The leadership of the Student Cycling Coalition has kept a close eye on the weather for this weekend’s Cardinal Criterium. USA Cycling, Louisville Metro Parks, conference officials and the IN/KY Cycling Association have all concluded the weather will not affect the Cardinal Criterium on March 11 and 12.
Weather reports have changed nearly hourly, but as the weekend draws nearer, the forecast continues to predict progressively safer temperatures and a lower chance of precipitation. At the time of writing, the National Weather Service reported a 30% chance of precipitation.
At face value, the #CardinalCrit is just a bike race, but if you look deeper, you’ll find much much more.
Here’s why you should either race or show to support at the Cardinal Criterium on March 11 & 12.
The First Race of the Season
It’s the kickoff. The opener. The big one. Chances are, the Cardinal Crit is the first road race anyone in Louisville has done in 2017 which means there are always fireworks. Dark horses can win, favorites crumble and it’s all done in the name of improvement. A win here is no small feat– it can be a harbinger for future success, but losing here isn’t as disappointing as it is in the summer.
The Who’s Who of Louisville
This race has changed names over the years, but two things have remained constant: the weekend of the event and the course. It’s a community staple and everyone knows it. That’s why the fields are so big and the community comes out to be a part of it. You’ll see all the local teams: Team Louisville, Texas Roadhouse, Clarksville Schwinn and VO2 Multisport among others. Be here and you’ll get connected.
Did we mention it’s the first race of the year? This means riders are rolling out with brand new bikes, sponsors, kits and rosters. It’s so cool to see and be seen with all the glitz and glamour of new Lycra. GCN needs to stop by and do bike checks.
The #CardinalCrit isn’t quite the #SSCXWC’s but it’s a fun mixture of young and experienced cyclists. The regional reach is big, so you meet lots of folks. Oh, and did we mention the playlist received the most Kudo’s out of any race I was at in 2016? Get ready for another fire mixtape.
Was one race not enough? Did you win? Or just training for the summer? We’re not going to break your bank. We understand you’re working toward peak fitness and want to help you. That’s why we offer $15 re-entries– as long as there’s room for you in the next race.
Louisville Cycling and Triathlon does more than just ride bikes. We are dedicated not only to creating a bigger and better cycling community, but also to giving back to the Louisville community as a whole.
Several of our members spent their day off from classes as a day in memory of Martin Luther King Jr. and all that he stood for as part of UofL’s 8th Annual MLK Day of Service.
Team members Kelsey Voit, Jacob Holtgrewe, and Alison Mundell worked with the Shelby Park Neighborhood Association to pick up trash around the neighborhood. They worked with several dedicated community members to tidy up the streets, with neighbors joining in to help and passersby thanking the group for their service.
“It was really cool,” said Kelsey, “to see neighbors coming out of their homes to lend a hand or give us an extra trash bag. We even saw next door neighbors make new connections through this day of service.”
The work performed today by our team members, the Shelby Park Neighborhood Association, and all of the UofL students who participated in the event no doubt contributed to the creation of a stronger, more unified Louisville community. What better way to commemorate Dr. King’s life work than through these positive impacts on our community?
The 2016 Mid West Collegiate Cycling Conference road season was historic in some ways. It saw the addition of a new event, inclement weather and was the final season with divisional rankings that mixed varsity and club teams alike. At the conclusion of the Conference Championships hosted by Purdue University, UofL cycling finished 12th of 16 teams in Div. I.
The third road season for the Cardinals featured a modest haul of results, but a key shift in participation from previous years. Four women raced for UofL and two men raced in the A category, the highest participation figures since the team’s founding. The team saw contributions from ten different athletes in four different categories, once again the most diverse group since the team’s founding.
Another point of growth for UofL Cycling is the Cardinal Criterium, the first race ever hosted by a cycling club out of the University of Louisville.
Relive each of the Cardinals’ races in the 2016 MWCCC road season:
Cardinal Criterium– March 12
The first-ever race hosted by the University of Louisville was held at Long Run Park. The race, a successful first event, drew some of the largest collegiate fields of the season.
John Francisco led the Cardinals in his only appearance of the season, finishing 12th in the Men’s A race. Ben King came in 33rd to begin his season-long ascent in the conference.
Rikus Van Zyl finished 6th in the men’s C while Evan Cruson finished 16th.
In the Men’s D, triathlon crossovers Nick Reader and Erik Seibt finished 13th and 22nd while Greg Lewis finished 52nd.
Representing UofL in the Women’s B/C field were Emma Coakley in 24th, Irina Miralda in 26th and Caroline DuPlessis, who after a mechanical was unable to finish.
