Cyclists Cap Best-Ever Season

Elise Foley

By Elise FoleyThe Daily Northwestern

The Northwestern Cycling Team had its most successful finish at the 2007 USA Collegiate Road National Championship this weekend.

The 26-member team qualified for nationals this year for the first time as a Division I team by placing in the top five overall in the Midwestern Division Championships, which took place two weekends ago. They placed third in Division I, meaning seven team members could compete in this past weekend’s nationals.

“Qualifying for nationals was the goal of the whole season, and we did it,” said Weinberg senior Ace Young, the club’s president . “I think we’ve had our best season ever, and the results (this weekend) cap a fantastic season.”

Reed Tanger, a second-year Kellogg graduate student, placed fifth in the Criterium, a short race through the streets of Lawrence, Kan. The course was precarious – eight 90 degree corners in a one-mile circuit – but Tanger was able to avoid crashes and complete what he called his most fulfilling race.

“I had the best race of my life today, ” Tanger said Sunday. “It was a tremendous feeling to be in the main breakaway at the finish. I’ve had a tough season, and it was great to be able to race my best finish at nationals.”

The national tournament brings together the best college cyclists from around the country – who Tanger called “current, former and future professional cyclists.”

The first event was a road race, at 85 miles for men and 56 miles for women. Melanie Wong, a Medill senior and former Daily staffer, said the event included a “road from hell” – two miles of gravel that gave many racers flat tires.

“The support cars that had extra wheels ran out,” Wong said. “Not many people survived that section.”

Despite a flat tire early in the race, Wong finished 34th in the women’s road race. McCormick sophomore Clara Smart finished 51st.

In the men’s road race, Weinberg junior Seth Myers placed 20th after a year of training to build his endurance and climbing skills. The team practices together once a week, but most ride individually almost every day.

“We put in a lot of base miles to get endurance up,” Myers said. “Our results just got better and better until May.”

In the road race, Myers said he was able to be successful in part because he did not get a flat tire like many of his competitors.

“The first battle I won was a battle of luck,” Myers said. “I was lucky that my bike and my wheels held out.”

Teammate Chris Clary, a fourth-year graduate student, competed in the road race against competitors including Weinberg freshman Will Nowak, and in the Criterium, against Communication sophomore Josh Raizin. Clary said he was proud of the team’s accomplishments.

“It’s funny because since making nationals was such a big benchmark for us, it wasn’t so stressful once we got there,” Clary said. “It was nice to know we’d already achieved our goal.”

For Tanger, who has served as a de facto captain and coach for the team, the team’s success this year was the “icing on the cake.” It was his last competition in the collegiate division, and he said he was just proud to represent NU.

“Being able to get the Northwestern uniform up on that podium was really great,” Tanger said. “It gives our school – and our team – a lot of great exposure, and that’s really satisfying.”

Reach Elise Foley at [email protected]