Last year I came to Indiana University with many ambitions, one of them being to get involved in cycling. My father attended IU and told me countless stories of how unbelievable the Little 500 was and how he wished he had tried to participate in it. From an early age he exposed me to cycling, whether it was watching the Tour de France or even going on rides on the trails by our house, cycling has always been part of my life. Finally, when I was a junior in high school my father bought me my first road bike, but unfortunately other sports and applying to colleges got in the way of me riding as much as I wanted. Luckily coming to Indiana gave me an opportunity to finally pursue cycling.
My freshman year was an incredible learning experience for me in growing as a cyclist. I realized quickly just how much I didn’t know, but fortunately I was welcomed into the beta cycling family and with help from senior teammates like AJ Sood and Kyle Knight, I was able to make enormous gains in not only my fitness, but knowledge of the sport. They showed me a variety of routes to ride and the stages of training throughout the year, while constantly giving me lessons on how not to be a “Fred.” One of the most important messages they left me with before the year ended was to get out and ride in the summer as much as possible. So with a new knowledge of cycling, and the fitness from a semester of training, I headed home to Batavia, Il to begin my summer riding.
The beginning of the summer was challenging. I didn’t know any real routes, I was doing only solo rides, and had a constant urge to simply relax after a stressful semester. Luckily I was able to overcome these issues and continue to ride. Most of the early summer rides were spent exploring. I would often lead myself down dead end roads, or somehow end up on gravel paths, but with persistence and a little map studying, I was able to find about 12 different routes on my own to ride. But even though I was able to find more enjoyable places to ride, the solo rides were getting monotonous. Fortunately, a high school friend’s dad told me about local group rides. So, after a little research, I was able to find two different group rides which both went out two days of the week. Going on these rides allowed me to improve my pack riding skills, and help me easily log over 120 miles each week. The group rides were very beneficial to helping me get in shape quickly and usually rides would be about 30 miles long, averaging around 22 MPH.
While the group rides did bring a new excitement back to riding, it did come at a price. I suffered my first real crash while on a group ride this summer. We were going about 30 MPH down a fairly steep hill on a route I had never been on. Waiting for me at the bottom of the hill was a hairpin turn that I had not been told about, and by the time I realized it was coming up, my bike had already slid out from under me. By the grace of God all I suffered was some road rash and sore shoulder, and perhaps best of all, my bike also survived the crash. Even though no one wants to go down like that, crashing is an important part of cycling and being able to get back on the bike after something like that makes the idea of wrecking less scary.
So with my first crash and first summer of training behind me, I am returning to Bloomington to begin my sophomore year and to join Joe Laughlin, John Hyndman, Jack McNamara, and J.J. Jaggard as we look to prepare for a successful fall training season in preparation for this year’s Little 500.