It’s that time of year again when collegiate road racers pile into a beat down 15 passenger university van and make the annual pilgrimage to collegiate road nationals. Equipment is often cobbled together, riders are tired, stressed and ready for finals week to come and go. With all this weighing on their minds, the energy and enthusiasm is second to none.
Collegiate cycling is about as pure as it gets. These young riders are committed to their two-wheeled passion and while they may be dedicated to winning, collegiate cycling is really about the camaraderie built between teammates and friends and developing a life-long love for the sport. It’s become a training ground and nurturing environment where young riders can be themselves and learn about bike racing without the stress of results and fear of failure. It gives riders a playing field to showcase and develop their talent, before stepping up to the next level.
Collegiate cycling has served as a proving ground and stepping stone for several top American riders. Brent Bookwalter, Chad Haga and Andrew Talansky immediately come to mind. All of these talented riders cut their teeth on the collegiate circuit and have found their way to the top.
For RISE cycling speaker Andrew Talansky, collegiate cycling was all of this and more. Collegiate cycling presented a stepping-stone to the next level for Andrew, as he approached his first year with Lee’s McCrae, with one eye on the highest level of the sport. What Andrew found was that collegiate cycling was, “the perfect way to bridge the gap between getting on a bike as a junior in high school and making the transition to cycling as a career.” One of the primary goals at RISE is to connect young athletes with collegiate programs around the country to help them get scholarships, and to make connections to open doors to their future. With that in mind we really want to expose young athletes to the beauty of cycling and help create life-long cyclist.
Andrew went on to race at the highest level of the sport after his time with Lee’s McCrae, but what Andrew finds most valuable about collegiate cycling is its ability to create lifelong cyclist. “Collegiate cycling is a cool experience and an opportunity to chase a passion with a group of people with a shared interest, it was a way to find a family in an unfamiliar environment,” says Talansky. “It was some of the most fun I ever had racing my bike because people were doing it for all the right reason, not money or a contract, but their passion for the sport of cycling.
Andrew is partnering with RISE to support our common goals and to help establish a pathway to the future for young rides. “From my perspective there are huge gaps between the different levels of cycling and no clear pathway for young riders to navigate,” says Talansky. “RISE is looking to give kids an opportunity and a pathway to get to the top, and a good feeling, rather than frustration and demoralization in a system that is missing a clear path. On top of that, connecting young riders with collegiate programs through RISE will help get ALL interested kids into cycling no just phenoms. From there, more kids will have the opportunity to race and use collegiate cycling as a gateway to the next level while getting their education at the same time.”
For us at RISE, we’re fortunate to have athletes such as Andrew supporting our vision and development of the next generation of cyclists. We want to share that purity of the collegiate atmosphere and build bonds and friendships that go beyond cycling but are rooted in a passion for two wheels.