Ridin' dirty with the UP Cycling Club

By The Beacon | November 18, 2010 9:00pm

By PJ Marcello, Staff Writer -- marcello13@up.edu

Few know about it, many would like it, and all are welcome to the UP Cycling Club.

On Nov. 14, some members of the University of Portland Cycling Club, along with 1,700 other competitors, participated in the largest cycle-cross race in the country.

Competitors from UP included junior Stephen Street and senior Alex Wentz who are also the leaders of the club.

Cycle-cross is a unique sport that combines street biking with mud and other obstacles as racers complete as many laps as they can within an allotted time.

"It's basically a cross country race with hardware," Wentz said.

Races typically take place in fall and winter on fairground tracks that are soaked with mud. Racers equip their road bikes with knobby tires to increase traction and usually compete on a two-mile course. Throughout the course riders come across large pieces of plywood set as obstacles where they must dismount and carry their bikes over to the other side.

UP's riders did well in this last event.

"I finished 49th in my field of about 120," said Street. "Mike Manning did great. He finished 17th out of his field of 50 which is really good."

According to Wentz, training for such a unique sport is tough yet simple.

"It helps to have general all around good fitness," Wentz said. "It also helps to do off-road biking and a lot of it is also getting technique down."

The Cycling Club offers a number of riding opportunities for members, including road biking, street biking and cycle-cross racing.

"A couple years ago there was a cycling club here called UP Velo for people that were into riding, but there wasn't much more than a Facebook page about it," Street said. "Alex and I met and wanted to make it a bit more serious, so we changed the name and wrote a new constitution and came up with the UP Cycling Club."

For those interested in joining, Street and Wentz encourage anyone to get involved.

"A lot of people get intimidated because they think the club is just for racing," Street said. "We do a lot of street and mountain biking just for fun and anyone who wants to join should just email me or Alex."

To contact the cycling club for more information, e-mail Wentz or Street at wentz11@up.edu or Street12@up.edu.