When Freshman Emma Noverr left her home in Colorado to come to Hillsdale this fall, she left what she called the “cycling Mecca of America,” and came to a place without an established cycling community. Rather than give up cycling, she created her own community.
That community is called the Endurance Sports Club, of which Noverr is president. The club competes as a collegiate club team and will begin racing competitively in the spring. It currently has four members, and its coach and faculty adviser, Laura Peter, is enjoying the experience of helping students progress as cyclists.
“I love working with athletes that care,” Peter said. “Emma has been very proactive and very ready to stand up for the club.”
Peter said endurance athletes don’t peak until their late 20s or early 30s, and that changes the way she trains her team members.
“You have to train athletes knowing that you only have them for four years,” Peter said. “As a coach, I want to instill love in the athletes and make sure they still love cycling when they leave.”
Part of instilling that love are frequent visits to what Noverr calls the “Pain Cave.” The “Pain Cave” is a training area in Peter’s garage she created for the team so they could train during the winter months.
“We usually ride for about 12 hours a week and do six hours of weight training a week in the Pain Cave,” Noverr said. “It’s a nice outlet for us.”
Because that training may sound pretty intense to most, the Endurance Sports Club will expand to include members that don’t wish to train at that level.
“The winter training is for people that are really committed,” Peter said. “When the weather turns, we’ll go out for Saturday midday rides. We just want to introduce people to any type of cycling.”
While the club will try to attract casual riders in order to expand, Joseph Toates, the co-founder of the club, said the club was originally created so its members could compete at the collegiate level.
“Both Emma and I really like the racing scene,” Toates said. “We wanted to create the structure to race around here to race for the college, and not just some company team.”
Toates ran half-marathons competitively before becoming a competitive cyclist. He said he switched to competitive cycling because long-distance running competitions felt like exercise, while cycling races require skills specific to competing against other people.
“There isn’t really any reason to look at anybody around you during a half-marathon,” Toates said. “Bike races are very strategic, it’s difficult to learn how to do, and they aren’t just an exercise competition.”
As the fledgling club begins its first season, the Instagram biography of the club describes it as, “Four broke students on a quest for the athlete water bottles.”
The desired “athlete water bottles” are clear bottles with a Hillsdale athletics logo on the side, and are distributed only to members of Hillsdale’s official sports teams, not club teams like the Endurance Sports Club. Peter said she believed cycling would always be a club sport at Hillsdale, but Noverr was more optimistic.
“Dr. Arnn actually used to race bikes back in Claremont, and a lot of other professors have done the same,” Noverr said. “The possibility is there…right now we are just working on affording uniforms. Baby steps.”