Lindsey Wilson College Road Race– March 19 & 20
In the Women’s B race, Caroline DuPlessis and Kelsey Voit crossed the line together in 18th and 19th after completing the 25-mile wind swept course.
In the Men’s C, Rikus Van Zyl cleaned up a group sprint for 5th after a four man break attacked on the final climb. Jacob Holtgrewe ushered Van Zyl up the climb and settled in for 19th while Abner Miralda finished 26th.
Michigan State Strade Marrone & University of Michigan Criterium– April 2 & 3
A race weekend for tough athletes, it featured dirt roads, and sub-freezing temperatures accompanied by snow and sleet.
In the Individual Time Trials, Abner Miralda earned 4th place in the Men’s C category while Greg Lewis finished 7th in the Men’s D event.
The road race saw Miralda finish 12th and Lewis 28th in their respective categories.
Lewis went on to finish 21st in the D criterium while Miralda earned 9th in the Men’s C.
Notre Dame Cycling Classic – April 9 & 10
Cancelled due to heavy snow!
Lindenwood Road Extravaganza – April 16 & 17
The hilliest parcours in the MWCCC saw Ben King rise to 18th in the Men’s A race while Rikus Van Zyl rode to 7th in the Men’s C, followed by Jacob Holtgrewe in 13th.
The downtown criterium in St. Charles, MO featured a sharp turn with a long stretch of cobbles. King finished 17th in the A’s while Van Zyl raced to 9th and Holtgrewe to 25th in the Men’s C.
Purdue MWCCC Championships – April 23 & 24
In the Men’s D road race Greg Lewis finished 33rd while Rikus Van Zyl earned his best placement of the year with 4th place in the C’s. Kelsey Voit anchored the women with an 11th place in the B’s. Ben King finished 16th in the Men A’s.
In the criterium Ben King finished 32nd.
Hind sight is 20/20 and although the Cardinals failed to best 2015’s 6th place finish in Div. I with a 12th place finish, the group’s progress in diversifying and growing is promising as USA Cycling has split collegiate cycling from its past of school-size sanctioning. Starting in mid 2016, USAC moved to Varsity and Club divisions stacking up similarly resourced teams against one another.
The new alignment helps club programs, like the University of Louisville Student Cycling Coalition, stand on their own and out of the shadow of larger, better funded varsity programs.
The 2016 USA Cycling Amateur Road Nationals were in Louisville on June 30-July 1 and fittingly, the home team was represented by Ben King at the Men’s Open Time Trial.
The 34k time trial course in Taylorsville, Ky featured two gradual slopes. The first, a right hand turn onto Overlook Road with an out-and-back turn and a final ascent up little Mt. Road with a turnaround leading straight downhill to the finish line.
“I had a good pace on the uphill,” said King. “There was a little head wind on the descend so you still had to work.”
King finished the Time Trial in 64th place with a time of 50:58.68.
“It was cool to race a national championship here in Louisville,” said King.
Throughout the spring collegiate season he contributed to UofL Cycling as one of the team’s only two Category A riders, earning the squad’s best result- a 16th place finish- at the Mid-West Collegiate Cycling Conference (MWCCC) Championship hosted by Purdue University.
The 2017 USA Cycling Amateur Road National Championship will be hosted once again by Louisville from June 29th to July 2, 2017.
The student members of the Student Cycling Coalition cast their ballots on Nov. 30 to elect the organization’s student leaders for the 2017 calendar year. Headlining the results is the selection of engineering student John Francisco as president.
Francisco brings years of experience to the leadership of the Student Cycling Coalition. A three year member of the organization, he has experienced and contributed to the growth of the organization. He has extensive knowledge of the cycling industry both from a retail and experience standpoint, having worked with the SCC’s partner bicycle shop VO2 Multisport and his racing in national and international events as a junior.
“I am looking forward to the challenge of leading the team,” said Francisco. “I will work to continue to grow and improve it.”
The former president, Jacob Holtgrewe, was elected to the recruitment position. During his tenure as president in 2016 the team grew it’s non-racing activity extensively and developed a strong mountain bike program.
Studio art student Nick Reader was retained as Triathlon Coordinator and will be joined by pre-med/biology student Chris Nupp as co-coordinator.
After organizing the mountain bike team to its best-ever season, Kalem Fetters will take the reigns as the Cycling Coordinator.
Elijah Eisert, a political science major, was elected secretary of the organization. He will manage both internal and external communication of the organization.
Engineering student Greg Lewis was elected controller and will manage the budget of the Student Cycling Coalition.
