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Tuesday, May 28
The Indiana Daily Student

sports

Rookie riders look to make splash

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For Connor Wright and his Northern Indiana Cycling teammates, there have been no surprises or expectations in the weeks leading up to the Little 500.

It’s a relief, too, after dealing with many obstacles while training as a rookie team in this year’s men’s race.

“We haven’t really had any expectations with ITTs (Individual Time Trials) or Miss N Out or anything like that,” Wright said. “We don’t even know what to expect, so we haven’t been really surprised that much. Just taking it as comes and waiting it for the actual race.”

Though they haven’t experienced any surprises during the Spring Series events leading up to the race, the cyclists did not expect to be without a rider during training.

In December they had a Bloomington native and IU student named Clint on their team. Clint was training with them, but then dropped because of family reasons.
As a result, Wright and his teammates had to recruit a fourth team member that month.

“We were panicking there,” Wright said. “We had already done all the Fall Series stuff, so we were ready to go. When he backed out, we just kind of panicked.

“All the Fall Series stuff was done, so there were no more opportunities to meet people on the track. We were like, ‘we have a problem here.’”

Eventually, they found Declan Forberg, a high school classmate of Wright and teammate Shane McCoy.

Northern Indiana Cycling has been riding with its current team for four months total after recruiting Forberg. Forberg said being high school classmates with McCoy and Wright helped in joining the team.

“They all knew I wasn’t fat and lazy, so I thought, why not,” he said. “Although, I am the weak link, but I’m not fat.”

Forberg joining the team led to the creation of the team’s name, Northern Indiana Cycling, since Forberg was also from Northern Indiana. Still, the riders admit coming up with a name was a challenge, as they didn’t have one before coming up with Northern Indiana Cycling.

“That was like the hardest part of the whole thing was finding a good team name that wasn’t stupid,” Wright said.

“We were going to have our team name be the Dope Pedalers,” Forberg said. “But I don’t think we were going to get that approved.”

“He’s the jokester of the group,” Wright said.

Finding a team name pales in comparison to the challenge of finding facilities to use. Training in the winter was a challenge, as the riders often had to use stationary bikes in the School of Public Health.

While most teams had easy access to training equipment, Northern Indiana Cycling did not have the same luxury.

“We don’t have these fancy bike rooms and the rollers and the trainers,” Wright said. “So we spent most of time in the HPER riding those stupid pieces of junk.”

They occasionally did winter rides outdoors, but the bad winter weather made it difficult. As a result, they practiced indoors without going against the elements.

The riders also had to make decisions on their own because they do not have a coach. They’ve used YouTube videos from last year’s race and conversations with other riders and coaches as resources for their preparation.

“We’ve had to learn just by watching other teams or other people do ITTs from previous years and Miss N Outs,” Wright said.

Despite the challenges they have faced, Northern Indiana Cycling riders are looking forward to race day.

They hope to improve their qualifying time of 2:37.987. McCoy said the riders were cross-country runners in high school, which helps them with the endurance aspect of the race.

“I feel like we’re more suited for the endurance and not just the straight sprint of quals,” Wright said. “I feel like the race will be our strong suit.”

Come race day on April 26, Northern Indiana Cycling will start 29th.

“I’ll tell you right now,” Forberg said, “we’ll turn some heads on the 26th.”

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