Hurricane Harvey, which brought unprecedented amounts of rainfall throughout the southern region of the country, has hit the Ohio River valley. Forecasts are calling for up to 6″ of rain throughout Friday, Sept 1st.
At the time of writing, the Cardinal Cup, with its Cross Country and Downhill Courses at Ft. Duffield in West Point, Ky and Short Track races at Eva Bandman Park in the heart of Louisville, is still scheduled to operate as planned on Saturday Sept. 2-3.
This decision to race has not been taken lightly. The Student Cycling Coalition has been in contact with various parties, including the trail managers and builders, track managers at Derby City BMX (for updates regarding Derby City Nationals BMX race), MWCCC conference officials, and various conference team representatives to assess the weather, course conditions, and safety of the athletes participating.
Because Ft. Duffiled is a hilly, old, and seldom-used trail system, the soil drains exceptionally and has seen minimal wear. The Cross Country course will be in excellent shape despite the rain. The downhill course will not see any usage during the cross country races and will be rerouted as needed away from any running water.
Eva Bandman, as it’s flanked on two sides by Beargrass Creek and the Ohio River, is under the threat of some flooding. The short track course has been designed on the elevated portions of the park and will see reroutes as needed.
Onsite registration will be available both days for those interested in racing. You may see the race flyer here.
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.
Louisville, Ky. – The SCC held its annual leadership elections on Nov. 23, electing Jacob Holtgrewe as President. A new position for 2016, Women’s Coordinator, was filled by Caroline Duplessis. The remaining positions were filled evenly with incumbents and newcomers.
By Abner Miralda
“[I’m] honored to be the new president-elect,” announced Holtgrewe when the results were unveiled to the team. The current Sophomore Biology student has been part of the organization since the beginning of his freshman year in 2014. Holtgrewe was a stand-out soccer and track athlete out of Paducah Tilghman High School and has bicycle industry experience from his time as a bike shop employee in Paducah, Ky.
Holtgrewe’s main area of focus for 2016 will be recruiting new members given collegiate cycling clubs are heavy with members close to graduation. “We need to find sustainable growth,” said Holtgrewe, “so we can remain a team.”
Another point for Holtgrewe will be to boost the budget to allocate for more programs such as the new Women’s Coordinator position that will be headed up by Caroline DuPlessis. “We need to create sustainable fundraising so we have the budget to do the things we want,” said Holtgrewe, adding, “I’d like to keep going in the direction we have been.”
The Women’s Coordinator position was created to empower women and create a more diverse team-makeup. Caroline DuPlessis is a Junior Nursing student, a member of the UofL Army Reserve Officer Training Corps and is primarily a triathlete. DuPlessis joined the SCC in 2015, competing in her first collegiate bicycle race in April and her first collegiate triathlon in September.
Evan Cruson returns as Triathlon Coordinator responsible for triathlete development, while Rikus Van Zyl becomes the head of the treasury as the Controller. Van Zyl is a Computer Engineering master’s student who has raced Road, Triathlon, and Cyclocross for the SCC and is well versed with the financial responsibilities of race-day logistics.
Irina Miralda becomes the Uniform Coordinator for the second year in a row, having designed the UofL Cycling and Triathlon team wear for 2016.
Abner Miralda remains the head of the marketing efforts of the organization, having stepped down from the President role of the previous two years, while being elected Vice President alongside John Francisco.
Francisco returns as the Cycling Coordinator, having developed the MWCCC’s sixth-placed road team, and a Cyclocross team that dominated the MWCCC Cyclocross Conference Championship and shook up the OVCX Series this fall. Francisco will be aided by Coy Phillips and Mark Renn.
“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.”