Spring season brings a sense of outdoor adventure for students on campus.
As the amount of daily sunshine increases in Moscow, so has the intensity level for the Vandal cycling program.
The club cycling team began their season March 19-20 in Corvallis, Oregon. However, success in racing is not their only goal â€” so is community involvement.
Junior cyclist and club vice president Scott Sturges said the team provides cycling rides each week and ride-along for Palouse residents. Sturges said the program also helps the community by fixing peopleâ€™s bicycles.
â€œWe try to build the community within the university,â€ Sturges said. â€œWeâ€™re trying to make sure our club is more than just racing. Obviously, Phil (Kearns) and I enjoy racing but thereâ€™s much to it. If someone wants to join the club, take a Sunday ride and have a good time, we can definitely do that.â€
Kearns said during the fall, the team also provides mountain rides and cyclo-cross tutoring to provide a safe riding environment for Moscow residents.
â€œWe do a lot of fun clinics such as learning how to do basic bike handling,â€ Kearns said. â€œIt seems like everyone knows how to ride a bike, but thereâ€™s a big difference between being able to keep your bike up right and actually knowing how to ride one. So we try to help anyone that does join the club to become a safer and well-rounded rider.â€
Outside of community work, the Vandals have four scheduled racing events this spring, including the annual meet on the Palouse.
Idaho and Washington State host the Northwest Collegiate Cycling Conference April 30 through May 1. The Vandals will hold a race on the final day of the conference championship.
Sturges said he has been planning the events and negotiated with Washington State about hosting the meet.
â€œ(Our team) focuses on the races coming up, but Iâ€™ve been trying to get the race planned,â€ Sturges said. â€œI have to make sure everything is ready to go for all the universities to come and visit and race here on campus.â€
The Vandals will travel to Walla Walla for a non-collegiate race this weekend.
Both Kearns and Sturges said the season has gone well, despite a small roster.
â€œWeâ€™re always looking to get new members in for every race,â€ Kearns said. â€œWe had a few new people show up in the (Seattle) race, and we expect to have a couple of more coming out with us this weekend.â€
Kearns said the issue of a developing roster does create issues concerning the points earned by the team, but that new roster members are a welcome addition.
Sturges said having more people involved in the program makes the club experience more fun and competitive.
There are four classes in collegiate cycling. Group A marks the highest level of competition.
Sturges said there are two different days of racing. Road racing occurs on Saturday as a group of 3-4 members compete. Kearns said there are many course variations throughout the season, including terrain changes.
The Sunday race consists of criterion (time trial) events featuring laps around a course. The event concludes when a scheduled time limit is reached.
The goal of each rider is to qualify for the USA Cycling Collegiate Road National Championships May 13-15 in North Carolina. Kearns and Julia Reese are the two Vandals eligible to compete in the event.
Luis Torres can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @TheLTFiles
(Photo Courtesy by Matt Morra)