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Cycling club rolling to success

Published: Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Updated: Wednesday, March 21, 2012 12:03


USU CYCLING CLUB MEMBERS approach the roundabout at 200 East and 1800 North in Logan. The cycling club is preparing for the Inter-Mountain Collegiate Cycling Conference championship. TODD JONES photo


Members of USU’s cycling club competed in Cedar City, Utah, on March 10 for their first collegiate race of the year, hosted by Southern Utah University.

“I was happy with the way they turned out,” said first-time racer Erin Kelley, a junior majoring in marketing and economics. “As I crossed the finish line during the criterium, my lungs began to tighten up and my legs started to wobble, but I had an incredible feeling of accomplishment for having pushed myself literally as hard as I could, and knowing that I gave it everything I had.

“I think it went pretty well for my first race,” said exercise science major Jentry Nelson, another first-time racer. “There are definitely areas I need to improve on, but I think it was a good starting point.”

Both women rode in a 30-minute criterium and a 3.2-mile time trial. A criterium is typically a shorter, more technical road race than others, and a time trial is essentially just what it sounds like — a race against the clock. Nelson said she found the criterium to be the hardest race. Kelley agreed.

“The wind was blowing quite hard from the south during the criterium,” Kelley said. “Without a large group of women to work with, and draft off of, it was difficult to keep up motivation to push through that stretch of the course.”

Overall, USU’s men’s and women’s teams did well. Kodey Myers, a junior, had the fastest time on the hill-climb for his group. Though Myers is still considered a rookie, he seems to have a knack for cycling. He placed fourth overall last year in the Tour Del Sol bike race in St. George.

“I like how it’s a controlled chaos,” Myers said. “You get inside a mass sprint and from the outside it looks like a mess, but when you’re on the inside it’s all coordinated.”

For many USU cyclists, this was their first year racing. Tommy Murphay, cycling club founder and coach, said membership fluctuates. Since the club lost some of its strongest members after last year, he said, this season should be a building year for many of the younger riders to gain more experience.

“Some years we’re really, really strong and other years we’re really light,” Murphay said. “This is just one of those years.”

Murphay got his start in cycling while attending USU, and before he graduated in 2003, he founded the USU cycling club in 1999. He said some friends introduced him to the LOTOJA Classic — a bike race that spans from Logan to Jackson Hole, Wyo.

“I went into the fall of ‘99 totally motivated and excited,” Murphay said. “That’s when I really was looking into the college scene to get more into cycling.”

USU cyclists competed for the first time in spring 2000 and won conference finals to go on to nationals.

“We had a couple solid years there,” said Murphay, who now teaches various cycling and spinning classes at USU. “We had well over 50 kids who were actively racing for the first few years the club was going.”

Though the team may be short on cyclists this year, women make up the majority. David Clyde, cycling club president, said there are more women this year than there has been for some time. This season there are five men and possibly as many as 10 women, he said.

Approximately 40-50 members participate in group rides each week, Clyde said, but fewer than 20 will actually race this season. Each season has a designated discipline, he said, which allows for year-round racing round.

Within each of these disciplines — road biking, mountain biking and cyclo-cross — there are various types of races. Road biking has hill climbs, long distances, team time trials and individual time trials, among others, he said. Mountain biking cyclists can compete in downhill, dual slalom and cross-country.

Cyclo-cross is basically “road biking off road” in poor weather, Clyde said.

“It’s for the hardcore people that like to fall down,” he said. “The bike you use is like a road bike, but it has slightly thicker tires and is a bit higher off the ground. The worse the weather is, the more fun the race.”

Clyde, who started biking about 10 years ago when he and his father bought road bikes, said he does mostly road biking, but he wants to get more into cyclo-cross.

“I started racing and competing and I just fell in love with it,” Clyde said. “But every race I question it, ‘Why I am doing this?’ But then the next day you’re back on the bike again.Cycling in general is about pain — if you’re not hurting, you’re not doing it right. The trick is just keeping in mind that the guys you’re racing against hurt just as bad.”

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