Cycling at its dirtiest

    It’s finally fall. The roads are wet and the mud is starting to overpower the grassy fields. It looks like it should be time for the bicyclists to call it off-season. However, for a group of mud-junkies who participate in cyclo-cross, the season has just started getting good.

    Cyclo-cross is a form of cross-country cycling, which makes it similar to mountain biking. There’s a catch, though. A mixture of on- and off-road racing, cyclo-cross courses feature terrain such as pavement, wooded trails, grass, hills and obstacles that riders need to carry their bike over. Fans come out to catch a glimpse of this gritty style of racing.

    ”It’s incredibly spectator friendly, and the race tends to be half party, half race," said Kevin Hedahl, president of PSU Cycling Club. “It’s a lot more fun to watch and a lot more fun to race."

    These races can demand extreme control, as most races require many short laps in which the rider is constantly forced to accelerate, slow down, turn, climb hills and lug their bike over the barriers. Another quirk to cyclo-cross is the ability to “pit" or change bikes for cleaning. Hedahl said that this can be especially beneficial in muddy conditions, because one of the biggest problems in cyclo-cross is failing gears.

    The team’s most recent competition took place at Veloce’s Battle at Barlow CCX on Oct. 8 in Gresham. In the men’s beginner category, PSU riders finished very well. Andrew Morton took first place, Robbie Carver was not far behind in fourth and Brian Gerow placed 16th. This race featured 44 riders. Kevin Hedahl placed 19th  out of 54 riders who took part in the men’s B category.

    The next competition will be at the Cross Crusade Series Race #2 at Hillsboro Stadium on Sunday, Oct. 15. Here the team will look to build upon its early success and have a lot of fun doing it.

    The PSU cycling team will be competing in a lot of events in the season that started on Sept. 10. The team races every Sunday through the middle of December.

    Participating in a lot of events can be particularly challenging for many clubs. The Cycling Club is able to participate frequently due to an active group of leaders.

    ”Each club has to plan their own event," said Miriam Gillow-Wiles, PSU senior and Rec Clubs peer adviser.

    PSU Cycling Club resurfaced in 2004 and has been a staple within the Rec Clubs department ever since. The club looks to promote cycling at every level of participation and competition, and to introduce cycling to any students looking for a healthy and enjoyable activity that can last a lifetime.

The club also participates in giving back to the community. In the past they have worked with the Bicycle Transportation Alliance and Bicycles and Ideas for Kids Empowerment to lend a helping hand.

    ”This coming year one of our primary objectives is to try to bring it back down to the PSU level," Hedahl said.

    The club is looking to make biking easier on campus. Increasing the number of riders and adding more places to park bikes is a main concern and, going a step further, Hedahl said that adding covered spots will be a goal as well.

    While the club does a lot of racing, they also organize recreational rides. They are committed to cycling at all levels, including mountain biking, road riding and cyclo-cross. Even if a student doesn’t want to compete, the Cycling Club can be a great way to get active and involved.