St. Charles, Mo.- John Francisco became the first-ever Louisville Cardinal to earn a USA Cycling Mid-West Collegiate Cycling Conference crown, winning this year’s championship race, The Lindenwood University Cyclocross Challenge. Ben King earned second place behind Francisco for a Cardinal one-two in the top-ranked Men’s A field. In the Men’s B race, Rikus Van Zyl finished third, Abner Miralda fourth, and Jacob Holtgrewe fifth. In the Women’s B/C race, Kelsey Voit accentuated her inaugural season with a second-place finish.
By Abner Miralda
Francisco dominated the field en route to his first MWCCC victory, leading the group out of the start line into the first turn of the course. “I got a good start, stayed up front, and kept it clean,” he said coolly after beating second-placed teammate Ben King by almost four minutes. King’s race was an entirely different story caused by a mechanical issue on the first lap, dropping him from second place to sixth. “I just concentrated on picking people off one by one,” said King who battled most of the final two laps with Lane Johnson of Lindenwood University for second place, eventually edging the burgeoning rider by a mere three seconds.
Francisco and King qualified for Collegiate Cyclocross Nationals in Asheville, N.C., on January 8, 2016. Both riders kept their predictions conservative, especially Francisco who earned the MWCCC front-row start spot—a call-up reserved for the best riders in each conference throughout the country. “I’m going to try to not get passed by too many people because I’m at the front,” he joked.
In the lower-ranked Men’s B event that competed earlier in the day, Rikus Van Zyl rode to 3rd place on the mostly frozen course. Abner Miralda held his own for fourth, while Jacob Holtgrewe pushed past the rest of the field into fifth.
In the Women’s B/C race, Kelsey Voit finished her first-ever race season with in second place behind Washington University-St. Louis rider Juhi Shah.
The creative course wound through the scenic campus of Lindenwood University, taking advantage of several steep grass hills, a tricky single-track section, and a lap around the lake at the heart of the Presbyterian institution. Rainy weather from the day before and freezing temperatures overnight created thrilling racing on Sunday, forcing riders to tread on thawing mud, perfect for Cyclocross. “[The course] was really well balanced, there were a lot of power sections and a lot of handling sections,” said Francisco, expressing his approval.
UofL Cycling has been selected to host the 2016 MWCCC Cyclocross championships in November 2016.
UofL Cycling was founded in 2013 as part of the Student Cycling Coalition, a 501c (3) student-operated organization at the University of Louisville. It is a sister program of UofL Triathlon.
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.
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!
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?
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.
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.
Louisville, Ky- The Student Cycling Coalition launches Kentucky’s only intercollegiate competitive triathlon squad. The SCC’s board and sponsors have decided to re-launch the University of Louisville Triathlon squad for 2015. The team will compete in USA Triathlon’s Mid-East Collegiate Triathlon Conference (MECTC).
The University of Louisville previously had a triathlon club in 2012, and folded due to a lack of interest. This year, the SCC is building upon its organizational success as a cycling team and as a Registered Student Organization to add triathlon to its involvement. The SCC is currently the only registered triathlon team in the MECTC from the state of Kentucky. It will be managed by newly-elected triathlon coordinator and vice-president, Evan Cruson. The coaching will be taken on by USAT Certified coach, Barry Stokes and his team at BarryS Coaching.
The SCC is a Registered Student Organization that falls under the same category as other student managed organizations such as greek organizations, community service chapters, and professional chapters. The RSO status allows the SCC the flexibility to sponsor both UofL Cycling and UofL Triathlon independently from the Club and Intramural Sports programs, while maintaining a focus of encouraging a healthy lifestyle.
All students that are University of Louisville full time status are eligible to compete in the MECTC collegiate indoor triathlons throughout the winter and outdoor sprint and olympic distance triathlons throughout the summer and fall.
The SCC will have its third meeting of the year on Wednesday, Feb 12th at 7pm in West Hall. All interested students are welcome to attend.
Louisville, Ky.- The Student Cycling Coalition began its campus outreach of 2015 with this year’s first campus Pop Up Cycle Station. The SCC offered free bicycle repairs to UofL students, while the Engage Lead and Serve Green Initiatives Board was present to help register bicycles for the University Police database.
The event was held at the Humanities Quad, in front of Ekstrom Library. It started at 10am and ended at 3pm, stretching over a total of five hours. Five members were present to provide the free repairs and bicycle repair advice. John Francisco, Lance Biddle, Jacob Holtgrewe, Andrew Tursic, and Abner Miralda worked together to repair or attend to 23 bicycles. Ben Leamon and Kelsey Voit from the ELSB Green Initiatives Board were present to register bicycles for ULPD’s bicycle information database.
The success of this event would not have been possible without the help of generous sponsors BarryS Coaching, Middletown Cycling and Fitness, and VO2 Multisport. The University Interfaith Center also provided signage for the event.
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.
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
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.