Not many sports involve blood streaming down third degree burns, collapsing on the ground unable to move, and pain so unbearable paramedics have to assist. According to accounting and finance sophomore Joshua Buchel, March 4 turned into a day he will never forget.
“I was in a lot of shock and the adrenaline was rushing through me. I don’t really remember the crash, I hit my head kind of hard,” the South African native said. “All I know is that while I was sliding down the road I thought, ‘Man, this burns. I need to stop sliding soon.’”
Buchel’s crash at the Arkansas Classic became another one of the countless crashes cycling has led him to.
“I’ve broken my collarbone six times, my wrist twice, all of my fingers, most of my toes, and dislocated my shoulder,” Buchel said. “I’ve been lucky enough to not break any vertebrate or ribs.”
Although the crash forced Buchel to use crutches for two weeks, the cyclist does not see himself quitting. Similarly, exercise physiology sophomore Pablo Cruz said cycling reflects who he is and is something he could never give up, regardless of any amount of adversity.
“Cycling has been a big part of my life, it has changed me in more ways I can count,” the Honduran native said.
Cruz begin racing at age 14, and has competed in stages that include the Sub-23 World Championships where he finished 45th out of 80 competitors representing his country.
“That was an experience I’ll never forget. It was one of the most prestigious races, and it was a privilege to compete in it,” Cruz said.
Alongside Cruz, members of the cycling team have accomplished numerous international honors. Buchel has been crowned South African champion, finished second at the African Continental Games, and has represented his country around the world. Brissia Montalvo, exercise physiology graduate student, finished second to world champion and four-time national champion, Sonya Looney, at the El Paso Puzzler on Jan 26.
“Finishing second to Sonya Looney was an incredible feeling. She’s a world champion. I look up to her in every way, and that race was just awesome,” Montalvo said.
Despite including internationally recognized cyclists in the roster, recognition from the school doesn’t compare to that given to sports like football.
“We are constantly winning national titles for the school and some recognition would be nice,” Buchel said. “It’s a little unfair with the way the football team gets treated when you look at their achievements. Our results speak for themselves.”
The cyclists reached the national podium for the seventh time by racing to the silver medal at the 2016 USA Cycling Collegiate National Championships in the Division One varsity competition, behind Marian University. This achievement followed a silver finish in 2012 and bronze in 2013-2015.
“Cycling is definitely something students should be able to brag about. Instead when I tell people I’m on the cycling team, I get, ‘Oh. We have a cycling team?’” Buchel said.
Jenna Lawrence, biology freshman, proved Buchel right when she was questioned.
“I didn’t know we had a cycling team. I haven’t heard about it since I’ve been here,” Lawrence said.
Head coach Charlie Zamastil said his dream scenario involves the team becoming one of the things people most closely associate with the name Midwestern State.
“I’d like for people to say, ‘That’s the Division One cycling school that also has a great academic reputation,” Zamastil said.
In response to students’ unawareness of the cyclists’ achievements, Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity will host a tailgate for the upcoming annual MSU Campus Criterium, a lap circuit race, on April 8.
“We really want to get the cycling team to be known, which is why we’re tailgating. Not many students know everything they do and the hard work they put in. They truly deserve to get recognition for all their effort,” Garrett Hobbs, interfraternity council finance chair, said.
According to Cruz, being part of the cycling team has proved to be a challenge when it is combined with school.
“I try my hardest to keep it all together. A lot of time it’s super hard to balance all the schoolwork and cycling up to three hours a day. It is pretty time consuming,” Cruz said.
For history senior Coleman Reidling, balancing school with cycling means finishing all his homework and studying during the weekdays.
“We compete over the weekends so I have to get everything I need to get done for class during the week,” Reidling said.
A typical week for the cyclists’ training totals up to 19 hours of riding, as there is no day off. Nevertheless, some members agree they wouldn’t have it any other way.
“My favorite thing about cycling is the freedom it allows me to feel,” Reidling, said. “Overall, it has made me grateful for the ability to ride and compete, along with meeting a lot of awesome people.”
To Montalvo, it is a way to keep herself sane.
“I started cycling to help with my running, but it turned to be a full experience I really love. It keeps me sane from school,” Montalvo said.
Montalvo, an All-American in the the track and field event of steeplechase, competed on the cross country and track and field teams before she joined the cycling team. Similarly, nursing senior Nicole Coetzer is part of the soccer and track and field teams aside from being a cyclist.
“I love being active and reaching my full potential in everything I do. I love all three of my teams, and I can’t wait to see what the future holds for us,” Coetzer said.
The future in Zamastil’s eyes includes expanding the program by adding three more disciplines: BMX or bicycle motocross, Mountain Bike, and Cyclocross. In addition, he said he hopes to triple the size of the team with more international presence.
The USA Cycling Collegiate and Para-Cycling Road National Championships for cycling will be held on April 27-30 in Grand Junction, Colorado.