Giving Back to Collegiate Cycling
You were a college kid once, right? And since you’re here, you were probably even a college kid and a bike racer at the same time, too. Needless to say, the life of the collegiate bike racer is not easy. Whether it’s getting to races, paying entry fees, or booking a place to stay, a lot goes into making collegiate cycling possible. And there is a lot that you can do to help.
Find Your Alma Mater
If you’re looking for your alma mater’s cycling club, we’ve made it easy for you. Just click here and search for your school. You’ll find the team’s current contact info and a link to their website so you can speak with the right people to help out.
Teams are always searching for new sponsors. Both big and small, corporate and private, every donation goes a long way. Maybe you have a company whose name you would like to see on the team’s jersey. Maybe you can help them out with a connection to a great deal on cycling products. No matter what it is, it’s a guarantee that the team will love to hear from you, and that any help you have to offer will be hugely appreciated.
If you are already donating money to your alma mater, you can also specify that you would like that money to be directed to the cycling team.
Buy a Jersey
Another way to help out is by buying a team jersey. Clubs usually put in two orders every year, one during the summer and one in the winter. If you’re on the team mailing list, you’ll probably get an email about it every time they do. You can also check out the team’s website for information about how to place an order or who to talk to get your kit. Not only will every purchase help out the team, but now you can show off your awesome new lycra to everyone you ride with.
For Hosts: One of the biggest expenses that collegiate cycling teams incur is hotels. Traveling to a different school every weekend, clubs are often forced to book hotel rooms, which either depletes the team budget or taps into racers’ wallets. Whether you are a fellow racer, a student, an alum, or just a fan of cycling, you can make a huge difference by offering host housing for visiting racers. It doesn’t take much, just some couch or floor space. To help out, just click here to find a race in your area and get in touch with the promoter to let him or her know that you have some space available for visiting racers. The promoter will do the rest, matching up racers and hosts and putting the ones you’ll be hosting in touch with you.
For Promoters: And in exchange for the housing, racers can be asked to help marshal that weekend’s races, which makes running the event much easier for you, since we know you are often short of marshals. Sound like a fair trade to you? It’s not a bad idea to advertise this option to teams leading up to your event.
For Racers: And racers, if you’re looking for a place to stay but your team budget is tight, don’t forget about this option. Just contact the race promoter for that weekend and let him or her know that you are looking for a place to stay. Trust us, marshalling is not all that bad, and the promoter will be sure to schedule your assignments around your racing times. Look at it as a chance to heckle your teammates from a prime on-course location.
Unlike most other sports, which require a full-time coach, collegiate cycling is largely run by the athletes themselves. While teammates often ride and train together, “team practice” is not as formal as say a football practice. But that does not mean that coaches can’t help out quite a bit. And it doesn’t take much to do so. Many of the athletes involved in collegiate cycling are new to the sport, and just a general overview of training principles will give them a huge leg up. As a coach, you can contribute by offering a simple, standardized training plan that riders can follow and adapt to their own needs and schedules. Riders who want a personalized training plan will go out and get one (possibly from you), but for most, a general formula will be a major improvement in their training and will yield great results with little to no personal attention. Your advice will mean the difference between just riding and hoping for the best and training with focus and a plan. Look at this as an opportunity to give back to the sport in a huge way with very little effort, as well as an opportunity to gain new clients and grow your business.
If you're not convinced already, here is a testimony from one collegiate coach, who clearly loves his role and the adventure that comes with it:
The Audacity of the Coach - Rob Rowan, Columbua University Cycling Coach
"My wife and I have been the unpaid coaches for Columbia University cycling over the last five seasons. This means we spend literally hundreds of hours each year doing a range of tasks from running skills rides to raising money to cleaning out water bottles. Over the average race weekend, we drive a few hundred miles, sleep too little in crappy hotels, eat too much in crappy restaurants, shout until we're hoarse and occasionally see people we care about crash, emotionally topple and/or damage the most expensive thing they own. Then we do it again the following weekend. For the 8 weeks that the season spans, we rarely see our friends or family, go to work every Monday morning dog tired, and can barely stay on top of the laundry.
It's also one of the most fun and rewarding things we've ever done.
When we started our mission was to simply give something back to a sport we have gotten so much from. In the first year we realized that the relationships we built are priceless. In the second we realized that we're helping people to achieve, under incredibly difficult conditions, something that they didn't think they could. In the third and fourth we became consumed by attracting more women to the sport because we believe that it is vital to the sport's survival. This year we brought our baby to nearly all the races and reflected on the value that he gets from having 20 aunts and uncles. Over the years we also thoroughly enjoyed getting to know adults well outside of our age group and remembered that you're never too old to make fart jokes.
If you are thinking about donating your time to a collegiate team (and you're still reading) you're ready. Jump in. Don't look for a job description, just do what they need. But go into this with your eyes wide open:
- Many of the things a team needs are menial, dirty, physical jobs.They are also thankless.
- University bureaucracy is the edge of madness. Dealing with it is also thankless.
- Managing students is nothing like your work experience. It's much, much worse."
To find a club in your area and offer your coaching services, click here.
If you have any other questions about collegiate cycling, contact Emily Palmer, Interscholastic Cycling and Club Development Coordinator.
This Article Published June 7, 2011 For more information contact: