By REESE CARLTON
Cycling is an important part of Irvine, with its extensive bike lane options, as well as the hundred of cyclists seen everyday, wearing tight spandex suits and riding multi-thousand dollar bikes.
To some students at University High School, cycling is an even more important part of their life, being their main form of transportation as well as a competitive activity. Recently, the UHS Bike Club was created by a handful of these bike loving students, and their club has seen quite a lot of enthusiasm, with around 50 students showing up at their interest meeting.
The president and founder of the club, senior Reilly Carlton, actually thought of creating the club shortly after he moved here in December 2016. With help from a few other bike enthusiasts, the bike club became a place where like-minded, bike-loving individuals could come together. Senior Neah Lekan, the Boys Sports Commissioner, commented that he “thinks the bike club is a group of very committed individuals who are here to not only build a build a good environment for cyclists, but cyclists of character.”
It was long before the club was even an idea that almost all of the cyclists in the club enjoyed cycling as just another hobby. Many of the members have been biking for years, never once losing affection for the sport. Some bikers such as sophomore Ryan Duffy biked 100 miles last summer from Irvine to south of San Diego, not because he had to, but because he felt that it would be fun.
While other riders have performed similar feats, most of the members get most of their biking time when riding to school every morning, and riding back once they are done for the day. A dedicated member of the bike club, senior Amir Guity, rides a ridiculous amount of miles a week, but most of his miles come from his commute to and from school, which accounts for five miles there, then five miles back.
There are a few club members who take biking to the next level, entering in competitions and competing with state and nationally ranked teams. Biking aficionado, junior Kento Zollinger, is an expert in many styles of bike riding, from road to track cycling, but he is most competitive at downhill mountain biking. In this sport, competitors try to descend a hillside or mountain on a dirt trail faster than everyone else in the race. With sharp turns, jumps, obstacles, and extreme speeds, this form of biking is not for the faint of heart. Zollinger races whenever he can, and with his skill in the sport, he will most likely keep racing as long as he can.
Unlike Zollinger, Reilly Carlton, the bike club president, races on the road, which is a whole different level of bike racing. Unlike the dirty, obstacle filled courses of mountain biking, road biking is all smooth surfaces. Just like Zollinger however, Reilly is a fierce competitor on the road, riding with a nationally ranked team, and placing in national races too.
Even bike club members who don’t actively race or compete in events have set bike workout schedules. To keep not only a fit body, but to advance their abilities on the bikes, hill workouts, long days, and rest days are part of many of these riders’ daily lives.
Sophomore Michael Bae, Bike Club’s most enthusiastic member, has a very rigorous workout schedule. With multiple hill climbing and speed workouts, as well as days where he rides up to 40 miles! “I think biking not only builds muscle and endurance, but helps one see the world in a whole new way, appreciating aspects that I didn’t even think of before,” said Bae in the bike club’s second meeting. It is no surprise that he is quickly becoming one of the stronger bikers in the club, as well as important mentor to all those new to biking.
With all of this racing and casual riding comes a large portion of time being used, which can take from studying time. These riders have to balance their riding with school work, and for some of the more dedicated riders, this can be difficult for them to manage.
However with the creation of the bike club, with many experienced bikers running the meetings and club activities, students have a chance to learn from the best on how to manage biking with school. Sophomore Raja Batra, the treasurer of bike club summed it up perfectly, “It’s not difficult at all to balance school and biking, as it’s just part of my life.” Other students feel this way as well, claiming that with biking such a natural part of their everyday life, making time for it is not even a thought for them.