UofL Cycling Named Largest New Team in the Country

Louisville, Ky– The University of Louisville Student Cycling Coalition recently became the largest new team in the country with 17 licensed riders. As a reward for becoming the largest team, the SCC received a product sponsorship from American-based nutrition company, Bonk Breaker, an official sponsor of USA Cycling.  

Founded in 2005, Bonk Breaker is an American sports nutrition company that specializes in all-natural, gluten and dairy free energy and protein bars.
Founded in 2005, Bonk Breaker is an American sports nutrition company that specializes in all-natural, gluten and dairy free energy and protein bars.

USA Cycling asked current team president Abner Miralda how it all unfolded, and what the future of the team looks like. Here’s his response:

What instigated the formation of the team? Who was behind it and what did it take to make it happen?

The team was formed when Josh Goodman approached me about wanting to do a cyclocross race at Purdue University in the fall of 2013. At the time, Josh was fresh off his first ever bike race– a last place finish in the Cat. 5 race at the Derby City Cup—and I had never done a bicycle race before, didn’t own a ‘cross bike, and had no clue collegiate cycling even existed.

To our disappointment, we needed to be a part of a collegiate team to participate, so we were forced to sit out of that race.

We approached Andrew Tursic, the then-president of the Student Cycling Coalition at the University, and asked him if he was willing to work with us to create a team. He said exactly what we were all thinking, “Why not?”

Sure, we had no idea what we were doing, but we went on with the USAC paperwork (super easy) and dutifully drove 2 hours to Indianapolis the next week to race in the Cat. 5 cyclocross race on one-day licenses with plain red jerseys and borrowed bikes. We inevitably crashed and got heckled, but we hopped back on the bike and haven’t looked back since!

Ben King is a Bio-Engineering Ph.D. candidate. Photo: Kent Baumgardt
Ben King is a Bio-Engineering Ph.D. candidate. Photo: Kent Baumgardt

What is your membership like (Male/female, mtb/road, beginner/advanced, etc.)? 

Our membership is best described as “beginner” regardless of discipline. Only one rider had raced road before when we rolled up to the start line at Lindsey Wilson College’s Road Race. Only one rider had raced mountain bikes before when we travelled to Lindsey Wilson’s Mountain Bike Race, and all but two advanced riders are on their first full season of cyclocross. Bikes are cool, because they have brought together men and women from several areas of the university ranging from undergrad, to medical and dental students, and even engineering PhD’s!

What advice would you give to other teams for growing their membership? How did you grow the team so quickly?

Recruiting is a numbers game, so the more people with bicycles your members talk to, the higher chance you have of convincing them to go on a bike ride with you. Being friendly and relaxed is key, but dropping them on the flats is a bad strategy (I learned that the hard way).

We waged guerilla warfare on the broken bikes on campus, setting up a tent where bike traffic is high, and fixed bikes for free, registered them with campus police, and told people about our weekly, beginner friendly ride, #SlowRollMonday.

We also looked for business sponsors because the University does not give us any financial aid. We set up as a non-profit organization, and used the funds to pay for race entry fees to sweeten up the idea of going to a race for beginners. We wrote a detailed cover letter/sponsorship packet, and set out looking for sponsors. We were chewed out by a few University of Kentucky alums/fans (bad blood runs deep here) and businesses who did not believe in cycling, but we took it in stride, made several more phone calls, and earned some desperately needed dollars for the team elsewhere.

What do you see for the future of the team? How can you make this growth sustainable? 

John Francisco is a former Red Zone Elite junior and raced in Europe as part of the EuroCross Camp before attending UofL. Photo:Kent Baumgardt
John Francisco is a former Red Zone Elite junior and raced in Europe as part of the EuroCross Camp before attending UofL. Photo:Kent Baumgardt

In 2015, we will try a new, dual strategy for recruitment. There’s something in the water in Louisville, so there are large amounts of junior talent that we can actively recruit much like a varsity team. We learned this year it’s very difficult to convince college students to join a club to race bicycles, so the junior recruitment will grow the number of fast riders from the bottom-up.

