Last year, Jake Arnold was faced with the task of biking 25 miles at an elevation of 4,300 feet, trekking up hills with a 15 percent grade and doing it all with a fractured kneecap.
Despite facing these challenges, Arnold still managed to place 10th out of 170 competitors. He suffered this knee injury the day prior to his cross country cycling race and recalls how painful the experience was.
“I woke up the next morning and could barely walk, let alone bike. But I was like ‘no one else can take my spot for the road race,’ so I just did it,” Arnold said. “It really hurt in the climbs because it puts a lot of pressure on your knee; it felt like it was going to explode.”
This weekend, CSU’s cycling team heads back to Arnold’s home state of North Carolina to compete against 50 teams from across the nation at Beech Mountain. Even though Arnold will not be competing in this year’s nationals, the team hopes to take home placements in the four events throughout the course of the competition.
Vice President of the cycling team, senior Greg Krieger, predicts that both the men and women’s teams will perform well at this year’s competition.
“We have a big advantage practicing at elevation,” Krieger said. “I think (Beech Mountain) is about the same elevation as here, but a lot of schools from the midwest and eastern conferences never do very well (at elevation).”
President of the cycling team and PhD student Kate Wold also has high expectations for the team going into this weekend.
“I think we have potential to do really well. There aren’t a lot of teams that have both teams (men and women) being strong, so I’m hoping for a top-5,” Wold said.
This strive for success is mutual among many of the cycling team members. As this is Arnold’s last season as a member of the Ram’s cycling club, he hopes for nothing but the best for his team.
At the start of 2014, Arnold will accept a spot on the professional cycling team based out of Calif., Predator-Incycle. This is his second professional contract offer, the first one was offered to him after returning to the U.S. after spending time in France racing competitively.
“They’re strong contenders across the board in all events,” Arnold said about his teammates chances at this weekend’s race. “Both men and women’s should do well in the overall competition. But at the end of the day, I hope they have fun and enjoy their time.”
Sports writer Hannah Cornish can be reached at email@example.com and on Twitter@HMcornish.