
“I usually spend all of ChristÎ_mas break trying to get on my trainer at least for our five times a week,” said Mark Lazio, graduate student and team member for five of the team’s seven years since starting at DePaul. “We don’t ride really hard and get intense workÎ_outs, but we get the muscles going and used to riding for long periÎ_ods of time and then move from there.”
While the previous season featured outstanding individual achievements, the team’s main focus this year is to expand and strengthen the team.
“People don’t realize that cyÎ_cling is very much a team sport,” said Ian Kresnak, a sophomore and team risk manager. “You need people out on the road with you to be competitive. Yeah, we have individual wins, but it starts with getting some teammates.”
The team is looking to expand last season’s nine riders into at least 15 to make them more comÎ_petitive against riders from MichiÎ_gan State, Purdue, Notre Dame and other competing colleges and universities within the Midwest Cycling Conference.
“We have never been in a posiÎ_tion to win regionals because the schools we compete against proÎ_vide scholarships to their riders,” said Lazio. “We want to be able to compete, train hard enough where we can win individual races and some group races.”
DePaul Cycling recently creatÎ_ed its own Facebook page in order to recruit interested riders and will also hold an informational meetÎ_ing Oct. 16 at the Ray Meyer FitÎ_ness Center. They are looking for both male and female riders and experience on a bike is not necesÎ_sary. As a freshman, Kresnak completed outstanding individual races and landed on the podium for three races as well as winning his event time trial at Michigan State last year – and he had never raced competitively before joining the team.
Kresnak said that while he has high expectations for his individual events, “the big thing is to get more interest in the club, in racing and racing competiÎ_tively.”
According to Kirk Fields, team presÎ_ident, last season was more of a “buildÎ_ing year,” as much of the team was made up of freshmen and sophomores. Fields said this season’s team is more experiÎ_enced and excited for the prospect of a bigger, more competitive contingent.
“We are a competitive team, but we also like to help out people and we are all here for fun,” said Fields. “It’s about being a team and we all get really close to teach other. The more people, the betÎ_ter.”
Although they will train individuÎ_ally during the winter break, the team will spend a lot of time together once the season starts. They train four times a week at their training facility, Train ChiÎ_cago Studios, and will travel to different races across the Midwest every weekÎ_end until the middle of April.
Train Chicago Studios is a large sponsor for the team this season. The team is also still negotiating with other sponsors, such as iGo, which paid for all of the team’s transportation costs last season.
Fields said the team will schedule a few group rides to be more familiar with new riders and attract more interest beÎ_fore the season starts.