Cycling Circles Around COVID

Cycling Club finds a silver lining in the pandemic

Written by Kylee Reader, Photographed by Mackenzie King

It’s no secret that the pandemic drastically altered the course of action for many organizations and clubs across campus, as the university was forced to compromise recreational sports and activities for the sake of stopping the spread of the virus. However, this club didn’t let the restrictions of the pandemic stop them from continuing to find the light in otherwise dark, difficult circumstances.

President Shelby Wiseman, a senior kinesiology major, details how the Cycling Club operated prior to the shift and further elaborates upon the aspects of the experience that simply can’t be replicated in this kind of a setting.

“We hosted one of the oldest bike races in America, the Philly Phlyer every year in early Spring. We helped our members purchase cycling equipment with discounts at local businesses – after all, we are college kids. Our sponsors helped us travel as far as Louisville for Cyclocross Nationals and to the mountains of Vermont. In-person meetings and rides are just something you can’t help but miss during COVID,” said Wiseman.

Wiseman also comments on how the recent changes weren’t easy to adapt to, as it meant that the club had to carry on away from campus in ways they never imagined.

“It’s hard. People have moved back to their home states, riding on their own favorite trails. We are no longer centralized at the Belltower, where we would usually meet at the crack of dawn,” said Wiseman. “Campus Recreation has done what they can to offer short-term solutions. Even with their help, a cycling club without its community is just a logo and a name. The wait to return to normalcy has been challenging.”

Mackenzie King, a junior mechanical engineering major and vice-president of the club, also expressed concern with the level of connectivity between members and the potential to engage with the club like they used to.

King said, “With COVID we have been doing very little as a club it’s been hard to keep track of members and keep them stoked with little to no reason to engage with the club since we’re all in different corners of the world. I’d love to see things return to normal but am not getting my hopes up for a normal race season before I graduate.”

Despite the level of disappointment that came with not being able to participate in the club with the circumstances that were previously expected, the club exerted their energy into aiding the community when they needed it most by calling on nearby painters and construction companies to donate masks for Temple University Hospital, who was experiencing a shortage in the beginning stages of the pandemic.

Thus, service is as much a part of the club as the bikes are, as Wiseman reported various initiatives that he found to be of the most enjoyable aspects of being in the club.

“Being able to use our platform to buy bikes for children and communities in Africa, help raise awareness for cyclist’s safety here in Philadelphia, there’s more than a group of people who pedal on two wheels.”

At the end of the day, it’s about looking towards the future for the opportunity to make cycling a social experience again. While the medals and trophies are always nice, Wiseman declared that the sport goes much deeper than that.

“Collegiate racing isn’t all about winning. There’s a great amount of people who wake up on that frosted-dew morning, just to say they raced. To enjoy the racing and feeling like they pushed themselves as hard as they could. It’s rewarding, even without a win. To think that a year’s worth of new racers lost that opportunity is pretty rough for us. We hope that as soon as the country and school’s situation is safe, that we can start quickly to share that feeling with new cyclists.”

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