Whitman cycling seeks new riders

Matt Tesmond


Whitman’s cycling team returns this year through the hills of Walla Walla. Although the team competes and trains throughout the year, their true season begins this spring break. Traditionally one of Whitman’s best performing teams nationally, the cycling team is currently focused on rebuilding as it copes with the loss of several excellent riders over the past two years. However, if there is one thing that is constant, it is the Whittie cyclists’ commitment to fun and excellence.


The team is working to get back to the national championship caliber that made them the 2010 Team Overall National Champions. For the men and women, the goal is clear.


“My main aim is to get more riders on the team,” said team president David Hancock.


Unfortunately for the women, finding first-years to build around has been difficult.


“There are no new freshmen girls, which is a bummer. Whitman has always been known for our strong women’s team so that [lack of freshmen] is disappointing,” said team vice president Molly Blust.


It appears the reason for the lack of new riders may be a simple ironic by-product of the team’s success. “I have noticed that there is a really big intimidation wall between the racing team and people who just want to come on rides” said Hancock.


The team, however, is extremely welcoming and focused on fun.


“The greatest part about the cycling team is you don’t have to be amazing to have fun. It’s more about the community,” said sophomore cyclist Cameron Penner-Ash.


The training serves as a time for athletes to improve their riding, but is also an important tool for bringing in and training new members. “A lot of us had never raced before the team. I got my bike, and I didn’t really know what to do, but I went on a ride and really liked it. All of the upperclassmen are really nice and really good teachers,” said Blust.


“As far as training schedule, it’s very informal. Since cycling is an endurance sport, you want it to peak at conference or nationals,” said Hancock. Much like in swimming, the team must plan its day-to-day practice while keeping an eye on the bigger picture.


There is one scheduled ride a week on Fridays, but after that, it is up to the riders to build their own training schedule. As Hancock explains, this open schedule is an integral part of the team.


“One of the realities is that everyone is on their own training schedule. So the open schedule serves a dual purpose: it allows people to be intense and train hard while also encouraging less serious riders to come out.”


The cycling team will be spinning their wheels this weekend at a race in Corvallis, Ore. On the weekend of Mar. 31, the team will host The Whitman Omnium, broken into three stages: a Saturday morning road race, an afternoon team time trial and a Sunday morning criterium.