Freshmen take on Taylathon training
Natalia Valentine | Contributor
With two weeks to prepare for the 2016 Olympic-themed Taylathon, which is a bike relay race, the freshmen men’s and women’s teams hopped out of bed for their 5:30 a.m. practices, strapped on their helmets and put their feet to the pedals to train for the annual bike race on Oct. 1. While none of the freshmen knew what to expect, warnings from upperclassmen painted a bit of a daunting picture of the well-loved Taylor bike tradition. Most freshmen are fine waiting on the sideline and cheering on their classmates instead of taking part in the race.
“I’d rather not walk around campus with a boot or crutches,” freshman Taylor Miller said. Many students share her fear—and with good reason. For six men andwomen, however, joining Taylathon was a quirky and rewarding way to get involved.
The freshmen team captain, Jessica Dundas, joined because she loves to bike. Dundas said, “It’s been a fun way to get involved, even with the early times.”
Because practicing while students are trying to get to class would be an injury liability, men’s and women’s teams trade off 5:30 a.m. and 6:30 a.m. practice times. Sometimes they fall back asleep after practice, but Dundas said that it’s nice to have extra time in the mornings before classes start. Although sleep deprivation has been a reality the past couple weeks, being a part of the Taylathon team is a bonding experience they’ll never forget. Men’s team member Weston Poling believes it’s worth it if only for the free shirt and the chance to meet new people.
Contestants focus their practices on perfecting transitions, a special Taylathon rule requiring bikers to switch riders without their bodies touching the ground when riding through transition zones. The process begins with one rider sitting on the bike, putting her hands out and thrusting the bike out to the next person. Mastering these transitions is the hardest part, but the freshmen feel they’re slowly learning and hope to be ready by tomorrow. Tia Etter, senior women’s captain, taught the freshmen women how to complete a successful transition.
“It’s hard to explain, but you eventually get it,” Dundas said. “It’s more of a mental block of ‘I don’t want to do this’ than ‘I can’t do this.’”
As far as expectations for the women’s team, Dundas said, “I kind of expect it will be rough.” Despite their nerves, the freshmen are ready to do their best and see what this Taylor cycling tradition is all about. As crazy and daunting as it may sound now, the finish line is drawing closer. Who knows, this year could be an upset waiting to happen.