In order to get more college students involved with the club, we will start a triathlon team to compete in the USATriathlon Mid-East Collegiate Triathlon Conference. There are lots of former high school cross-country runners and swimmers, so triathlons are an excellent way to put those talented endurance athletes on bikes.

The growth of the team would not have been possible without the help of multiple factors. Our sponsors Evergreen Rehabilitation, Raising Cane’s, Middletown Cycling and Fitness, Sommerville Sports, and BarryS Coaching believed in us when no one else did. Social Media, word of mouth, and our website UofLcycling.com, were unbelievably effective in spreading the word in a low cost way.

Cycling is fun, and even though starting/running a team can be stressful at times, it is an unbelievably rewarding experience.

Best,

Abner Miralda

SCC President

Editor’s note: since this article was written, the SCC has begun offering coaching scholarships to triathletes and cyclists with USATriathlon certified coach Barry Stokes and Red Zone Elite Cycling coach Joe Collins. VO2 Multisport has been added as a sponsor.

Then-SCC Membership Coordinator Joseph Wheatley- gave a thumbs up at a recruiting fair in January 2014.
Then-SCC Membership Coordinator Joseph Wheatley- gave a thumbs up at a recruiting fair in January 2014.
Evan Kuhl, Andrew Tursic, and Erik Seibt wait for the whistle before the TTT hosted by Lindsey Wilson College on Feb. 22, 2014. This was the first time any of the three riders pictured had raced before.
Evan Kuhl, Andrew Tursic, and Erik Seibt wait for the whistle before the TTT hosted by Lindsey Wilson College on Feb. 22, 2014. This was the first time any of the three riders pictured had raced before and raced in temporary jerseys.
Mark Renn was the only mountain biker that had ever raced mountain bikes before. He went on to finish as the Men's B conference champion in the Downhill and Dual Slalom events.
Mark Renn was the only mountain biker that had ever raced mountain bikes before. He went on to finish as the Men’s B conference champion in the Downhill and Dual Slalom events.
On-campus free bicycle repair!
On-campus free bicycle repair!
medium sized group 4
The uniforms of the SCC for 2014-2015.
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Cards finish 5th in Conference, 7th Overall in Inaugural Cyclocross Season

Louisville, KY- The SCC finished its first collegiate cyclocross season in 5th place in Div. 1 and 7th overall in the MidWest Collegiate Cycling Conference.

This year the Cards travelled to Wisconsin, Chicago, and Indianapolis for collegiate cyclocross races, finishing in 5th place in Division 1 behind the strong performances of John Francisco and Abner Miralda. The eleven-team MWCCC Division 1 features powerhouses Lindenwood and Marian Universities, taking 1st and 2nd places respectively. Then Purdue and Ohio State took 3rd and 4th, edging the SCC with better women’s results. Combining the two divisions, the SCC finished in 7th place in the 17-team conference.

Full results for the team and individual standings can be found here.

Conference director, Andrew Rizzo’s photo gallery of the collegiate championships can be seen here.

The SCC is now in preparation for the Road season in the spring of 2015. That race calendar has not yet been set.

Follow the SCC on Twitter @UofLcycling and like us on Facebook!

Josh Goodman poses with riders from Lindenwood University after the B race in Wisconsin on Nov 8, 2014.
Josh Goodman poses with riders from Lindenwood University after the B race in Wisconsin on Nov 8, 2014.
Ben King rides at the Conference Championship race in Indianapolis on Dec. 7th, 2014.
Ben King rides at the Conference Championship race in Indianapolis on Dec. 7th, 2014. Photo: Kent Baumgardt
John Francisco rides in the Conference Championship on Dec. 7th, 2014. photo: Kent Baumgardt
John Francisco rides in the Conference Championship on Dec. 7th, 2014. photo: Kent Baumgardt

Miralda Wins Cards’ first Collegiate Cyclocross race of 2015

Bloomington, IL- On a fast and cold circuit through the Hilton Indian Hills Resort, University of Louisville rider Abner Miralda won the first cyclocross race for the Cardinals of the year. Josh Goodman rounded out the podium with a solid 3rd place.

The two-mile course through the golf course featured several sweeping turns and multiple deep sand pits made of sand traps and a beach volleyball court. The final obstacle was a steep run-up that dropped into the long rise to the finish line.