The uniform and merchandise coordinator will be Charlie Hamilton.
The new officers will begin their terms on January 1st, 2017.
The University of Louisville mountain bike squad traveled to Indianapolis to earn nine total podium finishes including two wins by James Francisco at the Mid West Collegiate Cycling Conference race weekend hosted by Marian University.
On Saturday, freshman James Francisco powered into third place in the B’s Short Track Cross Country race, earning his first result of the weekend. He went on to earn either a podium or a win in every event he entered. Fellow freshman teammate Josh Smithson crossed behind him in 4th place.
Foregoing the cyclocross scene this weekend, Kelsey Voit competed in her first collegiate mountain bike race. She used her ‘cross skills to secure 2nd place in the B’s Short Track race, the best women’s result the mountain bike team has earned to date.
Later in the day, Francisco won the Men’s B Four-Cross, a similar event to BMX racing, edging out teammate Kalem Fetters who settled for second. In the Men’s A Mark Renn was eliminated before the final round, finishing with the 5th best time of the day.
In the Men’s C, sophomore Matt Robertson, making his collegiate debut, led the final heat but crashed out, crossing the line in 4th without injury. Freshman Charlie Hamilton saved the event for the Cardinals with a 3rd place finish.
The following day in the Cross Country race, Francisco displayed his fitness once again by earning 3rd place finish in the Men’s B category through a twisty single track course that featured a steep gravel climb with a brutal 30% grade. Teammates Smithson and Abner Miralda followed thereafter finishing 6th and 7th respectively.
Voit willed her bike down the fast, flowing descents of the course into a 3rd place finish in the Women’s B while Elijah Eisert slotted into 7th in the Men’s C category.
Francisco who has become a top rider for the Cardinals this season, finished the weekend with a win in the Men’s B Downhill.
“The [course] had some awesome jumps,” he said of the rolling, pump-heavy course. “I liked how it had some riskier options.”
He beat 2nd place finisher and teammate Kalem Fetters in the Men’s B final by four seconds with a time of 1:22. The result was only two seconds slower than teammate Mark Renn who styled his way down the trail into 5th place in the Men’s A event.
In the Men’s C race, Robertson closed his weekend with a 3rd place run of 1:32, beating 4th place finisher and teammate Hamilton by a solitary second. Eisert chased soon after, earning 5th with a time of 1:48.
Francisco credited the squad for the results. “It’s a great group of people who love fun and helping out their teammates.”
The Cardinals will race next at Lindsey Wilson College on Oct. 1&2 in a Dual-Conference event with the South Eastern Collegiate Cycling Conference.
Follow Louisville Cycling and Triathlon on all Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @UofLcycling.
Asheville, N.C.– On a muddy and difficult course at the Biltmore Estate that featured more than 400 vertical feet of climbing in a roughly one mile course, John Francisco rode to 18th place while Ben King rode to 43rd place at the USA Cycling Collegiate Cyclocross National Championships. The event marked the fourth time UofL Cycling has featured at a national championship.
By Abner Miralda
Francisco entered the race in excellent position, starting from the front row as the representative of the Mid-West Cycling Collegiate Conference after winning the championship in November. “It was really cool to start at the front,” said Francisco, “The field was stacked [with talent].” The UofL sophomore struggled through the technical sections of the course in the tightly packed traffic of the first lap, falling to a top-25 position. “My last lap was good, which made up for the first,” he smiled immediately after the race, managing to pull ahead from a handful of riders into 18th place. “It was one of the best courses I’ve ever ridden.”
Graduate student Ben King finished 43rd. King was off to a fast start from his grid spot near the back of the 75-man field, slinking gracefully past heavy traffic in the most technical sections of the course. “It was great for me because there were some really technical sections,” said King after the race, “but I didn’t have the legs today.” King was unable to respond to the surges of chasing riders on the long grassy straightaways and choppy corners, but was able to battle back at the tricky off-camber and wooded sections.
The race was won convincingly by defending national champion and Louisville native Drew Dillman, racing for Marian University in Indianapolis.
The 2016 Cyclocross National Championships marks the one-year anniversary since the first-ever national championship appearance for UofL Cycling when Francisco and King represented UofL in Austin, Tex. at the 2015 Cyclocross National Championships. Since then, UofL Cycling has been represented at Collegiate Road Nationals by Francisco and Collegiate Mountain Bike Nationals by Mark Renn.
To learn more about the 2016 USA Cycling Cyclocross Nationals at the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC, visit https://usacycling.org/cx/
“I’m addicted to triathlons now!” said Jacob Holtgrewe with a bright, wide smile. “My favorite thing is being able to do three different activities all in one competition. I got to take advantage of different skills and put them together.” In his first ever triathlon, a sprint distance triathlon in Shelbyville, Ky., Holtgrewe finished second in his ‘18-25 men’ age group.
