The air is crisp, your heart is pounding, everything is clear and fresh as bike and rider become one. Rocks and roots, twists and turns, all make the uphill struggle more fierce and the downhill rush more exhilarating. This is a picture of your average mountain bike ride.
One way to experience such a ride is with the Rams Cycling Team. Mountain biking is one of the five categories of cycling that the team competes in, and their top level riders are a force to be reckoned with.
“The “A” class in our conference has quite a few professional mountain bike riders, both on the CSU team and on other teams in the conference,” said President Kate Wold. “This can be a bit intimidating at first, but it’s actually a lot of fun to race alongside some of the best riders in the country.”
The team finished fifth overall in the Division I mountain bike collegiate nationals, which is a significant achievement for a student-run club competing against varsity programs.
Their racing success does not mean the team is closed to beginners. Anyone interested in cycling is encouraged to join, regardless of ability or experience.
“There’s no pressure to race, we have a lot of members who join for the social aspect of finding a group of adventurous people to ride with,” Wold said. “Cycling is a great sport because unlike sports like hockey or soccer, which kids play from a young age, lots of people start their cycling career in college.”
Wold started her own cycling career as an undergraduate at Michigan Tech with an old bike and some friends that were willing to let her tag along on their rides. Coincidentally, this is exactly what Mark Currie, Rams Cycling Team member and elite mountain biker, suggests for anyone who is contemplating getting into the sport.
Of course, there are plenty of seasoned riders in Fort Collins as well. Currie got his start at age 11 when he moved to Colorado from Ireland.
“Having mountains was kind of a new thing, so I got a mountain bike and started to ride it,” Currie said. “After a while, I realized that I really enjoyed it and was pretty good at it.”
Both Wold and Currie enjoy the trails found in Lory State Park, with Timber Trail, Kimmons Trail and Mill Creek Trail as their favorites. These trails are open to everyone, making mountain biking a fairly accessible sport even for those not wanting to join a team.
Long-time mountain biker Jessica Barth prefers to hit the trails in a pair or small group to work out the stresses of long week.
“I love going into the mountains on the weekends with just a couple good friends and riding out all the frustration and worry and stress that builds up over the week,” Barth said. “It’s a really great way to just clear my head.”
Something that all three riders agree on is that mountain biking is one of the best ways to see the beautiful state of Colorado.
“I’ve traveled all over Colorado while going to races with the CSU team which is always an adventure,” Wold said. “The race weekends are filled with camping and riding and it has given me a chance to explore the state and bike in places most people at the school probably have never been to even though they are so close.”
Collegian Entertainment Reporter Katie Salka can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.