After the race, 3rd place finisher Goodman said, “I had a really good start. The sand was my favorite part. The drop-ins into the pits were risky but fun and the sand itself was soft but rideable.”

The Class C winner, Miralda said, “I was a little nervous at first, but when the whistle blew I just focused on pushing the pedals.” His favorite part of the course was the run up at the end. “I got to heckle the hecklers for not being good at it,” he laughed.

The riders were impressed by the hospitality, the course, and the facilities. Goodman asserted, “It was a good race experience. I had a blast.”

The Cardinals will race next in Indianapolis, IN at the Ohio Valley Cyclocross Series race on December 7th. The race is the Mid-West Collegiate Conference Championship race.

When in Rome.... You know what we mean @CardChronicle
When in Rome…. You know what we mean @CardChronicle
Golf course!
Golf course!
Josh Goodman showing his race face!
Josh Goodman showing his race face!
Abner Miralda just seconds before toppling over in the sand
Abner Miralda just seconds before toppling over in the sand
GRAB THAT DOLLAR IN THE SAND
GRAB THAT DOLLAR IN THE SAND #HandUpsAreNotACrime
Treacherous switchbacks mean lots of broken tape.
Treacherous switchbacks mean lots of broken tape.
Golf course!
Golf course!

SCC Travels to Wisconsin, Miralda Finishes 5th

Cambridge, Wisconsin– University of Louisville Student Cycling Coalition traveled to Wisconsin to race successfully in the collegiate cyclocross race hosted by the University of Wisconsin-Madison cycling club.

The race was part of the local Wisconsin Cyclocross Series and was held at Cam-Rock Park in Cambridge, Wisconsin.

The representatives of the SCC present were Abner Miralda and Josh Goodman, finishing 5th and 6th respectively in the Men’s B field, which had been combined with the Category 4 race.

In a cold and muddy course, the race splintered early, with Miralda contesting 3rd place during much of the race. Goodman held  ground steady at 7th until the third lap when he moved up to 6th, edging University of Wisconsin rider Chris Beszhak. On the final  lap, while running the log barriers, Miralda dropped his chain setting up the interesting 4th place battle with Ian Seibert of  Lindenwood University. The two battled throughout the final lap, swapping positions often; first in the muddy off-camber spiral half-way through the course, then again in the final climb to the sprint finish. Miralda attempted to sprint around on the pavement before the finish line but Seibert’s well timed response nipped the Louisville rider’s bid for fourth place.

This weekend, November 8-9, the Cardinals are racing the Derby City Cup in Louisville, Kentucky. John Francisco, Ben King, Evan Kuhl, and Owen Stone are racing on Saturday. Francisco, King, Stone, Goodman, and Miralda will race on Sunday.

The centerpiece of the course was a muddy off-camber spiral.
The centerpiece of the course was a muddy off-camber spiral.
Waiting patiently for the start time.
Waiting patiently for the start time.
The muddy entrances and exits of the spiral made things interesting.
The muddy entrances and exits of the spiral made things interesting.
A purely northern experience, we had a show and tell of a bison(?) jacket.
A purely northern experience, we had a show and tell of a bison(?) jacket!
Logs on the back side of the course before the climb leading to the spiral.
Riders pre-ride the logs and the climb leading to the spiral.
Josh Goodman poses with riders from Lindenwood University after the B race.
Josh Goodman poses with riders from Lindenwood University after the B race.
Saw this gem parked next to an Iron Man 140.2.
Saw this gem parked next to an Iron Man 140.2.
North!
North!

New Team, New Coach

LOUISVILLE- The University of Louisville Student Cycling Coalition held its first meeting for 2014 on January 16th. It was the first time the new board members were able to meet prospective racers and discuss team milestones.

New UofL Cycling Team coach Barry Stokes addresses the team on goal-setting.
New UofL Cycling Team coach Barry Stokes addresses the team on goal-setting.

