Sitting on your butt in spandex for 2.5 to 3.5 hours biking as hard as possible may not seem appealing to most people. But at UCSB, a plethora of cycling enthusiasts join the cycling club team every year to compete against the best in the country.
Both mountain bikers and road racers comprise the UCSB cycling club team. Mountain biking season takes place in the fall, while the road racers compete from February to April.
Comprised of roughly 20 athletes, the coed road racing team competes throughout California in an effort to gain enough points by the end of the season to earn a berth to nationals, which are held in Northern California in April. To gain points, individual racers compete against other schools in the West Coast Collegiate Cycling Conference in three different events: road races, consortium and time trials. Teams of four can compete in time trials as well as individuals.
With the events lasting an entire weekend, members of the team can cover anywhere from 45-60 miles in a single race, which takes approximately 2.5 hours.
“When you first start out, you have to start slow, only going out 2-3 times per week,” graduate student Pete Hansen said. “It definitely becomes much more fun the better shape you are in.”
The team has performed well in its first two races this season, garnering enough points to place in a tie for eighth place in the WCCC.
Earlier this year, the mountain biking team performed exceptionally well, sending one athlete to nationals held Nov. 23-24. Two other cyclists finished in the top 30.
The road racers will face stiff competition this year from teams like Cal, UCLA, Cal Poly and San Diego State, but Santa Barbara expects great things in the future.
“We have a lot of aspiring freshmen,” senior co-president Brenton Taylor said. “But we also have some veterans, like graduate students Tom Katona and Pete Hansen, who do pretty well for themselves.”
After months of training over long distances and taking rides to Solvang, Carpinteria and other local cycling hot spots, the team is excited for the season to reach full swing.
“I’m looking forward to the Sea Otter, which is a noncollegiate competition that we are going to as a complete team. It lasts for four to five days, up in Monterey in April,” Hansen said.
Since the club does not have a coach, the team members work to assemble a training schedule that everyone follows to prepare for the racing season. Most of the training schedules have been passed down from previous years.
Unique from other sports, the cycling team fields a roster that includes graduate students. UCSB can field non-undergraduate members because most cyclists here don’t begin racing until they are in college. Several teams, including UC Santa Cruz, boast professional riders.
“I really enjoy being on a team and being able to ride with people that share an interest in taking cycling seriously,” Taylor said.