Top five reasons Whitman cycling is a team to watch
In the last few years, the Whitman cycling team has proved to be one of the most promising and consistently successful club sports that Whitman College has to offer. Despite budget cuts and financial limitations, the cyclists have been able to jump at opportunities and succeed by bringing home top honors in the country’s most competitive collegiate races. With the season starting up again, the excitement for the team has been building.
1) They’re expecting to have a winning season . . . again
The Division II nationals competition last season resulted in the women’s team dominating the criterium, with senior Kendi Thomas leading the way.
“We’ve got a good chance this year to beat the odds again as a club team,” said senior Ben Chaddock.
They also started off the last season strong by leading the conference on their first race weekend which took place in Corvallis, Ore. On the weekend of March 13-14, the Whitman cyclists are set to win big in Boise, Idaho.
2) They’re well-rounded
Many of the current cycling team members have participated in varsity sports here on campus and have chosen to stay active in the off-season with the club sport. For some, it ended up becoming an athletic career move. Senior Colin Gibson is a former varsity swimmer who decided to take on cycling full time.
“The team has so many different interests, but [riding] brings everyone with all different skills together,” Gibson said.
The varying levels of athleticism that many cyclists bring to the table have proven to be a major plus. Most of the big wins have come from former swimmers like Gibson and Thomas, as well as skiers like Chaddock.
3) They’re involved in the community
Unlike some other sports or clubs on campus, the team actively participates in Walla Walla events to build good relations with the community.
“We do bike rodeos for elementary schools, teaching safety rules and distributing helmets purchased from donations,” Gibson said.
He added that they are also actively involved with helping Walla Walla’s own Allegro Cyclery put on their annual “Tour of Walla Walla” by organizing routes and sign-ups. In return, the team is given discounts on gear and is able to participate in the tour as well.
“We’ve got a lot of sponsors who have definitely helped us out,” said junior Roxy Pierson.
Whitman cycling’s strong presence within and outside of campus shows their vested interest in keeping the club sport alive and well for years to come.
4) They’re staying afloat
Due to budget cuts and financial strains, the team has been faced with the inevitable challenge of raising money with the help of the community.
“It can be a pretty expensive sport,” said Pierson. With registration fees and gear, the cost of even participating has put a major dent in the budget. Due to community involvement and generous cycling alums, the team is holding strong.
“I would love it if more teams followed what we’re doing. Without involvement in the community outside of Whitman, we wouldn’t be where we are,” she said.
5) They’re not exclusive
With a new batch of first-years and new riders joining the team this year, the varying experience levels have been accommodated through frequent training and a class offered through the college.
This week kicks off the second annual February Week of Cycling in which the team tables at Reid for students to sign up to borrow a bike for a team ride the following week.
“It’s a chance for new riders to experience the feel of racing in a less competitive environment,” Gibson said.
For more information on what the team has been up to, visit whitman.edu/cycling.
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