The dorm room of a cyclist. James McCabe

The dorm room of a cyclist. © James McCabe

by James McCabe

Going to college is great. There are enough parties and beer to make anyone happy. But you have to remember the point of going to school, and that is: to get a degree. Hopefully, that degree will turn into a job. In order for you to get a degree, you need to do your homework.

That homework is keeping me off the bike.

Mind you, the semester has just started. A course load with 16 credits is enough to keep most students busy. I’m complaining now not because I have that much homework, but rather because I need to do this homework during my racing times. Every Tuesday and Wednesday night in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, there are training cyclocross races only five minutes from Wake Forest University. It’s a gold mine for training.

There are many local and national professionals out there, providing tips and showing off their skills to amateur riders. Last year I was able to attend all of these races, which is how I was able to meet with Jon Hamblen of Team Mountain Khakis and Smartstop / Mock Orange p/b Ridley.

Hamblen has been a huge asset to the team. We have had several riders go from no structured training and no bike handling skills to guys who can be competitive in the A races. His training advice this month has been excellent as usual, but it’s worthless with my cyclocross bike collecting dust in my dorm room.

I really don’t have anyone to blame — not even myself! I blame college.

This is why super-strong collegiate cyclists are rare. Most of us are in the best shape of our lives, or at least that’s what my mother tells me. For being in the best shape of my life, I spend a ton of time sitting in the library and reading away countless pages of financial theory and accounting principles. I do this even though these same hours could be spent racing twice a week only five minutes from school. But who can I blame for that?

However, there is a great counter to my argument. Take a look at Zach McDonald of Rapha-Focus. He is my age and attending the University of Washington-Seattle. He is hammering out massive results, including a recent 11th place at CrossVegas. There are people who dedicate their whole lives to the sport and couldn’t touch McDonald’s position. But he’s in college, just like me.

For everyone else who isn’t McDonald, there is collegiate cycling. Collegiate cycling has opened up the doors of cyclocross to many. I now have members of my team who just want to race cyclocross and stop racing the collegiate mountain bike season. Something about cyclocross is addictive for students. Maybe just as addictive as beer …

You can say this article doesn’t have a point. And it very well might not. What I’m trying to get across is that this whole feeling of not being able to ride, for lack of a better term, sucks. Its miserable looking at my bike leaning against my dresser with fresh tubulars glued up and no one to ride it.

So let me ask you: When Hamblen texts me in the morning saying, “Did you do your intervals today,” how should I respond?