Top-ranked NU cycling team pedals to the medal

Ryan Rotner

For Weinberg senior Ryan Ramos, this cycling season has been the culmination of four years of hard work.

“I’ve been racing better than I could have ever imagined,” said Ramos.

Ramos, the president of the NU cycling team, and his teammates have assured themselves a spot in the National Cycling Championships, held on May 12, 13 and 14. The team is currently ranked first in the Midwest Collegiate Cycling Conference with more than double the points of the second-place team.

Ramos insisted that the team’s success is due to everyone making an effort to improve.

“We work on the weaknesses and build on the strengths,” he said.

The NU cycling team has always had great individual cyclists, Ramos said. In 1996, Christina DeKracy, a second-year Kellogg Graduate School of Management student, won the national championship. However, the NU cycling club, which was created in the mid-1980s, has never achieved a high level of team success.

This year’s team relied on younger, less experienced cyclists to push it to new heights. Nearly half the team is composed of new riders.

Weinberg senior Margaret Shanafield joined the team this year without any preconceived expectations or experience.

“Basically I didn’t know anything,” Shanafield said. “The people on the team taught me so much.”

The team’s “laid-back style” attracted Shanafield to join. Practices are voluntary and allow riders to put in as much time as they want.

“How well you race depends on how well you train,” she said.

Shanafield’s hard work transferred into two top-five finishes throughout the year and a jump from lower-level to upper-level races. Upper-level races are usually 40 to 50 miles, while lower-level races are 25 to 35 miles.

NU still owes some of its success to the return of key contributor Krystian Bigosinski, a Weinberg senior. Last year Bigosinski concentrated on a time-consuming academic schedule and could not race with the team. This year, Bigosinski returned to competitive racing because of a lighter academic load.

“I can really focus a lot on my racing,” Bigosinski said. “This year we are really motivated and have a score to settle.”

Bigosinski said he is also excited to race alongside Ramos, his high school teammate.

“We have been racing together since high school, so this is our swan song,” Bigosinski said.

Bigosinski finished 13th place in the league but is especially proud that Ramos and he will pass on a strong program to next year’s riders.

“It’s nice to leave something for the younger members of the team.” he said. “It is cool knowing that we helped set up a strong program in our time here.”