Welcome to the world of road cycling, where millimeters and seconds make a huge difference.
UNM Cycling Team President, John Heine, has been a part of the team for a year and wants cycling to get stronger in the community.
“The club has been around on and off for years and years and years and was around in the early 90s,” Heine said. “It sort of went into decline between 2005 and 2009. It was sort of iffy.”
With that said, the UNM Cycling Team, a club squad with 30 members, seems to be on the fast track toward re-energizing the sport locally.
The Lobos hosted the Lobo Classic at Mesa Del Sol Amphitheatre parking lot over the weekend.
This is the second race on the Southwestern Collegiate Cycling Conference calendar. UNM competes in the SWCCC, and this race counts toward USA Cycling points.
Competing in the event was the University of Arizona, New Mexico State and UNM.
The two-day event consisted of a time trail and criterium. The criterium, which took place on Sunday, is determined by a total time or number of laps, in which case the number of remaining laps is calculated as the race progresses. The winner is the first rider to cross the finish line without having been “lapped.”
Success in road criterium requires a mix of technical skills, like the ability to turn corners smoothly, Heine said, in addition to riding safely with a large group on a short track.
Many riders, Heine said, have to learn when to attack other competitors and repeatedly accelerate hard out of a turn.
And riders had an opportunity to tune their skills in the two-day event.
In the collegiate A category, Lobo Matthew Beck finished first with a time of 15:23.52 in the time trial, followed by his teammates Chris Smithwick (15:52.19) and Michael Robinson (15.55.32).
Beck, among four Lobo competitors, finished strongly on Sunday, coming in first place in the criterium.
“My strategy today originally was to hang back in the pack and block for the other guys,” Beck said.
Cedric Bosch, a cyclist from Arizona with two years of experience, recognized the challenge he faced.
“I knew that there was two of us and four UNM guys, so I knew that they were going to do some attacks and have to cover them, and that’s what happened,” Bosch said. “(They) went hard from the start line.”
Many riders are new to the sport, while others, like Beck, have been riding for many years.
“My step dad kind of got me on the bike when I was playing golf at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, California,” Beck said. “Then I came back to UNM to finish my undergrad. I started racing and became addicted to it.”
On the women’s side, Katya Hafich squeezed by in collegiate B with a time of 19:59.31, beating University of Arizona’s Erin Lauterbach (20:00.08). Hafich, one of four women on the team, said the Lobos need more women to join the team.
Either way, Heine said, the event was successful.
“The team was real strong and with athletic riders. We definitely had a few people working as a team,” he said. “I think in the future we’ll try to get more teamwork out of each other.”