UO cyclists pedal through another strong season

Three Ducks have just returned from the Collegiate Road National Cycling Championships in Utah, capping off a successful road season for the UO Cycling Team.

The club — one of 48 club sports at the UO — is open to all students interested in cycling, and features regular group rides for riders of all skill levels and disciplines, including road, mountain and cyclocross. Members don’t have to race, but those who do compete in the Northwest Collegiate Cycling Conference, which includes college teams from Oregon, Washington, Idaho and Montana.

This year, at the conference road cycling championships, the UO finished first in the Men’s A category (the top category), and second in the Women’s A category, out of 18 schools. In the B category, the UO men were fourth and the women sixth. In the C category, the UO men were fourth and the women second. And in the Men’s D category, Oregon was 8th.

Top individual finishers in the Northwest conference from the UO were Ali Davis, who won the Women’s A road race, and placed third in the criterium; Dillon Caldwell, second in both the Men’s A road race and criterium; and David Kuhns, third in the Men’s A road race and fifth in the criterium.

Davis, Kuhns and Caldwell traveled to Ogden, Utah, for Nationals the first weekend in May, where they raced against 500 other student-athletes from across the country.

Both Caldwell and Davis had athletic backgrounds before they started racing bikes. Caldwell raced mountain bikes in Central Oregon. Davis ran track and cross country and swam in high school, and dabbled in triathlons. She started bicycle racing about a year ago, “just on a whim,” she said. “I like to try new new things.”

“If you just try it, you can go far,” she said. “You can surprise yourself.”

Ted SweeneyNot everyone one racing for the UO Cycling Team has an athletic background. Senior Ted Sweeney, coordinator of the UO Bike Program, raced extensively with the team his sophomore and junior years. He had very little athletic background when he joined — he sang choir in high school — but he had a growing interest in bikes and cycling.

“I wanted to improve my abilities and stay active,” he said.

Interest in cycling got him on the team; camaraderie kept him racing.

“It was a good feeling,” he said. “I joined the team and everyone was a nerd like me.”

Like him, they were passionate about cycling, as well as more “opinionated, irreverent and boisterously fun” than students he’d encountered before, he said.

His first year, racing in the D Category, the lowest, he got a few top 10 finishes. His second year, he built himself a race bike, trained more, moved up to C category, and watched his results improve, highlighted with a win in the Criterium at Boise State University.

“Everything glows after you win a race or do well,” he said.

Competing on the UO Cycling Team ”helped me develop my obsession with bikes and riding,” he said. And it taught him the virtues of suffering.

“Suffering is part of this,” he said. It’s kind of an allegory for life, he said. Sweeney, who is majoring in Planning, Public Policy and Management, just finished writing his senior thesis for the Clark Honors College.

“You have to suffer to achieve things that are worthwhile,” he said. “You have to put in the work.”

Tim Christie