The headlining event of the night was the announcement that coaching search had come to an end. Barry Stokes from Barry’s Coaching was selected as the head coach for the UofL Cycling Team. Stokes is a local triathlon and endurance sports trainer in Louisville and is the coach for the University of Louisville Triathlon Club. Over the coming months, Stokes will be providing training schedules and dietary plans for the club racers. As volunteers, the UofL Cycling Team will have Curtis Tolson as a consulting coach and Joe Bosemer as an advocacy volunteer with new rider clinics

SCC Vice-President Abner Miralda discusses the upcoming road race schedule with teammates.
SCC Vice-President Abner Miralda discusses the upcoming road race schedule with teammates.

The road racing schedule was discussed, and the UofL Cycling Team will participate in a limited amount of road races. The first event will be February 22nd race weekend at Lindsey Wilson College in Columbia, KY. Other races the UofL Cycling Team will participate in will be Long Run Circuit Race sponsored by the Louisville Bicycle Club on March 15th, and the Purdue Mid-West Collegiate Cycling Conference Regional Championship. Other race dates are yet to be determined.

New Year, New Members

LOUISVILLE– The SCC was able to interact directly with university students during the Registered Student Organization (RSO) held by the Student Activities Board in the Student Activities Center (SAC) on Wednesday, January 15.

SCC Membership Coordinator Joseph Wheatley gives a thumbs up during the UofL RSO Fair on Wednesday, Jan. 15.
SCC Membership Coordinator Joseph Wheatley gives a thumbs up during the UofL RSO Fair on Wednesday, Jan. 15.

President Andrew Tursic prepared the presentation board using pictures of current members of the SCC and events that the SCC has sponsored and attended the event on his Bike Polo bicycle.

Vice president Abner Miralda brought several pieces for visitors to interact with, including clip-less pedals and shoes, a sampling of necessary riding equipment such as tire levers and spare tubes, and a variety of tools.

Membership Coordinator Joseph Wheatley stole the show when he unveiled his new Quintana Roo time-trial bicycle that he proudly spun on Outreach Coordinator Josh Goodman’s magnetic trainer.

Many curious students and cyclists stopped by to ask questions about the advocacy events of the SCC and about the Cycling Team, which the executives were happy to answer.

Today is the first meeting of the SCC in SAC room W303 at 5 p.m. If you are a UofL student interested in joining the fastest growing RSO on campus and looking to meet student cyclists, feel free to stop by– dinner is on us!

OVCX at IndyCycloplex

Indianapolis, IN. On Sunday November 26, team vice-president, Abner Miralda, and outreach officer, Josh Goodman, traveled to Indianapolis to race in the first official race event for University of Louisville Cycling.  The Ohio Valley Cyclocross (OVCX) race proved to be an excellent testing ground for what is to come from the team. The race was hosted by the Marian University Cycling Team at the Indianapolis Cycloplex, a venue that seats the only velodrome in the state of Indiana, the Major Taylor Velodrome which will host the 2014 Collegiate Track National Championships.

With temperatures in the teens, the morning races proved to be a difficult challenge for the day’s racers. The difficult course featured a half-frozen winding section in the prairie, and a tough run up and muddy, windy descent on the hill next to the velodrome. In only their first and second cyclocross races, both Abner and Josh had plenty of issues to deal with. The pair raced in the Collegiate Men’s C category which was combined with the Men’s Category 4/5 race at 10:30 a.m. A race reserved for inexperienced/beginning racers.

Struggling early in the race, Abner suffered a rear wheel mechanical in only the third turn of the race, forcing him to fall behind the pack and chase for much of the race. Nearing the end of the first lap, Josh showed his lack of cyclocross experience when on the back side of the frozen hill had his wheel slip on loose rocks, sending him off the course and off his bicycle, injuring both his right hand and leg.

Despite the early and major setbacks, both riders persevered and pushed through to the end of the 30-minute race. Abner clawed his way through the field of 59 entrants up to a finish of 36th overall and 1st in Collegiate C, while Josh held on to finish the race in 40th ahead of the only other Collegiate C rider, Nicholas Hartman, a member of the Indiana University Cycling team.

Another UofL student, Owen Stone, raced against Abner and Josh for VO2 Multisport and finished in 12th overall, good for 1st place in Category 5.

Congratulations to all the riders that participated!

For more information regarding the activity of the UofL Cycling Club, follow us on Twitter @UofLCycling.