Not many men enjoy performing in front of hundreds of people in colorful bibs and skin-tight jerseys. Even fewer are willing to risk injury by racing in excess of 30 miles per hour, only inches away from their competitors and stabilized by a few millimeters of rubber. UK’s cycling club does it all before lunch.
The World Class Subaru-sponsored UK cycling team is prepared to begin its season and the goals the athletes have set for themselves could not be higher.
“We know the tactics and we now know how the races unfold,” said Anthony Palmer, club vice president. “I think we will have one of the strongest teams this season. There is a lot of positive motivation behind our team.”
Cycling is unique as a sport because it is team-oriented but also requires strong individual performances. Individuals must be able to work with other team members to progress their way to the front of the field, or peloton. However, the end of a race will often come down to a battle within the team, which makes for an enjoyable competition.
The 17 men on the roster plan to take part in numerous team-building exercises throughout the season. These include small trips and weekly group rides that gather the team together in order to continue to build team chemistry. Trust between team members can be important when just a few inches can mean the difference between victory or a horrific crash.
Drew Lavey, a senior from Edgewood, Ky., serves as the club’s president.
“My biggest motivation is continually working on the team camaraderie,” Lavey said.
The club competes in the Midwest Collegiate Cycling Conference and its season begins with a contest at Murray State on Feb. 27. Additional races for the team will be held in Illinois, Ohio and Michigan, with the regional competition scheduled to be held at Purdue University.
Primary funding for the collegiate sport comes from local, as well as national, sponsorships. Sponsorships have tripled in value this season, team members said. The title sponsor for the team is World Class Subaru, an auto dealer based in Nicholasville, Ky.
A current resurgence of cycling in American culture has allowed the team, as well as students and recreationalists to assimilate into a comfortable position in society.
“We are gaining notoriety around the area,” club member Ian Baker said. “People are beginning to recognize us and understand the sport far greater now.”
Luke Avery, a UK graduate student from Kingsport, Tenn., has been keeping himself focused and has done his part in supporting the team throughout the off-season by attaching an endnote to each e-mail he sends to the team that simply reads:
“Now is when you gain on the competition.”