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Texas State Cycling Team gears up for mountain bike nationals

By Jessica Sinn
University News Service
October 24, 2007

The Texas State University-San Marcos Cycling Team is set to compete in the Mountain Bike Nationals Oct. 25-27 in Banner Elk, N.C.  The team will compete in the South Central Collegiate Cycling Conference against such teams as University of Texas at Austin, Texas A&M University, Baylor University, Texas Tech University and Midwestern State University. 

Cameron Howitt, Texas State Cycling Team president, said University of Texas at Austin and Texas A&M are the strongest competitors, but Texas State is the dominating force in Mountain Biking. 

Howitt, of San Antonio, said the cycling team trains four to five days per week.  Each day cyclists vary different aspects of riding to prepare for the strenuous racing events at the nationals.  The team will participate in two races:  the short track, a one mile lap, and the cross country race, an eight to 10 mile lap.   

Five of the 30 active members will race in the nationals:  Eric Breckinridge, Joseph Garcia, Andy Pace, Daniel Valaperta and Jennifer Perez. 

“I think Eric Breckinridge will do very well at the nationals,” said Howitt, a junior studying geography resource and environmental studies.  “He’s been tearing it up this season.  He’ll do the short track and cross country race. The short track race is a lot of fun to watch, it’s very fan-friendly.”

Howitt said Breckinridge has experience racing in semipro competitions for the Texas Mountain Bike Racing Association.  He said all students, professional racers and beginners, are welcome to join the cycling team. 

“We have a few elite racers, and we also have people who just started racing,” Howitt said.  “That’s the cool thing about this team, it just spans all levels. All we ask is a willingness to race and have fun; that’s what we’re all about.

Through university funding and team fundraising, the cycling team pays for all gas, lodging and entry fees to all conference sponsored events. 

Stephanie Thompson, sports clubs director for the Department of Campus Recreation, said through teamwork and business management strategies, the cycling team members are gaining useful experience for the real world. 

“The busiest students on campus are probably team sports athletes because they compete on the weekends, train throughout the week, conduct fundraising activities and attend full-time classes,” Thompson said. 

Student athletes are more likely to succeed because they are actively involved with the university, said Thompson

“By representing Texas State at the nationals, sport club athletes can feel a sense of school pride,” Thompson said.  Texas State is not just a name on their diploma, it’s something they represent when they compete across country--it’s a great feeling.”