Q&A With 2022 Collegiate Club of The Year, University of Arizona

2022 Collegiate Club of The Year, University of Arizona shares what it takes to be victorious both in competition and as a team.

What sets your club apart?

Our team focuses on creating a welcoming environment that supports all interests and abilities in cycling. We want new and experienced riders to feel on equal footing and that everyone has something to provide. The members with lots of racing experience (mountain, cyclocross, or road) mentor new riders and teach them skills, training techniques, and race tactics. We have daily group rides open to all skill levels throughout the week. But the best day is Thursday. We start with a casual coffee spin in the morning and then have our weekly meeting in the evening. Each meeting focuses on different topics, such as nutrition, training, mental health, sponsor talks, etc. After the meeting, we get dinner together. Basically, we try to make it so that even if you don’t race, you’ll still find a spot on the team.

Beyond the weekly basics, we also host 5 events — two CX races, a time trial, a road race, and a crit — throughout the year. These weekends are also some of the best team bonding experiences — we’re up at 4 AM setting up courses, running registration, racing, and cleaning up at 5 PM. These events provide people with ample volunteer experiences, and everyone gets to see what it takes to host a race, so it provides a deeper appreciation for the events we travel to.

What do you feel are the best qualities of a standout club?

The best qualities of a team are: inclusive and supportive. Some aspects of cycling can feel pretty cold — who wants to show up to a crit or CX race as a new rider solo? It’s even more so if you get dropped and ride alone. So, if we want to grow the sport, it starts at the team level — we have to create environments where everyone feels welcome and can learn and grow as a person and athlete. Bikes are better with friends!

What is your club’s focus for the upcoming year?

We’re egalitarian when it comes to team objectives. We’re always very focused on sending at least 2 riders (1 man and 1 woman) to each nationals and bringing as many new riders to events as possible. Beyond that, we look at what team members want to do. For example, if there is a desire for gym days and bike packing, we’ll do our best to incorporate that into the future year.

Our biggest objective for the spring is Collegiate Road Nationals in Albuquerque, NM, in May. It’s super close for us, and we’re very excited about bringing a full squad and hopefully netting some jerseys. For the 2023-24 school year, we’d like to get riders to track and BMX. We’ve been on and off with BMX and would like to be more consistent.

What advice do you have for a new club?

Slow and steady! It’s good to have a 4-5 year plan of where you want your team to be and slowly build up to it. The teams that aim to be super big or involved right from the start often burn out. It’s also critical that leadership delegates. Delegation achieves a few things: reduces the burden on the leaders, helps others feel involved, and can teach others how to be leaders in the future.