What makes Holtgrewe special? He is 19 years old, a number that defies a dominant trend of the sport of triathlon: in 2013, of all athletes that entered a race in the United States, 65% were between the ages of 30 and 49. Only 7% of the total athletes in the sport were under 25 years old.
Holtgrewe, along with several other students at the University of Louisville, are part of the Student Cycling Coalition, the parent organization of UofL Cycling, which was formed last year, and UofL Triathlon, which was formed this winter. Josh Goodman, a cyclist and founding member of the Student Cycling Coalition says, “Triathlon is an important part of our organization. It has a broader appeal than just cycling, so it can help bring in a much more diverse group of athletes.” Enter Holtgrewe.
Like many other freshmen, Holtgrewe looked for a way to get involved. A former soccer player, he looked for ways to stay physically active. He met Evan Cruson, the head of UofL Triathlon and Vice-President of the Student Cycling Coalition, through a personal connection and was quickly recruited to try out the new sport. “I just learned how to swim in January,” said Holtgrewe with a laugh. He was taught to swim by Cruson with the end goal of competing in the Shelbyville Triathlon. “I would not have been able to do it without my teammates who trained with me and taught me about swimming, biking, and running.”
However, Holtgrewe is not alone in the growth and expanding youth of the organization. Mike Baird, a 21 year-old junior at the university and experienced triathlete, transferred to UofL from Union College in Kentucky and began competing for the club, earning the overall win at the same triathlon. In an earlier race this year, Audrey Duke and Nicole Knapp went 2nd and 3rd in the women’s 18-25 category.
In a recent interview, Goodman said he isn’t necessarily concerned about youth, but about equality. “I would say triathlon helps increase female participation. For some reason a stigma exists that women don’t race bikes, but they like to do triathlons.” Goodman is right, the Olympic cycling development organization, USA Cycling, reported in its annual survey that only 15% of bike racers are women. This figure pales in comparison to the USA Triathlon figure of 40% female triathlon participation.
Adding triathlon has helped even out participation in the Student Cycling Coalition. In 2014, its inaugural year, the SCC had no female athletes, and a roster of 20 members that participated in three cycling-only disciplines: road, mountain, and cyclocross. When triathlon was added, UofL Triathlon brought in 20 members of its own, boosting the general membership to 44 members, including 12 women. According to USA Cycling and USA Triathlon, the members of collegiate cycling and triathlon clubs must be full-time status students as dictated by the institution. At UofL, graduate students performing research and any undergraduate with at least 12 credit hours stands as full-time. Goodman was ecstatic when he saw the Student Cycling Coalition grow, saying, “I’m excited that triathlon is branching the organization out more and getting more people on bikes!”
As far as race experience, UofL Triathlon has yet to truly test its race legs. The team will begin collegiate competition in the USA Triathlon sponsored Mid-East Collegiate Triathlon Conference, also known as MECTC, in the fall. It includes any collegiate team in Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and now, Kentucky. In the official announcement of UofL Triathlon in the organization’s website, UofLcycling.com, the team points out it is the only registered collegiate triathlon team in the state of Kentucky. “It is a new way to put UofL on the map,” says cycling coordinator John Francisco.
Members of the organization are responsible for buying their training and race equipment, such as bikes, helmets, and shoes. “The barrier of entry to cycling and triathlon is pretty high, given how expensive the equipment can get,” says Francisco. “That is why we have a partner bike shop and industry sponsors that offer discounts to the team members.” However, going beyond personal equipment, funding for the organization comes from local business sponsors such as the Louisville-based care company, Evergreen Rehabilitation, to pay for races and racing expenses. “Racing can be expensive,” says Francisco. Collegiate cycling races cost $15 per entry, and triathlons cost $35, figures much cheaper than the average prices of $35 and $100 respectively for age-group races like the Shelbyville Triathlon that Holtgrewe entered. Then add travel expenses and expansive collegiate race seasons of 8 events in 4 disciplines each, and funding the hobby becomes daunting for a college student. In return for their investments in the team, sponsors get logos placed on the team jerseys.
When asked about how he recruits members for the team, Josh Goodman said, “I look for any person that is interested in getting fit, working hard, and being a good teammate. With those qualities, the possibilities are endless for what they and this team can accomplish.” Cruson put it just as eloquently, saying, “When recruiting, I look for anyone with a pulse. The brilliance of the sport is that it is for anyone.”
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.