UNH Cycling Brings Championship to Durham
Hundreds Expected, from Weekend Warriors to Collegiate Best
UNH Cycling's Billy Melone races in a tight pack in the Dartmouth Criterium last year. More than 40 members of the UNH Cycling team are expected to take part in the Eastern Collegiate Cycling Conference Championships in Durham on April 28 and 29 this year.
Even in mid-winter, you can see them zipping by on their racing bicycles down Main Street, bundled against the bitter wind, eyes focused on the road ahead, and turning their pedals around like they mean business.
Then, just as suddenly, vanishing out of town in search of long, hard miles and steep hills. Occasionally, a handful of them will ride together, making their training sessions pass a little easier.
Members of the UNH Cycling team know that’s what it takes to compete at the highest levels of collegiate racing. And this winter, they have extra incentive to hit the roads.
At the end of April, they will host the largest collegiate cycling championship races in the East, drawing up to 400 athletes to Durham from some 40 schools, along with special races for kids and citizen riders.
For veteran team members, it’s a chance to show why a university that might be better known for hockey and skiing is also a cycling hotbed.
“UNH Cycling has been a big part of my time here at UNH,” says Bella Oleksy, a senior who is studying environmental science. “We’ve put a lot of work into the team and into organizing this event. So now to see it all come together really means a lot to me.”
The UNH Parents Association awarded $4,000 to UNH Cycling for the event—one of nine grants totaling $22,147 for student projects it announced in December.
Parents Association Grants Support
“The Parents Association grant is really a big help,” says Oleksy, adding that it will help pay for police and medical coverage, insurance, and other race-related services. “Other schools lose money when they host an event like this. But with the grant, we should be able to break even or maybe even come out ahead a little.”
A club sport, the team also supports itself with sponsorships, fundraisers, and the sale of UNH Cycling team clothing. It is one of the largest sports clubs on campus, with nearly 50 members, and offers mountain bike racing in the fall and road racing in the spring. Membership is open to all ability levels, from casual weekend warriors to national caliber racers.
About a year ago, team members started talking among themselves about putting in a bid to host the Eastern Collegiate Cycling Conference Championships (ECCCC). They consulted with officials from the University, Town of Durham, and the Rotary Club of Durham-Great Bay. By November, three team members – Oleksy, Patrick Galvin, and James Kennedy—traveled to West Point, N.Y., to submit the UNH bid.
The races will take place April 28 and 29, with a 10-mile team time trial on Saturday morning, followed by a hilly road race that afternoon around Bow Lake in Strafford, N.H. (The road race features several races of up to 80 miles, based on rider experience.) The championship continues Sunday with a criterium in Durham, where racers will turn multiple laps on a 1-mile loop around Parsons Hall, B-Lot, and Mill Road.
Oleksy says the 300 to 400 college racers, citizen racers, and spectators should also provide a nice boost for local businesses.
For more about UNH Cycling visit www.unhcycling.com
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Written by Jim Graham, Editorial and Creative Services. Photo courtesy of UNH Cycling.