The UVM Cycling Team: An Uphill Climb

The UVM Cycling Club Team just returned from The National Collegiate Mountain Bike Championships. The race was held near Taos, in Angle Fire, New Mexico.

The team finished 4th overall. UVM was the only non Colorado team in the top 5. The race at Angle fire is at 11,000ft and the altitude is tough for Vermont flatlanders coming from sea level. To quote a UVM rider, ” our 4th place results earned us some pretty pimp National Medals.”

Individually, senior Kevin Bouchard-Hall placed 3rd in the Short Track Cross Country, 9th in the Cross-Country race and 4th in the overall of all races combined.

Other individual finishes include Dave Smutok and Andrew Whiteford, who both placed 5th in the Dual Slalom and made it to quarter finals. Molly Coseno placed 7th in the Short Track and 10th in the Cross-Country race. Liz Harrison placed 10th in the Omnium, which is all the races combined.

Dan Vaillencourt was 14th in the Short track. Perry Scofield, Andrew Whiteford, and Brooke Scatchard all finished in the top 20 in the Downhill race.

The results of this past race are particularly phenomenal for UVM. Says Bouchard-Hall, “Colorado is a Mecca for Elite mountain biking so many Pro racers who go to College

pick the Colorado schools so they can race with other pros and train at altitude. UVM, on the other hand, is a purely developmental team which

creates bike racers from “scratch” which makes our results that much

more impressive.”

Qualifications were tough to even enter the collegiate race. During the regular racing season, the team races in the Eastern Collegiate Conference (ECCC) which is comprised of schools from New England, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Maryland. The top 5 Schools and top 10 individuals qualify to go to Nationals. UVM was the top school n the Conference for the 5th straight year. All of the UVM National team members placed in the top 10 of there respective categories, downhill events and Cross-Country.

The race entailed a downhill race, a dual slalom race, a short track race and a cross-country race. It was there last year and because it was such a well equipped and beautiful venue, it was there again this year.

Two years ago the UVM cycling team hosted the National Collegiate Championships in the spring right here in Burlington. Road cyclists came from all over the nation to compete. Because that race went so well, the UVM team is seriously considering putting in a bid to host mountain bike Nationals

next year here in Vermont.

SGA has funded the team very generously for the last many years and the team , in addition also did lots of fund raising. Some types of this fund raising included hosting a race this fall, selling Burlington (City of the Future) t-shirts, and past donations to the team. Each team member also paid for part of their plan ticket.

When asked to describe the atmosphere of mountain biking and road riding here at UVM, Bouchard-Hall said, “The team is really special here. Once racers start traveling to races with us and get to know everyone. It is like you have been adopted by a new family. Our team is very diverse in its members. Everyone is different and everyone has something a little bit different to offer the team. We don’t have to race on the weekends to have a good time, the racing could almost be just a medium for us to get together. But when we do race, we put the serious smack down on the other schools so that is pretty fun too!”

The Cycling team has been “founded” many times over the last several decades but has puttered out an equal number of times. The actual team as it exists today was founded by Jason Baer 8 years ago and it has grown every year to have a stable membership and budget.

While there is no varsity program for cyclists here at UVM, team members don’t seem to be too fazed by this.

Says Bouchard-Hall, “No, I don’t mind us not being varsity. By being a club we get to govern our selves and plan trips how we want them. The team is very deep in its membership; we have very talented and dedicated racers and we have guys that are here just to have fun. The team would be much too serious to have nearly as much fun as we do if it wasn’t so encompassing. Going varsity would destroy that, we would turn into a Colorado school.”

“However, the benefit we would get by going varsity would be getting more funding. If the team we send to Nationals could be funded like the varsity team that would be pretty sweet.”