By Nicole Ramsey

Just as the UC Santa Cruz Cycling Club gets ready for another season, the rain puts a damper on high early season spirits. Despite the fact that the races continue on, rain or shine, the Slugs are finding it difficult to ride in the face of the storm.

“It’s not a lot of fun to ride in the rain,” junior Ryland Wolff Baker said. “A lot of people do not ride when it’s raining, so it hurts our ability to train.”

Even with all the trouble the team has had with the storms, that hurdle may be the least of their worries. The club is focusing on getting through other obstacles, such as fielding enough cyclists for the team, finding transportation to events and garnering support from local shops.

“The participation from the team is there, it is just hard to come by sometimes,” senior Adam Lucero said. “Sometimes with funding and paying dues, it really depends on if they have the money.”

The team also has to find new ways of getting to and from the competitions, which often results in the team having to incorporate carpooling systems for themselves and their bikes.

When it comes down to the competition, it is a completely different story, as the struggles and worries escape riders as they prepare for their races.

“Just going to races and having fun is enough for us,” Baker said. “I don’t really think there is a point in racing unless you are going to have fun doing it.”

The club does not show any resentment toward their place in the cycling ranks. Instead, the team is looking on the bright side.

“Last season, we didn’t get first place as a team, and I don’t think anyone on our team got first place,” Baker said. “But in terms of fun we won every race.”

Kevin “Skippy” Givens, the club sports director, is one of the club’s biggest supporters.

“My history with the team goes back to when I first worked with the sports clubs around the year 2000,” Givens said. “There was not really a team back then and one of my main objectives was to establish and maintain the cycling team and [keep it] functioning.”

The cycling club may seem more relaxed than other clubs, since many cyclists on the team would rather enjoy riding around the many idealistic landscapes in Santa Cruz than focus on competing for the top spot.

“Santa Cruz is a fantastic place for cycling,” Givens said. “It’s like a cycling Mecca.”

As for the future of the team, they are determined to make this club one of the most popular and inclusive clubs on campus. The club has a notably strong alumni base and their strength in membership and diversity appeals to a wide range of potential riders.

“The club is valuable in that it challenges [team members] to look to the future,” Givens said. “Leaving behind their legacy and their mark with this program.”

The Slugs will officially start their season in a two-day event in San Diego this weekend, Feb. 2-3, hosted by UC San Diego and San Diego State University.