By Samantha Thompson
Moving to the streaming, seamless sound of wheels spinning beneath them, members of the UC Santa Cruz cycling club pause after a long ride through a forested trail to behold the place where they’ve stopped.
They take in all the new stimuli that surround them and experience the beauty that only those willing to take their bikes this far can see.
“Every time you ride your bike, it’s an adventure,” senior and president of the cycling club Tyler Corelitz said. “Most people on this campus don’t really get to see this stuff. They live in Santa Cruz for four years and they never get to experience a lot of these things that we see and do.”
After disappearing for a while due to a lack of funding and changes in leadership, the UCSC cycling club is now in its sixth year.
“I don’t like calling it a club because we really are a team,” senior Matt Johnson said. “I feel like the word ‘club’ has a different connotation. Even though we’re not an NCAA team, we still have the spirit of one.”
About 20 of the 60 members consistently race competitively.
“We compete against some of the biggest sports schools in the country and against people at DI schools with big sports programs, lots of money, and athletes who are recruited,” Corelitz said. “But as a team we feel like [competing against those schools] aids us in the cohesiveness of the team.”
The club, which finished its season in April, is run completely by the participating students. It is still without a real coach, which makes the club’s upkeep somewhat difficult.
“The biggest problem with collegiate cycling is that it’s hard to keep a consistent infrastructure,” Corelitz said. “With people graduating and moving on, there’s always someone new leading the team. But the infrastructure of this team is the athletes.”
Besides their usual Sunday morning practices, members of the club take it upon themselves to get practice in by posting on the club’s website to let riders know when and where they will be riding.
“It’s really hard to get an actual team practice like you would for a normal team,” senior and treasurer of the cycling club Dave Tate said. “We’re pretty much the epitome of a student-run type of deal.”
With the passage of Measure 23 last spring, which gave the cycling club more money to support its athletes, the team saw the addition of many new participants, and in particular, a large number of freshmen. The club hopes to continue this growth, especially in the realm of mountain biking.
“Santa Cruz has some of the best riding in the state,” Corelitz said. “So many people mountain bike at this school and are very serious, but they are turned off by the idea of a team.
“Biking is not something that most people associate with team sports,” Corelitz continued. “It’s not a football team, and it’s definitely not a football game.”
Members of the cycling club encourage anyone with a bike to come out to ride and support the sport that they have worked so hard to preserve on this campus.
“Don’t know if there’s a sport as holistic as cycling,” Johnson said. “It’s really a lifestyle once you get into it.”